Surveying Instruments

Surveying is a science of determining the three dimensional position of points, distances and angles between them. The instruments used for this purpose are theodolite, 3-D scanners, leveling rod, measuring tape and total station. Planning and execution of most of the construction requires it. For example, transport, communications, mapping, and defining legal boundaries of land ownership.

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Detailed Description for Surveying Instruments

Surveying helps us conduct the following activities,

• To measure and represent land, 3D objects, points and trajectories.

• To interpret geographical information.

• To use this information to plan the administration of land and sea structures.



It is an instrument equipped with a telescope for measuring angles in horizontal and vertical planes. They are of two kinds, digital and non-digital theodolites. The digital form consists of telescope mounted on a base. An electronic read out screen display the angles. The measurement requires the theodolite to stay vertical above the survey point. The internal spirit level makes the device level to the horizon. The graduated vertical and horizontal circles helps in determining the angles required for survey. 

USES: Navigation, Meteorology, determining building corners, angles and lines.


1. Greater Accuracy

2. Electronic read-out

3. Horizontal circles can be instantly set to zero or any other value.

4. Requires fewer repeat readings.

Measuring tapes

They are also known as flexible rulers. They are used in carpentry, tailoring and building constructions. They come in imperial units (inches and foot) and metric (centimeters and meters). To measure from a tape measure, keep the zero end of the tape on the edge of the item you want to measure and extend the tape along the length of the object. Take the reading in the metric defined on the scale.

Leveling Instruments

Leveling instruments typically come with magnetically dampened compensators, focusing knob, prism for bubble viewing, fine adjustment knobs on left and right with endless horizontal drive. These instruments are used for outdoor applications like site preparation, excavating, digging basements, setting foundations, landscaping and terracing. 

Total Station

This is a modern surveying instrument with an electronic theodolite integrated with electronic distance meter. Remote control lets the operator to use the instrument from a certain distance. The principle behind measurement is electro-optical scanning of the bar-codes etched on the rotating glass. Distance is measured using infrared carrier signals generated by an emitter and reflected by the prism or the object under survey. 


1. It can measure distances with a high accuracy of 1mm 

2. Total station without reflectors can measure distances of objects that are light in color.

3. They are capable of measuring angles to 0.3 arc-sec. 

4. Coordinates of unknown points relative to known points can be easily determined.


1. Land surveying

2. Civil engineering

3. Topographic surveying

4. Meteorological surveying

5. Tracking weather balloons for determining upper-level winds.

6. Mining survey

7. Mechanical and Electrical construction

3D Scanners

Obtaining a three dimensional view of the surrounding is very important in geological surveying. A controlled steering of laser beam will provide an accurate measure of distance when pointed at the required direction.


1. Object scanning enhances the design process. 

2. It reduces the data collection errors

3. Cost efficient and saves time.



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