Everyone has seen them – surveyors at a construction site or along a highway pointing what looks like a small telescope at a target. It is a small telescope, but they are not just looking at the scenery. Chances are, the surveyors are using a theodolite or transit to measure angles. By using the principles of trigonometry, the surveyors can use measured angles to figure out exactly where they are and where they (or the construction they are responsible for) are going.

A theodolite is a basic surveying instrument of unknown origin but goes back to the 16th-century English mathematician Leonard Digges. It is used to measure horizontal and vertical angles. In its modern form, it consists of a telescope mounted to swivel both horizontally and vertically. Leveling is accomplished with the aid of a spirit level; crosshairs in the telescope permit accurate alignment with the object sighted. After the telescope is adjusted precisely, the two accompanying scales, vertical and horizontal, are read.theodolite

There are two different kinds of theodolites: digital and non-digital. Non digital theodolites are rarely used anymore. Digital theodolites consist of a telescope that is mounted on a base, as well as an electronic readout screen that is used to display horizontal and vertical angles. Digital theodolites are convenient because the digital readouts take the place of traditional graduated circles and this creates more accurate readings.

Theodolites are used mainly for surveying applications, and have been adapted for specialized purposes in fields like meteorology and rocket launch technology.

In Civil Engineering, for example, the theodolite is a versatile instrument and is commonly used for the following tasks.

  • Measurement of horizontal angles
  • Measurement of vertical angles
  • Setting out horizontal angles
  • Ranging
  • Levelling
  • Optical distance measurement
  • Controlling verticality

Other, more common uses for a theodolite are:

  • Navigation and mapping for outdoor sports like hiking, backcountry skiing, hunting, fishing, and boating.
  • Survey land to find boundaries and property lines.
  • Grade and level ground during construction and landscaping.
  • Visualize property lines when installing fences or planting trees.
  • Visualize and mark level, plumb, and waterline references during construction or home projects.
  • Military: Theodolite is used for tactical navigation, target location and tracking, forward observation, coordination between ground and aerial forces, and photo documentation. Theodilte is used extensively as a simulation and training aid.
  • Crime scene investigation: Theodolite is used for estimation of bullet trajectories and blood spatter patterns, documentation, and training.
  • Ski area construction: Theodolite was used to re-grade a slope and place ski lift poles.
  • Farming: Theodolite was used to lay out crop plots and install an automated irrigation system.
  • Aviation: Theodolite is used to survey runways and landing strips, and measure heights and approach angles of nearby landmarks and forests. The app has been used in remote locations around the world when flying in supplies, aid, and medical help.
  • Real estate: Theodolite is used to provide watermarked photos of properties with embedded geo-data.
  • Architecture: Theodolite is used for site studies, documentation, and basic survey measurements.
  • Construction: Theodolite is used for site surveys and quick measurements to estimate and verify plans and surveyor readings.
  • Solar energy: Theodolite is used to layout and position solar panels on roofs of homes and businesses.

As you can see, the uses of a theodolite are extensive. Some uses are as common as boating and fishing, yet they have also been used in search and rescue missions by helping rescuers navigate and plan for a more affective search.

They are also used to help fight forest fires by spotting and triangulating the position of the fires.

The number of modalities in which a theodolite can be used is vast.  To ensure the highest quality instrumentation, having UKA as your developer can give you confidence knowing that our designs start, and are manufactured to your specifications, as everything is done in-house.

Universe Kogaku designs and manufactures optical lenses for Theodolites, security, high tech and electronic applications. We stock 1000’s of standard lens assemblies and can custom design a solution for scanners, CCTV, CCD/CMOS, medical imaging, surveillance systems, machine vision and night vision systems.