Sunday, December 18, 2011

The American Surveyor Vol 8 No 8

Editorial: Polarization
The ninth meeting of the Space-Based Positioning Navigation and Timing advisory board, held in Alexandria VA on November 9, 2011 was widely anticipated as a "showdown" between the anti- and pro-LightSquared forces. While the meeting scored points for both sides, it left unanswered some of the most important issues: the upper spectrum band, and who will pay. Those who are just now ....Read the Article
Voyage of the Koo Koo Sint & Paddle Song
In 1811, David Thompson, surveyor and fur trader for the North West Company reached the Pacific Ocean, adding the Columbia River as the final leg of the Fur Trade Highway from Hudson's Bay and Montreal to the Pacific Ocean and becoming the first person to survey and map the Columbia River from its source near Invermere, British Columbia to its ....Read the Article
Rendezvous 2011—Altered Contours
From sometime around 1000 BC through 500 AD, natives piled great quantities of dirt into all shapes and configurations within the valley of the great river. What was the purpose of these mounds of fill shaped over fifteen hundred years in the south-central region of present day Ohio-- Religion? Artistic expression? A means of hunting, securing necessary ....Read the Article
Vantage Point: A Homeowner's Setback
Minnesota's Supreme Court recently struck down earlier decisions favoring a homeowner's complaint against the local city for errors related to the homeowner's shed. While Dr. Rajbir Sarpal and his wife Dr. Carol Sarpal had prevailed in the district and appellate courts, this May 2011 opinion (797 N.W.2d 18) remands the case back to district court, primarily regarding the point of equitable ... Read the Article
Footsteps: Finding the Courage to Say "No"
My father died in May. He was 52. The loss of someone close to you, especially your father, forces you to examine your life. You ask, "Am I following the moral principles that I was raised with, even when I'm under pressure to compromise?" This loss in my life and three recent situations I observed in my career as a land surveyor have prompted me to write this article. Boundary surveying is a branch of ...
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Conference Review: CGSIC and ION 2011—GPS-Greater than the Sum of its Parts
The 51st Meeting of the CGSIC and the ION GNSS 2011 was held September 19-23, 2011 in Portland, Oregon. I can think of no better combination of conferences that serves to illustrate (to paraphrase Aristotle) how the "whole" of GPS/GNSS is certainly "greater than the sum of its parts". These two events are "the" place to interact directly with the constellation operators, policy makers ...Read the Article
Data Mine—From Limestone Mine to National Archives Storage
Imagine you are charged with this task: Accurately survey the interior of a limestone mine cut into the base of a bluff­a cave with vast expanses, irregular surfaces and no light. Collect data on enough individual points to create a meaningful model of the space so that it can be designed and built for warehousing and storage. The challenge would be ....Read the Article
A Colonial Surveyor in President Jefferson's Public Lands
My apologies to Mark Twain, as in parts of my journey to obtain CFedS Certification I felt like the Connecticut Yankee, in King Arthur's Court, but in reverse. That is, I was the learner and my predecessors were the teachers. Also, my appreciation for American Surveyor Magazine's motto "A Foot in the Past...An Eye to the Future" prompted me to write about the journey that I recently ....Read the Article

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The American Surveyor Vol 8 No 7

Editorial: Putting the Lean On Manufacturing—A Visit to Topcon
The manufacturing area of Topcon's US headquarters in Livermore, California was a veritable beehive of activity during my recent visit. Colin Kavanagh, Senior VP for Operations, called attention to the "lean" manufacturing processes that have "eliminated expenditures for resources for any goal other than the creation of value for the end customer". To achieve this, Topcon cast a critical eye on ....
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Surveying with Google Earth
Over the past few years, I have become convinced that Google Earth represents an extraordinary opportunity to visualize and communicate survey data, though I too was skeptical of its value as a professional land surveying tool in the beginning. At the time, Metzger + Willard, Inc. (MWI) was making AutoCAD base maps with orthophotos in the vicinity of NGS control stations. Our reasoning was that, equipped with ....
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Conference Review: Hexagon User Conference 2011
What is Hexagon and what is the business of Hexagon? A company that decades ago was "importing tuna fish," according to CEO Ola Rollén, is now a key international player in geospatial products and services, metrology, design and process; this by acquiring and integrating a long list of established companies successful in their own ....
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Driving the Islands
When the Public Works department for Washington state's San Juan County was challenged with identifying and mapping roadside assets in an effort to improve traffic safety, it responded by sending out crews with hand-held GPS units. They quickly realized both the scope such a project entailed and the overall inefficiency of using that technique. Knowing the importance of the effort, however ...
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How Precise is OPUS? Part 3: The Rest of the Story
This is the third of three articles discussing the precision obtainable with the Online Positioning User Service (OPUS) offered by NOAA's National Geodetic Survey (NGS). The first two articles appeared in preceding issues of this magazine. OPUS is a Web-based utility available at to which surveyors and others can ...
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Footsteps: Changes to the 2009 Manual of Surveying Instructions
In a previous article, published online in June 2011, I discussed why the 2009 update to the Manual of Surveying Instructions was needed and how the BLM implemented it. The article is available in the Amerisurv Exclusive Online section of The American Surveyor website at What follows here are highlights of some of those changes in the 2009 edition of ...
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Vantage Point: Noticing a Dirty Past
Accutherm, Inc. manufactured thermometers containing mercury in Franklinville, New Jersey until 1994. It notified the state's Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) of its ceased operations, NJDEP issued cleanup orders to Accutherm, and when Accutherm didn't comply, the site was referred to the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for an assessment. The EPA's 1996 report ....
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Surveying `Da Situation: An Unexpected Gift
I believe we have all heard stories or had personal experiences of feeling as though someone close that we have lost reached out to touch us in some way. I had just that kind of experience recently. Back in the mid 1960s, my Dad was a deputy in the local sheriff's department. He had that job for several years until he found another one that paid a little better and freed up his weekends. Well, the county ....
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The American Surveyor Vol 8 No 6

Editors Corner:
Do You Depend on GPS to Make Money?
By Marc Cheves, LS


Surveyors on a Busman’s Holiday
In their time off, a group of surveyors investigate an interesting jog in a state boundary.
By Paul Hoinowski

The Elevation Certificate Translated (Part 2 of 2)
Our flood plain experts continue with their instructions for filling out the form.
By C. Barton Crattie, LS, CFM and Wendy Lathrop, LS, CFM

The Javad GNSS Triumph V.S.
Our Nashville correspondent examines the latest offering from Javad Ashjaee.
By Clifton Ogden, EI, LSIT

Conference Review: The Second Optech Innovative LiDAR Solutions Conference
LiDAR technology continues to boldly move forward.
By Gene Roe, LS, PE, PhD

How Precise is OPUS? (Part 2 of 3)
Experts from NGS examine available precision estimates.
By Richard Snay, Kevin Choi, Gerald Mader, Charles Schwarz, Tomás Soler and Neil Weston

Reconnaissance: Developments and Questions Regarding the New 2011 ALTA/ACSM Standards
Our ALTA expert shines more light on the new Standards.
By Gary Kent, LS

Earthquake in Christchurch
A land surveyor shares his eyewitness account of the unexpected quake that struck Christchurch during his visit to New Zealand.
By Malcolm Anderson, FRICS, FCInstCES (ret.)

Surveyors Report: The Face of Surveying
A Louisiana surveyor provides a history of the national organizations and a possible way forward for the future. J. Anthony Cavell, LS, CFedS
By J. Anthony Cavell, LS, CFedS

The American Surveyor Vol 8 No 5


Editors Corner:
Military Surveying, Then and Now
By Marc Cheves, LS


Subsurface Modeling
New technology that employs GNSS and the capability to “see underground” holds promise for surveying utilities.
By Les MacFarlane, LS, and Jim Waite

The Elevation Certificate {translated} Part 1
FEMA certifications continue to provide work for surveyors. Unfortunately, some fall short of properly completing the paperwork.
By C. Barton Crattie, LS, CFM and Wendy Lathrop, LS, CFM

Reconstructing an Accident Scene
GNSS RTK from Altus Positioning Systems helps the Royal Canadian Mounted Police reconstruct collision scenes.
By Daniel C. Brown

Product Review: Sokkia SRX
Our expert product reviewer examines this popular robotic total station.
By Shawn Billings, LS

How Precise is OPUS? Part 1: Experimental Results
Thousands of surveyors are using OPUS. Do they understand the legal ramifications of the underlying accuracy and precision?
By Richard Snay, Kevin Choi, Gerald Mader, Charles Schwarz, Tomás Soler and Neil Weston

Burt’s Solar Compass: It Conception, Development, Manufacturing, Marketing and Daily Use by Robert C. Miller
By Jack N. Owens, LS