Setting Up a Base with Local Coordinates

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“Okay, I understand that I MUST set my base to a geodetic location that is within 200 meters of my base’s TRUE geodetic location X, Y and Z. But I still want to set the base at a known position and I don’t have a transformation. I swear I can do this in other software packages!”

You can do it in SurvCE also. Here is how.

First go to “Equip: 6 Localization: GPS (tab)”. Set the One Point Azimuth to ‘Geodetic’ or ‘State Plane Grid’ as desired. If you are going to use a system like 1000,1000,0 then you probably want to pick ‘Geodetic’. If you are going to use a state plane or modified state plane coordinate then you undoubtedly want to select ‘State Plane Grid’:


Also check to make sure that an appropriate Geoid File is specified. Even if you are in Latin America and have a crappy Geoid file, you STILL need to select it or your elevation error will increase as you move away from the base.

Click on the green check mark to return to the Equip tab.

Do the standard base configuration steps: “Equip: GPS Base: setup Current, COMS, Receiver and RTK tab normally”. Click the Green Checkmark in the upper right corner.

The ‘Base Configuration’ tab is shown. Select the “From Known Position” tab:


In my case I want to enter local coordinates 1000, 1000, 0; so I click on the center button ‘Use Local Coordinates’:


Enter your desired coordinates, then click on the green check mark. SurvCE will ask you what you want to use for the localization file. The default is the job name with a .LOC extension:


Accept or modify the filename, then click on the green check mark.

SurvCE will read an autonomous position from the base. (In the USA this position will be within a couple feet of the IGS08 current epoch true position; elsewhere it will be within 5 meters.)


Click on ‘Yes’ to continue.

The base will be configured and SurvCE will ask if you want to store a reference file:


Click on ‘Yes’


Choose an appropriate name and click on the green check mark.

Your base is now broadcasting corrections and if you could occupy the Base Point (under the base) with your rover, the rover would read ‘1000.00, 1000.00, 0.00’ as you desired.

You are ready to survey, but let’s spend a few extra minutes and address two things:

  • what is going on in the background?
  • how do I setup on this same base point the following day?
  • what if I have more than one rover?

What is Happening in the Background?

First off, SurvCE has done a ‘Read GPS’ and used the autonomous location to initialize the base. The base does not think that it is at 1000, 1000, 0; the base thinks it is at a position that is very close to it’s TRUE position:


SurvCE automatically sets up a single point localization. You can view it by going to “Equip: Localization: Points”:


Notice that the control point’s local coordinates are the point  that I manually entered. Click on the ‘View’ button:


and the corresponding geodetic position is the autonomous (WAAS corrected) base point. This base point is also saved in the .REF file.

So to recap, SurvCE has initialized the base with a ‘Read GPS’ position and then automatically configured a single point localization that results in the base reading the exact local coordinates that I requested.

How do I setup on the Same Base Point on a Following Day?

You want to use the .REF file to insure that the base is initialized with the exact same geodetic position that was used on the first day.

Setup the base over the EXACT same X-Y location as the first day. The HI does not need to match. Enter the correct HI on the ‘Receiver’ tab:


When you click on the green check mark, you will go to ‘Base Configuration’ dialog. Select the ‘From Known Position’ tab:


Click on the ‘Read From File’ button at the bottom:


Select the same reference file that you saved on the first day, then click the green check mark.

SurvCE will check to insure that the broadcast geodetic location is close to the actual location, then display the position read from the file:


Click on Yes:


And the base is reconfigured exactly as it was the first day. Since you are still using the original job file, the correct localization is automatically used. You are good to survey!

What if I have Multiple Rovers on my Job?

Then you must move the localization file (.LOC) onto each of the other rovers and load it with the load button in ‘Equip: Localization: Points (tab)’:


Then select the .LOC which you moved from the first rover data collector:


Again, the second rover is now ‘registered’ with the same localization and will follow the first rover’s coordinates exactly.


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Carlson SurvCE Robot Tracking vs. Tracking

Often Carlson SurvCE robotic users are confused by a robot that is tracking the prism while the screen indicates that Tracking is turned off. Here is a screenshot showing tracking disabled:


You can see that I am “locked” and if I move the prism around, the gun will follow the prism and the AR and ZA on the bottom update continuously:


But the interface shows that tracking is disabled:



If you push this button, then the gun will switch to ‘Tracking’ mode and the icon will change to this:


Which is ‘Tracking’ ON and the EDM will start firing. And the difference is on the bottom line:


You now have a slope distance displayed, the gun is firing and making a tracking measurement.

So while we are talking about this, what is the difference between “R” (READ) and “S” (STORE)? Read does a full read, then a store: the gun checks position on the prism, does a couple of precision average shots and then stores the result.

Store just stores the last reading acquired through the tracking process. And there can be a significant difference.

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Setting up a Base in Carlson SurvCE

Over the past few weeks, I have been inundated with calls from experienced users who are setting up GPS bases on sites and blowing the process. [ See also ]

There is a common misconception that you can put any coordinate in the base and have it work well.

These misconceptions are promulgated by  manufacturers who hide automatic localizations behind a magic ‘setup’ curtain. A user can push a few buttons, configure a job at a site and sometimes end up with good coordinates, but they have NO IDEA what is going on in the background. While the underlying true base position and the automatically generated projection and ‘calibration’ can be viewed, most button pressers have no idea what is going on, where to look for the configuration and the magic site calibration ends up existing ONLY in the data collector of the ignorant button pusher.

If you are going to use RTK GPS, you need to explicitly understand what is happening when you configure a base.

I thought that I would write a detailed description of my thoughts on base configuration, but have re-read the Carlson User Manual and found it to be excellent. I have decided to make a few additional notes over the next few days here on the blog.

You can download a PDF copy of the User Manual using this link: [ SurvCE User Manual ]  or from the Carlson Website. The Base Configuration section starts on page 146, is not too difficult of a read, and is an excellent resource.

Let me add these thoughts:

  1. When you configure the Base, your goal is to tell the GNSS base what the actual coordinates for the electrical phase center of the GNSS antenna are, including the actual ellipsoid elevation.This is done by telling SurvCE the position of the Ground Mark. (The point on the ground under the GPS head.)If you specify a projected Grid Coordinate, then SurvCE will convert it to the equvalent Lat/Lon/Height.If you specify the Orthometric Height, SurvCE applies the GEOID and computes an Ellipsoid Elevation.

    Since you have provided the Ground Mark elevation, SurvCE will add the rod height HI (either slant or vertical) and the L1 offset (determined by the antenna model ) which sets the offset from the bottom (or measure up mark) to the electrical phase center of the antenna.

    You give SurvCE the Ground Mark position and SurvCE computes the electrical phase center of the GNSS antenna on top of the pole and sends this Phase Center position to the receiver with a command to ‘Be a Base’ and broadcast corrections.

    This Phase Center position HAS to be within 100 feet X,Y and Z of the TRUE geodetic location. The Phase Center elevation HAS to be ELLIPSOID so you HAVE to load and use a GEOID file if you are going to enter orthometric heights.

    If the position is in error by more than 100 feet then Rovers which are using the Base for corrections probably will not be able to fix, or will fix extremely slowly. Bad base initializations also can have the effect of making the base appear to ‘hang’ — it just can’t compute correctors for the signals that it is receiving to broadcast.

    Even the difference of the Geoid height (typically 30 to 60 feet) will severely hinder the rover’s ability to fix.

  2. I am not going to sugar coat the following statement: “If you are initializing your Base with an Orthometric height then you are crazy.” This is a cardinal sin and it cannot be forgiven.Let me give you an example. Pretend that you are at this location:
    Lat: 40 44 10.22058    State Plane Northing (UT C NAD83): 7437104.68825
    Lon: 111 51 34.19263    State Plane Easting: 1540786.56835
    Ellipsoid Height: 1306.483 M (4,286.353 ft)
    Orthometric Height: 1323.212 M (4,341.238 ft)
    You might incorrectly configure your receiver as shown:
    In the screen shot above, the orthometric height is entered as an ellipsoid height. This results in a 55 foot bust in the broadcast position of the base. This will significantly slow down a Rover’s ability to fix.In addition it will result in bad orthometric heights as the distance from the Base to the Rover increases.(The reason the ‘Orthometric’ option is grayed out is no GEOID is loaded or available.)
  3. An important statement in the User Manual is: “When you are starting a new job (no information in the raw RW5 file yet), always use the options in From New Position.”
    That sums it up: if you are starting a new job or series of jobs, always use the ‘From New Position’ tab. If you have coordinates for the base that are accurate, then go ahead and use them using the ‘Enter Lat/Lon’ or ‘Grid System Coordinates’ button.
    Otherwise use the ‘Read GPS’ method of getting an approximate position. (You can always set the base at a random position, Read GPS and then do a localization on the Rover.)If you are reoccupying a base point that you have occupied before, then use the ‘From Known Position’ tab. The most common button is then ‘Read From File’.
  4. The Carlson User Manual says that ‘Read GPS’ will return a position that is accurate in the range of 10 to 100 meters. On modern GPS/GNSS receivers, if the receiver has been turned on and tracking satellites for 5 minutes (and is located in the USA), a read GPS will return coordinates that is within 0.3 meters (1 foot) of the TRUE IGS08 framed location.The IGS08 framed position will be within a couple of meters of the NAD83 position that you probably want.

I am working on a follow-up post

  • Configuring a base at a random point near your control at a job
  • Using a single point calibration to match control on the control point (with the random base)
  • Setting up the Base on the second day at this job

So more on this in a later post. ==> [ See also ]



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Setting Up Email on LT30

Here are detailed instructions on how to setup email on an LT30 (but it will match most Windows Mobile devices) using a standard POP server.

Note: All of the credentials shown below are bogus, if you really are using an account on the iGage server you need to use the REAL credentials, not the bogus ones shown in the pictures!

For this demo, here are the email credentials and settings from the administrator:

User Name:
Password: 123FfF321
SMTP Server: (port 587)
POP Server: (port 110)
Outgoing Server Requires SMTP Authentication

So on the LT30, start messaging:


Click on ‘Setup E-mail’ and enter the email address and password:


Click on ‘Next’:


Uncheck ‘Try to get …’, then click Next:


Choose ‘Internet e-mail’ then click ‘Next’:


Enter a reasonable name and account, then click Next:


Enter the incoming mail server (with port number after ‘:’ as shown) and choose POP3 for the account type, then click on Next:


Enter your full User name (with the @ and domain) and Password, then click on Next:


Enter the correct SMTP server (with optional port number after ‘:’), check the ‘Outgoing server …’ checkbox as required for your server, then click ‘Advanced Server Settings’


I recommend un-checking both the ‘SSL’ checkboxes, then click ‘Done’, then click ‘Next’:


If I am out surveying, and perhaps not connected to the internet, I don’t want to get a bunch of error messages about email. So I set the ‘Automatic Send/Recieve’ to ‘Manually’. Click ‘Finish’


Then click ‘Yes’ to check our settings:


I had already sent myself email congradulating myself on setting up the email account, so it shows up in my inbox.

If I click on it, the full message will be shown:


The real purpose here is to send a Carlson SurvCE .CRD file back to the office, so I can click on Menu: New:


And then from the send screen:


I can enter a destination email, subject and click on “Menu: Insert: File” (shown above) and browse to files in ‘My Documents’.

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Certificates on Windows Mobile

If you have a Windows Mobile device like the Spectra Precision Ranger 3, it has an ‘Internet Explorer’ program on it. You can use this to browse to websites like ours:


but if you browse to other websites (like Google) you get one or more security warnings:


What is up?

A couple of things, first when you  browse to Google, you type in “” which evaluates to “”, but Google changes your request to the equivalent secure address “” which forces a secure web page to your mobile device.

Googles’s secure page is signed by


“Google Internet Authority G2” which in turn is signed by “GeoTrust Global CA”.

The underlying issue is new certificates are built with SHA2, not with SHA1. Microsoft depreciated SHA1 in July 2016. Early version of the operating system for the Ranger 3 don’t support SHA2. A new OS is available which does and if you update the OS (which will erase ALL data from the data collector) it will browse to these secure sites and load intermediate certificates as required.

There is a detailed description of the issue ( here )

There are many data collectors (which we also sell) that don’t have ready access to updated OS’s. There may not be an easy fix for these devices. However, I would add that for the intended purpose, these devices are still just fine. You should not be doing heavy web browsing on a Surveyor+ or LT30.

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InterGEO 2016, Day 3 (Thur)

Day three I concentrated on final visits with companies, but I did find a few new things and take more detailed pictures of things that I thought others would be interested in. At noon I left to walk downtown to look for a few presents.

One thing that I found interesting was I don’t think that there was another US dealer at the show that was not also a part of a display booth. It could certainly be possible that I did not run into them. My friend Brian (a Utah Surveyor) went with me and I believe that he could have been the only US surveyor at the show as an attendee (again, there were a few working booths for the companies that they sell for.) At the show conclusion both of us thought that the show was totally-completely worth the trouble. We both got a perspective that we would not have gotten otherwise.

My UAV conclusions: On Tuesday I made a quick pass through the UAV centric hall (which is slightly misleading as there were a lot of UAV’s in all the halls.) I made an initial conclusion about them: “NO”. After three days and a better perspective it is my conclusion that there are about 100 european manufacturers who are all competing with DJI.

Last week Trimble announced that they are jettisoning Gatewing, which I think is a good decision because the flying hardware is a total commodity.

I did meet some young businessmen who are building replacement parts for DJI and their own line of disposable drones. Basically they make the parts for a full drone, minus motors and control for much less than $50. Fly them a few times and toss them.

They will be successful with this model. I am interested in this.

If you need a big drone (like one with a gas motor) there are other players who make them, but for a surveyor they are not in play.

There were also some killer trick cameras that do multi-band. These are pretty cool too.

Having dished the hardware, I will say that I met 5 different companies that are making fantastic alternatives to Pix4D. And instead of being ‘whatever centric’ Pix4D is, they are survey/engineering centric. Much better registration, control and interchange with standard survey tools. Different licensing models too. I am very interested in this segment of the drone world.

I hate to stay this, but the drones are a total commodity like toilet paper. You are going to be able buy decent drones at a corner supertore.

Here are yet more drone / UAV pictures from Thursday:


Here is a wider shot of the robot with two GPS receivers mounted on the back of a 4-wheeler:img_20161013_104042865img_20161013_104107281img_20161013_104143202img_20161013_104154475_hdrimg_20161013_104202488_hdrimg_20161013_104209864img_20161013_104222147img_20161013_104228376_hdrimg_20161013_104258273img_20161013_104310334img_20161013_104321017img_20161013_104347152img_20161013_104409728img_20161013_104418778img_20161013_104428537_hdrimg_20161013_104446478img_20161013_104455322img_20161013_104507421img_20161013_104517633img_20161013_104520104img_20161013_104601678img_20161013_104612167img_20161013_104635461

I found another source of some really nifty prisms, targets and well machined accessories:

I guess these are for putting down on the road to monitor the lanes on a bridge


These are pretty cool prisms tooimg_20161013_093432907img_20161013_093447362img_20161013_093535496

At the Genecq booth (they are from Canada) I found the Gintec G10. Gintec is a sub-brand of Unistrong. This receiver is in the same case as the Carlson BRX6 (so much for an exclusive) but it uses the Trimble BD-970 engine instead of the Hemisphere developed engine.img_20161013_095720322img_20161013_095709345

They also had a cool little 7-watt repeater (I assume that it is also built by Unistrong):


At the Nikon corner of the Spectra Precision corner of the Trimble booth:


Which is targeted at precision vision applications like looking at crack expansion on bridge columns and decks.

I also spoke at length with the Geo++ folks


who make the server software for building RTK networks (it competes with Trimble VRS products.) They also perform (essentially) all of the absolute antenna calibrations.

I got interested in their deployed networks and took pictures of all of them along with a short paper on PPP/RTK:


Deployed networks:

Iran / Korea (hopefully South?)


Germany / Netherlandsimg_20161013_103006735

Netherhlands / Europe (different networks)img_20161013_103014512

Spain / Italyimg_20161013_103019661

Austria / Franceimg_20161013_103025751

Belgium / Hungaryimg_20161013_103033582

Finland / Icelandimg_20161013_103040367

Turkey / Brazilimg_20161013_103046524

more Brazil, Canadaimg_20161013_103053350

Canada, USA (partial)img_20161013_103100339img_20161013_103108882


UAE, Tunesiaimg_20161013_103126691

Hong Kong, Israel, Japanimg_20161013_103132303

Taiwan, Sri Lankaimg_20161013_103137824

This looks like a pretty nice rail mapping fixture:


In every booth that did mobile mapping (like mapping from a vehicle) the only lidar of note was Velodyne:


Finally some pictures from our walk downtown. This interlocking manhole is pretty neat. Here in SLC, they either weld or tar them down. This would be a good alternative. (My family used to own the local foundry, so apparently I have an inbred fetish for steel lids.)


Yes, they have really good bread and pastries. In fact, I am thinking of returning on a dedicated donut sampling tour.img_20161013_141545648

This is the city hall, framed by the columns on a canal facing walk.img_20161013_143731889

A canal.img_20161013_144002185_hdr


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InterGEO 2016: Day 2 (Wed)

So, InterGEO is held in 5 giant halls. One of the halls is primarily devoted to UAV stuff. When I left the hall on Tuesday, I can assure you that my feeling was I did not want to get involved with the actual drones. There are 100’s of drone manufacturers. In a few years, 80% of them will be gone.

So other than the one hall full of drones, and a smattering of drones elsewhere, the show is full of GPS/GNSS related toys.

The stuff that I found to be most interesting was the crazy cool mechanical things. Like:

Tribrachs that register to 10 um (ten microns) X, Y and Z.

Pen bottoms for poles that put a marker dot on the ground when you push them.

Site monitoring prisms (you probably can not imagine how many are available here. It is amazing.)

I am going to log my pictures starting from the morning to the evening.


This is the downtown Radisson BLU hotel where we stayed. It is a great hotel. The best thing about this hotel is the AMAZING breakfast buffet. (I will get pictures in the morning.)


This the same digital level that we sell with a Spectra Precision label. I found it at the Ruide booth (which is a sub-brand of South).


This is a pretty nice little data collector from South. I believe it is available as Android or Windows Embedded.


I did not dare ask how much this ‘medium’ sized Ground Penetrating Radar might be. They claim that they make one 4 times bigger. (Treasure Hunt!)


This is a new 1-watt Satel external radio. I would personally use it for a repeater. The internal battery will run it for 6 hours.

Next we have an amazing assortment of monuments:








Now, these pole tips are amazing:


You put a paint marker in them, then when you push the pole down, it puts a paint dot on




If you need cool scanning targets, they exist:










I ran into my old friend Neil VanCans from Altus / Septentrio and shared a Salt Lake City beer with him at the SatLab booth:



They had a machine that froze the bottom 1/2 inch on the can so it literally has ice inside the bottom of the can. Brilliant!

Here are some bigger shots of the floor in one of the five halls:





Lunch is always important, we chose the ‘Bobby and Fritz’ food truck:



Pomms + Sausage cuts + BBQ Sauce + special spicy curry powder. I had already had two beers at the Javad booth so I had a ‘CocaLite’.

Here is a nice compass (the kind without batteries):


Here is an electronic compass:


This is a cool inclinometer with a locking dial. It has 0.1 degree resolution:


These are the coolest truck box and organizers ever:









with a cool desk inside the van:



And here is a 10 micron precision tribrach:







Finally, here is a picture of the park on the way back from the hall to the hotel:


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