Lesson 5: Mobile Mapping Fundamentals

Nicolas MalloyAuthor: Nicolas R. Malloy


5.13 Theodolite and Total Station


There are several common tools used for positioning and measure. Earlier in this lesson, I discussed the methods of determining position using a compass. While it is possible to use a compass to delineate a boundary or establish a position, other tools are more suited to this task.
transit is a land-surveying instrument that measures vertical and horizontal angles using a tripod, telescope, and bubble level. A theodolite is a modern version of the transit that includes electronic components.

Theodolite 1 – Intro & Setup by OTENBuildingCourses

An image of a total station, faculty, and students

A total station used to create a stem map on the Humboldt State University L.W. Schatz Demonstration Tree Farm.
Upper Image from left to right: Dr. Aaron Hohl, Nicolas Malloy, Marcio Aragona

A more expensive, but highly useful piece of equipment, is called a total station. The total station works like a theodolite, but also includes electronic distance measurement (EDM) capabilities.  EDM devices emit electromagnetic waves at the target and measure the distance using the return signal.

An image of students using a total station

HSU students practice using a total station.

From left to right: Pamela Aparecida Melo, Raiza Tinoco Borges, Felipe Ribeiro De Toledo Camargo