Poll: Which do you use to measure distance when surveying?

May 28, 2012
Tape Measure

Photo via lowjumpingfrog/flickr

This week we’re going to try and find out how many surveyors are still using tape and how many have moved to the laser measurement tools.

If you still use tape, what are your reasons, and if you’re a fan of the lasers, what made you make the switch?

Answer the poll and give your feedback in the comments below.

Which do you use to measure distance when surveying?

Laser 44% (29 Votes)
Tape 44% (29 Votes)
I don't survey 12% (8 Votes)

  Total Voters: 66

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Previous Polls Results

The last poll, which asked how much money cavers spend each year on caving, was extended to two-week stint in order to give more folks an opportunity to answer.

In the end, it seems that most cavers, some 60%, spend between $250 and $2,500 USD each year. There are also a number of folks, almost 30% that spend much more, a few in excess of $10,000 a year.

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Comments (11)

  1. Peter Norris
    May 28, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    I still use a tape from habit as much as any thing.

  2. Dave West
    May 28, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    I use a tape because I can lay it down along the survey line and sketch to it. A laser is very useful along the way, measuring to walls, objects, etc., but without a tape for reference, errors come too easy.

    • Caving News
      May 29, 2012 at 12:51 pm

      I can see how that would be helpful.

  3. May 29, 2012 at 3:20 am

    My regular surveying partner and I use tape in muddy/wet sections and lasers in easier terrain – they both have their uses. I don’t think it’s a case of one versus the other, rather, they are complementary.

  4. Gary
    May 29, 2012 at 8:38 am

    Laser is Bluetooth to PDA so les possibility of recording era.
    Compass and clino are recorded at same time.
    PDA produces centre line to work from immediately so passage can be sketched more accurately.
    Eras are apparent immediately so can be rectified. No return trips just to resurvey.
    Loop & possible links are apparent immediately.
    A usable survey is available from the point you started surveying immediately.
    Other caves already served in the area can be on the PDA so there relationship or possible links can be seen immediately.
    All can be down loaded to a computer quickly and with less chance of era.
    Compass, clino, tape & notebook still cared (electronics still not quite bomb proof).

  5. Beej Jorgensen
    May 29, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    I use both. I really like having the tape out on the floor while sketching, and it gives the instruments people something to do. 😉 I also carry a disto and use it liberally for distances to walls and ceilings.

  6. Brandon Johnson
    May 29, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    I use tape because lasers don’t work underwater.

    • Caving News
      May 29, 2012 at 1:48 pm

      Excellent point. I hadn’t considered that.

      • Brandon Johnson
        May 29, 2012 at 1:54 pm

        As a cave diver, we always use a guideline entering underwater caves. There’s a lot of different styles and methods of measuring, but most popular (and what I use) is to mark your guideline with black sharpie every 10 feet. That way I can determine how far into a cave I am when surveying. At 100 foot intervals I have a few extra inches marked where I can add a line arrow (due to the wraps used in a line arrow, it shortens the line by approx 4 inches). Keeping another reel of actual measuring tape helps for exploring larger rooms, etc.

        • Jason Richards
          May 30, 2012 at 10:45 am

          Instead of using the sharpie mark, knot your line. The sharpie mark disappears within 6 months in dark caves, and is no longer useful (say for later surveyors, or completing your survey work in a larger system.) In addition, the knots can still be used to survey when you have to go through a patch of low visibility- you dont have to see the line, except for at turns where you read the compass.

  7. May 30, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    I use a laser primarily, especially since most of our recent big projects in Montana involve considerable re-surveying of mapped passage (the 1970s cavers surveyed a lot but didn’t have a lot of copy machines!), as well as multi-mile systems. In either case, the detail on the plan map is minimal (except for significant features, confusing areas, mazes, etc) since the final map is typically just the walls anyway. (Think BigHorn Caverns, Wind, Jewell, etc). For smaller caves with more detail, I try to get my lead to use shorter shots for better estimation of proportions on the sketch. Oh, and finally, tapes drag though the mud!!


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