ACSM 2001 Recap

Sunny skies and light breezes welcomed more than 2,000 conference-goers who gathered in mid- March at the Riviera Hotel Conference Center in Las Vegas, Nevada for the annual ACSM conference. An impressive technical program, put together by the California Land Surveyors Association (CLSA), the Nevada Association of Land Surveyors (NALS), WESTFED, and ACSM offered conference attendees a choice of 42 workshops and 23 sessions.

Incoming ACSM President, Gary Kent, in his address at the Opening Reception and Awards Ceremony, shared his vision for the future of ACSM and member organizations. He emphasized the need for each organization to examine its structure, and to focus on the services which will best help its members solve problems and prepare for the future.

As for legislative issues, the NSPS Board of Directors approved a motion authorizing the printing of the surveying recruitment brochure, "Surveying and Mapping–Is It For You?" The brochure was developed under the guidance of the NSPS Forum for Equal Opportunity.

The ACSM Board of Direction established a $50 bi-annual renewal fee for Hydrographic Certification. The Board also approved the formation of an ad hoc committee to explore the GIS/LIS certification issues. At the request of NSPS, the Board 1) authorized the formation of an ACSM Ad Hoc Reorganization Committee to complete the work started by the ACSM Reorganization Sub-Committee of the NSPS Restructure Committee, and 2) directed that a study be made regarding a Bulletin Board relating to issues of software and hardware.

The 4th Annual Surveying Sports Competition, always a popular event, attracted many participants to the Exhibit Hall. Surveyors plied their skills in events that included pacing, guessing an angle, an elevation difference, and a bearing, turning an angl e, and survey chain throwing. Event sponsors included ACSM, Berntsen International, Inc., SubSurface Instruments,, UCLID Software, and Professional Surveyor Magazine.


The following companies and products were among those featured in the Exhibit Hall:

Autodesk, Inc. presented Field Survey, a full featured, stand-alone coordinate geometry package designed expressly for professionals in small to mid-sized land surveying, engineering, and land development firms. Field Survey combines the features and benefits of high-end survey software important to smaller shops into one specialized solution. The software gives professionals the ability to manage survey jobs from beginning to end—from the earliest measurements, to calculations, review, and continuing through to final presentation. In addition to being a stand-alone product for smaller shops, Field Survey also adds an important first stage—data capture in the field—to the broader Autodesk land development suite. When deployed in conjunction with AutoCAD Land Development Desktop 2i, Autodesk Civil Design and Autodesk Survey, Autodesk Field Survey gives users comprehensive capabilities for gathering, analyzing and manipulating land development data and automatically generating drawings.Circle Number 160

Azimuth Surveying Solutions, Inc. showcased its Trek-Tracker software. Trek-Tracker is navigational software that allows the user to see his position in real-time directly on the map of his or her choice, displayed on a Pocket PC. Any map can be used, whether it is downloaded from the Internet, exported from mapping software, or scanned from paper. Typical maps include Topographic Quadrangles, Aerial and Satellite Photographs, Tax Maps, or composites of different sources. Maps are either geo-referenced in the office or in the field, with a simplified two point geo-reference or a one point and scale factor system. Waypoints can be collected, imported and exported. Trek-Tracker interfaces with standard NMEA GPS receivers.
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CAiCE introduced VisualSurvey which offers a set of automated tools that are easy-to-use, and enables the surveyor to quickly perform a full spectrum of functions to meet client requirements. VisualSurvey turns raw data into a database of intelligent data and 3D visualization tools greatly enhance the ability of error checking. Data import and processing features include: the ability to segregate data by survey crew; survey analysis reports; interactive editing of raw survey data. VisualSurvey is also able to perform an extensive analysis and reduction process; segregate data into control information, horizontal networks, vertical networks, and sideshots. Other enhancements include customized report generation and 2D/3D visualization.
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Carlson introduced SurvCE data collection software. Features include a tab-based menu structure, which eliminates the need for up-down arrow keying to view options; plotting of points on MAP screen as they are shot in the field or entered; flexible presentation of points including display size control and selective display; a command line on the map screen, similar to AutoCAD; and coming soon, contour generation in the field. Also available is LandXML import for roading and import/export of DXF files with linework, allowing the user to survey on top of a design plan. The software runs on the Ranger, the Allegro from Juniper Systems, and other Windows CE devices.
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ChrisNik, Inc. displayed hardened Mag Nails. These nails are durable, and have a large center point and an induced magnetic field that has a high level of detectability. The Mag Nail has also been coated with a zinc and clear chromate to resist corrosion.
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Crain Enterprises, Inc. showcased their new Composilite Prism Pole. Features of this product include a new non-slip Grip-Tite locking system. In addition, this pole is 60 percent the weight of metal poles and has a unique topo-boot for soft surfaces. It protects a precision point and stores conveniently when not in use. The pole has a large, adjustable level vial; adjustable prism mount; and durable-impact resistant materials throughout. This product is non-conductive and does not attract lightning. It is available in 8' and12' lengths. Crain also offers consistent sub-second stability, even with robotic total stations, with the new Tri-Max Composite Tripods. The durable tripods have a 5-year warranty. Specialized accessories are also available.
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ESRI made available a "Test Drive GIS Lab" of GIS/LIS technology during a hands-on workshop which enabled users to experience ArcGIS, its GIS system. ArcGIS uses raster and vector data. Vector data allows for more accurate location of features, more accurate boundary delineation, and linear modeling along features such as roads, rails, rivers, and other networks. In other words, raster data make it possible to model such phenomena as land suitability, flooding, and fire spread, while vector data are used to model location, routing, and flows.
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GEOPAK featured its Civil Engineering Suite, a comprehensive transportation design solution that provides for every major civil discipline. The Suite will create a cross section anywhere you choose, inclusive of multiple elevations, cut radically or skewed. To enhance viewing, the 3-Port Viewer lets the user work simultaneously in synchronized plan, profile, and cross section files. This and other and other viewing capabilities support the decision-making process and streamline design. Also featured was GEOPAK Survey, a software package that utilizes raw field data as well as ASCII XYZ data to create finished drawings within MicroStation. It provides feature mapping and DTM generation from field data. The user can download survey data from virtually any data format and data collector, reducing and adjusting the data using a choice of standard methods. A comprehensive toolset streamlines editing, manipulation, and interrogation of survey data.
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Leica Geosystems Inc., introduced the PDL/GUF6 Rover Radio Module for GPS Systems 500. The PDL/GUF6 radio module utilizes the latest PDL (Position Data Link) OEM technology from Pacific Crest. When this radio module is used with a PDL base station radio, it will allow an end user to take advantage of a new, high performance data link. Specific advantages include: higher over-the-air link rates; reduced power consumption; reduced weight; and enhanced user interface. Leica also displayed TPS 1100 total stations. The Extended Range Option enables distance measurements without reflector up to 200m with an accuracy of 3mm + 2ppm (depending on the type of target). The reflectorless distance measurement is based on the principle of phase measurement. The laser beam of instruments with phase measurement is considerably narrower than that of instruments with impulse measurement. At a target distance of 100m, the laser dot of the TPS1100 is approximately elliptical in shape with a size of 1.5 x 3cm. Therefore, targets are precisely acquired and accurate distance measurement is guaranteed even on corners and edges. With the coaxial reflectorless EDM it is also possible to measure long distances of up to 7500m to a single prism.
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Magellan Corporation highlighted Z-Xtreme, a rugged, weatherproof, dual-frequency GPS receiver designed that provides instant RTK and is designed to provide surveyors with cost-effective, centimeter-accurate positions in a variety of system configurations. The Z-Xtreme receiver begins with state-of-the-art satellite electronics coupled with Ashtech's patented Z-tracking and includes a removable battery and flash memory card that provides enough capacity to last all day for maximum utility. The Z-Xtreme survey system provides a range of solutions designed for the vast array of positioning needs—from entry level static or kinematic post-processed surveys, all the way up to real-time functions such as stakeout. This system improves user productivity for control surveys and other post-processed applications. The ZX SuperStation is a field-to-finish turnkey GPS surveying system that combines the Z-Xtreme receiver with a data collector and wireless modems for centimeter-accuracy in real-time. Also displayed was Ashtech Solutions Version 2.0, a GPS and GLONASS post-processing software package. The upgraded software offers surveyors several new analysis tools and functions, including Continuous Kinematic (trajectory) data processing, computation of ground coordinates, manual vector processing, the ability to compensate for antenna phase center offsets during vector processing, and the ability to export to the National Geodetic Survey (NGS) Bluebook format. Ashtech Solutions provides advanced, yet easy-to-use, capabilities for mission planning, data processing, least-squares adjustment, transformations, report generation, and data export to standard formats. Both experienced and novice users will benefit from the ability to work faster, to gain accurate, reliable results, and to minimize manual processing and data manipulation. Ashtech Solutions v2.0 combines the functionality of the Locus Processor v1.2 and Ashtech Solutions v1.2, and permanently replaces Locus Processor. While the new version offers new and improved functions, it maintains existing attributes such as a fast processing engine, user-friendly graphical interface and automated techniques for pinpointing problem data.

Magellan also showcased the Ashtech Micro-Z Continuous Geodetic Reference Station (CGRS) System, featuring its GPS Reference Station technology. The Micro-Z CGRS is an easy-to-operate, 12-channel, dual-frequency system that delivers high-accuracy results for use in scientific, land survey, GIS, and engineering applications. Standard features of the Micro-Z CGRS receiver include all-in-view 12-channel operation, a 16 Mb memory, multi-bit signal processing for RF jamming immunity, SAW filtering techniques, and industry-standard RTK broadcast capability.

Version 3 of the Ashtech Reliance was also highlighted. This new version provides numerous enhancements to the FAMlog software for handheld computers and Reliance Processor software for planning, processing, and exporting data. Enhancements found in Version 3 include a Batch Processor to automate all aspects of data processing, Internet access to base station data, additional map background formats (DXF and Shape), greater choice of map symbols, automatic calculation of the size of area features in the field, and more.
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MicroSurvey displayed its new FieldGenius data collector software featuring a sync mode that automatically downloads data to a desktop or laptop. A download wizard is used to help process the data and automatically regenerate the field drawing. Files can be sent to the Field Genius complete with points and linework. Included in FieldGenius is Tap ‘n Survey for data collection, which provides the user with one-touch COGO traverse, sideshot, and stakeout capability. Real-time automatic linework is possible without the need for extra coding. The software runs on the DAP Microflex CE 5320, Fujitsu Tablet, Husky FeX21, Compaq Pocket PCs, and Symbol Pocket PC.
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Nikon demonstrated its new pulse laser total station, the NPL-350, which offers enhanced measurement productivity through its ability to survey otherwise inaccessible points. The NPL-350 is a nonprism version of Nikon's DTM-350 total station, offering five arc second angle accuracy and 5mm + 5pp distance accuracy. Because measurement is achieved after focusing, the reflectorless EDM assures greater precision when the measurement beam is oblique to the target surface. Also, the diameter of the laser beam is etched into the reticle, so that the size of the measuring beam can be evaluated, avoiding erroneous target recognition. This makes it easy to confirm that the beam does not extend beyond the target. Features also include a 5.5-hour battery life; 0.5 second high-speed tracking measurement time, a function onboard data recording system with a 5,000-point data memory; a feature coding system; an ergonomic keyboard with a full alphanumeric input; and a light, compact design.
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Northwest Instrument, Inc. displayed the first total station manufactured in China. The NTDM Series is available in both 5" (NTDM05) and 10" (NTDM10) models. The NTDM05 will shoot 4,000 ft to a single prism, and 6,000 ft to a triple. The NTDM10 will shoot 3,000 ft to a single, and 5,000 ft to a triple. Both instruments come with easy-to-read double-sided LCD displays, and an RS232C data port.
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Optech introduced the ILRIS-3D laser scanner. The system is completely eyesafe under all operating conditions. Maximum range is 350 meters. About the same size as a motorized total station, the system is designed to be used by a single operator, and fits in an attache case or backpack. The system has a visual interface similar to that of a common digital camera, and can be interactively configured via an IrDA connection between a palmtop computer and the onboard Pentium-class computer. Point cloud data is captured at a rate of 2,000 points per second and written to an ATA flashcard. The data captured by the hardware is processed by proprietary software that comes with the unit. The unit is rated for operation from -20ºC to +50ºC, and is rated NEMA 4X for operation in wet locations
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Pythagoras Software introduced a CAD application specifically designed to serve the needs of surveyors and civil engineers. Designed from the ground up, Pythagoras integrates calculation and drawing functions. The user determines the intersections, areas, distances, etc. while drawing. All of these functions are combined into one application: conversion of field data into drawing; ground modeling; road design; integration of raster and vector data; and unique drawing functions tuned to the needs of the surveyor.
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S!TE highlighted its PDL Radio/GPS Antenna Mount. This unique bracket mounts on any NMO conductive path without extra cables. It is particularly suited to mount on top of a Pacific Crest PDL Radio. This product makes it possible to reduce weight by mounting a radio and GPS antenna on one pole. The use of non-metallic composite materials eliminates GPS antenna performance degradation. It only adds 40mm to an antenna HI and allows the user to place the GPS antenna where it belongs, on the plumb line of your pole or base system, thereby enabling the radio antenna to be moved off to the side.
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SECO demonstrated its new "Twistloc" Locking Mechanism for prism poles which features fast and simple positive locking and a soft-touch rubber coated knob. This mechanism does not require anything to adjust or wear and works easily with gloves.
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Sokkia introduced the SDR 8100 data collector. The platform provides a convenient component to the Sokkia range of data collection software, SDR Level 5 CE, g2 and IMap. Features include a RISC processor, 16Mb RAM/16Mb ROM with additional storage via PC card, a 320 x 240 pixel monochrome screen, backlit 40-key alpha-numeric keypad, rechargeable lithium-ion battery, two RC232 serial ports, and an IrDA port, and user-accessible compact flash. The unit weighs 14 ounces and will operate from -4ºF to +122ºF. Also displayed was the SDR Level 5 CE—the next step in SDR-series data collection. This software provides users with SDR functionality on modern, CE-based hardware platforms. The SDR 5 combines traditional SDR functionality with seamless GPS RTK capabilities on the intuitive Windows CE platform. It is compatible with the complete range of Sokkia instruments and supports non-Sokkia instruments as well. Advanced roading options enable the user to define horizontal and vertical road alignments, or load the alignments from a computer. Other features include: graphical display of satellite status in GPS mode; graphical set-out screen to make layout easier and faster; and a map view of recorded points to allow easy orientation in the field.

The g2 Graphic Field Assistant was also highlighted. This product features all of the information on a single screen, and doesn't require tabs or scroll bars to see all of the data. Also featured is an interactive graphic map view where all of the data collection and stakeout routines may be run as well as point selection, COGO, and data editing routines. Other enhancements include: full traverse editing and Save Last, Shoot Next, and one-button storage of the last measurement and initiation of the next measurement through only one keystroke.

Also featured was MapVista, the latest in easy-to-use, CAD-based mapping and survey solutions for the desktop office environment. MapVista replaces SDR Map software, and now operates in a fully-integrated, and modern Windows environment. Key features include: reads and writes AutoCAD R12, 13 and 14 drawings, DXF, and ASCII files; downloads/uploads all popular data collectors including SDR series Electronic Field Books; and converts all RAW field data formats to the RW5 format for reduction. Imap data collection software allows the user to enjoy simplicity without sacrificing control no matter the level of expertise or the task that needs to be accomplished. offers important features such as: comprehensive GIS mapping tools with a simple interface; efficient data capture capabilities, robust attribute functions, and easy-to-interpret GPS status. New features now available in Imap version 2.3 include: a variety of color symbols to represent field data—graphical symbols that can be used at any time to easily visually differentiate between data types; user-customizable ASCII text output; and forms-based data entry.
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Subsurface Instruments, Inc. displayed the ML-1 and ML-1M Magnetic Locators. These locators were designed with the surveyor in mind and feature easy, one-hand operation, keypad switches, no knobs, and they weigh only two pounds. The ML-1M Magnetic Locator is a digital metered version that adds features and value without complexity. The only difference between the two locators is that the ML-1M has a liquid crystal display meter. Both units ship in a softpack carrying case and offer a phone jack for headset use in noisy areas.
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Topcon Positioning Systems announced its new HiPer integrated GNSS receiver. The basic HiPer system is single-frequency with post-processing software. It can be upgraded to be a full- blown, totally integrated RTK system. HiPer is based on Topcon's Paradigm chip boardset that is used in the Legacy receivers. With everything related to hardware already in the system, all receiver options are available via firmware activation. The lightweight unit features 40 channels and low power consumption. With the Minimum INTERface (MINTER), just two function keys and two three-color LEDs are all that are necessary to record data and check survey status. The unit is scheduled to be available June 1, 2001.

Topcon also introduced the RC-2 "Fast-Trak" wireless, one-touch Remote Location System. The accessory for the GTS-800AR series total stations complements a robotic one-person surveying system by making the acquisition of the track beam fast and simple. If field conditions call for your prism to be raised because you can't see the GTS-800A, the RC-2 becomes your "eyes" to view the instrument's position. It is designed to fit any robotic field application. Additional features include: small, compact size; mounting on top of prism or on prism pole to allow tilting of RC-2; cable-less operation; and AA battery operation.
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