Northern Survey Engineering LLC
Specialized Survey Solutions


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Educational Series Part 2: Survey-Grade GPS

April 4th, 2018

Dan GPS.jpg

You’ve heard of it.  A GPS, or Global Positioning System, is so common today that nearly everyone relies on the technology daily, likely by use of a smart phone.  So how is the GPS Surveyors use different from the GPS device in your pocket? Accuracy. 

A GPS works by receiving time signals from 3 or more satellites and uses that information to calculate its position.  Under a clear sky a GPS-enabled smartphone can be accurate to within about 5 meters.  Navigating and knowing your position within 15 feet is pretty good right?  Heck yeah it is! Now take that number and divide it by 500; that is how accurate a survey-grade GPS unit can be! 

GPS has been an integral part of Surveying since the 90’s, and with today’s technology, Surveyors can take measurements across a very large area with a positional accuracy within a centimeter.  Since Surveying is all about accurately measuring the surface of the earth, this technology allows us to do our job much faster than with line-of-sight methods such as a Total Station (see Part 1).  By connecting to other GPS units that operate continuously (known as a CORS Network), Surveyors can use the position of those units to make accurate measurements in real-time.


Educational Series: The Total Station

March 21st, 2018


To kick off this series, let's start with the most common piece of equipment associated with Surveying: The Total Station.

No we are not taking your picture, we are just shooting you with a laser beam!  You may know it as a Transit, but the most common tool in the Surveyors toolbox today has been around since 1971.  The Total Station combines a theodolite, which is a rotating telescope that can measure angles like a compass, with an EDM, or electronic distance measuring unit. Hopefully we didn't scare you off just yet - the EDM is just like a rangefinder; it emits a laser which bounces off the target (usually a prism, but we will get to that later!) and when the signal returns to the Total Station, it uses the return time to calculate how far away the object is.  By combining angle measurements with distance measurements into one single device, we are able to rapidly map the area we are surveying, collecting a thousand measurements in a day or more!  These measurements are extremely accurate, much more so than a typical compass and tape or rangefinder, measuring distances to one thousandth of a foot (0.001') or smaller.  Accurate measurements result in accurate surveys, and accurate surveys are the foundation of successful projects!


National Surveyors Week

March 21st, 2018


To celebrate our first National Surveyors Week, we will be kicking off a new social media series designed to help our clients and the public better understand what exactly we as Surveyors do!  This engagement is a reflection of our core values as a company: Communication, Education, and Application.  We regularly see that many of our clients know that they need a survey because either their bank, lawyer, planning board or a permitting agency told them so, but may not fully understand why, or what is involved in the process of getting your project on paper.  Our goal is to pull back the curtains and shed some light on what some of our clients have often referred to as "black magic". 


NORSE adds Aerial Mapping to its Arsenal!

August 9th, 2017


Taking our services to new heights

Meet the latest addition to the NORSE team, a Phantom 4 Pro drone capable of high accuracy aerial imagery and 3D mapping.  

We have added this service in an effort to provide new dimensions to your project throughout the planning, design and documentation stages.  Capable of providing survey-grade accuracy, aerial mapping by drone can be a cost effective way to supplement a traditional ground based survey, or eliminate ground survey all together depending on your individual project needs.  

Call us today to discuss why aerial mapping may be right for your project.