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How to Use Surveying Equipment

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Surveying the land before a building is constructed is one of the most important parts of the building process. Before a building project takes place, land surveyors go to the site to determine the suitability of the location. These surveyors use a variety of tools to help them observe and make calculations.

Determine the precise positioning of points using a GPS and a receiver. Using a GPS, a land surveyor can determine exact coordinates for specific locations and record them in the receiver to be reviewed later.

Measure, map and observe with the help of a total station. This device is mounted on a tripod and contains a crystal prism used for measuring the distance of objects. Depending on how long it takes for light to reflect, a surveyor can determine how far away certain objects are. The total station can help measure elevations of the land because it can measure both angles and distances.

Store findings in a data collector. The data collector is used to store coordinates found using the GPS, as well as to store the measurements obtained with the total station.

Use a magnetic compass to map orientation in the field. Looking at the compass will let you know the orientation of certain objects. The compass is one of the most common tools used by surveyors.


Elyse James began writing professionally in 2006 after deciding to pursue a career in journalism. She has written for "The Algonquin Times" as a general assignment reporter and published blogs and articles on Webcitybeat. James holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Ottawa.