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How to Calibrate Surveying Instruments and Tools

Blog calibration of surveying instruments and tools

Accuracy is the most important thing when it comes to surveying. If you don’t have good results, you’ll eventually run into problems when it’s time to analyze your data. That’s why you need to keep your survey equipment properly maintained and calibrated. A poorly maintained surveying tool will cost you more in the long run, because you won’t be able to get the results you need. Aside from annual servicing, you want to calibrate your survey instruments at least every two weeks while making sure the positioning is accurate by evaluating the readings at a known point.

Why Survey Equipment Drifts into Inaccuracy

Blog calibration of surveying instruments and tools

Any surveying tool will become less accurate over time. This is called “gauge drift,” which can eventually lead to errors in measurements and other related issues (including safety concerns). It can be frustrating and time-consuming when you’re out in the field. And while the specific causes of gauge drift can vary, some of the more common causes include:
  • Misuse, mishandling, and neglect.
  • Changes in the environment (such as temperature and humidity).
  • Exposure to harsh conditions (such as corrosive substances or extreme temperatures).
  • Being exposed to sudden mechanical or electrical shock.
  • Being exposed to sudden vibrations.
  • More frequent use (which can cause calibration drift over time).

Some of these causes can be avoided by handing your survey equipment properly and keeping them from potentially harmful conditions. But because gauge drift occurs naturally over time (especially when the instrument is being used repeatedly), it’s hard to avoid it completely. That’s why performing regular calibrations is important if you want to keep your survey instruments from giving you bad results.

Doing regular calibrations can also improve the instrument’s longevity. This is especially true when the gauge drift is caused by something other than natural degradation (such as exposure to harsh conditions and other elements that can damage the device). If you’re using your survey instruments on a regular basis, restoring calibration accuracy is important if you want to make sure you can make reliable measurements when you need to.

How You Can Solve Gauge Drift

While you can take precautions to prevent some of the environmental causes of gauge drift, the best way to protect your survey equipment is to have them professionally calibrated on a regular basis. You should also calibrate a surveying tool in the following circumstances:
  • It has been exposed to harsh conditions.
  • It has endured a recent shock.
  • It’s giving you measurements that don’t appear accurate.
  • You need to confirm the instrument’s calibration accuracy.

If you’re looking for a place to calibrate your survey instruments, Engineer Supply has a nationwide service network that offers calibration and repair services for all your survey equipment. Our factory-trained technicians can repair, service, calibrate, and recondition all makes and models, including many that have been discontinued. We can give you a quote in advance. So if you have a surveying tool that needs to be calibrated or repaired, be sure to reach out to us. We would be happy to help you with whatever you may need!

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Frequently Asked Questions

What types of equipment are used by surveyors?

Blog calibration of surveying instruments and tools

There is a variety of survey instruments that can be used in a number of applications. Some of them include but may not be limited to:
  • Electronic Distance Measurement (EDM) Instruments— Allow you to take direct measurements of distances and their directions by analyzing the propagation, reflection, and reception of light or radio waves.
  • Infrared Wave Instruments— Use amplitude modulated infrared waves to measure distances. A mounted prism that’s used to reflect the waves is placed at the end of the line, and they have a range of 3 km with an accuracy that’s within 10 mm.
  • Light Wave Instruments— Can measure distances based on the propagation of modulated light waves. They will typically have a range that’s within 3km with an accuracy that’s from 0.5 to 5 mm.
  • Microwave Instruments— Can measure distance by using high-frequency radio waves. They were invented in South Africa in the 1950’s, and they have a range that can go up to 100km (which is the same both day and night).
Feel free to look at the broad selection of survey instruments we have at Engineer Supply.

Can I rent survey equipment?

If you only need to use a surveying tool for a short time, it can make more sense to rent it than to buy it. Even if you need it on a long-term basis, renting it can give you a chance to test the equipment before you commit to a purchase. It will also allow you to preserve capital, because it will give you more flexibility as you scale your business.

How do I use survey equipment?

The point of surveying is to determine the position of specific points, as well as the angles and distances between them. Surveyors use a variety of mathematical concepts to get the results they need, and every surveying tool they use has a specific set of functions.

What types of survey equipment use a GPS?

A GPS can be used for land surveying, because it can use satellite signals to pinpoint a specific location. It can also give you data with regard to the velocity and time synchronization for various types of travel. This data is important for a surveyor, because it can be used to create a map of a specific area.

Where can I buy quality survey equipment?

If you’re looking for a place to buy quality survey instruments, you can find what you need at Engineer Supply. We have a variety of surveying tools that are built for the working professional. Feel free to look at what we have in our store, so you can find a tool that will meet your specific needs.
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