In our experience, many architects, surveyors and designers keep the tools of their trade locked tightly away out of sight, for fear that letting competitors know what to use could damage their business. The truth is, your skill in using the tools counts for a lot more than what you use and should be all you really need to succeed. So in this spirit, here is a quick look at some of the equipment we use here at clockworklime ltd.
FARO S120 LASER SCANNER
Our S120 laser scanner from FARO allows for the capture of measured survey information rapidly and extremely accurately. Once ‘stitched’ together, the scanned data reveals any given site, buildings or objects construction in ways difficult to imagine before, let alone measure. We strive to use this equipment to provide supremely detailed measured data to architects, design professionals, engineers, and builders alike.
For more info on 3D laser scanning please visit our website or why not read our article ‘What Is Laser Scanning & 3D Surveying’
The main camera we use is the Samsung NX300 with a 18-55 lens. This allows for versatility in the types of shots and subjects.
The main specs are:
– 20.3MP APS-C sensor
– ISO 100 – 25600
– Full HD video capture at 50, 25 and 24p
– 768k-dot AMOLED touchscreen
If your interested in a full review:- SAMSUNG NX300
As for what we think, for the money this is a great little camera. It has the ability to produce some really dynamic and professional shots. The colour reproduction is great and the auto focus is exceptionally responsive. Also, the movable touch screen really lets you get some great angles. But if you are looking for something that can take super-fast or snappy low light shots, this is not for you. We find that it struggles in low light situations, particularly when the subject is moving. Luckily, buildings don’t tend to move about that much!
You may have noticed a little ‘modification/addition’ in the form of a mini tripod. This also folds up into a useful little handle, great if you haven’t brought along a full size tripod.
RICHO THETA S
Now this little piece of kit is magic. It can take 360 degree photos & video in 1920x1280HD. When mounted to a tripod and placed at the center of a given space, it can provide a truly immersive experience. Great for condition surveys and as builts alike.
So far we’ve found that its simple to use, easy to set up, but the battery really could be better. We predict that you’ll be seeing 360 cameras more and more over the next few years.
LEICA, LEICA, LEICA
No surveyor should every leave the office without one. The Leica X310 Disto is to us, the best value for money disto around. You get all the quality you’d expect from Leica, along with some extra features that the lower end distos lack, but without some of the super-high end features that most of us just don’t need.
One complaint we do have is, again as with most things electronic and portable, the battery usage is a little on the high side compared to some of the more simple distos Leica provides.
Something else we almost always bring along to any survey or even site meeting is our trusty little Leica LINO L2 laser level. Great for recording floor level differences and the like.
Mount these instruments to a tripod like the TRI70 or TRI100 (both of which are in our kit bag) and you have a powerful set of measuring tools, if you know what your doing.
*FYI – We’re not sponsored by Leica, but if a Leica rep is passing by. An S910 or D810 would be lovely.
The structure sensor is a great little gadget for quickly capturing objects in 3D. If you’d like to know more about how it works, structure.io has all you need to know.
We’ve used the word ‘gadget’ deliberately, as compared to professional 3D capture hardware like those manufactured by FARO, the Structure Sensor is light years behind. But if you need to grab a little piece of architectural detail to add in to a 3D model prior to rendering, it can be very handy to have this in your kit bag.
Another great little gizmo to have on you as a surveyor or designer is this little thing. The NIX colour sensor does exactly what you would expect, it can accurately detect the colour of almost any surface and record the data to your smart phone (It will even let you know where the closest place is that can mix paint for you!). Very handy for matching objects, materials and surfaces to RGB, CMYK or Hex colours.
SUSA AKA THE DRONE
Now here is a controversial but exceptionally useful piece of kit.
Our DJI Phantom 3 Professional allows for capture of up to 4K video footage at 30fps and 12 megapixel stills that provide an amazingly clean, crisp and dynamic images with over a 90 degree field of view, all shot from a 3 axis gimbal, ensuring perfect stability. Extra batteries are a must for this piece of equipment, even though each battery can supply up to 24mins of flight time, in our experience in the real world you’ll see 20, but will want to keep 5 of that in reserve just in case. This amazingly stable and advance piece of equipment also allows for topographical data acquisition using specialized software, which can be used to generate site maps or even 3D scale models.
But do think that anyone can go and buy one of these and start working the next day, because you can’t (sorry). At the moment (as of 20/05/16) it is illegal to conduct aerial works without a license from the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority).
So there you have it, a quick run through of the tools we use day to day. Obviously this doesn’t include software etc, but we’ll leave that for another day.
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