May 11, 2022

Components, Functions & Advantages of Total Station Survey

Total Station is the equipment used in surveying, designed to measure vertical and vertical angles, which include measuring the sloping distance of the object to the instrument. It combines electromagnetic distance measuring (EDM) and electronic theodolite instruments. Furthermore, it also consists of a microprocessor with a memory unit that deals with the fundamental calculation, readings, and recordings of measurements.

Total station
Components, Functions & Advantages Of Total Station Survey 2

Components of a Total Station

Total Station is a compact instrument that weighs around 50 N to 55 N. It consists of a simple microprocessor, an angle measuring instrument (Theodolite), and a distance measuring instrument (EDM). 

Moreover, there are approximately more than 40 different models available globally. Total-station is currently the most used instrument in the surveying field. The cheapest instrument is available in the range of 2000$ to 2500$. 

The Total Station components used in surveying are the following:

1. Tripod 

Uses to hold the total Station.

2. Electronic Notebook

Used to manipulate, calculate and record the field data

3. Prism and its Pole

It can measure lengths with a triple prism to 2 km and up to 6-7 km

4. Battery 

Used for an overall total station power.

Basic Steps Involved in Total Station Surveying

Step-1: Setting up the instrument with the tripod

Step-2: Level the instrument approximately with the help of a “bull’s eye bubble.” Afterward, verify the leveling using an electronic

Step-3: Adjustment of reticle image and focus

Step-4: Recording all the measurements needed

Step-5: Data processing of the total station survey

Functions of Total Station

  • Angle Measurement

The electronic theodolite of the device is used with an accuracy of 2-6 seconds to measure vertical and horizontal angles. Any direction can be taken as a reference for the horizontal measurement of angles. That means the upward direction is a reference in the vertical measurement of angles.

  • Distance Measurement in TotalStation

The Total Station’s electronic distance measuring (EDM) instrument is used with an accuracy of 5-10 mm per km to measure the distance. The range of it varies from 2.8-4.2 km.

  • Data Processing

The Microprocessor instrument computes horizontal distances of X, Y, and Z coordinates. Hence, the microprocessor applies a suitable correction to the atmospheric pressure and temperature measurements.

Various software is available in the shop, like Quinn Equipment which is used to post-process the outputs from the device. Usually, manufacturers provide software that lets you export the survey results into other formats. Thus, the output is imported into CAD software or applications.

Total Station Advantages

The foremost advantage of using a total station is to save work time on the field. It supports and understands all the local languages. For instance, setting up its instrument on the tripod can be done easily and quickly by laser plummet. Its accuracy of measurements is higher than other conventional surveying instruments.

Total Station achieves the computerization of old maps. The computed data can be simultaneously transferred and saved to the computer. But there are no writing or recording errors detected when everything is computerized. 

Moreover, with the help of data accumulated from Total-station, contour plotting and map-making are also created. With that being said, a correction for pressure and temperature is made.

Disadvantages of Total Station

The working conditions of the Total Station are checked beforehand by the surveyor before using it. The cost price of the instrument is higher than the other surveying instruments. That means checking for errors or other things during the operation is slightly difficult for the surveyor. Moreover, skilled surveyors must handle it since it is a sophisticated instrument.


Total stations have become the workhorse and the main tool for surveyors worldwide. It offers a suite of functionalities designed to work efficiently and fast for today’s surveying experts.

At Quinn Equipment, there is a lot of computing memory and horsepower. Their strong grouping of specs allows surveyors to measure vertical slope, horizontal slope, distance, angles, etc.

For more information, visit our website or contact us at 319-320-4982.



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Since 1967

Quinn Equipment, Inc. was founded in 1967 by Charles and Marjorie Quinn to represent manufacturers in the distribution of construction related products.
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400 35th St.
Marion, IA 52302

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