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How to Set Up a Total Station to Measure


leica-builder-total-station-2

Your total station is a precision tool, but it only does what you tell it to. Accurate measurements start with proper setup. Start with a known point, then enter the station coordinates and orientation, and you’ll be ready to measure your next job. Here’s how.

  1. Place the tripod approximately over the ground point.
  2. Walk around the tripod, inspecting it from various sides. Move the tripod as necessary until the tripod plate is above the ground point and roughly horizontal.
  3. Now, push the tripod legs firmly into the ground. Use the central fixing screw to secure your total station on the tripod.
  4. Switch on the laser plummet (or, for older instruments, look through the optical plummet). Turn the foot-screws so that the laser dot or optical plummet is centered on the ground point.
  5. Center the bull’s-eye bubble by adjusting the lengths of the tripod legs.
  6. Once you've accurately leveled up, loosen the central fixing screw, then move it on the tripod plate until the laser dot is centered precisely over the ground point.
  7. Tighten the central fixing screw again.
  8. Now you can enter your station coordinates. Consult the user’s manual for your particular total station.
  9. Aim at another known point, then enter the coordinates or horizontal angle. Once you've set up and oriented your instrument, you can stake out coordinates or measure additional points within that coordinate system.

 

Resection lets you calculate the position and height of your total station, as well as the orientation of the horizontal circle, based on measurements to two or more points with known coordinates. You can enter these coordinates manually, or you can store them in the total station beforehand. The advantage of resection is that it allows you to choose the best position for the total station before you survey or stake out – you don’t have to measure from an unsatisfactory spot. Always be sure to take into account your instrument and reflector heights whenever you need to determine or stake out heights. For more specific measuring options and procedures, check your total station’s user manual.