Point of Beginning

Between the Pages: A POB Book Review

December 1, 2008


Jan Van Sickles’ third edition of “GPS for Land Surveyors” is written like a textbook with questions and answers in a review format at the end of each chapter. I commend him on this format because it makes the concepts in the book easy to learn. This is a great book, and it gives a complete coverage of GPS. Perhaps another title for it could be “Everything You Wanted to Know About GPS but Were Afraid to Ask.” While other books I’ve seen on GPS for surveying are very heavy on math, Van Sickle’s book can almost be described as GPS without math.

I found the book well written. There are eight chapters, a section on references and a glossary. The first four chapters-GPS Signal; Biases and Solutions; The Framework; and Receivers and Methods-are the boilerplate of GPS, and all of these points are discussed in great detail. In Chapter 5, Coordinates, Van Sickle devotes 52 pages to describing datums, map projections and heights. Coming from geodesy, I had no problems with his explanations and examples, but I think the concepts are easy to understand even without a technical background in this field. The examples will be of particular interest to land surveyors.

Chapters 6 and 7 address GPS surveying techniques and observing and processing, and the author covers these subjects comprehensively. The two chapters describe the field procedures and data processing required when establishing control.

Chapter 8 includes new material describing the new signals, codes and frequencies along with the other satellite systems that are now referred to as the GNSS. The author has a section on Glonass, the Russian satellite system that is now incorporated with GPS in many GPS receivers. He describes Galileo, the European Union system coming online that’s getting a great deal of press. He also has a section on Beidou/Compass, the system developed in China.

There are no other books on GPS that I’m aware of other than textbooks for upper-division educational courses. If I have a criticism of this text, it’s not with Jan Van Sickle; it’s with the editors from CRC Press. A friend once told me there are no great writers in this world, just great editors. The editors did miss a few (very few) sentences that were not complete and didn’t check to see that the National Geodetic Survey (NGS) is located in Silver Spring, Maryland, not Silver Springs. That aside, I highly recommend this book to the land surveying community.

Sidebar: About the book

“GPS for Land Surveyors,” Third Edition
By Jan Van Sickle
CRC Press, Boca Raton, Fla.
Copyright © 2008 by Jan Van Sickle
ISBN-10: 0849391954
ISBN-13: 978-0849391958

List price:
$89.95
360 pages

You can find this and other great surveying books at www.AECstore.com.