State Plane Coordinates vs. Surface Coordinates, Part 8.

July 7, 2000
/ Print / Reprints /
/ Text Size+
In the last column I gave a sketch of the sample problem,(Figure 2, page 18, Oct. POB), that will be used to demonstrate traversing using state plane coordinates. There is a change, as shown in Figure 1 of this column, because now a building is under construction that obstructs Wakeman from being observed from Reilly. Do the following:

  1. Occupy Reilly with a total station and back-sight to Bromilow. State plane coordinates are known for both stations; the grid azimuth from Reilly to Bromilow can be calculated.

  2. Establish a temporary station called Temp in a position that's visible from both Reilly and Wakeman.

  3. With the total station at Reilly, back-sight to Bromilow, fore-sight to Temp and record horizontal angle, zenith angle and slope distance to Temp. Observe the horizontal and zenith angles in both direct and reverse positions.

  4. Move the total station to Temp, back-sight to Reilly, fore-sight to Wakeman and record horizontal angle, zenith angle and slope distance. As before, observe all angles direct and reverse.

Station Name Latitude (North) Longitude (West)
Bromilow 32 16 52.33969 106 45 15.77636
Reilly 32 16 55.93458 106 45 15.16429
Wakeman 32 17 0.10142 106 45 29.49809

Figure 1. Sketch of sample problem.
As we said in earlier columns, state plane coordinates are based on conformal map projections. This means all horizontal angles as measured are correct, but all measured distances must be reduced to grid distances. Since the observed angles are correct, let¿s start by calculating the grid azimuths from Reilly to Temp and from Temp to Wakeman.

  1. Calculate the grid azimuth from Reilly to Bromilow using state plane coordinates determined earlier:

Name Northing
(2) Bromilow 142158.262 452489.852
(1) Reilly 142268.912 452506.387
1 DN(2-1) = 110.650m DE(2-1) = 16.535m

Figure 2, below shows the quadrant of the azimuth from Reilly to Bromilow. As can be seen, the azimuth from is greater than 180° but less than 270°. The equation for azimuth is

a = tan-1 (E2 - E1) = tan-1 DE

(N2 - N1)DN

Solving this equation gives

a = 8° 29' 56.8"

We know the azimuth is in the third quadrant (greater than 180°), so we must add 180° to a to get grid azimuth.

Azimuth Reilly to Bromilow = 188° 29' 56.8"
= 188° 29' 57"

Figure 2. Relative location of Bromilow from Reilly.
  1. Calculate the azimuth of other lines in the traverse.
    First, let me give the horizontal angles (angles to the right) from Reilly to Temp and from Temp to Wakeman.

    Horiz. angle at Reilly from Bromilow to Temp = 68° 02' 24"
    Horiz. angle at Temp from Reilly to Wakeman = 271° 15' 42"

    Referring to sketch in Figure 1,

    Az Reilly to Bromilow        188° 29' 57"
    + angle right at Reilly     +     68° 02' 24"
    Az Reilly to Temp        256° 32' 21"
        - 180°
    Az Temp to Reilly        76° 32' 21"
    + angle right at Temp +     271° 15' 42"
    Az Temp to Wakeman        347° 48' 03"

  2. We need to calculate horizontal distances from Reilly to Temp and from Temp to Wakeman.

    Reilly to Temp
    Zenith angle = 91° 11' 36"
    Slope distance = 1111.45 ft (338.697m)

    Horizontal distance
    = slope distance x sin (zenith angle)

    Horiz. dist Reilly to Temp = (1111.45 ft) sin (91° 11' 36")
    = 1111.21 ft (338.697m)

    Temp to Wakeman
    Zenith angle = 89° 55' 45"
    Slope distance = 701.75 ft (213.894m)
    Horiz. dist Temp to Wakeman = (701.75) sin (89° 55' 45")
    = 701.75 ft (213.894m)
    Note: State plane coordinates are horizontal coordinates; height calculations are not needed.

Figure 3. Reduction to the ellipsoid.
  1. Reduce horizontal distances to grid distances.
    This is a two-step process. First, horizontal distances at the surface must be reduced to the ellipsoid (geodetic distances) by using the elevation factor, then reduced to the grid (grid distances) by using the scale factor.
    I'm going to borrow two figures from the NGS state plane coordinate manual1 (Figures 4.1b and 4.1c on pages 47 and 48). These will be combined as Figure 3 in this column. As can be seen from the equation in the figure,

    S = D ( R/ (R + N + H) )
    Where     S = Geodetic Distance
        D = Horizontal Distance
        H = Mean Elevation
        N = Mean Geoid Height
        R = Mean Radius of Earth

    NGS recommends using R = 6,372,000m. In Las Cruces, N.M.,
    N = -25m and H = 1188.720m (3,900 ft).
    Putting these numbers into the above equation gives

    Geodetic Distance = Horizontal Distance (0.99982)
    Elevation factor = 0.99982

    The scale factors are given in Figure 4 of this column. We can average the scale factor. Since the traverse is short, let's use 0.9999278 = 0.99993. Multiplying the scale factor times the elevation factor gives the "combined factor."

    Combined Factor = (0.99982) (0.99993) = 0.99975

    Because state plane coordinates are given in meters, I'm going to use the horizontal distances in meters to calculate grid distances, also in meters.

    Grid Distance =
    Horizontal Distance x Combined Factor.
    Grid Distance Reilly to Temp = (338.697m) (0.99975)
    = 338.612m

    Grid Distance Temp to Wakeman = (213.894m) (0.99975)
    = 213.840m

HT (M)
Bromilow 32 16 52.33969 106 45 15.77636 142158.262 452489.852 NM C -0 16 9.78 0.99992783 1 1


Reilly 32 16 55.93458 106 45 15.16429 142268.912 452506.387 NM C -0 16 9.48 0.99992781 1 1
Wakeman 32 17 0.10142 106 45 29.49809 142399.023 452131.948 NM C -0 16 17.17 0.99992825 1 1
  1. Calculate state plane coordinates of stations Temp and Wakeman.
    The following equations are needed to calculate coordinates of station Temp:

    E Temp = E Reilly + (Grid Distance Reilly to Temp ) sin (Azimuth Reilly to Temp )

    N Temp = N Reilly + (Grid Distance Reilly to Temp ) cos (Azimuth Reilly to Temp )

    E Temp = 452506.387m + (338.612m) sin (256° 32' 21") = 452177.077m

    N Temp = 142268.912m + (338.612m) cos (256° 32' 21") = 142190.090m

    Repeating the process going from Temp to Wakeman,

    E Wakeman = 452177.077m + (213.840m) sin (347° 48' 03") = 452131.890m

    N Wakeman = 142190.090m + (213.840m) cos (347° 48' 03") = 142399.101m

How close did I get to the published coordinates?

Using a COGO package, you may find some minor errors in my calculations; I used an HP 48 calculator (Hewlett Packard, Palo Alto, Calif.).

1 Northing (meters) Easting (meters)
Published Values 142399.023 452131.948
Calculated Values 142399.101 452131.890
1 0.078m 0.058m

Now I have to tell what instrument I used. When I went to my office to get the instrument for this survey, only an old manual total station was available. Even with that, the error of closure is about 1:5000. With modern instruments available in your company, you should get much better results. The point of this series of articles was to show how easy and convenient it is to work with state plane coordinates.

Long article, and I haven¿t started on surface coordinates. I will have to continue this in the next column to make a fair comparison of state plane coordinates vs. surface coordinates. I'll also explain convergence of the meridian.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to POB

Recent Articles by James Reilly

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

HxGN Live

More than 3,500 attendees from more than 70 countries attended HxGN Live, the annual Hexagon AB user conference, at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas on June 3-6. About 450 keynotes and panel discussions were held, and several companies from around the world exhibited their geospatial products. Here are a few snapshots from the event.


POB December 2014 Cover

2014 December

In this December 2014 issue of POB, we celebrate our 40th year, and take a look at how we began. Also, see how an innovative approach helped a surveying firm provide fast and accurate volume reporting for the aggregates industry.

Table Of Contents Subscribe


Surveyors, during the winter season, does your firm?
View Results Poll Archive

Point of Beginning Store

M:\General Shared\__AEC Store Katie Z\AEC Store\Images\POB\epubsite\Statues-pic-large.gif
Surveyor Statues

The perfect gift or award for any special occasion.

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications, Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.


Facebook logo Twitter logo  LinkedIn logo  YouTube logoRPLS small logo

Google +

Geo Locator

Buyers Guide

The #1 buyers' guide for land surveyors and geomatics professionals. Search listings for software and equipment manufacturers, equipment dealers and professional services. CLICK HERE to view GeoLocator.