TDS Survey Pro for Pocket PC is designed to operate on the iPAQ Pocket PC. In the May 2002 issue of POB, I looked at the iPAQ hardware and discussed some of its advantages and limitations compared to traditional ruggedized data collectors. In this installment, I will focus on the Survey Pro software.
The software was tested on an iPAQ 3650 (Compaq/HP, Houston, Texas) and on the new 3850, which is quite similar to the 3650 but has more memory (64 Mb RAM) and a 1400 mAh hour battery. Compaq has recently introduced a Compact Flash Card Expansion pack that incorporates a removable and rechargeable 920 mAh battery. Although I did not have the opportunity to test the new expansion pack, it seems that the ability to change batteries in the field would minimize or even eliminate the iPAQ’s limited battery life. The 3850 also has a more robust serial connector than the 3650, although it is still somewhat delicate compared to connectors commonly found on ruggedized data collectors, so some external means of supporting the connector is still required. TDS supplies a support bracket for this purpose. The instrument used for this evaluation was a Trimble 5600 Robotic Total Station (Trimble, Sunnyvale, Calif.).
Getting StartedThe upper half of the startup screen of Survey Pro is divided into program categories; the lower half displays functions available in the selected category. For example, picking “File” presents you with a list of file functions for opening files, creating new files, saving files, etc. The screen on the iPAQ is touch-sensitive so selections are made using a stylus.
When using the software for the first time or when changing instruments, a user would pick the “Job” button then select “Settings.” The instrument brand and model may then be selected. The “Settings” window allows instrument communications parameters to be selected. Default communication settings are built into the program for many instruments, but the settings can also be customized. For example, the settings for the Trimble 5600 with Direct Reflex measurement allow the user to select the EDM measurement mode, whether to use a prism or use the Direct Reflex measurement. Once the settings have been configured they are saved and recalled the next time the program is run.
Survey Data CollectionFor data collection, the “Survey” tab is the one most often used. Under the “Survey” tab, the “Backsight Setup” choice presents you with a screen where you can enter the occupied point and backsight point. You can use the iPAQ software input panel (SIP) to directly enter an alphanumeric point name in the text box. Or you can bring up a complete list of points to choose from. You can also pick the point directly from the map view. In cases where there are a number of closely spaced points, picking a point with the stylus brings up a listing of nearby points for you to choose from.
After the occupied point and backsight have been input, the user picks the “Solve” button, which brings up the map screen to graphically show the setup information. After toggling back to the “Input” screen the user can use the “Circle” button to zero the instrument on the backsight (or set any other angle on the backsight). The “Check” button can be used to check the backsight by either angle or distance.
I found that when the Trimble 5600 was set to autolock and the backsight prism sighted, the backsight setup routine caused the instrument to move up or down off the prism, thereby losing lock. This required manually moving the telescope back to the prism so that the distance to the backsight could be measured. I understand from TDS that this is caused by not having the correct instrument and backsight prism elevations recorded in the coordinate file. As I do two-dimensional surveying almost exclusively, the elevations recorded in the coordinate file are arbitrary. The program is designed so that in robotic mode you are able to remotely check or reset zero on the backsight. I understand from TDS that the Survey Pro software is not commonly used for collecting data in cases where instrument and target heights are not recorded, so this feature would not present a problem for the majority of users.
After setting the backsight, the user selects “Traverse/Side Shot” from the “Survey” menu. If you have forgotten to check the backsight the software will prompt you to do so. Survey Pro software allows you to have Description Files with and without feature codes, which can save the user considerable time by not having to type lengthy descriptions. The description file is simply a text file you created on a computer that contains the most commonly used point descriptions. As you begin to type a new point description, the Description text box opens into a drop down list box where you can scroll up or down to select an existing point name. This technique permits very fast and efficient entry of point descriptions.
Tripod Data Systems
P.O. Box 947
Corvallis, OR 97339
Suggested List Price:
Complete package starts at $995 and includes Survey Pro for Pocket PC card, cables, iPAQ support tray and soft environmental case. Package does not include iPAQ.