View Full Version : Data Collectors
11-04-2004, 10:25 AM
I work for a small firm and we are getting prepared to leave our trusty 48's and move on to more advanced data collection equipment. Since there are so many on the market and every salesman explains that their unit is best I thought that this may be a good place to inquire about what surveyors are actually using for their data collection and why. I am especially interested in how crews feel about the touch screen vs. the key pad.
Thanks in advance for your input.
11-04-2004, 12:33 PM
We have been using Trimble TSC1 DC's for several years and I believe they were one of the best data collectors I have worked with. Very rugged and stand up to the wear and tear of the field.
However, they are no longer supported by Trimble and would not work well with our new Lieca Robotic Total Station.
We are now running Carlson SurveyCE on an AllegroCE. The touch screen takes a while to get used to, and we are always loosing the stylus. We finally attached the stylus to the side of the DC with Velcro. The Allegro seems to hold up well, and it's nice to run programs like Microsoft Word in the field if you need to.
You can also transfer files from the office to the Allegro in the field using a cellular modem, although we haven't tried this yet. I can supply that information if you need it.
The Allegro can also run a Java VM, which means you can write and use custom data collection programs written in Java. We haven't tried this yet, either, but may in the future. I believe the CE devices like the Allegro also support a variety of other programming languages.
The battery is great and lasts all day. Never had it die during a job.
One downside is the Map Screen in Carlson CE it is hard to read and navigate in. This is due to the smaller screen size and some of the Carlson interface. I try to avoid using the map screen if I can.
The Allegro is sold by Juniper Systems.
The Sunburned Surveyor
11-04-2004, 12:41 PM
I've found that the touch screens are difficult to read sometimes in the sunlight, but they are very user friendly. It's a toss-up for me.
I would probably still suggest the touch screens.
Dave Karoly, PLS
11-04-2004, 06:41 PM
I use a TSC1 with a Leica TS which is not the smoothest operation. The TSC1 seems to be better suited to GPS but its TS functions are decent. The TSC1 is the only DC I've used that has an End Survey function which makes sense for GPS but is downright irritating with Conventional. You can turn off an SDR or SurvCE and turn it back on and keep going. Not so with the TSC1.
I personally own a Carlson Explorer and I like it fairly well. For conventional, it's a better data collector than the TSC1. The map screen is the first I've used so I'm happy with it, maybe it doesn't compare favorably with others available. It seems to be weather resistent although it isn't officially. I've had it in light rain and it didn't seem to mind. The price is good. The TDS for the same price has no keyboard but I think you can drop it off a 20 story building and it won't hurt it because of the milspec.
I'm still getting used to it but I'm happy so far.
11-04-2004, 07:06 PM
Our staff switched to the Trimble Recons. They like them and it has been a good transition. However, where are using Trimble robo TS.
11-05-2004, 06:53 AM
I agree with Mr. Karoly's comments. We also found the TSC1 well suited for GPS work, but not ideal for conventional work. Our purchase of the Leica Total Station was the reason for our migration to Carlson SurvCE and the Allegro.
The Sunbunred Surveyor
11-14-2004, 11:13 PM
Yes, I'm one of those who think my box is the best box.
My recommendation to you, and all others, is to try it first. Most dealers will let you test drive a collector for a short time.
Ask your sales rep for references of those using the collector you are considering. Knowing someting about your firm, he should be able to put you in contact with a few similar firms who have made the decision you are about to make. I don't sell a single box to everyone, but try to match a surveyor to a collector that fits his business model.
You can probably also take the next step and rent it for a few weeks.
Ask your dealer if he will let you apply the rent towards a purchase. If you don't like it you are only out a couple of weeks of rental instead of the $2000 - $7000 you are going to end up spending.
Don't rush. Don't get caught up in brand names. Find a salesman you trust and listen to his recommendations. You might change data collection devices every few years, but he helps a few surveyors through the process every month.
11-18-2004, 10:32 AM
"You might change data collection devices every few years..."
That is what I hate about our advanced technology,
IT'S SHORT LIFESPAN.
Every two to four years they revise their software, and this pretty much applies to all software suppliers. If you have a problem with your currant system after it is 3 to 4 years old their response is "oh we don't support that anymore, you need to upgrade", for a substantual fee of course.
$2000.00 equates to $1.00 dollar every hour going to that software only (how many different programs do you have) if you use it 8 HOURS A DAY EVERY DAY FOR ONE YEAR.
For small firms that do not have full time field work that can stretch out to two years or more.
$7000.00 is $3.50 per hour for one year. Add up all your software and hardware costs and divide by 6000 hours (three years) and that is your equipment cost - out of pocket expenses.
Our new technology is great, but sit down sometime and add up the cost to start a business, your total station, GPS, data collectors, computers (desktop and laptop), Cad software, COGO/Mapping software, etc. My conservative guess would be about $100,000.00. divide by four years and thats $12.50 per hour then you get to upgrade-do it again, and that is if you use everything 8 hours a day every day of the year which nobody does.
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