Hybrid GPS and Total Station in Action

Posted: 6/11/2017

A hybrid surveying system from Topcon Positioning Systems with an integrated HiPer SR GPS receiver and PS103 total station allowed the flexibility to efficiently map the many features at the university. "One of the benefits that sets Topcon apart is this hybrid technology that mounts the GPS unit onto the same pole where I'm taking measurements with the total station, so I'm essentially using two pieces of equipment simultaneously and I'm able to switch back and forth with the push of a button," Cross said.

Using the two technologies together allowed Cross to navigate and precisely map 26 acres on the park-like campus without losing time to extra tripod set-ups.

Less Downtime, More Flexibility

As a result of the ALTA/NSPS survey, Piggush Engineering created a detailed map drawn to national standards developed by the American Land Title Association (ALTA) in conjunction with the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS). The firm completed the project in late February.

Winding concrete sidewalks and brick paths, extensive landscaping with trees and vegetation, and building architecture spanning from the early 1900s to recent construction covers Olivet's campus. "A lot of the buildings are unique - especially some of the more modern buildings that don't have straight, 90-degree corners; there were a lot of curves," Cross said.

The ALTA survey included 12 structures, ranging in size from 9,000-square-foot, uniquely shaped residence halls to the 230,000-square-foot Birchard Gymnasium and Fitness Center and Douglas E. Perry Student Life and Recreation Center, which connect to form one giant building. Cross' team also mapped the Thomas H. Milby Memorial Clock Tower and adjacent esplanade, the dome-shaped Strickler Planetarium, academic buildings, parking lots, and even a gazebo.

The hybrid system purchased from the Topcon Solutions Store in Carol Stream, Illinois, integrated both GPS and optical measurements, allowing Cross to complete the job faster as he worked around those landmarks. Using Topcon's Tesla data collector with MAGNET software increased the efficiency of data workflow.

"The GPS was ideal for wide open spaces, but as soon as I got under trees or close to buildings, I lost that signal so there was lots of switching back and forth," Cross said. "If the robotic total station ever lost me, because I had the GPS unit mounted on top, I just hit search and the total station found me right away by communicating with the GPS."

The hybrid system also provided flexibility as the firm's surveying team grew. "When I first bought this equipment, it was just me," Cross explained. "The ability to switch back and forth helped significantly; otherwise I would've had to shoot everything I could with the GPS, then tear down and set up the total station to shoot everything I couldn't get with the GPS. Of course that would take much longer."

When Cross hired someone to help with surveys, the firm purchased another Tesla data collector from the Topcon Solutions Store. "That gave us the capability to separate the units," Cross said. "He used the total station to go around the buildings while I ran the GPS in open areas. With just that additional data collector, we could run two one-man crews."

Quicker Answers

As Piggush Engineering continues to grow and considers purchasing additional surveying equipment, "I'm only looking at Topcon," Cross said. "I've used other brands in the past and was not happy with their support. When I had questions, they were not quick to answer and they actually wanted to charge me for the time they were on the phone with me."

Because of that experience, "One thing that was important to me when we shopped for new equipment was the customer service and support," he continued. "When you start with new equipment there's always some troubleshooting as you figure it out, so it was important that whoever we bought from would be there when I had questions. Topcon Solutions has been very good at that."

Whenever Cross seeks technical support, the Topcon Solutions Store responds quickly to minimize downtime, he said. "The person who answers the call asks what type of equipment I'm working with and what the problem is, then a technician with expertise in that equipment calls me back within five or 10 minutes to troubleshoot my problem."

Formerly known as Positioning Solutions Company, Piggush Engineering's Topcon dealer has been in business for over 50 years. The store is now part of Topcon Positioning Group's new collaboration of independent Topcon distributors throughout 10 states. The Topcon Solutions Store provides construction, survey, and aerial mapping solutions; field supplies; technical support; and warranty and repair services.

"I'm very happy with the Topcon equipment and the support they provide," Cross said.