Land Surveyor Community Forum

RTN Vertical Accuracy


I am subscribed to the State of Arizona's RTN network. I've inventoried the 55 mountpoints and found varying results. When the reception is good I get reliable information confirmed by existing record data. I've been told that it is not recommended for topo work, the vertical is subject to a shift or
phase which I am researching.

Could someone please explain this shift or share their experiences with RTNs?

Your help would be appreciated.

Thank You,


You need to be a member of Land Surveyors United - Surveying Community & Forums to add thoughts!

Join Land Surveyors United - Surveying Community & Forums

Email me when people reply –


  • GPS/GLONASS (GNSS) satellites are rarely positioned directly overhead, but always on your horizon.  Your will get good horizontal readings because the geometry of the angles are far apart.  You will always get poor vertical readings because the satellites are not at a large angle of incidence to your location.

    Taking a vertical reading with a GNSS is like trying to calculate a location 50 meters away by doing a distance-distance calculation from 2 points that are only 2 meters apart.  Your error ellipse is huge because the angles intersect only a few degrees apart and you have no redundancy.  It is a miracle that you can actually get something within a few centimeters period.

    GNSS should never be used to get anything but a topographic elevation.

    • Above 50 degrees of Latitude you probably encounter the situations you listed above.

      Here in Texas I've taken Leica SmartNet measurements on points with at least 2 hours of Static occupation with results with in 0.10' (3 cm) x,y & z. Setting up on these GNSS static points and measuring between them with my Leica Robot normally yields +/-0.02' x & y and +/- 0.05 in z (elev). 

      NGS has been using GNSS for the last decade for Height Modernization projects down here in the lower 48.

      Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) has released the Canadian Geodetic Vertical Datum of 2013 (CGVD2013), which is now the new reference standard for heights across Canada. This new height reference system is replacing the Canadian Geodetic Vertical Datum of 1928 (CGVD28), which was adopted officially by an Order in Council in 1935.

      • The 3cm you quote above is about what you can expect - not much better, which is what seems to be the issue in this discussion.

  • A company I worked with about two years ago rented a Trimple GPS unit to aid us in a "rush" project in Rahway, NJ. Two Leica units were also being used on the same project. To make a long story short the Trimble units RTK elevations varied consistently by 0.15' to 0.20' when compared to the Leica numbers and NGS published monumentation. The Leica used the New Jersey-Delaware SmartNET and Leica DC software and the Trimble used a Trimble networks do Trimble DC software. We did not investigate it too much further and applied a correction factor after we proved the difference between the two. Naturally the field crew took the initial blame, but I'm pretty sure they were not the problem.

    I don't know if this is the same shift you are experiencing and I'm not sure why we encountered it, but it was real. We also had a smaller difference in the horizontal and it too was consistent.

    Good luck.
    • Thanks for your input Bill...this discussion is gaining ground, I appreciate your input and will keep you posted to what I and others may contribute or find...Thanks Again...Paul

  • I'm not sure I understand your situation. If you have 55 mount points, I doubt you are getting a network solution (implied by RTN). More likely you are getting corrections from one CORS within a network. If that is correct, getting different results is not very surprising. Every CORS occupies its own location with the unique environmental conditions of that place resulting in differences unique to that CORS.

    Networking software by using the whole network simultaneously uses data from all the stations to determine and mitigate the idiosyncrasies. Mount points then are usually many fewer, identified by preferred formats rather than individual stations.

    I'm still not sure I completely understood your request, but I hope this helps some.


    • You are correct in that this is not a network solutions (RTN) It is a collection of single base solutions.


      • Hello Tom, you use the AZHMP? If so what have you found? Do you use AZGPS?

        Thanks, Paul

    • Sorry to all...let me clarify....I have 55 mount points or continuous operating stations sending out corrections that I can choose from within the network. I connect to one mountpoint at a time, yes each mountpoint has a data sheet...I inventoried each mountpoint and found varying degrees of reception from my current location....I understand that the longer the base line isn't always an indication of poor reception, there are other factors...Thank you for explaining the differences J.Anthony, it does help.

      My question is rooted in GPS legacy which is why I'm asking. At one time it was understood that collected data shifted globally along a vertical angle or plane...if I had a better handle on it I would be able to explain it better, I apologize....Thank You, Paul

      • After about 4-5 hours of data collection, the geometry of the baseline becomes irrelevant. If performing single base- baselines, after about the same time the length of the baseline becomes almost irrelevant (not counting the ppm of course). 

        Most single baseline processing will give ppm of about 1:1,000,000. Most network based processing will give ppm of about 1:10,000,000. This is primarily because the network can mitigate local errors of any of the individual stations.

        If actually doing RTN (RTK) then measurements should be repeated about an hour or more later for redundancy and conformation of reasult.


This reply was deleted.

Answer As your Facebook Page

More from Land Surveyor Forum

Community Apps Updates

If you regularly search for deals and special pricing on Land Surveying Equipment like Total Stations, GPS/GNSS Equipment, Surveying supplies, etc, simply add this apps shortcut to your phone to have deals come to your app every hour. Simply open the app to see the latest deals.
Read more…
A Land Surveyor's best technical support is another land surveyor who has familiarity with same equipment. Use this app to find targeted advice from other land surveyors who may have experienced similar troubles by asking your questions inside the right Hub and forum. Share tips and tricks that you think other surveyors may have experienced or will experience.
Read more…