New Total Stations in 2016: A Leica, Topcon and Trimble Review

The evolution of the total station continues as Engineering Showcase editor Richard Groom revealed. He finds winners in the technology and functionality stakes. In this review article technological developments for the three largest brands (Leica, Topcon and Trimble) are discussed.


Total stations overview













Total Stations Developments


The surveyor’s workhorse used to be the theodolite and tape, then it became the theodolite and EDM, which then morphed into the total station and eventually we consigned pen and soggy paper to history – at least for writing down the observations. The total station then became reflectorless, robotic, locked on to the prism, took photos and started to scan.

Without doubt this is impressive development but it is not easy to see where total station development is heading. Developments this year have also been by way of improvement, greater range, storage capacity and so on, rather than ground-breaking new functionality.


Review of the 3 Largest Total Station Brands


Richard Groom has created an overview of the technological developments for the 3 largest brands (Leica, Topcon and Trimble). In detail is discussed what is changed.



1. Leica Total Stations


Leica has removed the TS15 series and brought out the TS16. The new models have larger displays and 2Gb of onboard storage. All are capable of robotic operation and the ‘I’ variant has imaging capability. They all support Leica Captivate software and claim relfectorless measurement to 1000m, but note that this is to 90% reflective surfaces whilst other manufacturers have quoted ranges to 10% reflective material as specified in our table, so comparisons have to be made with some caution. At the top of the range, the TM50 and TM50i remain, with the latter capable of scanning and imaging. The TS60 and MS60 are new. Both have 5” screens, larger memories and imaging capability, but only the MS60 can scan, at a rate of 1000 pts per second. Leica have also brought out new controllers, the CS20 and CS35. Again, larger screens, better cameras and more memory have been packed in and they are now protected to IP68 and IP65 respectively. They can accept streaming video from the onboard camera at an impressive 20 frames per second.


2. Topcon Total Stations


All Topcon total stations continue to carry the company’s TS Shield security system, which enables the instrument to be tracked, should it be stolen as well as facilitating firmware upgrades. There is now an imaging version of the DS/DX, which can also be used in conjunction with Topcon’s GNSS network rover for resecting position and combined total station / GNSS data collection. The DS/SRX now includes long range Bluetooth to give a robotic range 600m. The IS-310 is billed as Topcon’s answer to BIM: but it is not clear why it warrants that badge. It doesn’t have an eyepiece, instead it sends video to a data collector. The instrument can be mounted on a bracket in a place where it can operate undisturbed.




3. Trimble Total Stations


Trimble have also been upgrading their total stations. The S3, S6 and S8 are no longer listed, to be replaced by the S5, S7 and S9. These instruments have Trimble’s ‘Locate to Protect’ equipment security feature. The S7 and S9 have coaxial camera and laser scanning capability at 18 points per second. All instruments can be used in robotic mode and images can be transmitted to the controller at seven frames per second. Trimble has also added the YUMA 2 ruggedised tablet to its datalogger options.

Storage on the Nikon range has been upgraded whilst the top-of-the-range Spectra Precision instrument is the new Focus 35 with 1Gb of storage on board and 8Gb on the controller.



How to Compare Total Stations


The comparison tables on and in Engineering Showcase indicate clear winners on the technical front, but manufacturers are coy about stating the prices of their instruments. We can only present part of the equation, the rest is up to you!


On you can compare 66 total stations from 19 suppliers and view brochures, case studies and product videos. Click here to to visit the Total Stations category. 


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