Remote locations with difficult terrain and rugged conditions make up a good portion of the field work of GeoVerra, one of Canada’s largest surveying and geomatics firms.

For the company’s field staff, all-terrain vehicles, utility task vehicles, snowmobiles, Argos — even helicopters — are used to access job sites. Rugged instruments are also a requirement for the firm’s work in oil and gas surveying, construction, legal and municipal surveys, forestry and environmental, 3D laser scanning, UAV, bathymetric surveys, land use planning, mapping and GIS and greenhouse gas emissions monitoring.

With data collectors serving as a key piece of equipment in many of these applications, GeoVerra is frequently testing different makes and models to find the right fit. 

“Our field staff work in a variety of environments across Canada and deal with very difficult terrain,” says Shawn Hearn, GeoVerra’s director of equipment and asset management.

“Our Canadian winters are challenging on all electronics and the screens and batteries on data collectors.” 

Serving as a beta tester, Hearn recently put the new Trimble TSC5 data controller through the paces and was willing to share his thoughts on how it performed.

Introduced in March 2021, the Trimble TSC5 Controller is a rugged-yet-lightweight field solution that continues Trimble's legacy of creating high-quality controllers for land and civil construction surveyors. Built for practical, everyday tasks, the TSC5 combines high performance and dependability so professionals can complete tasks efficiently and accurately. Its features include a 5-inch screen, keypad and all-day battery for reliable field data collection. The ergonomic design is lightweight, easy to grip and ideal for rugged environments. 

Here’s what Hearn had to say from his TSC5 beta-testing experience:

What is the one thing land surveyors will like the most about the TSC5 and why?

I like how rugged the unit is, with a great keypad. Really, this is the data collector many surveyors have been waiting for to replace the aging Trimble TSC3 and for field staff who don’t want the larger Trimble TSC7 data collector.

What do you look for in a controller and how does this solution compare?

I look for something that is competitively priced, with good software and easy integration with our existing fleet of Real Time Kinematic (RTK) solutions. The TSC5 will fit in perfectly with our existing fleet of RTK systems and will be used to transition out our aging TSC3s.

What would you say is missing from controllers on the market and how does this solution compare?

There was a missing comparable replacement to the TSC3 size, as the TSC7 was a bit big and bulky for some of our surveyors using ATVs and lots of hiking with the RTK, so the TSC5 really fills the gap and provides a data collector option that is a good size with great internal horsepower to run applications/modules.

What did you do to test the TSC5? Was there anything that was surprising during use?

We used the TSC5 in a variety of conditions and tested it in the cold Canadian winter, as we deal with extreme temperatures and environments. The TSC5 was able to deal with the conditions we put it in, and the feedback from field staff was positive. The speed of the data collector processor is really great. It is reactive, and it will help surveyors work efficiently.  

How turnkey is this solution? Would I be able to jump from another controller and pick it up?

Yes, it’s easy to jump from another data controller to the TSC5. The only small challenge is learning the new Trimble Access 2020 interface if you are coming from Access 2017 or older on the TSC3s. But I find most field staff are picking up Access 2020 pretty quickly and seamlessly. (Note: Trimble Access 2021.00 is now available with the TSC5.)

How long have you been a user of Trimble products? If an existing user, why do you continue to use them?

I have been a user of Trimble products for 15 years now, and I have managed a large Trimble fleet of products for 12 years. Trimble products are rugged and easy to use.

What's your favorite feature of the TSC5?

This is tough to answer, as the new keypad and Android-based platform are both great features.

What do you like better about the TSC5 over the TSC3?

I like the addition of Trimble Access 2020 (now 2021) and how fast and reactive the unit is compared to the TSC3. The TSC5 is also able to use larger terrain model files, such as DTMs and DXFs, a great deal better than the TSC3.