Cheap RTK GPS – A little community service yields break-thru

That’s what I said “CHEAP RTK GPS” !

This project showcases some students and I working out the details/testing a new Base/Rover Combination using Emlid’s new (to me anyway) devices called reach RTK. (entire kit for a base and rover here) Kit costs $570 that’s what I said! Cheap RTK GPS !

The students and I ran some test points laid out using our total station, accuracy was within 2 cm (some closer to 1cm) on each point.

Total Cost including all parts, less that $1,000.00

Using a Drone to Survey, it’s just a picture! (NOT!)

Using a Drone to Survey, it’s just a picture! (NOT!)

Resistance to new technologies has never been more apparent than it is in the field of surveying. (i.e a Drone?) I think Surveyors could have stopped the Borg!

Drone to Survey
The Borg are a fictional alien race that appear as recurring antagonists in the Star Trek franchise. The Borg are a collection of species that have been turned into cybernetic organisms functioning as drones in a hive mind called “the Collective” or “the Hive”. “Resistance is futile” was their threat.

(Resistance is futile) How many of us know surveyors still using win 98 machines with a smartphone that still has physical buttons on the keypad? (or even a flip phone without internet or texting, lol) While I don’t know if an iPad will ever replace a Field Book, it has become apparent that even in a field as steeped in tradition and resistance to change as surveying, there is a place for a technology that actually works. Example, GPS technology. This tech has been reluctantly accepted nowadays by most surveyors, especially as prices become more and more affordable. Traditional 4 and 5 man crews are routinely replaced with lighter, faster 2-3 man crews using GPS technology.
While terms like “Photogrammetry” and “3D Modeling” have been around for a while, their use was dependent on the surveyor or engineer having access to pictures taken from altitude. The need for expensive cameras and airplanes to yield quality images at sufficient altitude left most to resort to the old ways. Namely, men and much time lugging expensive, delicate equipment cross-country in an effort to obtain data needed to calculate, draw and verify our work. Why not use a drone to survey?

With the advent of Drones (UAV’s) and advances to Digital Cameras (thanks in part to cameras on our phones some up to 12MP ), the modern surveyor now has affordable access to technologies once reserved for large engineering companies.

Our sister company Arkansas Drone Services, has made access to high resolution photos and videos readily available.

If you’re looking for more info on the use of Drones in surveying I’ve reposted several article on the subject below has published an interesting article entitled X,Y and Z made easy. They write:

There are several reasons why land surveyors are increasingly adding drones to their portfolio of instruments.

Firstly, using a drone can vastly reduce the time spent collecting accurate data. By acquiring raster data from the sky – in the form of geo-referenced digital aerial images, with resolutions as sharp as 1.5 cm (0.6 in) per pixel – you can gather millions of data points in one short flight.

More time still can be saved by using a survey-grade drone such as the eBee RTK.  Such GNSS/RTK receiver systems are effectively flying rovers, capable of receiving data corrections streamed from a base station or via VRS to achieve absolute X, Y, Z accuracy of down to 3 cm (1.2 in) – without needing Ground Control Points.

With collection made so simple, you can focus your energy on using and analysing data, rather than working out how to gather it.

With such a large increase in the amount of physical data being collected, this does mean an increase in office time spent processing and utilising this data. However this expansion is cancelled out many times over by the huge time savings a drone produces out in the field. Many of senseFly’s surveying customers say, for example, that large jobs that once took weeks can now be completed in just a few days, and that a week’s worth of traditional data collection is now achieved in just one day.

Last but not least, less time spent on the ground means staff safety is improved by minimising risk to surveying teams when measuring sites such as mines, unstable slopes and transport routes. Simply choose take-off and landing locations that are out of harm’s way. read complete article here

Flood Insurance in Arkansas, the low down.

Flood Plain Certification

Flood Certification, Flood Certificates, Elevation Certificates and Flood Plain Determination???!! If you’re searching for information on any of these terms, chances are you’re doing because of a notification from you’re insurance company concerning a potential rate or premium increase  for Flood Insurance.

Whether you live in Hot Springs, Hot Springs Village, Malvern, Arkadelphia, or a surrounding community, Garland, Saline, Clark or Pulaski counties, chances are you’re familiar with “The National Flood Insurance Program” and what it means.

What you may not realize is that just because a “FEMA” map shows your property to be in a certain zone (the “zone” determines your rate) your particular piece of land might, in “the real world”, not be in that zone. This can mean an adjustment in the rate you have to pay for flood insurance.

So how does one go about checking to see if the rate you’re currently paying is correct? The following are a few steps homeowners can take to check.

  1. Check your counties website for a FEMA Map and see what zone your address lies in
  2. Check with the FEMA website and find the official map
  3. Check here to find changes/updates to the current FEMA Maps

Now that you’ve figured what zone your property lies in, what next? Just because your property is on an “official” map and that map shows your property lies within the “Flood Plain” don’t give up. Mistakes can be made and adjustments to a properties status (in or out) of the “flood Plain” are made on a regular basis.

If you feel your property is listed incorrectly or the flood plain is inaccurate, you need an offical “Elevation Certificate” Foshee Brothers Land Surveying specializes in Flood Certification, Flood Certificates and Flood Plain Determination and Elevation Certificates.

The Following tips are from FEMA and can be downloaded here

Cheaper Flood Insurance -5 Ways to Lower the Cost of Your Flood Insurance Premium FEMA D671, Oct 2007

Just because your home or building is in the floodplain does not mean that you can’t reduce your flood insurance premiums. In fact, your building may have been built in a way that increases the cost of your annual premiums. This brochure identifies the most common causes of high flood insurance rates and provides options that could reduce the amount you pay. If you’re considering making a change to your home, whether it is a repair, remodel, or brand new building, consider some common practices that will provide you with the most affordable flood insurance rates and reduce your risk from suffering flood damage. Consider the elevated house in this brochure. Originally built in a floodplain after Flood Insurance Rate Maps were published, the mortgage company requires these homeowners to carry $100,000 of flood insurance coverage. Their annual premium was $1,255 per year. However, after they installed proper flood openings, elevated their utilities, removed the sub-grade crawlspace, and elevated the home, their premium was reduced to $190 per year for the same amount of coverage. Addressing just one of these modifications could reduce the annual cost of your flood insurance premium. This brochure is intended to show activities that can affect flood insurance premiums. The methods and techniques to accomplish these structural modifications must be done in accordance with local building codes.

Utilities -If you locate any machinery or equipment that services your building (i.e., electrical, heating, ventilation, plumbing, and air conditioning equipment) below the base flood elevation, an additional surcharge will be added to your insurance premium causing your annual insurance rates to increase. If your house was elevated to a safer level, maximize your savings and reduce your losses by relocating your machinery and equipment above the base flood elevation. Consider using your attic, an extra closet, or an elevated platform (as shown) to store utilities. For more information on relocating utilities see FEMA publication 259: Engineering Principles and Practices of Retrofitting Flood-prone Residential Structures.

Flood Openings -One common reason why insurance policies are rated so severely is due to a lack of proper flood openings. IBC/IRC minimum building code requirements for “foundation vents” in areas outside the floodplain may not meet the same specifications as “flood openings” or “flood vents” within a floodplain. For buildings in the floodplain, there must be at least two openings with 1 sq. inch of opening per sq ft of enclosed area, and the bottom of those openings can be no higher than 1ft above the exterior finished grade. There are no discounts for “partial credit.” If you have 1000 sq feet of enclosed crawlspace and 900 sq inches of openings, you will be charged as though there are no openings (i.e., basement loading fees could apply). Don’t forget that garage doors, windows, and doors do not count as flood openings unless they have openings installed within them. For more information on flood openings, see FEMA Technical Bulletin 1-93.

Basements -Unless explicitly authorized, basements in new buildings constructed in the floodplain are prohibited. FEMA considers “crawlspaces” that are sub-grade on all sides to be basements as well. If your community has adopted building standards that allows such construction, homeowners in the floodplain with an excavated sub-grade crawlspace will bear an additional financial burden through a 15-20% increase on their flood insurance premiums. When building, you can save that cost by backfilling any excavated areas within the foundation. It can also be done at a later date by using pea-gravel or other suitable material to raise the interior crawlspace floor elevation to the same height or higher than the exterior finished grade. For more information on basements, see FEMA Technical Bulletin 11-01.

Elevation -Elevating above the base flood elevation is the fastest way to reduce the cost of your annual flood insurance premium. You can save hundreds of dollars for every foot the elevated floor is located above your community’s established base flood elevation. Elevating just one foot above the base flood elevation often results in a 30% reduction in annual premiums. A homeowner with an elevated home, like the one shown on this poster with its first floor elevated 3 feet above the base flood elevation, can expect to save 60% or more on annual flood insurance premiums. For more information on elevation, see FEMA Technical Bulletin 2-93.

Relocation -One of the most effective options is relocating your home on an area of your property that has its natural grade above the base flood elevation. This method may be costly, but can reduce or eliminate the need to pay flood insurance entirely. If you are preparing to build a new home or structure, evaluate your property to determine if there is a suitable building area outside of the floodplain. Be warned; homes constructed outside the floodplain (or on natural ground above the base flood elevation) are not 100% safe from flooding. On average, between 20-25% of all flood insurance claim payouts go to buildings that are located outside of the special flood hazard area. If your home is located outside the floodplain and you still want to be covered, affordable “Preferred Risk” policies are available. For more information on relocation, see FEMA Technical Manual 312, Homeowner’s Guide to Retrofitting.

Find more resources and information by visiting FEMA online at: FEMA Publication Number D671 Catalog Number 07284-1 This brochure was produced in 2005 by the Mitigation Division of FEMA Region 10. Illustrated by Jeff Markham. If you have any questions regarding the content of this brochure or wish to obtain additional copies or a poster version, please contact FEMA Region X at 425.487.4600.

Surveying Terms and Units

Here is a list of some of the more popular units of measuresurveying termssurveyors’ slang and abbreviationswater descriptions, and trees. (thanks to the folks at Direct Line Software for compiling this list)
Surveying Terms and Units
Surveying chain owned by Henry David Thoreau

You might find the following Surveying Terms and Units on a plat drawing. When a surveyor resurveys a tract they will “find” evidence of earlier surveys and will “set” new markers of their own. Thus F and S are common in abbreviations.

Surveyors’ Abbreviations

  • BRL – Building restriction line.
  • BS – Back sight
  • BSL – Building setback line.
  • CIP – Capped iron pin
  • CL – Center line
  • Con Mon F – Concrete monument found
  • EBL – East boundary line. Eastbound Lane.
  • EIP – Existing iron pipe
  • FD – Found
  • IPF – Iron pipe/pin found
  • IPS – Iron pipe/pin set
  • IRF – Iron rod found
  • IRS – Iron rod set
  • L.O.D. – Limit of Disturbance. The area to be cleared, graded, etc.
  • LS – Licensed/Land Surveyor #
  • MAG – New concrete nails are magnetic nails and are stamped with MAG on the head and are easier to find with metal detectors.
  • MBS – Minimum building setback
  • NBL – North boundary line. Northbound Lane.
  • N/F – Now or formerly
  • NIP – New iron pin
  • NMS – No monument set
  • NPP – Nail in power pole
  • NTCFP – Nail on top of corner fence post
  • NTFP – Nail on top of fence post
  • NTS – Not to scale
  • PC – Point of curvature. The point at which a straight line begins to curve, i.e. the point of tangency to the curve. See PT.
  • PCC – Point of compound curvature. The point where curves of different radii meet.
  • PDE – Public drainage easement
  • PI – Point of intersection
  • PK – Point Known, PK nail
  • PK nail – A concrete nail made by Parker Kaelon, stamped PK, that marks a survey point. See also hub and tack.
  • PL – Property line
  • POB – Point of beginning. The starting point of a survey.
  • POL – Point on line. Used in situations where the end (final) point cannot be seen from the transit. Also used when the final point falls in water.
  • PRC – Point of reverse curve. The point in an S-type compound curve where two curves of different polarity meet.
  • PSDE – Private storm drain easement.
  • PT – Point of tangency. The point at which a curve ends and straight survey line begins. See PC.
  • R/C – Rod and cap, or rebar and cap
  • RP – Radius point
  • R/W – Right of way
  • SBL – South boundary line. Southbound lane.
  • SC – Standard corner
  • SCM – Set concrete monument
  • SMN – Set mag nail
  • SR – Steel rebar
  • SRS – Steel rod set (rebar or other steel)
  • STE – Sight triangle easement
  • UE – Utility easement
  • WBL – West boundary line. Westbound lane.
  • WC – Witness corner

Units of Measure

  • Acre – The (English) acre is a unit of area equal to 43,560 square feet, or 10 square chains, or 160 square poles. It derives from a plowing area that is 4 poles wide and a furlong (40 poles) long. A square mile is 640 acres. The Scottish acre is 1.27 English acres. The Irish acre is 1.6 English acres.
  • Arpent – Unit of length and area used in France, Louisiana, and Canada. As a unit of length, approximately 191.8 feet (180 old French ‘pied’, or foot). The (square) arpent is a unit of area, approximately .845 acres, or 36,802 square feet.
  • Chain – Unit of length usually understood to be Gunter’s chain, but possibly variant by locale. See also Rathbone’s chain. The name comes from the heavy metal chain of 100 links that was used by surveyors to measure property bounds.
  • Colpa – Old Irish measure of land equal to that which can support a horse or cow for a year. Approximately an Irish acre of good land.
  • Compass – One toise.
  • Cuerda – Traditional unit of area in Puerto Rico. Equal to about .971 acres. Known as the “Spanish acre”.
  • Engineer’s Chain – A 100 foot chain containing 100 links of one foot apiece.
  • Furlong – Unit of length equal to 40 poles (220 yards). Its name derives from “furrow long”, the length of a furrow that oxen can plow before they are rested and turned. SeeGunter’s chain.
  • Ground – A unit of area equal to 2400 sq. ft., or 220 sq. meters, used in India.
  • Gunter’s Chain – Unit of length equal to 66 feet, or 4 poles. Developed by English polymath Edmund Gunter early in the 1600’s, the standard measuring chain revolutionized surveying. Gunter’s chain was 22 yards long, one tenth of a furlong, a common unit of length in the old days. An area one chain wide by ten chains long was exactly an acre. In 1595 Queen Elizabeth I had the mile redefined from the old Roman value of 5000 feet to 5280 feet in order for it to be an even number of furlongs. A mile is 80 chains.
  • Hectare – Metric unit of area equal to 10,000 square meters, or 2.471 acres, or 107,639 square feet.
  • Hide – A very old English unit of area, a hide was of variable size depending on locale and the quality of the land. It was the amount of land to support a family, and ranged from 60 to 180 acres. After the Norman conquest in 1066 it became standardized at around 120 acres.
  • Hundred – An adminstrative area larger than a village and smaller than a county. In England it was 100 hides in size, and the term was used for early settlements in Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware.
  • Labor – The labor is a unit of area used in Mexico and Texas. In Texas it equals 177.14 acres (or 1 million square varas).
  • League (legua) – Unit of area used in the southwest U.S., equal to 25 labors, or 4428 acres (Texas), or 4439 acres (California). Also, a unit of length– approximately three miles.
  • Link – Unit of length equal to 1/100 chain (7.92 inches).
  • Morgen – Unit of area equal to about .6309 acres. It was used in Germany, Holland and South Africa, and was derived from the German word Morgen (“morning”). It represented the amount of land that could be plowed in a morning.
  • Out – An ‘out’ was ten chains. When counting out long lines, the chain carriers would put a stake at the end of a chain, move the chain and put a stake at the end, and so on until they ran “out” of ten stakes.
  • Perch – See pole .
  • Point – A point of the compass. There are four cardinal points (North, South, East, West), and 28 others yielding 32 points of 11.25 degrees each. A survey line’s direction could be described as a compass point, as in “NNE” (north northeast). To improve precision, the points would be further subdivided into halves or quarters as necessary, for example, “NE by North, one quarter point North”. In some areas, “and by” meant one half point, as in “NE and by North”.
  • Pole – Unit of length and area. Also known as a perch or rod. As a unit of length, equal to 16.5 feet. A mile is 320 poles. As a unit of area, equal to a square with sides one pole long. An acre is 160 square poles. It was common to see an area referred to as “87 acres, 112 poles”, meaning 87 and 112/160 acres.
  • Pueblo – A Spanish grant of less than 1000 acres.
  • Rancho – A Spanish grant of more than 1000 acres.
  • Rathbone’s Chain – A measuring chain two poles, or 33 feet, in length.
  • Rod – See pole
  • Rood – Unit of area usually equal to 1/4 acre.
  • Toise – Traditional French unit of length equal to 6 old French ‘pieds’ or feet, or 6.4 English feet.
  • Vara – Unit of length (the “Spanish yard”) used in the U.S. southwest. The vara is used throughout the Spanish speaking world and has values around 33 inches, depending on locale. The legal value in Texas was set to 33 1/3 inches early in the 1900’s.
  • Virgate – An old English unit of area, equal to one quarter of a hide. The amount of land needed to support a person.

Standard Surveying Terms

  • Aliquot – The description of fractional section ownership used in the U.S. public land states. A parcel is generally identified by its sectiontownship, and range. The aliquot specifies its precise location within the section, for example, the northwest quarter of the southeast quarter.
  • Auditor’s map – was made by the County Surveyor at the request of the auditor for tax purposes. Many were made in the 1800’s. Very little field work was done. The map was created bu the use of various documents, piecing together other surveys, a few rough measurements in the field, etc. Generally, not accurate.
  • Azimuth – The number of degrees from north (or other reference direction) that a line runs, measured clockwise.
  • Back sight – After measuring from point A to B, reading the heading from B back to A. Various factors can cause the headings to not be exactly the reverse of one another.
  • Baseline – In the U.S. Public land surveying system, a surveyed east-west (i.e. latitudinal) reference line, often hundreds of miles in length, from which tiers of townships are are surveyed to the north and south. There are approximately two dozen baselines in the lower 48 states. See also meridian.
  • Bearing – See azimuth. Bearings taken with a compass will be referenced to magnetic north unless otherwise noted.
  • Benchmark – A survey mark made on a monument having a known location and elevation, serving as a reference point for surveying.
  • Call – Any feature, landmark, or measurement called out in a survey. For example, “two white oaks next to the creek” is a call. So is “North 3 degrees East 120 poles”.
  • Chain carrier – An assistant to the surveyor, the chain carriers moved the surveying chain from one location to another under the direction of the surveyor. This was a position of some responsibility, and the chain carriers took an oath as “sworn chain carriers” that they would do their job properly.
  • Chord – The straight line connecting the end points of an arc.
  • Condition – See Conditional line.
  • Conditional line – An agreed line between neighbors that has not been surveyed, or which has been surveyed but not yet granted.
  • Corner – The beginning or end point of any survey line. The term corner does not imply the property was in any way square.
  • Declination – The difference between magnetic north and geographic (true) north. Surveyors used a compass to determine the direction of survey lines. Compasses point to magnetic north, rather than true north. This declination error is measured in degrees, and can range from a few degrees to ten degrees or more. Surveyors may have been instructed to correct their surveys by a particular declination value. The value of declination at any point on the earth is constantly changing because the location of magnetic north is drifting. More information about historical values of declination is available.
  • First station – See Point of Beginning
  • Flag – A bright plastic ribbon tied to a lath stake. Used to mark points along a survey line.
  • Gore – A thin triangular piece of land, the boundaries of which are defined by surveys of adjacent properties. Loosely, an overlap or gap between properties. See also strip.
  • Landmark – A survey mark made on a ‘permanent’ feature of the land such as a tree, pile of stones, etc.
  • Line Tree – Any tree that is on a property line, specifically one that is also a corner to another property.
  • Merestone – A stone that marks a boundary. See monument.
  • Meridian – In the U.S. public land surveying system, a surveyed north-south (i.e. longitudinal) reference line, often hundrends of miles in length, from which ranges are surveyed to the east and west. There are approximately two dozen meridians in the lower 48 states. See also baseline.
  • Mete – In the context of surveying, a measure, i.e. the direction and distance of a property line.
  • Metes and Bounds – An ancient surveying system that describes the perimeter of a parcel of land in terms of its bearings and distances and its relationship to natural features and adjacent parcels.
  • Monument – A permanently placed survey marker such as a stone shaft sunk into the ground.
  • Open line – A survey line, usually the final one, that is not measured and marked (blazed) by the surveyor but is instead calculated.
  • Point of Beginning – The starting point of the survey
  • Point of intersection – The point where two non-parallel lines intersect. More specifically, the point where two tangents to a curved line intersect.
  • Plat – A drawing of a parcel of land. More specifically, the drawing created by the surveyor that shows the field work, with bearings, distances, etc.
  • Plot plan – A diagram showing the proposed or existing use of a specific parcel of land.
  • Plunge – 1) Inversion of a transit in order to make measurements that cancel errors in the transit, or to extend a line over an obstacle. 2) The angle a falling line makes with the horizontal.
  • Protraction – in the rectangular survey system, the representation of a boundary or corner not run, marked, or fixed by the field survey as evidenced by the field notes. For example, a surveyed section might be protracted into lots by someone in the office.
  • Quarter corner – in the public land surveying system, a point halfway between the corners of a section. A section can be divided into four equal quarters by connecting its quarter corner points. A section’s quarter corners are identified by the section line they are located on (north, south, east, west).
  • Range – In the U.S. public land surveying system, a north-south column of townships, identified as being east or west of a reference longitudinal meridian, for example, Range 3 West. See township.
  • Riser – a tree branch or other similar object stuck in the ground and flagged to mark a survey point.
  • Searles Spiral – A surveying technique used by railroad surveyors in the the late 1800s and early 1900s whereby they approximate a spiral by use of multiple curved segments.
  • Section – In the U.S. public land surveying system, an area one mile square. See aliquot.
  • Standard Corner – a corner that is on a standard parallel or base line
  • Strip – A rectangular piece of land adjoining a parcel, created when a resurvey turns up a tiny bit larger than the original survey. The difference is accounted for by temperature or other effects on measuring chains. See also gore.
  • Tangent line – A line that touches a circle at exactly one point and which makes a right angle with the circle’s radius. For example, a circle that fills a square has four tangent points and the square’s sides are tangent lines. An arc (curve) in a survey is part of a larger circle. One can construct tangent lines at the end points of the arc.
  • Tie line – A survey line that connects a point to other surveyed lines.
  • Tier – In the U.S. public land surveying system, an east-west row of townships identified as being north or south of a latitudinal baseline.
  • Total station – A survey instrument that combines a theodolite and distance meter.
  • Township – In the U.S. public land surveying system, an area six miles square, containing 36 sections. The townships are organized in tiers and ranges, identified with respect to abaseline and meridian. For example, Township 13 North Range 6 West describes a township’s location.
  • Traverse – 1) any line surveyed across a parcel, 2) a series of such lines connecting a number of points, often used as a base for triangulation.
  • Trend – the bearing of a line along a falling course.
  • Trocha – Spanish for ‘path’. In the southeast U.S. it is used for a cut or cleared survey line.
  • Witness Tree – Generally used in the U.S. public land states, this refers to the trees close to a section corner. The surveyor blazed them and noted their position relative to the corner in his notebook. Witness trees are used as evidence for the corner location.
  • Zenith angle – An angle measured from a vertical reference. Zero degrees is a vertical line pointing up, 90 degrees is horizontal, and 180 degrees is straight down.

Surveyors’ Slang

Surveying, like any profession, has its special terms and slang. Some are just humorous, some help distinguish similar sounds (e.g. eleven and seven), and some are just plain strange!

  • Balls – Slang for numeric .00, as in 4-balls (4.00)
  • Beep – Verb. To use a magnetic detector to look for iron pipe, etc.
  • Blood – To slowly raise the levels rod in order that the instrument man can read the foot markings.
  • Boot – To raise the levels rod some number of inches so as to be visible to the instrument man, e.g. “Boot 6!” means “raise it 6 inches.”
  • Blue topping – In road or grading work the surveyor sets stakes and paints their tops blue to represent the required elevation. Graders then work to just cover the blue tops of the stakes.
  • Box – Data collector.
  • Bug – To use a magnetic locator to search for an iron pipe.
  • Bullseye – Zero degrees of inclination.
  • Burn – See shoot
  • Burn one – Measure from the one foot mark on the tape rather than from the end of the tape in order to increase the accuracy of the measurement.
  • Bust – Closure error, i.e. the amount by which the survey fails to perfectly close.
  • Cap – A metal or plastic cover on the end of a rebar or pipe, typically stamped or printed with the surveyor’s license number or other identifier.
  • Cut line – To clear vegetation for a line of sight between two survey control points.
  • Double nickel – Slang for .55, as in 6-double nickel (6.55)
  • Dummy or dummy-end – The base or zero end of a tape or chain, as in “hold dummy at the face of the curb.”
  • Dump – Download data from the data collector.
  • EDM – Electromagnetic Distance Measurement device, the instrument used by modern surveyors that replaces the use of measurement chains. It determines distance by measuring the time it takes for laser light to reflect off a prism on top of a rod at the target location.
  • Ginney – A wooden dowel 6-9 inches in length with a sharpened end. Set in the ground to mark survey points.
  • Glass – The EDM prism.
  • Gun – Originally, a transit, but potentially any measurement instrument in use, e.g. theodolite, EDM, or Total Station.
  • Hours – Degrees
  • Hub and Tack – A 2″ by 2″ stake that is set in the ground and that contains a nail (“tack”) that precisely marks the point being set.
  • Jigger – Transit (Australia and New Zealand)
  • Legs – Tripod
  • Pogo – Prism pole
  • Pole – Approximate unit of measure (about 0.1 foot) used for stake out, e.g. “Move a pole to the left and drive that hub in”
  • Punk – See railroad.
  • Railroad – Slang for eleven, as in 42-railroad (42.11)
  • Rodman – The person holding the rod with the EDM prism. This person is the modern version of a chain carrier or chain man.
  • Shoot – Measure distance with an EDM
  • Spike – Usually a 60 penny nail used to mark survey points in hard ground.
  • Stob – In the southeast U.S., a wooden stake or post, but in modern surveying, a piece of rebar used to mark a property boundary.
  • Tie – To locate something with the transit or other measuring device.
  • Top – Slang for eleven. See railroad.
  • Trip – Slang for triple digits, as in trip5 means 555, and 43trip7 means 43.777
  • Turn – The rodman is told to stay in place while the gun or level is moved to a new location.
  • Wave – To slowly move the levels rod back and forth in order to confirm that a measurement was made when the rod was truly vertical.
  • Zero – Zero degrees, minutes, and seconds. A perfect zero.

Water Terms

  • Arroyo – A small steep-walled (usually) dry watercourse with a flat floor. A gulch or gully. Chiefly in the U.S. southwest.
  • Bank – Edge of a stream.
  • Bed and banks – For property lines that cross a body of water, this term is used to explicitly refer to the bottom of the water.
  • Bottom – Land along a river.
  • Branch – Small stream.
  • Brook – Small stream.
  • Creek – Small stream.
  • Drain – Small dry stream or gully.
  • Draughts of – (pronounced drafts). See waters of.
  • Drean – See drain.
  • Ford – Shallow part of a stream or river where one could cross.
  • Fork – Meeting point of two streams. “In the fork of” means between two branches.
  • Gut – A narrow passage between hills. A stream in such a passage. A drain.
  • Head – The source of a stream.
  • Headwaters – The smallest streams that combine to make a larger stream.
  • Kill – (Dutch) Creek.
  • Lower – Toward the mouth of a stream. Further down along its course. Opposite of upper.
  • Meander – “with the meanders of the stream” means the survey line follows the twists and turns of the stream.
  • Mouth – The place where a stream enters another, larger stream.
  • Narrows – Narrow part of a stream.
  • River – Large stream.
  • Run – Small stream.
  • Shoal – Shallows.
  • Spring – A pool or other source of water that feeds a stream.
  • Swale – A low, generally marshy tract of land, either natural or manmade, e.g. for managing water runoff.
  • Swamp – In the southeastern U.S., a stream, particularly one that has has swampy parts. A marsh.
  • Thalweg – 1. An imaginary line connecting the lowest points of a valley. 2. The line connecting the lowest points of a stream’s channel. 3. The surface midline of a channel.
  • Thread of a creek. A figurative expression used to signify the center line of the main channel of a stream when the flow rate is low.
  • Upper – Toward the head of a stream. Further up along its course. Opposite of lower.
  • Vly – (Dutch) Swampy lowland.
  • Waters (“watters”) of – In the drainage of. On the branches of.


  • Alder –
  • Ash – has tough, straight-grained wood
  • Aspen – a type of poplar
  • Basswood – see linden
  • Beech – smooth gray bark and small edible nuts
  • Birch, (burch) –
  • Black gum – see tupelo
  • Blackjack – a type of small oak
  • Black oak –
  • Black walnut –
  • Box elder –
  • Box oak –
  • Buckeye –
  • Buffaloberry –
  • Cedar –
  • Cherry –
  • Chestnut – American chestnut has been virtually destroyed by blight.
  • Chestnut oak – has leaves resembling a chestnut
  • Chittamwood – see Wooly Bumelia
  • Cottonwood –
  • Dogwood –
  • Elder –
  • Elm –
  • Fir –
  • Gambrel oak – see Oakbrush
  • Gum – subtypes: black, sweet
  • Hackberry – has cherry-like fruit
  • Hawthorn –
  • Hazel –
  • Hemlock –
  • Hickory, hiccory, hickry – has edible nuts and hard wood
  • Hornbeam – has hard, heavy wood
  • Ironwood – see hornbeam
  • Juniper –
  • Larch –
  • Laurel –
  • Lightwood – highly resinous pine, suitable for stakes
  • Live oak –
  • Lowerwood – transcription error for sourwood
  • Maple, (maypole)
  • Mountain birch –
  • Oak, (oake) – subtypes: black, box, chestnut, live, pin, post, red, scrub, shrub, Spanish, swamp white, white
  • Oakbrush – scrub oak prevalent in southern Colorado west of the divide
  • Pawpaw –
  • Persimmon – has plum-like fruit
  • Pine –
  • Pin oak –
  • Pohiccory – see hickory
  • Ponderosa pine –
  • Poplar, popular –
  • Post oak – wood used for posts
  • Red cedar –
  • Red oak –
  • Sapling, (saplin) – young tree
  • Sassafras – bark used in medicines and beverages
  • Scrub oak – usually found in dry, rocky soil
  • Serviceberry – (sarvisberry)
  • Sour gum – see tupelo
  • Sourwood – sorrel tree
  • Spanish oak –
  • Spruce –
  • Sugar tree – sugar maple
  • Sumac – (shumac)
  • Swamp white oak – heavy, hard wood used in shipbuilding, furniture, etc.
  • Sweet gum – hard reddish brown wood used for furniture
  • Sycamore –
  • Tamarack – an American larch having reddish brown bark
  • Tamarisk – small shrub found in the southwest
  • Tupelo –
  • Walnut – black
  • White oak –
  • Wooly Bumelia – leaves resemble a live oak with a fine fur-like fuzz on the underside.
  • Yew –