1. Introduction

A Total Station Instrument (TSI) consists of an EDM integrated with a digital theodolite combining distance and angle measurement into a single package. EDM principles (and TSI integration) are more fully discussed in the Distance Measurements topic.


A TSI is one of the most important and versatile pieces of equipment in a surveyor's armory. It can be used to collect or stake out data in all three dimension under varying conditions. As the technology evolves, greater computing and storage capacity are being built into TSIs increasing their flexibility and usefulness. Recent innovations include reflectorless distance measurement, greater robotic TSI sophistication, and even GPS integration.

This topic will deal with a basic TSI and concentrate on set up, simple field operations, error control, and best practices. Once comfortable with basic TSI set up and use, the surveyor should delve into the instrument's manual where advance capabilities and field operations are discussed. As with any surveying operation, repeated practice increases efficiency and decreases errors.