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I have used Carlson SurvCE for over a decade with several different Sokkia and Topcon RTK units. I am currently successfully running a pair of Topcon GR5s with SurvCE.

I "upgraded" to Topcon HR units a few months ago and even though I was told they would work with SurvCE, they do not. Topcon has closed its architecture to third parties. The only way to run an HR is with Topcon Magnet Field!

My salesman gave me a Topcon 5000 with Magnet Field for free to make things right, but now I have to learn to use Magnet Field and it is way different than SurvCE. I am dead in the water with it.

SurvCE is intuitive and has an easy flow. 10 plus years ago, I had a 15 min tutorial with SurvCE and was up and running and learning new things on my own. This Magnet Field is NOT like that. I have had two half-day lessons and am still lost. Magnet Field seems to over complicate the simplest procedures with so many settings and different ways it can be configured. It is easy to have one setting off and make it unusable. I don't dare experiment for fear of messing everything up beyond recovery. EX1: layers: you can tie down points in different layers. Sounds good, but over complicates simple tasks. EX2: point types: I just want all of the data I spent all day collecting to dump to my PC. BUT you better have the settings just right or some of your data won't make the download b/c it's a type not selected to output. 

At this point I am convinced I will have to learn a whole new philosophy of field surveying in order to use Magnet Field. Is there anyone out there who is fluent in both SurvCE and Magnet Field who can help convert me? or show me how to trim down Magnet Field so it works more like SurvCE? All I can do is setup a job and the base and rover. I can get a fix - which does allow me to tie down points. But I cannot localize the way I want and get good data. I therefore cannot stake out points. All data I have gotten without localization is good data. Data I have gotten after I localize is bad data. 

Here's an example of how I have to significantly alter my use pattern to use Magnet Field: Magnet Field cannot read a Carlson .CRD file.  I have to dump my Carlson points to a thumb drive in ascii format (Pt,X,Y,Z,desc.). Then I have to create a job file and dump the ascii file into it. ...lots more steps that I don't have to do with SurvCE...

Then after the data is collected and it's time to dump it on my PC, Magnet Field cannot property create a  Carlson raw data file (.rw5). It makes a .rw5 file, but it is not a real raw data file. I have found that different settings made in a Magnet Field session will yield different ".rw5" files. Raw data is raw data. It should not be affected by software settings in Magnet Field.

Here's what I mean: In Carlson SurvCE, if I set it to apply a geoid to the ties I make, the points in the point list on the data collector will have surface elevations in US feet, BUT only the points are affected NOT the raw data. No matter what settings I choose to affect the way I view the points on the data collector, the raw file stays pure. This does not happen in the fake rw5 file Magnet Field makes.

The raw data the receiver gets is in lat/lon and ellipsoid height for the z component . I believe this is WGS84??? When I get the raw data dump off the Carlson Mini II (SurvCE), in the office, I run it through Carlson Xport on my desktop. Xport is set to SPC 83, Texas South Central Zone and geoid 12b for my work area. The raw file is WGS84 and the output is my choosing.

Magnet Field does a poor job of outputting a Carlson raw data file and I cannot get past that.

The fake carlson raw data file that Magnet Field creates is NOT raw data. Settings like choosing to apply a geoid file so the Z component of the shot-in/collected data will be seen in US feet (on the data collector) will change the fake Magnet Field .rw5 file. This should not happen. The Z component in the raw data file should be an ellipsoid height.

The simple solution would be to uncheck the geoid option before making the fake Carlson raw file, but I found this not to work. The file appears to output with the Z in something close to ellipsoid height, but it is not. 

I can dump ascii points to my PC from Magnet Field, but the whole reason I use raw data vs. dump collected coordinates is so I can process the data myself in the office and not rely on settings made in the field by my crew. What if they failed to update the rod height in the handheld when the pole was lowered? The output elevations would be off. If I can go into the raw file and add the rod height change and reprocess, I can "fix" the problem and get good output data.

This is just one problem I have. If someone has some experience and can help me make Magnet work like SurvCE, I would greatly appreciate it.

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  • Land Surveyor

     Hi Robert,

    Did you ever get this sorted. I think i'm in the same situation. I used to have Surve CE then got duped into going Topcon. I have a GT Robot and the hardware is good, but Magnet is really crap, it is not intuative and over complicates and is lacking in the obvious. For instance set out a line, name your two points, you would think it would helpfully tell you the length of the line! Minor positive I was having trouble getting my head around the Exchange part, I found that you can rename menus so I introduced the words Import and Export so it makes sense to me!

    I have tried a Magnet Office trial and didn't like that. to much different to ACAD. Now i''m going to try Carlson office since I think I have to live with magnet field but i think it will export to Carlson.

  • Land Surveyor

    Hi guys ,

    as i know but i did not try , you could possible connect your machines with Survce via Tablet and Bluetooth , if there is any or via bluetooth emulator.

    A friend of mine tried this connection and works perfect.

    Thanks people.

    • Land Surveyor
      The new Topcon Hiper HR gps equipment only works with Topcon Magnet Field software. Topcon is not willing to share the secrets of this new technology (Tilt) so they no longer allow third parties to run their equipment. From now on, Topcon is proprietary. No more SurvCE on the new Topcon GPS. I think they are still open architecture on their other lines of equipment.
  • Hey, I feel your pain. I went from Carlson to Magnet and it was painful... Number one, you are not translating and rotating with your localization. Localize in magnet is mainly matching a scale or chain of previous surveyor. 

    Use txt files., all of my comp points are in a txt file. Once I create a job I then import or create on the fly comp points. When you import txt files you want ground Not grid unless you are working in state plane. again the scale factor. Once job is open and points are loaded go to configure and set your zone, we are Akzone4...So now you got your base and rover up and running. Tie several points that are in your comps   Say comp point 1 is 100 in the field... and so on... When you Localize 1 to 100 you will see 000.00 ok, now add 2 to 101... now you will see how off it is from record, but don't stop there go for more and add them to the localization and you see which ones are not acceptable. Ever done a Matrix on your control.  When you only have 2 point in magnet localization you are rubberbanding the scale.. Also turn off all elevations except one. If you want to add more record points (northings,eastings/point in direction ect.) Go into your Localization file and turn off all except 1 set.. If you turn off all of them you must go back to configure and reset your zone. 

    Magnet has a built in help manual that I found real helpful... or I just call Topcon local dealer and raise the roof... God help you if you have matched epoch turned on and are not doing bathymetric survey.. trust me on that...extrapolation....Good Luck...

    • Land Surveyor


      This is very helpful! Thank you. 

      So in Carlson, I determine the scale factor for the project using Corpcon. Carlson Survey has a scale factor set feature, but I have never used it. I am afraid it might scale everything and I don't want that. Ex If I put in a set of metes and bounds from a deed, I want the lines to list as the same bearing and distance as the deed calls. (I will make this a pline and align the linework to field ties, so the field notes get rotated that way, but I keep the "original" off to the side of the drawing like a "bone yard" or "supply shed" in case I ever need to retrace that survey again).

      So all of my linework distances from deeds/plats, etc are at ground. All coords from turning angles and shooting distances with the total station are at ground.

      The only data that needs to be scaled is my RTK shots. I don't usually tie my small jobs into true SPC. Most of the time, we just turn the base on and start from an autonomous spot. I call this "mock SPC". If I want true SPC all I have to do is translate the ties to an NGS monument. The whole network of ties shifts and all are SPC. Of course if I went larger, I'd need an NGS monument at each end, etc. etc.

      I dump the Carlson RW5 file into Carlson XPORT and it generates a text file of mock SPC coords with the local geoid applied for the Z. I dump the resultant text file into Carlson Survey and scale this new set of points by the local scale factor I got from Corpscon, from origin. Now my ties are at Scaled-up, Mock SPC or ground. 

      I hold my scaled-up  (surface) GPS ties and rotate and translate total station ties to the GPS. I also rotate and translate the field notes to the GPS ties for best-fit analysis.  

      The next time I go in the field on that project with RTK, I re-tie down two of the RTK shots from the previous trip on extreme ends of the job. Localizing with one point is just a translation. No scale factor is applied (see question on this subject below). Localizing on two points rotates, translates and stretches the scale factor (as you stated in your procedure). A third point is staked-out and will reveal the precision and if anyone moved my points while I was gone. That's field procedure.  In the office after I dump from datacollector to Xport to Carlson Survey and then scale the new points by the project scale factor (manually), I translate the set of new data on one old point only. An inverse of less than 0.05 ft. to the second new point to its old counterpart let's me know everything is good. The third tie is a double confirm. 

      This way my field guy does not have to worry about the scale factor. The data set of previous (old) ties (I assume this is your comp point See question on this below) already has the scale factor applied. By aligning to them with the localization procedure, the field guy matches the scale factor. In the office, there is no rotation. Only translation. 

      Your procedure does not sound much different from what I do. I picked up some clues from your description which point to specific questions I have:

      1) It is obvious that Carlson holds "comp points"/existing points. The points from the raw data file move during the "match" that happens in the Localization. What does Magnet do? It seems to me it does the opposite. That's why the Bing Map is always right. The Bing Map is georeferenced, and setting up the base pulls the lat/lon and Bing Map snaps to that lat/lon. Magnet must move the "comp points" to the raw data, therefore the Bing Map matches - even if one localized into a local coord system like old school 5000,5000. 

      2) You said I want ground, not grid unless I am using SPC. Does Magnet apply a scale factor with a one point localization? If I can input a lat/lon into corpscon and get a scale factor, why can't Magnet do the same? As you and I both do, a two or more point localization stretches to match and that stretch scale factor should match the project scale factor at the office.

      3) I think I know what on the fly comp points are bu can you explain? I think I call them something else...

  • Land Surveyor

    I have Magnet Field on a Topcon Tesla and SurvCE on a Carlson Mini2. I know that if your trying to localize with Magnet you must create the job local. When you create the job, coordinate system projection is none, datum is none and geiod is none. 

    Save the rw5 file onto your computer, than open with wordpad on something like that. Your computer may ,at first, try to open it with note pad which may not show it properly. Magnet Field is not able read raw data files, except .mjf which is the raw data created by Magnet Field itself. 

    I hope this helps.

    • Land Surveyor

      Thank you Nelson, this is VERY helpful.

      You are correct when you say " if your trying to localize with Magnet you must create the job local...  ...create the job, coordinate system projection is none, datum is none and geiod is none". This is the only way I was able to localize BUT this is one of those "magnet things" I don't understand why. I want to see my ties in the same projection I'm working on in Carlson Survey. I also want the z component to be as per the geoid.

      Do you ever work a job first in SurvCE, then work on it in Magnet Field?

      • Land Surveyor

        Yes Magnet should automatically set the parameters when you choose localization. Magnet can be a bit complicated and frustrating, especially when Magnet first came out in 2012. I remember countless hours on sites starring at an hourglass waiting for the controller to unfreeze. Magnet itself had a tendency to freeze up every 20-30 minutes throughout the day and performed slow, I have version 4.1, but Magnet has run better since 3.0 or so. 

        I have transferred the job from SurveCE to Magnet. I export an ascii "txt"file from SurveCE than import file into Magnet Field and unfortunately unable to import raw. 

        Let me know if you need help with anything else. 


  • Do you have Magnet Office? A lot of your problems could be solved by running your files into that - it imports most everything. From there you then make a field file to load onto your logger. 

  • I would return the receivers. I'm die hard SurvCE. I'd go with Leica receivers if I had to...and that's saying a lot....'cuz I can not stand Leica hardware or software.
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