Discussion of FieldGenius related issues and questions.

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Postby Richard Sands » Sun Jan 25, 2009 9:51 pm

I posted some of these on the MSCAD development site as some overlapped with that program.
These posted here as they are relevant to Field Genius.
I come from many years of Nikon data collection so those familiar with the (older) software will recognise some of where I'm coming from.
These are features I consider important to me.

a) When traversing, the backsight to a previous point (when measured) gives the comparisons and asks if we want to update the coordinates, based on the latest backsight distances (H&V). What this allows is for a reading forward to a prism pole that we may feel confident about the angular measurements, but the distance may be a bit tottery due to the fact it was hand held in a breezy location. The backsight distance may well be a better choice due to it read to a tribrach and prism, not a pole.
b) From Carlson Website – I imagine this may fit what I am saying, except it may only apply to traverse networks. (Preferred way is for all back/ fore observations to do either a mean or accept back observation.
SurvCE 2 allows users to “Configure” how each reading is measured with regard to direct and reverse options (Formerly know as SS/Trav). If direct and reverse readings are taken at the backsight, then any direct and reverse foresight will be considered an angle set and will be reduced accordingly. This eliminates the need to use a separate routine for angle sets.
c) Something I do manually now but FG could do handle with its hands tied behind its back , allows for forward traversing without necessarily having a known point. Imagine a traverse where we observe 1-2-3-4-5. Then we miss an area due to temporary obstructions and commence traversing. – 6-7-8-9 and so on. Now obviously point ‘6’ doesn’t exist and FG knows that, but it assumes we are wanting to have a continued traverse and so prompts for either input co-ords or (and this is the beauty of the software) holds the point in abeyance and just keeps the traverse going until we come back to ‘5’, setup on it, backsight ‘4’, foresight ‘6’ then setup on ‘6’, BS ‘5’ and FS ‘7’ and away we go. Once ’ 6’ is established it triggers a recoordination of the raw data.
From Nikon Manual: (I realise in this case it would cause issues with screen zooms – but there would be ways of overcoming this – tap on screen somewhere to chose approx point and proceed.)
Setting up the station quickly without coordinates
The station point (ST) in this function defaults to a new point number. For the new point, MP (0, 0, 0) is stored as the coordinates. When the ST is manually changed to a known point name, the station is set up on the coordinates of the known point.

From known point, observe H&V to distant/ remote point. Give it a point number (eg 100) and description. From another known point site to same point give it the previous point number (100) and the point is given 3D coordinates.
I’ve used this on many occasions and once was asked to locate some bolts way up in a factory roof. I used forced-centering and observed it twice from 2 different locations. The theoretical differences were less than 1mm.
The trigger for the software is the same point number. Its extremely powerful and useful. One may not see a need for it with reflectorless reading, but I’d hedge my bets on missing angles using proven procedures as opposed to hoping the reflectorless reading is true. Depends upon accuracy being sought after. Also the object may be way out of reach of measurement.
Another very useful part of this routine is a one-off bearing out to a reference object that can be used for a backsight , or if its a known point then a check of bearings. Currently no (known to me) way to add an ‘Angle only’ reading . It can be done with manual distance, but that creates false points that whilst useful can also be a pain in real use. If we check our backsight we can have angle only – so why not here?
I know (think?) I could ‘observe backsight’ as a check and read to the RO and it would log that, but thats rather an unusual workaround I would rather steer clear of.

I know there is a sort of a way to do this in your Road module, but this is tedious to setup if all one wants is to do the following.
Measure 2 points or select 2 points – don’t have to be joined by linework. FG uses this as an ‘alignment’ with specified sideslopes, setout work or report on deviations (including side grades) using just these simple parameters. In effect it creates an inclined plane about the 2 points that can also be pivoted about the axis of the 2 points with both horizontal and vertical offsets included.
Its a brilliantly simple operation to setup and execute. ARCS are treated similarly. One could argue ‘just use road routine’, but for many individual, but unrelated ‘pairs’ of points this is a far better routine. It only involves 2 point selection and stake to them.
We can already stake to a line – using input points. All it needs is some variables as in side slopes, offsets (these offset parameters could be integrated in Road Module or just keep the same settings until changed). As said a very useful routine that is far simpler than setting up individual roads each time we want to stake 2 points at a crossgrade.

Chose two points and specify number of divisions between points. Then proceed to setout each interval.
Worked with above would be a very powerful feature – still simpler to setup for simple 2 point reference lines than roading.

Backsight distant target – (angle only) and measure to close reference object. (two known points – one on top of nearby mountain with Trig Beacon, other known point nearby – a very simple mathematical solution) Currently can’t be done in FG.
I offered this as a suggested feature and was told this feature wasn’t given as it could lead to errors! (I’d suggest far more errors could be made by not checking backsights during Stakeout, assuming all setup info is correct upon restarting FG and so on.)
This is a common mode of station setup for me.

Occasionally one re-records a previous measurement and FG will just accept it without query. If the measurement is within a specified distance of the LAST (Previous) POINT then that triggers a response and asks if we want to record it. Avoids un-needed duplicates, but more importantly can make us aware that if we remeasure a previous shot and add an offset (in/out, up/down/ left/ right), if we mess that up somehow and so no offset is applied, then we don’t record 2 points the same rather than 2 separate points.

Many options but none to my knowledge allow a backsight check without exiting the routine and then inputing all previous data. We need a ‘FUNCTION’ key that has some basic menus in there. Anything to do with the instrument, prisms, backsight, instrument, cogo, setup etc.
This would allow us to hit the FUNCTION key without actually exiting a routine. Upon exiting from the ‘FUNCTION invoked command’ it returns to previous screen.
STAKEOUT is a routine I find frustrating – I constantly check my backsight – a lot of key-punching to get back to where the last stake point was.
Often I am doing something and midstream want to inverse between points.
May need to check the instrument set-up. This can be done with inspection of the Raw Data, but would be better served from a separate function – see 7. Thats no check of instrument orientation though.

a) Currently no way to backwards step and check the settings – heights etc. Needs a complete setup again.
FG should hold the setup in a way that we can backtrack if we input a wrong backsight or instrument/ target heights etc. This to remain until updated at next instrument setup.
b) Something I find very useful is that whenever I setup on a point and enter it in the Instrument Setup the Nikon software instantly fills in the rest of the backsight details using the Station settings from which it was shot. (Instrument and target heights get reveresed) This is ANY point, not just Traverse shots. I’m not aware FG can do this for ANY shot. Only for Traverse Shots and only then if that feature is invoked in the settings.
Actually not sure why we need that feature in Settings, as its easy to over ride the readings as returned by FG.
One very useful feature of that is a check of heights as entered. I have discovered an odd error where I change pole height for only 1 reading only to find it hasn’t been changed back. Its a useful reminder/ check feature.

9: If FG is turned off and then ON there should be a prompt ‘No Instrument setup made since turning on’. This alerts us to check we are in fact still at same point (yet alone same job) with correct orientation. This is a very basic mistake that could be made even by experienced users. No warning is not good – particularly in the Forensic side. (I went back to a job 2 weeks later, turned FG on and connected to instrument and could have just started sideshots or anything for that matter.)
Goes against reasoning for not having a simple included angle and one distance for station setup.

As in 2 . Add ‘ANGLE ONLY’ here. From your ‘BACKSIGHT’ option – this could be added to SIDESHOT menu for ‘ANGLE ONLY’ choice.

Also ability to use the ‘DISTANCE OFFSET’ after the shot and not just before. I prefer it after the reading as the chainman can be off to the next shot – much time is wasted the way it works now as he waits for me to punch in the offsets. Also often there are several offset points to record using just the one shot. Don’t think this is possible with current version FG.
Suggest a hot key in the ‘STORE POINT’ dialogue box that comes after reading the sideshot, that takes one to the ‘DISTANCE OFFSET’ dialogue box.

DISTANCE OFFSET: - If one clicks any of then toggles – ‘Forward’, ‘Right’, ‘Up. Then as that parameter changes jump to the input box adjacent.

The ‘SELECT MEASURE MODE’ menu is a bit disjointed. Similar functions are not placed conveniently together.
Not sure why the ANGLE OFFSET couldn’t be added to the SIDESHOT button. If in SIDESHOT mode, Tap the menu and it offers normal array of options. Double-tap offers just the ANGLE OFFSET routine and maybe others more often used.
I think this could benefit from a bit of tweaking. A sort of 2 level menu.
I wonder how others use SIDESHOT. I would use pure single sideshot most, but angle offset and distance offsets are used very frequently and need to be closely related and on hand very easily in the menu structure.

if we edit a measurement in Traverse Editor (Field Genius file) that changes a point location then recoordinate the traverse, it updates that point and subsequent points shot from that point.
But if a resection is done (In Field genius) that uses that recoordinated point it does not update the resection.
This is a problem that needs fixing as its tedious to redo the resection by hand.
It has to be (recoordinate the resected point) done if a recoordinated position of the points measured as a result of the resection is required.

There is an inconsistency between Field Genius and MSCAD AutoMAP.
One of the beauties of FG is its interaction with MSCAD and reverse, but in reality the way FG works is different to MSCAD.
If we want descriptions with a SPACE then this doesn’t translate the same in FG as in MSCAD. FG doesn’t recognise these as I would expect it to.
EG ‘STN Sp’ and ‘STN’ are 2 different entities and to format it in FG requires invidual formatting. So we cant use a standard MSCAD csv file that is ‘lean and mean’ and have FG create symbols for screen visibility – symbols, colours etc.
A few years ago this addition to MSCAD was lauded (rightly so) as a significant enhancement.
But now in FG we lose the value of this as it applies to Field Genius.

Another problem with Field Genius is the visibility of points that can’t be turned off. Most of my jobs have distant reference points – some 120 kilometers away. (Trig beacons on mountains, lighthouses, microwave towers etc)
With not being able to turn those points off the zooming causes real problems as overall the job area may be just a fraction of the screen area.

This has been mentioned before, but mention again. It is vital we have those in the raw data as opposed to the coordinate file.

Ability to use offsets horizontal and vertical to measured linework. Typical egs is retaining walls with constant height, kerbs etc.
Carlson has this as follows
SurvCE 2 can collect parallel lines using the offset horizontal and offset vertical line drawing commands and close a rectangle by three points using the rectangle command. In the settings section of Special Codes, the user can even auto compute and store the additional points at the line vertices that were created by the software.

15. Reference Plane
Nikon have up to 99 points to create a Plane – Be it a building wall or any plane. Following from Leica site regarding their ‘Reference Plane’ - It is used to measure points relative to a reference plane. Define your reference plane (e.g. wall) by measuring three points on the plane and measure your target points. The program calculates the local coordinates and the coordinates of the intersection point which also can be staked out.
FG’s 2 point plane is very useful, but can be enhanced with multipoint input.

Added Jan 28

Intersections - missing distances. Keep the current bearings as entered until amended. A real pain as it is - having to reenter the bearings or type in using point numbers.
Currently keeps the point numbers that I want to change, but removes the bearings that I want to retain.

Probably other areas of calculations where FG doesn't retain the settings that need to be included.

hope this stimulates some serious thought and input from others and further the development of Field Genius.

PS Why does this screen jump to the top line when using formatting of text entry?
Richard Sands
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Postby Claudio Vazquez » Wed Jan 28, 2009 4:40 am

I am totally agree with you Richard, and I would like to add more wishes

drawing tools like trim, erase, extend, offset
more stake out capabilities like stake by interval and divide along a line, stake out center of a circle or arc.
User defined datum and grid in order to use all around the world,

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Postby Richard Sands » Thu Jan 29, 2009 1:39 am

Just a few more thoughts.

(most of these have come from many years of using the AP800 software standard on Nikon Total stations - well until Trimble got hold of Nikon and watered the onboard software down.
I think AP800 was written by TDS ??

Click on Job and view project info. No way of knowing what a job is all about until its open.

More options in output of data – pole position relative to design point.
a) When a point is staked and another chosen FG to give directions to next point selected. Options for bearing & distance or deltas N & E or the one I prefer – relative in clock face principle – “Move rodman 2 o’clock 24.95”. (12 o'clock is towards instrument or at chosing)
b) Customisable display screen. Nikon AP800 software has 24 separate individual displays from which 5 data display screens each with three separate differences to design point can be chosen to display. This is limited by the screen size on the Nikon, but 3 gives a good range of options to point the rodman towards the desired point and also to leave information out in the field for construction crews.
The screens can be toggled so in effect one can view every different report at any given time.
Field Genius is rather crippled in this area.
A useful feature of Stakeout is purely as a design tool where a design point is entered to be staked and the instrument reports in such a way as to enable simple grades to be followed (establish starting point and Z and run a grade line to an inflection point, report design differences, store that point. FG calculates a new design point at the required grade from start point and then proceed to establish next point as before. Particularly useful for pipework setout 'on the fly'.
Circle setout - irrigation pivots etc: setout an edge of a circle .(in-out to centre but offset relative to the perimeter, not centre) Radial distance setout to be slope or horizontal. (Important in very large pivots on sloping ground)
d) Z o/s- Applies a vertical difference to the design point to allow for boxing heights etc.
e) The STAKEOUT routine could be grouped with the 2 Point reference Line and Arc Reference line

The parallel line function enables you to define a traverse by listing points and then calculate the position of new points offset (by distance defined by user) to left or right or both sides of the traverse. One can define a line by simply keying in arrange of points if required. Also option to change Z value of computed points.

Bearing- Bearing Intersection screens to have ability to Add an angle correction +/- , Add Offset (horizontal). The angle correction and offset is maintained until changed by user.
These 'corrections' to be available in other areas where calculations are involved.

I'd encourage a long hard look at the AP800 software and see just how powerful it is. Combined with on screen viewing it would be awesome. But thats not possible so hopefully Microsurvey will pick up the void and take over.

'til next time
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Field Genius Enhancements

Postby saltitone » Thu Jan 29, 2009 6:51 am

I agree with Richard on his enhancements. I have not used Nikon's AP800I can see where he is coming from. I would like to select a series of points to create a baseline to offset. This can be done with roading. But the ability to select a series of points in stakeout would be better. I also would like the ability to edit line work in FG.

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Postby Richard Sands » Thu Jan 29, 2009 11:24 am

Here's a brief rundown on what's available on the AP800 (Nikon Total stations) onboard software. Remember this is on a total station that on-screen display is limited to a separate Map window which is where FG comes into its own. ... _functions

and the TDS800 - havent used that ... _functions
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Postby Grant » Fri Jan 30, 2009 12:41 pm

I like the new find feature in the data manager. It would be nice if we could export points directly from the point database screen, either by manual selection or using the results of the search/sort function.

I still miss the zero-elevation button. It would be very handy to find all building corner shots and set them to zero elevation for example.
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Postby Richard Sands » Wed Feb 04, 2009 6:53 pm

I'd like the MicroSurvey Transfer operations to reflect the true modified file date.
That is, the date the job was last modified - used in field, so one can quickly find last jobs(s) used, and then download.
Current date sorting relates to date of creation.
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Postby Jason Poitras » Sun Feb 22, 2009 6:55 pm

Keep the good ideas coming, your comments and suggestions are not ignored.
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Postby Richard Sands » Sat Feb 28, 2009 10:35 pm

This routine (correct me if i'm wrong) moves all designated points in XYZ if using point to point.
This is not always preferred, often points should be shifted XY only.
I like the MSCAD option that shows the ENZ differences once the Point to Point is invoked and one can then change the Z difference to zero if needed.
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Postby Richard Sands » Fri Mar 26, 2010 3:07 am

Another useful thing is to be able to import points and change the point numbers on import - as in MSCAD.
Currently FG will over ride or not import which is not much help where similar point numbers exist.

Defining a zoom window would be nice, particularly on large jobs. A saved view for want of another name.

POLE HEIGHT: Extra choices (heights) in pole height.
When an instrument is setup then the pole height reverts to last pole height for next sideshot. Currently stays set at instrument height.
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