Total Station Laser
A total station is an electronic/optical instrument used in modern surveying. The total station is an electronic theodolite (transit) integrated with an electronic distance meter (EDM) to read slope distances from the instrument to a particular point.
Robotic total stations allow the operator to control the instrument from a distance via remote control. This eliminates the need for an assistant staff member as the operator holds the reflector and controls the total station from the observed point.
Coordinate measurementCoordinates of an unknown point relative to a known coordinate can be determined using the total station as long as a direct line of sight can be established between the two points. Angles and distances are measured from the total station to points under survey, and the coordinates (X, Y, and Z or northing, easting and elevation) of surveyed points relative to the total station position are calculated using trigonometry and triangulation. To determine an absolute location a Total Station requires line of sight observations and must be set up over a known point or with line of sight to 2 or more points with known location.
Most modern total station instruments measure angles by means of electro-optical scanning of extremely precise digital bar-codes etched on rotating glass cylinders or discs within the instrument. The best quality total stations are capable of measuring angles to 0.5 arc-second. Inexpensive “construction grade” total stations can generally measure angles to 5 or 10 arc-seconds.
Measurement of distance is accomplished with a modulated microwave or infrared carrier signal, generated by a small solid-state emitter within the instrument’s optical path, and reflected by a prism reflector or the object under survey. The modulation pattern in the returning signal is read and interpreted by the computer in the total station. The distance is determined by emitting and receiving multiple frequencies, and determining the integer number of wavelengths to the target for each frequency. Most total stations use purpose-built glass corner cube prism reflectors for the EDM signal. A typical total station can measure distances with an accuracy of about 1.5 millimetres (0.0049 ft) + 2 parts per million over a distance of up to 1,500 metres (4,900 ft).
Reflectorless total stations can measure distances to any object that is reasonably light in color, to a few hundred meters.
Some models include internal electronic data storage to record distance, horizontal angle, and vertical angle measured, while other models are equipped to write these measurements to an external data collector, such as a hand-held computer.