Theodolites, Land Surveying Theodolites, Land Surveying Instruments - EngineerSupply

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The theodolite is an instrument that can measure both horizontal and vertical angles, which allows surveyors to “triangulate” the position of objects in a specific area. While the digital and transit theodolite have been used by land surveyors and engineers, they can be used for other purposes as well. Be sure to look at the broad selection of theodolites and other surveying tools that we have at Engineering Supply.

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An auto level is an optical instrument that can be used to verify points that exist on the same horizontal plane. It also has an internal mechanism that removes variations and inaccuracies in your measurements. A theodolite can be used to measure both horizontal and vertical angles. and it can be mounted on a telescope that will allow you to move horizontally or vertically along a rotational axis. A theodolite can determine the horizontal and vertical angles to a specific point, which it can do with great precision.


A total station is a type of digital theodolite that has been combined with the functionality of an auto level. It has an electronic distance meter, and it’s more accurate over extreme distances. The data is gathered electronically, which can be uploaded to a computer or laptop for processing. And unlike the theodolite, it can be operated by a single person. However, it’s more expensive and requires more skill to use effectively. A theodolite requires two people to operate, and it becomes less accurate over longer distances. It is, however, a proven technology that has been used for centuries.

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Any type of digital theodolite (such as the total station) can make surveying much easier. And at Engineering Supply, we have a broad selection of modern surveying equipment that use digital technology. The theodolite is a proven tool with an ancient history, and it has been used by land surveyors and engineers for centuries. All of our tools come from quality manufacturers. So when you purchase a product from our store, you’ll have something that will give you years of rugged use. Feel free to look at what we have in stock, so you can find a digital or transit theodolite that’s right for you!


Because it can measure the position of objects within a given area, the theodolite is an essential tool for any professional surveyor. With a telescope that can be mounted onto a tripod, it can be used to determine the distance of a specific point from the location of the instrument by measuring the horizontal and vertical angles between those two locations. You can even find a digital theodolite (such as a total station) that will allow you to make measurements and store data electronically. Be sure to look at what we have at Engineering Supply, so you can find a surveying tool that will meet your specific needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a theodolite?

A theodolite is a surveying instrument that dates back to the 16th Century, and it’s used to measure horizontal and vertical angles. Modern theodolites have a telescope that can be mounted to a swivel (which can move both horizontally and vertically), and the crosshairs allow you to make accurate alignments with the target object. Once the telescope has been properly adjusted, the angle measurements can be read (which you can use to triangulate the position of a specific point).

How do I use a theodolite?

You can use the crosshairs on the eyepiece to align the instrument to the point that you want to measure. From there, you can measure both the horizontal and vertical angles to “triangulate” its position.

How do I read a vertical angle with a theodolite?

You can take the following steps to measure the vertical angle of a theodolite:
  • Set it up at the spot where the vertical angle needs to be measured.
  • Level the instrument by using the plate bubble.
  • Read the verniers C and D, which you can use to determine the value of the angle.
Be sure to visit Engineering Supply for a broad selection of theodolites and other surveying instruments.

How accurate is a theodolite?

The accuracy of a theodolite depends on the number of seconds it has associated with the instrument. And the lower the number, the more accurate it will be. This number is related to the coordinates of a specific object, which is measures in degrees, minutes, and seconds. So, a theodolite with a smaller second rating will be more accurate than one with a larger rating.

What is the principle of a theodolite?

Like a lot of leveling instruments, a theodolite has a telescope that’s mounted to a base (which has a sight at the top that can be used to align the target). There’s a focusing knob that can be used to make the target object clearer, and there’s an eyepiece that you can use to find the object you want to measure. There’s an objective lens on the other side of the telescope, which can be magnified according to your needs.

What are the types of theodolites?

There are two basic types of theodolites: digital and non-digital. Non-digital theodolites are rarely used, but digital theodolites have a telescope that’s mounted to a base. They also come with an electronic readout that can be used to display horizontal and vertical angles. Digital theodolites are more convenient because they replace the traditional graduated circles, which make readings more accurate.
If you’re looking for a place where you can find a broad selection of theodolites and other surveying instruments, be sure to look at what we have at Engineering Supply.

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