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Not a Surveyor

This is my first time here.  I apologize if my presence is not suitable and will humbly withdraw.  I have 3 acres of land in the high plains desert and am looking to buy 40 more.  The land is flat, to the naked eye, but when you start moving around with a gps you find otherwise.  I want to make a very detailed topo map of the property so that I can better manage runoff from rainfall. I would like to work with nature rather than completely building a whole new system.  My idea...may sound crazy...is to get a remote controlled car and put a gps unit on it, and drive the car all around the property to collect data.  The gps would only be 4" or so from the ground, and it would be a consistent distance.  On my present land, the different from low to high is about 3.0 feet.  Is there a gps (<$400) that is sensitive enough to do this?  The new property is about 1/3 hills, but I want to work on the small piece first.



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  • do you live in area that has DEM models produced by government agencies and available to the public?

  • Not a Surveyor

    Thank you!  Yes, I would still have the land surveyed for legal purposes by a licensed (if that is the right word) surveyor.  The purpose of this is not for anything that is legally required or "official" but simply to help me manage my land better.  It is often obnoxious to change the terrain of desert land, and often quite harmful to the local fauna. Some mistakes take a long time to heal.   Is there some kind of system that would reference a controlled marker rather than a gps?  That might make it more accurate, while maybe not needing to add more zeroes to the price.  Given an exact reference point +- .1 " or cm obtained from a licensed survey of the property??, the exact length of the r/c car (maybe a tank would be more suitable) and a device that can measure turns of the r/c car (E, W, etc)  and changes in elevation (going up or down) is there is some device that can store this kind of data and reconstruct the terrain in a topo map?

  • Party Chief

    Welcome ... perhaps I could turn down the intimidation a bit... your idea seems relevant and it will be cool if any surveyors out there have tried it

    so let's think about it....

    although not common, one might say that just 4 years ago surveying with a drone was considered 'hobby'

    Surveyors can measure by boat, tractor, drone, donkey and probably eagle but the question is the price and the precision as far as i can tell

    ...you couldn't expect to record data to any sort of official document i wouldn't expect

    and a real licensed surveyor would still need to come out and perform the measurements...

    and tie those measurements into a controlled marker which i doubt is accessible without the credentials...

    as for price if you added another zero, maybe. A garmin GPS will give you 3-8 Meters of error....survey grade GPS provides more like 1-3cm accuracy

    You may be able to use Kwipped.com and rent a GPS GNSS system to test your theory..

    My dad once sold a NAVCOM system meant to attach to a tractor doing argriculture measurements at about 7 mile per hour.  that was through the Starfire system i believe. that system was more like $15K

    i think its a cool idea though

    and maybe Mr. Gavin Schrock would know if RC/GPS exists...   


    thanks for not taking offense to the new NOT A SURVEYOR badge...its for people who want to ask cool and relevant questions to land surveyors but do not plan to try to 'be their own surveyor' because that never ends up well.,...  around here we just like to know who we are responding to...in the end it might be best to find a local surveyor to test your idea... it might be fun to see what can become..  

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