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Data Collectors Buying Guide

DataCollectors

What is a Data Collector?

When it comes to surveying, your project is only as successful as the accuracy of your data.

A data collector is an "electronic field book” that records and calculates points in the field. It works with GPS receivers, robotic and manual total stations, and digital levels. The data collector electronically captures and logs spatial information and coordinate data in the field, which is then downloaded to your office software platform or CAD program for processing.

The model of data collector you choose will be largely determined by the data collection software you currently run (or intend to run), and vice versa. Your data collector hardware must be compatible with your data collection software, which must also be compatible with your office software (though many data collection software packages are now capable of producing a generic file format that works with most CAD or office software packages.)

What to Look for When Choosing a Data Collector

In addition to software compatibility, there are two basic types of data collectors to consider when choosing a model that is right for you: those with a full alphanumeric keypad that allow you to input data through the keypad or a touch screen similar to that on an iPhone, or those that only provide one option for data input, which is typically through a touch screen.

Most major data collector manufacturers offer both the alphanumeric keypad models, as well as those with both the keyboard and onscreen input option. Which model you choose will depend on the input style that works best for you.

Our Recommendations

Here are our recommendations based on the most popular data collectors by manufacturer, depending on the data collection software package you choose:

Leica Geosystems

Leica Viva Controller

For Leica software, the two most popular data collectors are the Leica Viva Controller CS10 and CS15.

These data collectors are compatible with the Leica SmartWorx Viva Field Software, SmartWorx Viva Lite, and MicroSurvey FieldGenius data collection software.

The primary difference between the CS10 and CS15 is that the CS15 has the full alphanumeric keypad and onscreen display/input option.

Both models are designed for extreme environments and are lightweight and easy to use. Each has a rugged rubber keypad and a megapixel camera well-placed for taking pictures when in hand or mounted on a pole, and both are fully integrated with wireless technology including WLAN, Bluetooth, WiFi and 3.5G cellular communication.

Both models also provide a full day of operation on a full battery charge.

 
Spectra Precision

Spectra Precision

If you are using Spectra Precision Survey Pro field software, you have three choices of compatible data collectors: the Spectra Precision Ranger™ 3 Series, the Nomad® X Series, and the T41™ Data Collector.

The most popular models are the four included in the Ranger 3 Series because they offer the most options for configuration, as well as both alphanumeric and touch screen inputs. Models in the Ranger 3 Series are easy to operate and feature Survey Pro on a Windows Mobile 6.5 platform, enabling you to run the mobile version of programs like Excel and Outlook. The Ranger 3 Series offers optional internal Robotic Radio and/or GSM cellular connections.

Integrated Bluetooth and WiFi capabilities let you connect to field equipment without cables, and the series also comes standard with 8 GB of onboard memory for storing data.

This series of data collectors is rugged and reasonably priced.

 
MicroSurvey

MicroSurvey
If you use the FieldGenius data collection software platform, there are many compatible data collectors to choose from. One of the most popular is the MicroSurvey DC5 data collector.

This reliable, rugged and powerful data collector includes an 806 Mhz processor, features the FieldGenius data collection software, and is powered by Windows Mobile 6.5. With built-in GPS and integrated GSM, the DC5 offers wireless access to the internet and can connect to other Bluetooth devices such as GPS receivers, total stations and more.

The DC5 is a lightweight, powerful device that is well-suited for the field. It has a 3.1 megapixel camera and a large high resolution VGA color display with 12 hours of continuous battery operation.

This model features a numeric keypad, ideal for quick number input, and is a great value for the price.

 

 

Carlson

Carlson Surveyor
The most popular data collectors compatible with the Carlson SurvCE data collection software platform are the Carlson Surveyor+ and the new Carlson MINI2.

The Carlson Surveyor+ features both an alphanumeric keyboard and touch screen input option, as well as rugged and durable “full metal jacket” magnesium housing.

This model offers up to one gigabyte of memory with the option to expand and is easy to hold and control. It provides 8-10 hours on a full standard battery charge and includes the option to add a second battery.

 

Carlson MINI2The new MINI2, the latest release from Carlson, is a smaller handheld with a numeric keypad and touch screen input, as well as an extra-bright screen, long lasting battery, and improved GPS technology.

The MINI2 fits comfortably in one hand and weighs just 1.3 lbs. The unit comes complete with Carlson SurvCE data collection software, Carlson GIS360 or Carlson CSI Mobile.