18 Replies Latest reply on Mar 12, 2015 10:20 AM by kurttowler

    GPS Handhelds

    DP5150
      Looking at several handhelds I've narrowed down to, Topcon GRS-1 and Trimble 6000 GeoXH and their software Topserv and Terrasync or possibly Arcpad for utility work spotting and collecting field data to populate my GDB.
      Can't find very many customer reviews, comparisons or recomendations other than these vendors web sites which are of course biased.
      I''m using ArcMap 10.1 and would like the best accuracy just with an internal antenna and one that I can generate a more productive from the field to my computer work flow.
      Any one have any experience with these units?, the pro's and con's and recommendations?
        • Re: GPS Handhelds
          Wolseley
          Looking at several handhelds I've narrowed down to, Topcon GRS-1 and Trimble 6000 GeoXH and their software Topserv and Terrasync or possibly Arcpad for utility work spotting and collecting field data to populate my GDB.
          Can't find very many customer reviews, comparisons or recomendations other than these vendors web sites which are of course biased.
          I''m using ArcMap 10.1 and would like the best accuracy just with an internal antenna and one that I can generate a more productive from the field to my computer work flow.
          Any one have any experience with these units?, the pro's and con's and recommendations?


          We have been using Trimble GPS for the past 7 years. I personally have been using Trimble GPS for the past 15 years. Never had a problem. We even had one of our Trimble GeoXH's get run over by a 6 ton utility truck, the screen and outer case were crushed. But, we went back to the office, plugged it in, got our data and post-processed no problems.

          Currently, we use the Trimble GeoXH 6000 with the sub-cm option. But, in order to achieve cm level accuracy, you need to use the Zephyr 2 External Antenna w/ Pole. Otherwise, I believe sub-4in is the best you can get for real time or post-processed (assuming you DO NOT use the CORS Basestations which can lead to significant accuracy degradation after post-processing, based on our experience).

          Software, ArcPad or Terrasync work fine, Which one to use depends on who is using the GPS unit and your workflows.
          • Re: GPS Handhelds
            invicta
            Looking at several handhelds I've narrowed down to, Topcon GRS-1 and Trimble 6000 GeoXH and their software Topserv and Terrasync or possibly Arcpad for utility work spotting and collecting field data to populate my GDB.
            Can't find very many customer reviews, comparisons or recomendations other than these vendors web sites which are of course biased.
            I''m using ArcMap 10.1 and would like the best accuracy just with an internal antenna and one that I can generate a more productive from the field to my computer work flow.
            Any one have any experience with these units?, the pro's and con's and recommendations?


            The Leica Zeno units are worth as look at and Leica are an ESRI partner (at least in the UK) so they can acheive much better links between the handheld unit and ArcMap rather than having to go through the software provided by the likes of Trimble
            I've worked with clients in the UK that use both Trimble and Leica equipment - both do the job . My preference is Leica but it's what I learnt with. Topcon is not a big player in the UK with respect to handheld units and GIS certainly within the water industry
              • Re: GPS Handhelds
                kurttowler

                We have started to use the Leica GG03's and it is very promising.  We needed to get better accuracy without post-processing.  In other words, NMEA strings at 2-4 cm of accuracy.  I started to look at using NTRIP last year and it works great in areas with cell phone coverage.  The iphone works as a wifi hotspot, the software on the tablet communicates to the base station over the internet and corrections are put together on the tablet.  It all redirects to a windows COM port that ArcGIS can read.

                 

                This all is predicated on the availability of base stations in the area (60-80 miles is reasonable) that can be used in this way.  I find this to be a game changer in terms of reducing complexity of software, hardware costs, and putting it in the hands of non-specialists.

              • Re: GPS Handhelds
                Dan_Patterson
                Have you ruled out garmin units?  ( www.garmin.com )
                • Re: GPS Handhelds
                  Wolseley
                  ArcPad vs Terrasync

                  - If you are going to collect data and non-GIS people will be doing this; I recommend Terrasync.

                  - If you are going to put these tasks into the hands of GIS people, then I recommend either one. We found ArcPad to be a good mobile GIS solution for our GIS staff to use in the field.

                  We tried ArcPad with our Maintenance crews, they were totally confused and frustrated with the toolbars, GUI, and multiple steps required for them to just collect data. This is after we trained them for 1hr on ArcPad. Plus, just to set up a good quality Data Dictionary was very difficult and time consuming if you do not know Visual Basic. Data Dictionaries set up using Trimble Pathfinder Office are far superior than anything we have seen in ArcPad. This is our experience.

                  Terrasync, on the other hand, after 15min training they were ready to go collect data. They like Terrasync for it's simplicity and ease of use. When they got back into the office, they simply connected their Trimble GeoXH's to their PCs via USB, opened the free Trimble Data Transfer Utility via a Shortcut on their Desktops, click, all the their data (ssf files) was downloaded to a folder on our server. Then the GIS staff took over from this point to do the post-processing and geodatabase integration.
                  • Re: GPS Handhelds
                    RachelB
                    I agree with Timothy in terms of software, we use FastMap which is Korec's (vendors of Trimble products i UK) own software. It's similar to Terrasync I'm guessing in that it's very simplistic for non GIS users. I've never used ArcPad because I just know by looking at it, it has too much functionality for our crews, I've trouble enough moving them away from paper records!

                    But in terms of hardware I've had terriable issues connecting the GeoExplorers in the cradle and getting the computer to pick it up. I don't know how many times I've been wiggling them about in the cradle trying to get them to connect, I've had the connector ports sent off and repaired numerous times but I find as they get older 5 years+ that it's inevitable.
                    We don't need high accuracy so I've moved to Trimble Nomads and Junos over the years.

                    Timothy or anyone else have you not found this a problem with the GeoExplorers?
                    Rachel
                    • Re: GPS Handhelds
                      Wolseley
                      I agree with Timothy in terms of software, we use FastMap which is Korec's (vendors of Trimble products i UK) own software. It's similar to Terrasync I'm guessing in that it's very simplistic for non GIS users. I've never used ArcPad because I just know by looking at it, it has too much functionality for our crews, I've trouble enough moving them away from paper records!

                      But in terms of hardware I've had terriable issues connecting the GeoExplorers in the cradle and getting the computer to pick it up. I don't know how many times I've been wiggling them about in the cradle trying to get them to connect, I've had the connector ports sent off and repaired numerous times but I find as they get older 5 years+ that it's inevitable.
                      We don't need high accuracy so I've moved to Trimble Nomads and Junos over the years.

                      Timothy or anyone else have you not found this a problem with the GeoExplorers?
                      Rachel


                      I have not had a problem with the cradles or connecting the GeoExplorer Series to any PC, with one major exception, prior to using the GeoXH 6000 we had a lot of trouble trying to connect using Microsoft's ActiveSync 4.0/4.5. Seems to want to disconnect at odd moments, or does not connect at all. But, this is no longer a problem when we moved up to the GeoXH 6000.

                      Regarding ArcPad, yes it is way to complex and "noisy" for our maintenance crews. As you said old habits die hard, they like their paper maps or worse they prefer going to the "old timer" who has worked for decades and asking him (but now all the old timers have retired, now they just go to the GIS Team instead!). We had so much difficulty with the switchover to handheld GPS that we removed it from their hands entirely. Now our GIS Team is the ones who use GPS. Our Maintenance crews now call us out into the field if they "cannot find something" or need us to tag a location with GPS coords. They like this arrangement, and our GIS Team does as well (gets us out of the office!).
                      • Re: GPS Handhelds
                        RachelB
                        I have not had a problem with the cradles or connecting the GeoExplorer Series to any PC, with one major exception, prior to using the GeoXH 6000 we had a lot of trouble trying to connect using Microsoft's ActiveSync 4.0/4.5. Seems to want to disconnect at odd moments, or does not connect at all. But, this is no longer a problem when we moved up to the GeoXH 6000.

                        Regarding ArcPad, yes it is way to complex and "noisy" for our maintenance crews. As you said old habits die hard, they like their paper maps or worse they prefer going to the "old timer" who has worked for decades and asking him (but now all the old timers have retired, now they just go to the GIS Team instead!). We had so much difficulty with the switchover to handheld GPS that we removed it from their hands entirely. Now our GIS Team is the ones who use GPS. Our Maintenance crews now call us out into the field if they "cannot find something" or need us to tag a location with GPS coords. They like this arrangement, and our GIS Team does as well (gets us out of the office!).


                        Yes this is the same problem for me, we have GEO XT that are 2005 series and 1 that's 2008 and it's a nightmare getting them to connect. The issue must have been resolved in the 6000 series, but my heart is broke with these ones. Then I moved to Nomads more ruggised, but I have some complaints from crew that they struggle to pick up a satellite signal and they complain how their own Garmin (not a data logger just coordinates) gets a signal in a couple of seconds (I try to explain the Garmins could have 5m accuracy one day and 25m the next seems to fall on deaf ears). I have found often with the Nomads they don't pick up a signal within 5 mins I have to reboot the system then it gets it. I wonder has anyone else had this problem? I'm moving towards the Junos in the future as they are much cheaper and 2-3m is suitable for our needs.

                        Regards crews, I still have some crews that only want paper for some surveys, it's such a pain digitising the data then. They argue that the units only make my life easier (because I've no digitising) but not theirs! That's a great arrangement you have Timothy but unfortunately the GIS team here consists of just me! So I've been out training them but that's as much as I can get out, as I'm jack of all trades when it comes to the GIS and am pulled in so many directions. We have 12 units and about 8 crews.
                        They joys :)
                        Rachel
                        • Re: GPS Handhelds
                          Wolseley
                          Yes this is the same problem for me, we have GEO XT that are 2005 series and 1 that's 2008 and it's a nightmare getting them to connect. The issue must have been resolved in the 6000 series, but my heart is broke with these ones. Then I moved to Nomads more ruggised, but I have some complaints from crew that they struggle to pick up a satellite signal and they complain how their own Garmin (not a data logger just coordinates) gets a signal in a couple of seconds (I try to explain the Garmins could have 5m accuracy one day and 25m the next seems to fall on deaf ears). I have found often with the Nomads they don't pick up a signal within 5 mins I have to reboot the system then it gets it. I wonder has anyone else had this problem? I'm moving towards the Junos in the future as they are much cheaper and 2-3m is suitable for our needs.

                          Regards crews, I still have some crews that only want paper for some surveys, it's such a pain digitising the data then. They argue that the units only make my life easier (because I've no digitising) but not theirs! That's a great arrangement you have Timothy but unfortunately the GIS team here consists of just me! So I've been out training them but that's as much as I can get out, as I'm jack of all trades when it comes to the GIS and am pulled in so many directions. We have 12 units and about 8 crews.
                          They joys :)
                          Rachel


                          The issue has been resolved with the 6000 series. In addition, the 6000 uses Floodlight Technology and gets signals from GPS & GLONASS (Multipath is almost eliminated). We have found that not getting a satellite lock or having to wait a while to get one is also no longer an issue. Not sure about the Nomads or Juno in this regard. We use our 6000 for outdoor infrastructure mapping using Terrasync; inside and underground in our tunnel systems we use the 6000 with ArcPad and the GPS/GLONASS turned off. Using the 6000 and ArcPad in this way allows us to have a mobile GIS in our hands for mapping indoor infrasturcture such as our piping systems and valves. So, Terrasync for outdoors, ArcPad for indoors. This arrangement works good for us; ArcPad is very suitable for mobile GIS use, but using it for GPS leaves a lot to be desired.  Why use a GeoXH 6000 for indoors and not a tablet? we have 10in tablets (EXOPC's), but they are heavy, big, difficult/tiring to hold in your arms when digitizing "on the move" for hours at a time, the touchscreen works with a stylus but this is hard to manage when walking and looking up down and all around when mapping piping systems indoors, use your finger? well, like most humans we all have a large fingertips and this is not suitable for screen digitizing, the result is "fat-fingering" and no precision. The 6000 is just the right hand and screen size for what we need to do, plus we can use the stylus with this.

                          Regarding our GIS Team, it is me and one other person. Like you, we are a jack of all trades (GIS Programmers, DBAs, SQL Server Experts, GPS, Ground Penetrating Radar, Pipe Locators, and the list goes on). Seems everyone thinks if you know GIS you must know everything. I know how you feel!
                          • Re: GPS Handhelds
                            RachelB
                            The issue has been resolved with the 6000 series. In addition, the 6000 uses Floodlight Technology and gets signals from GPS & GLONASS (Multipath is almost eliminated). We have found that not getting a satellite lock or having to wait a while to get one is also no longer an issue. Not sure about the Nomads or Juno in this regard. We use our 6000 for outdoor infrastructure mapping using Terrasync; inside and underground in our tunnel systems we use the 6000 with ArcPad and the GPS/GLONASS turned off. Using the 6000 and ArcPad in this way allows us to have a mobile GIS in our hands for mapping indoor infrasturcture such as our piping systems and valves. So, Terrasync for outdoors, ArcPad for indoors. This arrangement works good for us; ArcPad is very suitable for mobile GIS use, but using it for GPS leaves a lot to be desired.  Why use a GeoXH 6000 for indoors and not a tablet? we have 10in tablets (EXOPC's), but they are heavy, big, difficult/tiring to hold in your arms when digitizing "on the move" for hours at a time, the touchscreen works with a stylus but this is hard to manage when walking and looking up down and all around when mapping piping systems indoors, use your finger? well, like most humans we all have a large fingertips and this is not suitable for screen digitizing, the result is "fat-fingering" and no precision. The 6000 is just the right hand and screen size for what we need to do, plus we can use the stylus with this.

                            Regarding our GIS Team, it is me and one other person. Like you, we are a jack of all trades (GIS Programmers, DBAs, SQL Server Experts, GPS, Ground Penetrating Radar, Pipe Locators, and the list goes on). Seems everyone thinks if you know GIS you must know everything. I know how you feel!


                            That's interesting Timothy, I've heard of this Floodlight technology, and believe it's only available for the Geo Explorers at the minute but these are so expensive, I cannot wait for the day they are available for Nomads and Junos.
                            Good to hear another agency's perspective on what they use for GPS fieldwork rather than just the vendors perspective!
                            Just out of interest how long would you use a unit for before upgrading it to the latest model?
                            • Re: GPS Handhelds
                              Wolseley
                              That's interesting Timothy, I've heard of this Floodlight technology, and believe it's only available for the Geo Explorers at the minute but these are so expensive, I cannot wait for the day they are available for Nomads and Junos.
                              Good to hear another agency's perspective on what they use for GPS fieldwork rather than just the vendors perspective!
                              Just out of interest how long would you use a unit for before upgrading it to the latest model?


                              On average we change the units to a newer model about every 2-3 years.
                              • Re: GPS Handhelds
                                RachelB
                                On average we change the units to a newer model about every 2-3 years.


                                Hmm our oldest are 6 years and still going strong, seems a waste to get rid of them when they still do the job, but Floodlight technology and no connector issues would be so nice :confused:
                                • Re: GPS Handhelds
                                  Wolseley
                                  Hmm our oldest are 6 years and still going strong, seems a waste to get rid of them when they still do the job, but Floodlight technology and no connector issues would be so nice :confused:


                                  We have an annual GIS/GPS budget each year. Since I am the "boss", I get to choose what we spend it on. If Trimble comes out with a newer GPS that better suits are needs, then we will buy it. Our 2005's were with us until last year. If they still work and fit your needs then no need to upgrade.
                                  • Re: GPS Handhelds
                                    RachelB
                                    We have an annual GIS/GPS budget each year. Since I am the "boss", I get to choose what we spend it on. If Trimble comes out with a newer GPS that better suits are needs, then we will buy it. Our 2005's were with us until last year. If they still work and fit your needs then no need to upgrade.


                                    Cheers Timothy, always good to know what others are doing in terms of upgrading hardware.
                                    • Re: GPS Handhelds
                                      egwcorp
                                      We have been using Trimble GPS for the past 7 years. I personally have been using Trimble GPS for the past 15 years. Never had a problem. We even had one of our Trimble GeoXH's get run over by a 6 ton utility truck, the screen and outer case were crushed. But, we went back to the office, plugged it in, got our data and post-processed no problems.

                                      Currently, we use the Trimble GeoXH 6000 with the sub-cm option. But, in order to achieve cm level accuracy, you need to use the Zephyr 2 External Antenna w/ Pole. Otherwise, I believe sub-4in is the best you can get for real time or post-processed (assuming you DO NOT use the CORS Basestations which can lead to significant accuracy degradation after post-processing, based on our experience).

                                      Software, ArcPad or Terrasync work fine, Which one to use depends on who is using the GPS unit and your workflows.


                                      Hi Timothy

                                      I've got some kit similar to what you have - Trimble GeoExplorer 2008 series (GeoXH) with Zephyr Antenna and I'm struggling to get a sub-meter fix so I'm wondering how yours is set up to get sub-cm accuracy.  Do the 6000 series deliver this without any additional software ?

                                      We've got 2 of these 2008 GeoXH's on trial with the Zephyr antenna's and we've been offered them for $3000 (each) to purchase but I'm wondering if we're better off using the money to buy a more up to date and more accurate device that will work quicker and have a quicker time to first fix etc.

                                      I've used Trimble devices before, Juno's and Yuma's for data collection but only map based i.e. just using internal gps for locating on a map, then clicking the map at the location of the asset.

                                      This is the first time that I've really had an antenna to play with.

                                      I've got an eval version of ArcPad on it and with the antenna connected and showing 11 satellites I'm only getting 5m accuracy so it seems like there are no corrections going on.  Do I need GPScorrect or Terrasync in order to get the 10cm accuracy the device is supposed to deliver.  Even the internal antenna is supposed to deliver 30cm at best but if I need additional software then this would explain things.

                                      I too am a one man band.  Working for a water company in Victoria Australia and I am the only GIS person here.  We don't have an accurate picture of our asset locations and the questions are being asked more and more about how we can capture these accurately and easily.

                                      I'm keen to learn as much as I can about GPS and data capture and form creation etc so I'm looking forward to getting my teeth into what's available on the market to allow us to do this.

                                      Any pointers or links would be most appreciated from you guys.

                                      Thanks in advance.
                                      • Re: GPS Handhelds
                                        Woodwa
                                        That's interesting Timothy, I've heard of this Floodlight technology, and believe it's only available for the Geo Explorers at the minute but these are so expensive, I cannot wait for the day they are available for Nomads and Junos.
                                        Good to hear another agency's perspective on what they use for GPS fieldwork rather than just the vendors perspective!
                                        Just out of interest how long would you use a unit for before upgrading it to the latest model?

                                        NB: I'm a jaded ex Trimble salesman

                                        Don't expect floodlight on the cheaper models... they use the style of GNSS chip that would be found in a smart phone... floodlight relys on a baromieter to stabilise the heights and then with an accurate height it can regect some of the GPS signals that are distorted to come to a high quality solution...

                                        in terms of ArcPad... give it a chance...  I used ArcPad studio to create a one stop tool bar for the troops.... In my case i've created "the smiley tool bar"... one button press for a man hole a different one for a water fitting and one last one as a misc point... and each of these features also have custom created forms for the data entry. the rest of the tool bar is zoom pan and select.

                                        All this aside I've now ditched the mapping gear and purchased an R8 and Trimble access as we have reached the end of mass data capture of our W&S assets... The rest is coming in as as built via autocad...
                                        • Re: GPS Handhelds
                                          DP5150
                                          We ended up purchasing 6 of Trimble's Geo 6000 XH's this past year loaded with Terrasync, 2 has already gone back for repairs, 1 has had a motherboard replaced.

                                          For some reason can't get a consistent lock on (10 cm / 4 inch) accuracy in the open and connecting times are horrible, 15 minutes sometimes, seems when the satellite counts goes up to around 11 of more, accuracy drops and also happens with extended usage of an hour or so with these units.

                                          Management not happy and I'm not happy with Trimble, nowhere did I see this coming....