How to set up a topcon total station

Written by nadine smith
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How to set up a topcon total station
Setting up a Topcon Total Station involves fine adjusting. (surveying team image by from

A Topcon Total Station is a piece of precision measuring equipment used for the completion of topographic, legal or quantity surveys. Topcon is one of the leading manufacturers of total stations. Over the years, total stations have progressed in terms of control software; however, the basics of their set-up have not changed. Before you prepare the total station, you will need to know the exact location of your set-up point. Setting up the Topcon station mainly involves positioning the device directly over this point.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Topcon Total Station
  • Standard surverying tripod

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  1. 1

    Place the total station on top of the tripod and secure it by turning the locking screw clockwise. Move the tripod/total station assembly to the desired set-up location.

  2. 2

    Position one leg of the tripod on the ground approximately 2 to 3 feet from the set-up point. Looking through the optical plumb lens, align the crosshairs directly over the centre of the set-up point by moving the two free legs of the tripod.

  3. 3

    Step on the foot brackets near the base of each tripod leg to stabilise the legs. Using the circular levelling bubble near the bottom of the total station, adjust the height of the legs of the tripod until the levelling bubble is exactly in the centre.

  4. 4

    Check the optical plumb. If the crosshairs have moved from the set-up point during the leg adjustment, bring them back over the point using the three levelling screws near the base of the total station. Readjust the height of the legs of the tripod until the levelling bubble is exactly in the centre and the optical plummet crosshairs are directly over the set-up point. You may need to repeat this entire step until the levelling bubble and the optical plumb are centred.

  5. 5

    Centre the fine-level located above the display. Adjust the levelling screws until the bubble is exactly at the centre of the fine-level. Turn the total station 90 degrees and centre the fine-level on the opposite axis. Turn the total station back and forth to opposite axes until it is exactly level.

  6. 6

    Check the optical plumb to see if your fine-levelling adjustments have moved the crosshairs slightly off the set-up point. To bring the total station back, loosen the screw that secures the total station to the tripod. Slide the total station on the tripod while looking through the optical plumb until the crosshairs are directly over the set-up point.

  7. 7

    Check the fine level again to ensure that the previous step's movement did not take the total station off-level. If necessary, repeat steps 4 and 5 until the fine-level is centred and the vertical optical plummet is directly over the set-up point.

Tips and warnings

  • If you have difficulty finding the set-up point through the optical plummet, place your foot next to the point. This will give you a point of reference when moving the tripod legs.
  • Handle the total station with extreme care. Never drop the total station.
  • Always verify the locking screw that secures the total station to the tripod is tight.

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