Communicating with a Data Recorder


In this tutorial you will learn how to:

Please note that due to the number of different data collectors/total stations, and the appalling lack of any form of standard within the survey equipment industry, it is not possible for us to give a blow by blow description of how to handle each individual brand.

Instead, we have provided a list of the steps involved in the process, and if you learn this process you should be able to easily apply it, with slight modifications where necessary, to you own particular situation.

Define New or Open Job.

Depending on the task at hand, you may need to either Start a New job with whatever name you choose, or Open an existing job stored on your computer.

By this stage of your tuition you should be able to achieve these tasks without further instruction. (and if you can't, please save us both the hassle and go back and do the early tutorials).

Collect Raw Data from Data Collector.

When the Job screen appears pull down the Entry Menu and Select the option titled Data Collectors

Next Collect raw Data From Data Collector.

A new window with a heading of Comms32 - untitled will appear as seen at right.

 


This is a 'terminal window' that will communicate with your Data Collector to collect the information as it is transmitted.

In order to achieve this, it is essential that the communication parameters are set the same on both the Data Collector and the 'terminal window'

If they are not identical, then the communication will not be successful.

We cannot tell you what settings to use, because they can vary for a variety of reasons. However, the best advice we can offer is to determine what values are set on the data collector, and then change the computer to match.

To alter the settings on the Computer, select the menu item titled Settings from the Menu bar in the Comms32 window.

Next select Communications In.

The screen will now appear as seen below. 

You should set the values here to match those in your data collector 

Note the field titled "Connector" which refers to the serial port or plug on your computer into which you have plugged or connected the Data recorder.

While there are no hard and fast rules in the computer industry about what any particular thing is called, it is essential that you have the name that matches the plug you are connected to.

If you are unsure, try counting the number of Pins in the plug. If there are 9 pins, it is a better than 50% chance that it is COM1, while if there are 25 pins to be seen there is a good chance that it is COM2.

However, since the same manufacturer can change the type of plug they use from one model to the next, there are no guarantees.

Once you have set the values as required, select OK to return to the 'comms' window.
Now select the item titled Transfer and then select Data to Computer.

Once you have selected this item the comms window will go into 'dumb terminal mode' and sit there and wait to catch whatever is sent to it.

At this stage you need to start your Data Collector transmitting or sending.

You should start to see information scroll up the screen as it is sent from the Data Collector.

If no information can be seen scrolling onto the screen, it is likely that;

  1. you have either specified the wrong connector, or 

  2. you don't have the plug in correctly, or

  3. you have the Baud rate set differently on each end, or

  4. you haven't sent anything from the Data Collector.

If there is Information appearing on the screen, but it appears to be in ancient Egyptian characters rather than the characters you are used to, you have set one or more of the parameters called Stop Bits, Word Length (or Data Bits) or Parity incorrectly.

In the event that the data does not appear, or appears in a scrambled format, you need to go back, check the values you are using and make sure they are identical on both data collector and computer.

If you are still unsure what is wrong, change one value on the computer and try to send the information again. If still no luck try changing the values one at a time.

Presuming the communication is happening correctly, you should wait until all the Data has finished scrolling up the screen.

Then you will need to press the Escape key to indicate to the computer that it can finish 'listening' to the cable for data.

Next you should pull down the File menu within the Comms window, and us the Save As option to save the data you have collected into a file on the disk.

It doesn't greatly matter where you store it, or what you call it providing you remember where and what you have called it.
However I would strongly recommend that you store the raw data into whatever Folder you are using to store the job data.

Likewise it is good practise to develop a standard procedure for storing and naming the data files.

Fore example, if you were working on a job with an ID of '123' you might like to store the raw data files as 'Raw1.123'. 'raw2.123' etc.

Alternatively you can use the numeric form of the date, so if you collected the data on November 15 1998 you might name the file '161198.123'.

Either way, all that matters is that you do save the file away, and when you have finished this you can use File followed by Exit to close down your communication window.

The next step in the process is to convert the raw data from the format used in the data recorder to a format that CDS can understand.

Import Raw Data

Pull down the Entry menu again and again select Data Collectors.

This time select the option titled Import Raw Data.

The screen will appear as seen at right, and you need to select the file in which you have stored your raw data.

Once you have picked the particular file, the screen will now appear as seen on top of the next page.

You need to identify the type of Data collector you are using from the pull down options available.

You can also assign the Survey Number, but unless you have some particular reason for doing so, we strongly advise that you allow the program to number them automatically for you, and you simply remember which number is applicable to which raw data.

Once you select OK the raw data will be imported and converted into a different format ready to be displayed as Electronic Stadia information.

Once this conversion or importing process has been completed you will be returned to the blank screen.

Now it is time to look at the data you have collected.

Pull down the Entry menu and this time select the option titled Electronic Stadia.

Electronic Stadia

When the next screen appears, all that is required is to ensure that the relevant Survey Number is displayed, and then select the 'Open Existing' button.

The program will now bring up a 'spreadsheet' which has your data laid out in it in a form you can view, edit and change as necessary.

If you are unsure of what you should do in this Stadia file please refer to the on-line help or the relevant tutorial for further assistance.

It is largely pointless doing this tutorial if you do not already have the basic understanding necessary to deal with the stadia file, so please make sure you have done the relevant 'stadia' tutorial before proceeding.

In this case you might see a screen similar to that at right.

The screen shown has data from a Sokkia SDR data collector in it, and the data you see might well be different if you have used another brand of data collector.

Regardless of where the data originated from, the process at this point is identical, and requires the following steps to be completed.

1. Check that Setup and backsight stations have coordinates specified before they are used in the file.
2. Use Options Calculate Coordinates to calc the coordinates of all the field points - if any errors are reported, you need to correct them and then calculate Coordinates again.
3. Once you can run calculate Coordinates without seeing an error message, you should use Options - Show Coordinates and then inspect he coordinates to ensure that they are of the right magnitude. Note you are not looking for millimetres, merely gross errors.
4. Once the coordinates are in the 'ballpark' use Options Store Data in Database to store the calculated coordinates into the job.

To Send Data From CDS To the Data Recorder.

When you have calculated a series of points in CDS which you wish to 'upload' to you Data Collector to take into the field for setting out purposes you need to follow the steps outlined below.

Decide on the Points you wish to Export

You don't need to do anything at this stage, other than to examine your job and note down which point numbers you wish to export to the data recorder.

Obviously it often helps if all the points required have been calculated within a particular point number range.

Export to the Format required

Pull Down the Entry Menu, select Data Collectors, followed by Export Raw Data.

A screen similar to that below will appear.

Use the Pull down option to select the relevant data Type.

Then use the Browse option adjacent to Raw data Type to decide on the folder and file name you wish to use to store the points in before they are sent tot the data recorder.

It doesn't matter greatly what name or folder you choose to use, as long as you can remember it later in the process.

When you Select OK you may be given an option to store a Job heading or other descriptive information with the points. this is to help you identify these particular points when they are stored in the data recorder, so you can use any name you choose.

Next you will see a screen similar to that below.

This allows you to select the range or ranges of points that you wish to send to the data collector. 

It also allows you to decide whether you wish to store a natural height or a design height with the points you export.

Once you have filled it in, you should select OK and the points will be converted into the raw format necessary for your Data Collector, and stored in the file you have specified.

Send Data To the Data Recorder.

Now pull down the Entry Menu, select Data Recorders followed by Send Data to Data Recorder

A new window with a heading of Comms32 - untitled will appear.

This is a 'terminal window' that will communicate with your Data Collector to send it the set out points you have selected.

First you need to load these points into the communications Window.

Select File followed by Open from the Menu of the comms window.

Browse until you find the file in which you have stored the points to be set out, and then Open that file.

The points will appear in the comms window as seen at right.

Now pull down the Settings menu and select the item titled Communications Out.

In order to achieve this, it is essential that the communication parameters are set the same on both the Data Collector and the 'terminal window'

If they are not identical, then the communication will not be successful.

We cannot tell you what settings to use, because they can vary for a variety of reasons. However, the best advice we can offer is to determine what values are set on the data collector, and then change the computer to match.

Once you have set the values as required, select OK to return to the 'comms' window.

Now you need to prepare your data collector ready to receive the Set out points you are going to send it.

Once the Data recorder is ready to receive, Select the item titled Transfer and then select Data to Data Recorder.

At this stage the points will start transferring into the data recorder.