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Tech Update: GPS and GIS Systems

By Mel-Lynda Andersen
Copyright 1997. Contact publisher for permission to use.

Trimble Navigation

The compact GPS Pathfinder Pro XR expands the use of GPS for mapping and location applications and, according to its manufacturers, is a robust and effective tool for forestry operations. Now you can not only map with submeter accuracy, but also find your way to new or previously located sites by using the integrated MSK beacon real-time differential capabilities. The Pro XR integrates the most advanced GPS receiver with beacon technology and adds Trimble's powerful data collection software Asset Surveyor or the pen-computer-based ASPEN.

The Pro XR includes Pathfinder Office, the Windows-compatible software for planning, data dictionary creation, differential correction and GIS output. The standard phase processor enables you to correct your carrier phase data to better than 10 cm.

Trimble's GeoExplorer II mapping system is a pocket-sized, lightweight GPS receiver with user-friendly processing software designed for mapping and location applications. All the receiver's extensive functions operate through an intuitive menu-driven user interface controlled with a seven-button keypad. This GPS mapping system provides 2-5-metre accuracy either by post-processing or in real time.

The GPS Pathfinder Community Base Station records reference data from a stationary GPS receiver generating base data for post-processed and real-time corrections. The base data can be used by GPS rovers within a 500-km radius to achieved post-processed accuracy using Pathfinder Office.


The Topcon Turbo-G1, a hand-held, eight-channel GPS/GIS receiver, features a large, high-resolution, moving map display with full graphics capabilities. Just pre-load a base map showing the target location and the Turbo G-1 will continually display and update your current position relative to that target location in real time. Minimal training is required to use the Turbo G-1, which has eight channels that lets you track all available GPS satellites under normal viewing conditions. The eight channels are also independent, parallel and non-sequencing, which translates into cleaner data and greater accuracy (one to five metres when differentially corrected), says the company, which adds that no other GPS/GIS receiver provides the same built-in ability to record an unlimited number of attributions.

The Turbo-G1 comes with 1MB of memory - enough to record 1,000 way points and up to 10,000 latitude, longitude and altitude positions. The unit's memory capacity is also upgradable to 4MB. The same size and shape as a small cell phone, the unit is splash-proof for safe use in inclement weather.

Data is stored in the RINEX 2.0 format, and can be converted to any desired format and incorporated into your current map database or GIS system. Software is Windows-based and easy to use.

Topcon also manufactures the Turbo-SII, a hand-held, dual-frequency, P-code GPS receiver providing sub-centimetre accuracy. It generates full wavelength carrier phase data for faster ambiguity resolution, wide laning and the most precise raw pseudo-range and carrier data on the market, claims the manufacturer.


To obtain high accuracy from GPS you need a source of differential corrections and a GPS receiver that can process the data. Omnistar's 7000 receiver combines these requirements in a single, lightweight, rugged unit. Within its weatherproof housing there is an eight-channel GPS engine capable of providing positioning accuracy to better than five feet, as well as an Omnistar satellite receiver. This receiver picks up the Omnistar wide-area differential corrections which are broadcast over the entire continental US (plus northern Mexico and southern Canada) from a geostationary communications satellite. The result is high accuracy positioning capability nationwide from one component without the need to integrate and connect different pieces of equipment, says the manufacturer.


The Satloc ForestStar is an advanced aerial DGPS swath guidance system for forestry and agricultural applications. The company claims that the Satloc ForestStar is the system of choice for the vast majority of government and private sponsored application programs. The ForestStar comes equipped with the V2-M Graphics Display, which is a graphic HSI display (moving map).

The BaseStar II is a new portable DGPS base station. This unit is a reference station which provides differential correction for GPS receivers. It may be used with any of the Satloc or other DGPS systems for air, ground, or marine navigation systems, as well as mining, land surveying and other differential applications.

Truckbase Corp.

The Truckbase Silvitracs system automates and improves the accuracy of site preparation management. The Silvitracs' onboard hardware uses GPS to record the precise speed and path of scarification equipment and can store data on a removable data card for up to one week. The GPS data is then corrected to an accuracy of within three to five metres with Corrector and analyzed with Silvitracs' post-process software (both Windows-based). Silvitracs analysis tools allow the user to accurately measure treatment areas; produce reports for contractor payment; locate and measure missed areas or islands in the cutblock; measure productivity and efficiency; and assists in the strategic planning process. The analysis software displays GIS quality digital maps of scarification equipment locations in real-world co-ordinates.

The Truckbase Tracs system harnesses the power of GPS and industrial computing to help you manage log truck fleets' productivity, safety and security. It consists of onboard hardware and Tracs post-process analysis software. The onboard hardware uses GPS data to compute vehicle speed, position and bearing. This enables fleet managers to accurately and efficiently determine where trucks have travelled, how fast they were going and where they stopped.

Trip data is quickly transferred to a home-based PC by inserting the data card into the scale house computer. This process increases scale house efficiency and reduces errors as very little user intervention is required. Then the Tracs Windows-based software takes over with data management and reporting capabilities, including cycle time, inactivity, speeding, trip synopsis, zone occupation, low-speed violation, and signpost and zone management reports. The Tracs analysis software displays GIS-quality digital maps of operating areas registered in real-world coordinates with truck trips superimposed. Accurate trip information will help determine contractor payment rates, requirements for proper road maintenance and where bottlenecks are occurring.

Magellan Systems Corp.

Magellan Systems is a leading manufacturer of GPS receivers, including the hand-held ProMark X-CM GPS receiver/data logger and the MBS-2 12-channel base station. The portable ProMark X-CM will generate carrier phase, post-processed differential GPS accuracy to the centimetre level. The MBS-1 generates pseudo-range and carrier phase data for post-processing differential GPS corrections and will interface with any portable GPS receiver system through RINEX. Magellan products interface with a variety of GIS systems formats, databases and spreadsheets.

Geographic Data BC

Geographic Data BC has partnered with TMI Communications of Ottawa to provide province-wide differential GPS service within 1-10m accuracy. The BC ACS real-time service is designed to provide high portability, simplify access to differential GPS and broaden the direct user base for the geo-spatial reference in BC, which provides access to standardized latitudes, longitudes and elevations in the province.

The MSAP DGPS receiver unit is palm-sized and provides flexibility for use on foot or when mounted in a vehicle. It simplifies access to the geo-spatial reference by eliminating costly post-mission processing of GPS data and allows field verification of inventory data. The skill level required of the GPS operator will be greatly reduced, thereby increasing the utility of the service for the resource community, says the company.

Communication Systems International Inc.

CSI Inc. is a manufacturer of Differential Global Positioning Systems (DGPS Receivers). The GBX-Pro receiver is the most advanced combination GPS/beacon receiver that CSI has manufactured to date, reports the company. Internal to the GBX-Pro is the new Ashtech G12 OEM GPS engine and DSI's all-digital beacon receiver technology.

The GPX-Pro provides DGPS functionality by simultaneously receiving free DPS satellite and radio beacon transmissions using a single antenna. These free signals provide the information necessary for the GBX-Pro to provide horizontal, submeter positioning accuracy in real-time.

The GBX-Pro also features a unique front control panel and display for configuration and operation of the internal beacon receiver.

Ashtech Reliance

Reliance field asset management tools provide managers with reliable, accurate positioning. The standard Reliance Submeter system can obtain 35-cm accuracy, which remains available when occupying a point location for one second, as well as in dynamic mode when recording line and area features.

The Reliance Decimeter system records both code and carrier phase data transmitted by GPS satellites to achieve accuracies that once were possible only with survey-grade systems. The GPS operator need only maintain lock on satellite without remaining stationary.

The Reliance Precision system is a GIS data capture tool that provides 1-3 cm accuracy for point features after just minutes of stationary occupation. When you need to map line or area features, the Reliance Precision still yields decimeter on-the-fly accuracy, says the company.

Stra Conseil Inc.

Mobiway lets you link field information back to your GIS in real time. Mobiway RPS and FNS are real-time DGPS navigation systems with fully graphical interfaces that display GIS-generated background maps and air photos. Users navigate along electronic boundaries while recording geo-referenced information in GIS format. Real-time DGPS reduces manual flagging and provides machine guidance in mechanized operation. The FNS system was specifically designed for forestry equipment and comes with protection and mounting packages. The lightweight RPS system is ideally suited for ground crews, says the company. Both systems use Coast Guard beacons where available, or Mobiway's own long-range DGPS reference station. The system was developed by Mobiway Inc. of Longueuil, Quebec in collaboration with FERIC.

Laser Technology Inc.

With four models to choose from, the Criterion Series hand-held survey lasers provide instantaneous survey information in a lightweight, hand-held package. The ability to measure range, azimuth, and inclination enable measurement of x, y, z coordinates, heights, diameters and more.

Also manufactured by LTI, the Impulse is a lightweight, low-cost laser for a full range of professional measuring. With this compact unit, simply aim and push a button. The Impulse acquires distance or height in less than a second, all without prisms or reflective targets. Reduced size and weight make it possible for field workers to operate the Impulse with one hand and simply clip it onto a belt for quick-access carrying, says the company. Its point-and-shoot operation and serial output communication combine to simplify a number of surveying and mapping tasks, including timber cruising, mine face profiling, GIS data capture, GPS offset mapping, material estimating for job bids, space planning, and general distance and height measurement. The serial outputs data directly to one of LTI's mapping software products or any one of your own.

Sokkia Inc.

Sokkia's GIR1000 System provides reliable, accurate GPS positioning for cost-effective asset control. The software is easy to use, and you can choose the positional accuracy you need for your application; systems are available for submeter and decimeter accuracies.

The standard GIR1000 Submeter System typically obtains a 75cm accuracy, which remains available when occupying a point location for a single second, as well as in dynamic mode when recording line and area features. The GIR1000 Decimeter System's receiver processes both the code and carrier data transmitted by GPS satellites to achieve accuracies comparable to survey-grade systems. When stationary in an open environment, the GIR1000 Decimeter System can achieve centimeter-level accuracy, reports the company. In other settings, such as mapping point, line and area features, the system is accurate to 10 cm.

The GIR1000 line of field assessment management tools utilizes a hand-held system controller. Processing software is Windows-based, thus supporting seamless data transfer to other Windows programs.

Both the GIR1000 Submeter and Decimeter systems accept differential corrections in real-time or in post-processing mode.

Linnet Geomatics Woodlands -

The System is a GIS enabled software solution designed through intensive research and in-field development with an industry leader. It covers the full life cycle of woodlands operation from planning through to managing timber yard inventories.

Seven user-friendly modules are designed to work together and as stand-alone solutions. Planner creates prescriptions for your woodlands operation and keeps track of your obligations, showing you where to cut, where to place roads, the project value of the harvest and potential impact of the cut on the surrounding environment. Navigator is the key to the warehouse where all your land information, past and present, is stored and ready for use by your staff. Cruiser acts as a loading dock for your database, allowing you to update information through surveys.

Using your planner prescriptions, you can monitor every aspect of a job with Manager. Contractor will coordinate all of your sub-contractors; cross reference prices, equipment and orders; handle payment instructions and create reports to monitor each sub-contractor's role in operations. Reporting to Contractor and Manager, Scaler accounts for timber as it is handled through landings and into a yard. Finally, to make sure that your operation is environmentally responsible, Monitor provides a compliance system for local and international codes and produces reports to show how these codes are being met. Woodlands - The System is fully adaptable to any forestry operation, reports the company; tailor each module to meet your operational specifications.

This page and all contents �1996-2007 Logging and Sawmilling Journal (L&S J) and TimberWest Journal.
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