September 11, 2011 at 5:58 pm #160659
Thanks Andrew. I will definitely look into getting one of the lasers. I think $500 is a worthwhile investment if it can save me time on site.September 12, 2011 at 1:07 am #160658Andrew Garulay, RLAParticipant
The Bosch DLR165K goes for under $150 and the glasses I have seen for $13. You’ll know why Mini-Me had such a liking for lasers after you use a good one. … not quite such a profound liking, but a liking.September 15, 2011 at 4:57 am #160657
I would recommend a used Leica Robotic Total Station. (my Robot is also reflectorless) The Robot gives you a lot more capability. Recording Contours is a breeze! Reflectorless guns are good for taking shots to things like walls of a building they are not well suited for taking shots say to a property line pin or doing contour shots. The Robots are more expensive but the used ones have also come down in price as a lot more of them are floatin around out there now. A lot of firms are trading their robots in for the new GPS units. If you are landscaping new residentual or relandscaping residentual then This Robot is for YOU!
After reading a host of these replys it strikes me that 1st a lot of LA’s want to hide behind the Survyor when something goes wrong. 2nd a lot of designers and LA’s spend a lot of extra time either entering what the surveyor left out of the drawing or going out and taking measurements themselves. Look let’s face it somebody has got to get what is on the site into a drawing before a Designer/LA can do their job. Now what is the differenece between a Designer/LA going to a site with a tape measure or a handheld GPS unit to do this job vs. taking a Robotic Total Station to the Site and recording the same info? The one thing that people are overlooking here is that when I take my Robotic Total Station out to the site I have already entered the Property line descriptions from a legal deed completed by a certified surveyor. When I get to the Site I only need to find two known points (a property line corner or Manhole, or fireplug) and know I my drawing is squared up with the location of the survey instrument and the physical property lines. My responsibility is the LANDSCAPE I do not even use the word survey. I am doing a site evaluation. Now who better to do this evaluation than the guy who is doing the drawing? The really great thing aboul learning to use a Robotic Total Station is that 1st only one person needs to do the site evaluation and I suggest it should be the Designer/LA. You know what is necessary to complete your drawing better than anyone. 2nd (we use Carlson Software’s SurvCE on the survey data collector and Carlson Survey on the desktop) The Field Code is sophisticated enough now that you can actually draw your drawing in the field and see what the artwork looks like in the field using the survey instrument. By the time you get back to the office you just have minor cleanup and verification procedures to do and now you have a cad drawing that you are ready to bring into your design package to do what you are actually gettin paid to do… Design a Landscape! When you outsource the survey to someone else the result will never be as good as if you do it yourself. Yes you need to learn how to survey, yes there is a learning curve. But hey once you get past the curve you can get really good at doing the intial site-work in record time in such a way that actually speeds the landscape design process. The other thing that makes this option really attractive is the build version of the equation. Come time to build the design the ability to send the drawing back to the data collector and go back on-site and use the survey instrument to stake out the exact location and elevations of important things like retaining walls and Patios based on the same information you used to design and quote the job means less surprises come time to total up the job to see wether you made any profit on the job or not. We purchased a Used Leica TCRA1105 Reflectorless Robotic Total Station, I already had my data collector. I use a Motorola MC75A ruggidized Windows Mobile Device. We use Field Hawk Radios (2 radios, 1 at the prisim pole and one at the Total Station) The radio at the prisim pole is dual bluetooth 1 short range and one Long range The short range Bluetooth radio comunicates wirelessly to the bluetooth radio in the Motorola MC 75 the long range Bluetooth radio communicates to the other Field Hawk radio that is attached to the Leica Robot by a cable. The range between the 2 radios is 1000 meters or so. That means as long as you have line of site you can survey all the data within a 1000 meters of the robot accurately. The one benefit that a Robot has over a GPS system is that because the Robot uses line of site things that normally give GPS equipment fits such as mature tree canopys are not an issue. I believe that any LA student now should be required to learn how to survey because the benifits now provided by this equipment will improve your overall capabilities as a designer. One note any surveyor that has been exposed to multiple brands of survey instruments will tell you when it comes to Robots Leica is the Lexis of the bunch. Trimble reminds me of John Deere you pay double for the name and afterwords they do the dead level best to make everyting proprietary so you can only use Trimble equipment with your Gun. Leica is beginning to head that direction but all the used stuff on the market is easy to integrate with other products. When our drawings are complete in Carlson’s Survey the file is saved as a .dwg Autocad file and then brought into our Design package -LandFX which also use .dwg files
s.September 15, 2011 at 5:19 am #160656
I have to say that hiring a good salesperson to run interference for you would be a better approach. And if you were using a Robotic Total Station you would be on-ste (depending on the size and scope of the job) 2 to 6 hours as opposed to 2 days. By the time you got the data back to the office the site-work drawing would be complete and you would be ready to start designing the landscape. You could be spending the time you saved from those two job functions to actually do more design work that your salesman would be sending to you.
s.September 15, 2011 at 5:24 am #160655
There is always the possibility of missing something. Having said that if you are actually drawing your site-work drawing as you are shooting the shots, having the capability to see what the drawing looks like right there in the field drastically cuts down those return trips to the job site.
s.September 15, 2011 at 5:41 am #160654
Well I am using a Leica Robotic Total station and Carlson SurvCE software on a Windows Mobile Device using Bluetooth Field Hawk radios between the Windows Mobile Device and the Leica Robot. And it is very convienant because I also use my Windows Moble device for Remote Point of Sale, Tracking Crew Time by Job and also tracking equipment time. That application also stamps every clockin time with the exact GPS location the crew clocked in at using the built-in GPS chip that is integrated into my Windows Mobile Device. I also use the device to activate wireless cameras overlooking our parkinglot to see who has arrived on-site (our driveway alert sends a broadcast text message to all of us so we know to then look at the cameras to see who has arrived on-site. My windows Mobile device also has a built in barcode scanner. And it has an attachment the clips on to the base of the unit that has a credit card swiper on the top and a debit pin pad on the bottom.
s.September 15, 2011 at 11:13 am #160653Andrew Garulay, RLAParticipant
Definitely on board with the notion that no one is going to do a better job of getting what is necessary in a survey than the designer (with experience). Another huge benefit is that you have the ability to get more data right away as you develop a need for it … such as getting tighter topo where a retaining wall is planned as the design develops – you don’t know exactly where that will be at the time of the initial survey and the surveyor sure did not.
My initial post was in response to my part time boss (surveyor/engineer) telling me that the price of used Leica equipment had come down and I might want to look at it. I’m not ready to invest that much at this point simply because of the cost/benefit ratio with my volume of need and by cash flow. I’ve used Carlson Survey and it is definitely more user friendly to the surveyor than ACAD Land Desktop (or whatever they call it today – 3d companion?) and far less money.
We all have different needs and how we most efficiently use our time to serve those needs varies from LA to LA. I don’t think everyone has a need to have full surveying capabilities, but it is good to know what is available, what is the cost, and what is the investment in learning curve so that we can make informed decisions.
I don’t know why anyone would not have a laser distance meter (tape) considering the low cost and ease of use …. even if it is a cheapo from Home Depot.
How much did you need to invest to be complete with what you are using now, Steve?September 15, 2011 at 2:17 pm #160652
I invested 12,700.00
That included the Gun, 360′ Prisim, 2 (new) Field Hawk Radios, cable to connect the radio to the gun, Carlson SurvCE, and Carlson Survey and my Motorola MC75 and a holder for my data collector on the prisim pole. I traded my topcon total station in so if you count that the above figure would be $2,800.00 less. Because I did a trade in I kept my Tripod and my prisim pole so that is not included in the price.
In case anyone hasn’t noticed the price for everything in the Engineering Industry is expensive. Just price a new E size plotter. Or a copy of AutoDesk Civil3D.
s.September 15, 2011 at 3:45 pm #160651
“After reading a host of these replys it strikes me that 1st a lot of LA’s want to hide behind the Survyor when something goes wrong.”
You’re absolutely correct Steve. I’m able to sleep at night knowing that I have a little cushion because I seldom venture out of my line of expertise. I have no problem locating a couple of trees or a row of shrubs on a large residential project or even a full measurement/location on a small simple residence, but that’s about it. I leave it up to the experts. When you start talking about P.O.Bs and shooting back azimuths, I just get turned off.
I’ve worked with good surveyors that communicated with me to get all of the information I needed. I told him the invert elevations and tree locations I needed and I was a happy designer. I think the problems arise when you get a survey the Architect requested or you get one that was intended for sanitary system design approval only. It’s funny how the owner or builder looks at you like you’re nuts when you initially reject the survey.September 15, 2011 at 4:04 pm #160650
That attitude may afford you more sleep but this method will make you more money 🙂 !
s.September 15, 2011 at 4:05 pm #160649
$12,000, that sounds like an investment a Licensed Surveyor would make. I’d get way more mileage out of the oversized plotter and ACAD Civil 3D. Oh well, like Andrew said, we all have different needs.
It’s interesting how pi$$y us LAs get when an allied professions venture onto our turf, but it’s ok to us to dabble in surveying. Even to the extent of investing decent cash to do so. Just sayin’.September 15, 2011 at 4:21 pm #160648
Steve, if how you’re operating pays the bills, it’s all good. I’ll respect that you know what’s best for you, but this Landscape Architect is going to stay in his lane. Besides, give yourself a little credit; I think a person has to have a certain aptitude to do land surveying professionally.September 15, 2011 at 4:34 pm #160647
I view it differently Craig,
What are your 3 most valuable assets?
Answer: Your Health
Anything that can augment those three things are priceless! Don’t gag at the nat and turn around and swallow the camel!
As to your second comment about dabbling in surveying… This is all about bringing you to a point where you are ready to do your design. You don’t get paid untlil you start designing. The quicker you can get yourself there the more designs you can do and the more money you can make. Following your logic as a Landscape Contrator we would be using hand spades in lieu of a trackhoe to install the landsape. Can we do that? Absoultely will we make any money noooo!
If you take this attitude that we are dabbling in surveying you have totally missed the point. And whether you take a tape measure out to the site and measure everything by a tape measure for 2 days, or pay a surveyor to do a medicore job and have to wait to get on his schedule and still have to return to the job site to pickup the measurements they missed, or you invest in your own future with this knowledge and equipment that will drastically cut down your prep time that leads to the point where the design process begins is up to you. Just remember, you a business person first and a designer second.
s.September 15, 2011 at 4:43 pm #160646
That’s your decision I respect that. But I disagree with the aptitude notion. This is a computer with software that happens to be connected to a laser. If you can learn to use a computer you can learn to use this device as well.
s.September 15, 2011 at 4:59 pm #160645Jason T. RadiceParticipant
I guess it really does depend on what type of work you do. If you deal with small sites, you make a compelling argument. Those whom work on residential or small commercial or design/build that need layout capabilities can definitely benefit from your approach.
But the sites I generally work on are on the larger size…much larger size. And the survey drawings need to be stamped by a licensed surveyor in order to get permits. Plus, if I miss a subterranean pipe, I’m liable. Professional surveyors ARE my timesaver, my insurance; it takes a crew or two a day to a week for some of these sites. I can get a completed survey and fill in the blanks as I need usually in a few hours. I have a list of stuff I check for. Even Google Earth or Bing Maps can assist before setting foot on the site.
As much as I love tools, especially fancy digital ones, it just does not make financial sense to me, or the vast majority of us. Kudos to you the recognition and innovation of adding this service to your repertoire, and I’m glad it works for you. BTW, I learned to survey in college…with antique manual theodolites and scopes…in the snow…none of this newfangled total station stuff.
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