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Opines on Geod. 600/Trimble 5600/SP Focus 10 Wanted  

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Posts: 63
50+ posts
Joined: 7 months ago

To all the seasoned surveyors out there, I humbly beg of your opinions and experience. The company I work for is primarily a smaller engineering company and I've had a long slog of a fight to get them to buy me some decent equipment. I've been using the following:

ValPar VTS02B

I firmly believe using this piece of garbage is the main reason for the lack of hair on my head.

We finally got a used Spectra Focus 10 with a TSC2 running SCS900 v2.92 and we have a Trimble Ranger running SurvCE 4 (seems to be a TDS Ranger 500x from its squishy buttons and looks; just has a Trimble badge). It was bought off a contractor so it came with a bunch of "extras." It has the "blue light" radio so I suspect it's the 2.4ghz model. I've been tasked with figuring it out. In regards to this setup, I have the following questions:

1. Does the Focus 10 have the same "feature" of the Geod. 600 and Trimble 5600 series where it has an internal battery that, when it goes dead, loses the calibration? Ie. are we on the hook for a calibration/battery change every 3 to 5 years with this instrument?

2. What beach umbrella did people use with this gun/series and how did they set it up? I used to wonder why there were so many pictures of 600's with an umbrella--after a low-in-the-sky sun day with the gun I now know why. I could get a horizontal, vertical, and distance reading using the SCS900 menu, but it would NOT for the life of me take a reading. I only needed a few shots so I just set up the total station and ran back and forth using the prism with a bipod. Who needs a gym membership, eh? I'm thinking a separate set of legs with the umbrella through the top, secured to one of the legs. I'm fearful of placing something on the station's legs as one gust could take the whole thing down.

3. I have both the RMT 604/606 (360 prism with LED's fanning out radially) and RMT 602 (single sided, jumbo prism with 5 LED's below the prism that are arranged to point the same direction as the single prism; it also has 2 buttons on it). Is there a preference between these? Is one easier to get a lock on? Do they have the same prism constant?

4. The SCS900 software is, bar none, the worst data collector software I have ever had to use. It's just so......"contractor-y" that it's painful. It seems like it's tailored so that someone in the know can setup a grading job so that a fresh, snot-nosed 14 year can go out there and check granular 'A' being placed for payment on a quantity-based tender. Is there a simple way to just punch in a station to occupy (ie. 1,10000,5000,100,OCC), set 0 on a backsite, shoot it, store it, define your setup, and start spraying? I don't have a GPS so I can't just slam down a few points, transfer them, and go to town. When a data collector makes me wish I had my old SDR-33 back.........just wow.

5. I have a Geod. 600 faceplate and a Focus 10 faceplate. The 5600 faceplate has been cracked and seems like it would need to be repaired. I'd like to use SurvCE as SCS900 is just awful. I've thought of the following sequences if anyone could critique:

Option 1
-Focus 10 w/ Geod. faceplate
-turn on gun, level using faceplate
-turn on Ranger w/ SurvCE 4 and georadio
-connect and go

I presume one still does this for radio and SurvCE?

Geodimeter/Trimble default communication settings in SurvCE are
9600,8,None,1. To check these settings on the instrument, do the following:
1. Select MNU, ENT, 4 (Data com), 1 (Select device), 2 (Serial)
2. At prompt “Serial ON?”, select ENT
3. Verify COM= followed by ENT

Option 2
-Focus 10 w/ robotic faceplate (ie. on/off button only)
-turn on gun, level using data collector running SCS900 (it can use the bubble)
-power down gun and collector
-hook up radio to data collector running SurvCE
-power up gun
-connect and go

Option 3
-Focus 10 w/ Focus 10 faceplate
-turn on gun, level using faceplate
-power down gun (I don't believe the Focus 10 faceplate "jives" with SurvCE like the Geod. 600 one does)
-hook up radio to data collector running SurvCE
-power up gun
-connect and go

Any reason to suspect these methods won't work? My main confusion seems

6. I noticed that SurvCE can track the prism using a GPS. They seem to recommend a "Garmin 10." Do they mean this Garmin NMT NMEA one?

Any other add-on options that people have used?

7. Is there anyway to change between prisms while using SurvCE 4? Ie. even going back to the gun when using a Geod. 600 faceplate?

8. How does one tell if they have a laser in the gun? I have the central tracking light module, but I'm stumped looking at it. As far as I can tell, the Focus 10 doesn't have the option for a prismless laser disto measurement like the 5600 series.

Upgrades down the road are the Lipo radio replacment and maybe the bluetooth/serial radios mods.

I realize that any self-respecting surveyor out there is looking at this situation and shaking his head. I use the tools that I am given to make "magic dots" for the designers. It's even more frustrating for me as I previously worked for a multi-national surveying/engineering/planning firm where we always got the most recent software/hardware and we did QA on other, smaller firms. But I play the hand I am dealt and not the one I wish I had.

Any and all help/input is greatly appreciated. The few sentences from experienced people will save me hours of head scratching that I will be enternally grateful for (please let me know of a charitable organization I can make a donation to for your time if that will compel you to aid me).

Side note--I'd love Richard Imrie or Norm Larson to comment as most of the posts on RPLS I've searched had their name come up Smile

20 Replies
Posts: 1489
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Joined: 9 years ago

2) I keep a piece of 1/2 inch rebar that is 5'-7" long (one inch shorter than the bed of my truck) and a golf umbrella in my truck. Drive the rebar and use electrical tape to secure the umbrella handle to the rebar.

4) SCS900 is intended to take a design from a computer and facilitate putting that design on the ground. All the intelligent work is done in the office. It's been on my DC for 11 years and I still have not bothered to learn it. I much prefer Survey Controller or Access.

Nate The Surveyor
Posts: 8729
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Joined: 9 years ago


More sympathy.

Engineering firms will spend 35k on new truck.

$1200 eBay gear.

The end.


VA LS 2867
Posts: 361
250+ posts
Joined: 8 years ago

SCS900 is a CONTRACTOR level interface for simple tasks for location and stakeout.  It is setup where the design is created in the office and items are staked from that design.

Yes, when the internal battery goes out on the Geodimeter 600/Trimble 5600, it will need the firmware reloaded after replacing the battery. Since these models are discontinued, good luck in finding parts / service for it.  Not many places will have the capability or desire to work on them.  I do have a 360 prism for a geodimeter at home if you want to purchase a backup.


2 Replies
Joined: 7 months ago

50+ posts
Posts: 63

VA LS 2867, yes, the item was bought off a former contractor.  However, in the v2.92 manual it does state one can start a job and set their own control (though it is not advised).  I was wondering if anyone has done that.


To confirm, the Focus 10 also had this "feature?"  I was under the impression that the Focus 10 was just a "blue" 5600 but was hoping S.P. had a workaround for that annoying "feature."  I will definitely keep you in mind when someone in the office smashes the prism 😉

Joined: 1 year ago

20+ posts
Posts: 47

Is the 360 prism still available?

Posts: 63
50+ posts
Joined: 7 months ago

JaRo, thank you for that.  It was exactly the kind of input I was looking for.

Nate, I don't even get a truck!  Granted, I get $0.50/km to drive around my minivan but a truck is a but a dream 😉   I appreciate your sympathy as I feel that the sentiment you're expressing is, for the most part, a valid statement when it comes to engineering firms in regards to surveying.

"Magic dots" on one's screen always take too long to collect, are too expensive, and should be correct to sub mm levels because, well, that's what AutoCAD says.    Wish I could change that but playing the hand I'm dealt.

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