Digital Theodolites are great but Total Stations are much better. The accuracy and versatility of a Total Station can increase efficiency and accuracy simultaneously. If you need the ability to record X, Y, and Z coordinates, record height of instrument and height of rod, as well as distance for a true sense of what you are recording, then a Total Station is what you need. Total Stations fulfill the need for applications like land surveying, general construction layout, construction stake-out, mapping, utility mapping, GIS applications, archaeology mapping, law enforcement accident reconstruction, and environmental studies. Generally speaking, Total Stations rest on a sturdy tripod and are used to record XYZ point data such as your North, East, and Elevation with the end result of data being a "point file" which is nothing more than a text file that can be transferred into a CAD system to begin mapping while connecting the dots. The point data will have X and Y (which is North and East) as well as elevation. When buying a Total Station, the accuracy is based on a number of things such as the optics but the most important specification is the seconds at which it can measure down to. For example, a 2" (two second) instrument is more accurate than a 5" (five second) instrument since it will measure down to 2 seconds instead of 5 seconds. Surveyors generally require a 2" instrument whereas residential and commercial contractors can be totally fine with a 5-second or 9-second instrument which are usually used for construction stake out and verification of locations and elevations. Most contractors generally work within their job site and can get to a benchmark or reference point while targeting their work within 100 to 200 feet away, where as land surveyors are usually sighting distances much farther away, hence the need for greater accuracy. Also, keep in mind that "Reflectorless" means the Total Station does not require use of a prism on a prism pole whereas other Total Stations do require the use of a prism to record a location. Whether you need a reflectorless or not, this depends on your style of work. Most Total Stations today are of the reflectorless type. Last but not least, you'll need a sturdy tripod, a rod of some type, a prism if you'd rather use a prism for stake-out and location, you can buy these products separately or try one of our Total Station Starter Kits. And, don't forget other supplies such as safety vests, stakes and nails, as well as roll flagging.
We are authorized dealers for various brands of total stations such as; Northwest Instruments, Futtura and GeoMax. If you have questions or need help selecting a total station, please feel free to contact us. We promise no sales pitch, and only answers to your questions.