Essential Tips for Successful Tacheometric Surveying

Tacheometric surveying is a fundamental technique employed in modern surveying practices, playing a crucial role in gathering accurate measurements and capturing detailed information about land features. This method, which utilizes specialized instruments and mathematical calculations, offers several advantages over traditional surveying methods, making it an indispensable tool for surveyors and engineers.

In this article, we will explore the importance of tacheometric surveying in contemporary surveying techniques and provide a concise overview of tacheometry and its associated benefits. By understanding the principles and tips for successful tacheometric surveying, professionals in the field can enhance their surveying capabilities and achieve more precise results in their projects.

Understanding Tacheometric Surveying

  1. Definition and Principles

Tacheometric surveying, also known as tacheometry, is a surveying technique that involves the rapid measurement of distances, angles, and elevations. It utilizes specialized instruments called tacheometers, which combine the features of theodolites (for measuring horizontal and vertical angles) and stadia rods (for measuring distances). By employing tacheometry, surveyors can quickly and accurately determine the positions and elevations of points on the land.

  • Explanation of tacheometry and its basic principles

Tacheometry relies on the principles of stadia measurement, where the distance between two points is determined based on the readings observed through the stadia hairs or crosshairs on the stadia rod. The stadia rod is marked with alternating black and white bands, known as stadia hairs, which help in measuring the distance.

The basic principle of tacheometry involves measuring the subtended angle between the stadia hairs on the stadia rod. By knowing the subtended angle and the constant of the instrument, the distance between the instrument and the stadia rod can be calculated using trigonometric formulas.

  • Overview of horizontal and vertical angles

Horizontal angles are the angles measured in a horizontal plane, typically starting from a reference direction (such as north) and measured clockwise or counterclockwise. These angles are crucial for determining the direction of the survey lines and positioning the points on the land.

Vertical angles, on the other hand, are measured in a vertical plane, usually with reference to the horizontal plane. They are used to determine the elevation or height of a point relative to a reference plane, such as the mean sea level or a local benchmark. Vertical angles play a vital role in creating accurate contour maps and calculating slope gradients.

  1. Instrumentation

Tacheometric surveying relies on specialized instruments called tacheometers, which integrate the functionalities of theodolites and stadia rods.

  • Discussion of tacheometer and its components

A tacheometer consists of a telescope mounted on a theodolite-like platform, allowing rotation in both horizontal and vertical planes. It is equipped with stadia hairs or crosshairs, which aid in measuring distances. The instrument also includes a micrometer screw or a digital readout for precise angle measurements.

The tacheometer’s components typically include a leveling system for ensuring the instrument’s stability and accuracy, a vertical axis for measuring vertical angles, and a horizontal axis for measuring horizontal angles. Some advanced tacheometers may also have features such as electronic data storage, automatic target tracking, and wireless communication capabilities.

  • Explanation of EDM (Electronic Distance Measurement) technology

Electronic Distance Measurement (EDM) technology, often integrated into modern tacheometers, enables the direct and precise measurement of distances. EDM utilizes electromagnetic waves, such as infrared or laser beams, to determine the distance between the instrument and the target. The instrument emits the waves, and the time taken for the waves to travel to the target and return is measured, allowing for accurate distance calculations.

EDM technology provides numerous benefits in tacheometric surveying, including increased speed and efficiency, improved accuracy, and the ability to measure long distances without the need for physical contact with the target. It has revolutionized the field of surveying, enabling more precise and reliable measurements in various surveying applications.

How Tacheometric Surveying Works?

The horizontal distance between an instrument station “A” and a staff station “B” is determined by the angle subtended at point “A” by a known distance at point “B” and The angle vertically connecting points “B” and “A.”

There are two more ways to do tacheometric surveying:

  1. Stadia Method of Tacheometry

A common technique for calculating horizontal distance and vertical height is the stadia method of tacheometry.

The horizontal distance between the staff station and the instrument station, as well as the height of the staff station along the line of sight of the instrument, can be determined using this method with just one observation from the instrument station.

This type of surveying can be broken down even further into two types:

  1. Fixed Hair Method

In this type of surveying, a telescope with two extra crosshairs, one above and one below the centre crosshair, is used to make observations. So, stadia hairs are those that are all the same distance from the centre hair.

Using the instrument’s telescope, you can see that the stadia hairs stop at a certain length of the staff. This is the tacheometric surveying method that is used most often.

Fixed Hair Method

  1. Movable Hair Method

In the movable hair method, the crosshairs on the telescope attached to the instrument can be moved. This isn’t the stadia hair technique. You can also use the centre hair to keep the cross-hairs from moving.

In this way, the stadia interval can be changed for different staff positions. Then, the horizontal distance is worked out. The tool is used with two targets at fixed distances.

Movable Hair Method

  1. Tangential Method of Tacheometric Surveying  

This is how you figure out the horizontal distance and height difference between the collimation line and the staff station.

The biggest benefit of this method is that it can be done with a normal transit theodolite. This method isn’t used as frequently as the stadium system because the work moves so slowly.

Errors in Tacheometric Surveying and How to Avoid Them

The tacheometric survey frequently makes mistakes for the following reasons.

  1. Instrumental Errors.

Instrumental mistakes can be caused by bad permanent changes to the instrument or by the stadia rod not having accurate graduations.

  1. Errors in manipulation and in sighting.

How much error is brought on by manipulation and sight depends on the surveyor’s skill and speed. These are caused by bad centering and levelling of the instruments and wrong readings from the stadia.

  1. Natural Causes.

Wind, uneven expansion of instrument parts, visibility, and different refraction are all natural causes of errors. This last one is the most important.


tacheometric surveying is a vital technique that utilizes specialized instruments called tacheometers to rapidly measure distances, angles, and elevations. It offers advantages over traditional methods and is essential for accurate and detailed land surveying. By understanding the principles of tacheometry and utilizing proper instrumentation, surveyors can enhance their capabilities and achieve precise results in their projects. However, it is important to be aware of and mitigate potential errors to ensure the accuracy of tacheometric surveying.

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