Laser Range Finder and GPS

This is a supplement to my previous post on high-end GPS. One possible solution for high end GPS in obstructed environments is the use of a Laser Range Finder (LRF). The latest versions of LRF offer blue tooth connections and can be hand held type binocular type devices or can be a "laser gun" typically mounted on a survey pole with a yoke. This is a good solution if you are going to be doing data collection day in/day out for thousands of assets (objects). If you are just going to conduct sporadic data collection or need a LRF for part of an overall asset collection, then it might be worth just renting a LRF (and/or the GPS unit as well).

The City of Sacramento uses Trimble GPS, LaserCraft LRF, GPS Analyst, GPS Correct and synchronizes with a transactional ArcSDE enterprise database. The City paid ~$13,000 for the hardware/sofwtare. The city uses these devices for:

Street Sign Inventory ~150,000 assets
Urban Forest ~150,000 (initial collection is contracted out). On going data management will use
GPS and ArcPad.

If you want to buy a GPS/LRF set up for use with GPS expect to pay for the following:


High-end GPS (~$4500-5000) [Trimble/TopCon]
LRF - ~$3000-4000, the City of Sacramento uses LaserCraft Contour (gun)
pole - $200
yoke - $100
GPS pole mounting bracket - $50

Software (Assuming ESRI shop)

ArcPad $500
GPS Correct $500
GPS Analyst $2000



Pathfinder Office $1500
TerraSync $1000

If the Trimble solution is used, the it will be more difficult to manage data collected by multiple users and to synchronize changes to a central GIS database.


FAST $2000 - form builder for TopCon units. Can integrate with ArcPad, but you can only see the current feature collected. Will need TopPad for a more integrated solution with ESRI.

TopPad $500, TopCons custom ArcPad for use with TopCon units

The software/hardware will have on-going maintenance and licensing fees. Be sure to add this to your budget.

If you want to purchase such a set up, here are some things to think about.

1. Budget for hardware/software
2. Skilled GIS staff (that can set up GPS, fully understands GPS issues, and can manipulate data and back end processing)
3. How many assets are going to be collected
4. Available staff to conduct collection and on-going data maintenance
5. Work out and test a data collection workflow. If this is done ad hoc, then you can waste time, hardware/software expenses, and data management time. This will lead to the data either difficult to use or not used.

1 comment:

GPS Navigation said...

LSF is very useful to us especially its blue tooth technology.

GPS Navigation