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Might have to take the plunge and get into GPS Station Surveys  

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ChrisA
(@chrisa)
20+ posts Member
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 25
November 23, 2018 3:57 pm  

Hi All,

It has been a while, apologies for that, but hopefully a few of my contributions have counteracted that 🙂

My one man band 'company' is having difficulty with finding reliable topo surveyors lately, in turn making me look bad. Of course they're only human and occasionally bad things happen and you can't perform your profession as much as is desired.

So I've been looking at the prices and as you all know, they are quite high. It seems £20k would do the job, however I'm looking at an entry model called the "Leica AX1202 Base and Rover GPS System with RX1210T Controller", advertised on eBay.

I've got a sneaking suspicion that as this forum is generally based in the good old US of A, perhaps it's not a good place to speak of this model. However, if anyone has some advice or tips, I would gladly welcome them.

I have used GPS Stations before and was very comfortable with them, this gives me confidence that I could offer my clients a well priced service. In some ways I'm being slightly pushed into this as I do a great deal of Measured Surveys, New Build and Extension Design as wells as slowly offering Building Regulation drawing services (not inc. structural). It's mainly builders that often want topographical surveys, sometimes for sites as little as a few hundred square metres.

Anyway, possible talking point. And just for the record, I fully respect and appreciate that land surveying isn't something you can just pick up, it no doubt takes years to perfect, like other unique skills. But I'm hoping for any contributions you all might be able to make.

All the very best,

Chris


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Nate The Surveyor
(@nate-the-surveyor)
5,000+ posts Member
Joined: 8 years ago
Posts: 8407
November 23, 2018 4:13 pm  

Chris,

Where are you? England?

And "£20k" is that euro pounds?

What kind of surveying do you do? Boundary? What kind of title do you have over there?

I'm on my phone typing here.

N

Surveying is more than a Job----it is a passion to provide a foundation for future generation, that is beyond reproach.

Nate


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Loyal
(@loyal)
2,500+ posts Member
Joined: 8 years ago
Posts: 2908
November 23, 2018 4:48 pm  
Posted by: Nate The Surveyor

Chris,

Where are you? England?

And "£20k" is that euro pounds?

What kind of surveying do you do? Boundary? What kind of title do you have over there?

I'm on my phone typing here.

N

Nate,

£ is the symbol for Pound Sterling.

€ is the symbol for the EURO.

"Perilous to us all are the devices of an art deeper than we possess ourselves."
Gandalf, The Two Towers


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Dave Karoly
(@dave-karoly)
5,000+ posts Member
Joined: 8 years ago
Posts: 9814
November 23, 2018 5:00 pm  
Posted by: Nate The Surveyor

Chris,

Where are you? England?

And "£20k" is that euro pounds?

What kind of surveying do you do? Boundary? What kind of title do you have over there?

I'm on my phone typing here.

N

I think in the U.K. Boundary Surveying and Engineering Surveying are separate professions.

While we are on the subject of hard work, I just wanted to tell you that I am a man who likes hard work.
I was born working and I worked my way up by hard work.
I ain't ever got no where, but I got there by hard work.
Work of the hardest kind.
I been down and I been out
I been disgusted I been busted and I couldn't be trusted.
-Talking Hard Work, Woody Guthrie


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Mark Mayer
(@mark-mayer)
2,500+ posts Member
Joined: 8 years ago
Posts: 2571
November 23, 2018 6:10 pm  

For the purpose of discussing round number thinking from the other side of the world, English pounds, Euros, and American dollars are close enough to a 1 for 1 exchange.  

I once worked for a mid sized engineering firm which had added a survey department several years prior. The principle of that firm told me straight out that they added survey in order to have better control of the product, and not to add profit. In other words, they were at peace with the survey department having a much lower profitability than the engineering.

The small engineering/surveying firm I had been working for was bought out over the summer by another engineer, in large part to add surveying to their service package. The old owner had added a survey license to his PE, gone into the survey biz, and soon found himself in over his head. That is why he hired me. The new owner, who had been accustomed to spending quite a lot of money on surveying, recently commented to me that surveying was rather expensive to operate. I'm sure you have thought about this a great deal already, but I'd encourage you to go over this one more time. Maybe you've been cutting big checks to surveyors and thinking that those are profits that are getting away.  You might want to check out the surveyors office, parking lot, and home to see were all those obscene profits are going, or if they exist at all.   

£20000 isn't quite enough to buy a new and modern GNSS RTK setup (I was recently quoted $13k per receiver for Trimble R8s's and told it was a special limited time deal). I'm not totally familiar with the Leica 1200 series but I think you are looking at something around 10 years old here. If so, £20k seems a little high. Don't forget - if you are going to do this kind of work you will need a Total Station as well. GPS doesn't work in every situation.  Does the data logger that runs the 1200 GPS also run a total station? I think not.  Then you will then need tripods, tribrachs, rods,  and various accoutrements to the tune of a few more thousand. And a vehicle to haul it all around in.  So your full investment to do this up properly will easily run into 50k to much more, even if you do it on a shoestring. 

EDUCATION, n. That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.

EXPERIENCE, n. The wisdom that enables us to recognize as an undesirable old acquaintance the folly that we have already embraced.


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Mark Silver
(@mark-silver)
500+ posts Vendor
Joined: 8 years ago
Posts: 528
November 23, 2018 7:33 pm  

Hi Chris!

Actually, folks in the USA probably don't realize that prices in Europe are substantially less than they are in the USA.

It is hard to quantify because there are huge differences in prices in the USA and there are huge differences in prices in Europe.  The sales models are significantly different too, the USA has some big players who crazy discount and there is not a direct comparison in GB or EU. Plus the pound and euro vary (£: 0.7 to 0.8 over the last year.)

Additionally, the CE regulatory environment makes it possible to utilize UHF and cellular radios that cost significantly less than those that are approved by FCC and Verizon. 

Are you sure that you need a base and rover? There is fantastic RTN  coverage pretty much everywhere in UK and EU. (I guess we can treat them separately now?)

I have a really good idea what prices in the USA are, and I have some good friends in the business in Europe. We compare notes all the time. If pressed, I might claim that EU prices are 30% less than in the USA! And it is not just GNSS. Robots enjoy a similar differential too. 

Give my buddy PJ a call (I will Direct Message you with his phone number). He can set you up , plus he is a great guy. And say howdy for me. (We both ride Boosted Boards to work, so instant best friends.) 

This post was modified 3 weeks ago by Mark Silver

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squowse
(@squowse)
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Joined: 6 years ago
Posts: 955
November 23, 2018 9:38 pm  

You can get a network RTK rover for about £5000-£15000 (euro pounds!) depending on model and newness.

I sold a GS08plus with CS10 for £4500 this summer just gone.

Subscription for network corrections (eg Smarnet) is about £1500-£2000 pa.

For buying new you might want to have a look at the Spectra products being marketed by SEP or South Survey. Good prices and support.

The AX1200 is quite an old Leica model. Definitely don't get one without ability to track GLONASS satellites. An advantage of buying a new Spectra (or other new antenna) is that Galileo should work when it's fully available. Double check that this is included. Leica and Trimble generally charge extra for these "future" options

This post was modified 3 weeks ago by squowse

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christ lambrecht
(@christ-lambrecht)
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Joined: 8 years ago
Posts: 1139
November 23, 2018 11:46 pm  

Hi Chris,

we will replace our 8yr old Trimble R6-2 GNSS receivers next Year (RTK cell phone - no radio) with the TSC2 controllers.

we can leave them to our dealer, I have been thinking about donating to some survey schools, but all options are open. 

Regards from Belgium,

Christof.


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ChrisA
(@chrisa)
20+ posts Member
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 25
November 24, 2018 4:17 am  
Posted by: Nate The Surveyor

Chris,

Where are you? England?

And "£20k" is that euro pounds?

What kind of surveying do you do? Boundary? What kind of title do you have over there?

I'm on my phone typing here.

N

Hi Nate,

Yes indeed, I'm in the United Kingdom (South East).

I think Loyal answered the euro/pound question.

For around 20 years I've done measured building surveys (external/internal) and a limited amount of topographical surveys with limited accuracy (using just a staff and automatic level), but I have used GPS Stations every once in a while to carry out more accurate surveys when necessary. In fairness, land height changes on the smaller jobs hasn't been that important, as I'm mainly designing extensions, but on the new build proposals it would be a handy service to provide 'in house'. Local topo surveyors are brilliant for Hectare+ sites, but are understandably not well priced for the smaller sites that I mostly work on.

My title isn't very formal, I'm an Architectural Technologist over on this side of the pond - a poor man's Architect you could say. Not sure if this is too much info, but my dad was a builder so I worked with him in my teenage years, but both parent pressed me to 'get in a warm office', so I went to college (couldn't afford University) and got as many qualifications as I could afford.

Kudos for typing on a phone, appreciate how frustrating it can be!


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ChrisA
(@chrisa)
20+ posts Member
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 25
November 24, 2018 4:33 am  

Hi Mark,

You're probably right on the exchange these days.

That's incredibly useful information, thank you very much for taking the time to write it. You've got a very fair point about the overheads, though in my situation it's not that I want the profit, it's more the lack of an available land surveyors in my area. There is normally a 3 week wait and many of the builders I work with, normally want a quicker service. They also may not need the level of detail a qualified and experienced surveyor has. The ideal situation is that I come to site, do the topo if needed, then move onto the internal building survey - for some reason, very few surveyors want to do internals.

ERROR WITH MY ORIGINAL POST: I mentioned £20,000 for surveying equipment, the 10 year old one mentioned (you're spot on there) is currently for sale at around £7,000 (refurb).

It's definitely food for thought though, the other concern that for the last 6 years, I've mostly had more work than I can deal with, so in some ways adding a service will only make that worse. I have no desire to work all the hours god sends, however my theory was that by offering a wider spectrum of services, if in the future work decreases, I have more revenue streams. That's the theory at least.

Thank you yet again for a more realistic perspective of doing this correctly, I had thought that a Total Station would be necessary as well, though I thought that would be more for points I can't directly get to, such as building ridge heights (do forgive me if I'm wrong). Another theory I have (I'm full of them, rarely good ones), is that because I do the internal building surveys, I can normally measure the internal building height to the ridge, so that would get around that. Getting accurate tree heights would be a problem though, so I would have to advise clients that the accuracy is X metres.

You're absolutely right about the addition costs, I wife has a car that I can use a few days of the week, so at least that's one saving I can make (it's a bit of an old banger though - meaning it's not very pretty or in good condition!).

I really do appreciate your input Mark, thank you very much. Definitely food for thought.

This post was modified 3 weeks ago by ChrisA

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ChrisA
(@chrisa)
20+ posts Member
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 25
November 24, 2018 4:37 am  

Hi Mark (Silver this time!),

Are they cheaper here then? That's nice for a change!

That's all very useful information, thanks for typing!

I kind of assumed that a base and rover would be needed to get under trees - I'm so sorry I don't speak with the experience you all have! Over here, I visit site which huge tree canopies, though never high density from a building perspective. I just didn't want to turn up at a site, having arranged the date/time and have to turn around and say, "sorry, I can't get any satellites".

I think I've got your PM, thank you very much for that, I'll certainly get in touch with him!


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ChrisA
(@chrisa)
20+ posts Member
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 25
November 24, 2018 4:40 am  

Hi Squowse (that's a really difficult name to type!),

Thank you sir, really useful information....and I didn't know there was a subscription service that needed paying?!? Oh dear, that might have an impact on me moving into this service, thank you very much for the headsup.

I have seen Spectra products, thank you very much for the information, I think I need to do some research and you've given me terrific pointers.


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Precision Geosystems, Where Precision Meets Value.

ChrisA
(@chrisa)
20+ posts Member
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 25
November 24, 2018 4:43 am  

Hi Christ,

How kind of you to post that. My morality feels that you should do as intended and donate it to a local surveying school, however if you don't find any, I would 100% be very very interested. Belgium isn't far from me, so there would be no trouble on your part with delivery. Do let me read a little about the Trimble model you have and I'll certainly get back to you. Thank you again for your kindness.

All the best,

Chris


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Just A. Surveyor
(@just-a-surveyor)
500+ posts Member
Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 996
November 24, 2018 4:56 am  

Chris, I would avoid buying a high priced item such as a GPS System from eBay simply because you will need dealer support at some time.

Leica is a good choice so maybe you can contact your local local Leica dealer and pick up what we here call an "off lease" system. That is a system that a company had under lease and has traded up to a newer system.

You might also look at the VRS Rovers. You will pay a monthly subscription to a base network and get corrected solutions. And this costs considerably less. Perfect for a One Man show and you don't have to be concerned with someone stealing your base unit.

Steven Provenson
My Stripper Name is; Just A. Surveyor
Excuse me while I whip this out!


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ChrisA
(@chrisa)
20+ posts Member
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 25
November 24, 2018 5:30 am  
Posted by: Just A. Surveyor

Chris...

Just, I would avoid eBay too, especially for this amount of money. I very briefly researched the eBay company and they seem to be a valid company and have the same product shown on their website ( http://sealandsurvey.co.uk/leica-ax1202-base-and-rover/ ).

I'll definitely check with the off lease products that might be available, thank you for the hint.

That's a really great idea about the VRS Rovers, I'll research that - great idea, especially as I really am a One Man Show. Thank you mate.


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