BLOG: Topcon tech in action: Dave Cowan Surveys Ltd

We caught up with Dave Cowan, of Dave Cowan Surveys Ltd, to find out how he has been using Topcon’s DS-200i, part of Topcon’s DS series of robotic total stations.

  • How have you been using the DS-200i?

“We’ve used the total station for a range of surveying tasks and for setting out work. Its auto-prism tracking function is exceptionally fast, which locks onto the prism quickly and stays locked – even through thick vegetation. We’ve even found it stays locked when walking close to the instrument on a busy site. These features make topographical surveys much faster.

“Its flexibility means we’ve been able to use it for both internal and external measurements, along with some more general surveying work. Using the internal camera, you can survey external walls, for example, and take photos (with observed points on) of the positions surveyed for later reference. When in robotic mode, the total station can take reflectorless measurements using the camera without you having to return to the instrument to observe. This means we can map hard-to-reach areas without returning to the instrument.”

  • What sort of projects have you used the technology on?

“We’ve used the DS-200i on a wide range of projects, everything from student accommodation blocks to hotels and schools, using it for topographical surveys to earthworks setting out, as well as setting out all aspects of the build. The technology has improved the whole data capture side of things, particularly when taking measurements for speed and accuracy, and ensuring the as-built measurements match those of the original plans. Setting accurate heights now with this instrument reduces the need of using dumpy levels.

“We’ve found it has more impressive functions than other models. It’s compact and the Magnet software that comes with it is easy-to-use. The software can be loaded onto nearly any make of logger or tablet as well as having its own separate Magnet software on the instrument to use without the logger. These features have helped our projects run much more smoothly.”

  • When you’re looking at new products, are there particular features you look for?

“The key things for us are the size, weight, speed and accuracy. We also look for software that’s clear and straightforward to use, as this saves us time and therefore money over the lifetime of a project.

“Some total stations we’ve used before need specialist cables, but cables and accessories for this model can be easily replaced – meaning we can get on with the job at hand without waiting for replacements. We’ve also found most of our sites are within an hour’s drive from one of Topcon’s network of service depots, so we can get a quick fix if needed.”

  • What made the DS-200i stand out over other products on the market?

“I’ve been using robotic total stations for 15 years, and found this one on par if not better than other products with regards to measurements and accuracy. Its single prism and pole are light to carry, as well as the instrument itself being the size of a normal total station. It’s a versatile piece of kit that has been able to do everything we’ve asked of it. I don’t see why people would use anything else, as it is far better value than other equivalent products on the market at around a third of the cost of competitor models but with all the functionality.”

Dave purchased the DS-200i total station from leading survey equipment provider, Precision Geomatics. For more information on the dealer’s full range of products, visit:     

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