Surveying Instruments | Types of Surveying Instruments

Types of Surveying Instruments

Date Updated : 6/20/2013 1:27:20 PM

Surveying instruments are used by surveyors to get reliable and accurate readings of angles and distances between terrestrial points. These types of instruments have evolved and became highly advanced over the year. The modern surveying instruments acquire precise measurements with Global Positioning System, lasers data collectors and digital technologies. Tape measure, chains, dumpy levels and compass used to be the basic tools utilized for surveying lands. Even though they are not widely used anymore nowadays as surveying instruments, they still serve a very important purpose for other applications.


Basic Surveying Instruments

Tape measure is known as a measuring tool utilized in dress making and construction industry. Used to be made from plastic or cloth which easily stretch and tear, the material in producing tape measures uses fiberglass to ensure its durability and accurate measurement. Its length is not adequate to apply for land measurement. In construction or carpentry, the measuring tapes are made of metal that when extended can remain straight and stiff but turns into a coil when retracted. It is used for obtaining linear measurements. The longest tape measure recorded in history reaches 600 feet long which now can be found at Mickey Mantle’s Steakhouse in Oklahoma.


Compass is one basic types of surveying instruments. Compass works by having a freely suspended magnetic needle which points out to the North as its fixed reference. This allows surveyors to fix navigational directions.


Dumpy level is a surveying instrument applied in building to find elevations. Its body consists of a telescope which rotates so that a 360 degree measurement can be taken. It has the ability to magnify from 20 to 30 times. In order to see if the device is level, spirit levels are built into its base. At its foot are three leveling screws which have to be adjusted to make sure that an accurate measurement will be taken. They stand at a tripod which allows them to be steady during measurement.


Similar to tape measure, chain surveying instrument is used for getting linear measurements. It is considered as the simplest way of obtaining measurement as taking of measurement is only done on the field while the rest of the work such as calculating can be done in the office.


Modern Surveying Instruments

Theodolite is a device that looks like a telescope which works by twisting around in horizontal and vertical directions to measure horizontal and vertical angles. The surveyor will lock in the object to be measured by looking through the theodolite. After which, this surveying instrument will take the measurement of the object’s horizontal and vertical axes. It can also measure the distance between a level and elevated through a triangular process. More modern types of Theodolites can be relied on to produce more accurate measurement for they come with laser, electronic encoder and infrared.


The GPS and satellite spinning around the Earth are also important pieces of place surveyor equipment, especially in identifying limitations of a place, as well as in recording any changes in the ground. Generally, a land surveyor can set up a GPS antenna that sends broadcast signals to the satellite, which then communicate the signal to the GPS recipient carried by the surveyor. This type of triangular transmission generates precise information such as the specific coordinates and measure of the land. The GPS system allows the land surveyor to have regularly updated data without having to actually travel to the site. Laptops set up with surveying software and the GPS recipient itself acts as data collectors, along with other hand-held electronics.

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