5 Best Digital Theodolites of 2020

Last update: Dec 2, 2020

Theodolites are precision instruments for measuring angles in the horizontal and vertical planes. They are mainly used for surveying, but are also used for other special applications.

A Theodolite consists of a movable telescope mounted within a horizontal and vertical axis. When the telescope is pointed at a target object, the angle of each of these axes can be measured with great precision.

Here are the best digital theodolites you can buy in 2020:

  • Best Overall: Spectra Precision DET-2 Digital Electronic Theodolite
  • Runner Up: Johnson Level 40-6932 Two Second Theodolite
  • Premium Choice: Topcon DT-209 Waterproof and Dustproof Digital Theodolite
  • Best for most construction: David White DT8-05P 5-Sec. Digital Theodolite, with Optical Plummet
  • Best Budget: SitePro 26-DT05 5-Second Digital Theodolite
5 Best Digital Theodolites
Best Overall
Spectra Precision DET-2 Digital Electronic Theodolite
    Runner Up
    Johnson Level 40-6932 Two Second Theodolite
      Premium Choice
      Topcon DT-209 Waterproof and Dustproof Digital Theodolite
        Best for most construction
        David White DT8-05P 5-Sec. Digital Theodolite, with Optical Plummet
          Best Budget
          SitePro 26-DT05 5-Second Digital Theodolite

            Best Overall: Spectra Precision DET-2 Digital Electronic Theodolite

            Spectra Precision DET-2 Digital Electronic Theodolite
            Spectra Precision DET-2 Digital Electronic Theodolite
            Pros
            • Affordable price
            • Automatic shutdown
            • Allows you to work inside buildings and other environments with little or no light
            Cons
            • Quite heavy

            The Spectra Precision DET-2 digital electronic theodolite for general construction applications gives you accurate measurements in an affordable, versatile, easy to use platform.

            This theodolite features 2 second accuracy and vertical axis compensation which user selectable display resolution of 1-second or 5-seconds.

            Built in reticule illuminator and IP-54 rating low light, water and dust resistant. Quick setups with low operator learning curve. Its dual, backlit displays and controls, very large LCD characters are easy to see.

            The large suite of parameter settings, includes programmable settings for horizontal angles resolution and beep, vertical degrees, zenith angle and the vertical axis compensation on or off.

            Spectra Precision DET-2 Digital Electronic Theodolite Specifications

            Product Dimensions

            19.3 x 13 x 12.5 inches

            Item Weight

            9.9 pounds

            Material

            Aluminum

            Display Style

            LCD

            Warranty

            2 years

            Verdict

            This is a great tool for establishing 90-Degree reference lines, column placement, alignment of forms, tilt up walls and curtain walls.


            Runner Up: Johnson Level 40-6932 Two Second Theodolite

            Johnson Level 40-6932 Two Second Theodolite
            Johnson Level 40-6932 Two Second Theodolite
            Pros
            • Tilt sensor provides great accuracy
            • Easy to use keypad
            • Reduce-eye-fatigue LCD screen
            • 3-year warranty
            Cons
            • May hard to move around due to its size

            The Johnson Level 40-6932 Two Second Theodolite features vertical axis compensation tilt sensor which provides the highest level of accuracy and can be turned on or off depending on the job requirements. The dual LCD with large characters easy to see angle readings eliminate errors and reduce eye fatigue. Backlit LCD and telescope reticle-allows work in low light conditions including indoor or near dawn and dusk.

            Simple six button keypad and large suite of programmable settings provide multiple operations for various users and job requirements including zero position of vertical angle.

            90 Degree audible notification for quick turning and set out of right angles also with instant conversion of vertical angles to percent of grade.

            Johnson Level 40-6932 Two Second Theodolite Specifications

            Product Dimensions

            17.79 x 10.27 x 14.61 inches

            Display Style

            LCD

            Warranty

            3 years

            Verdict

            This theodolite is suitable for all your basic need.

            Premium Choice: Topcon DT-209 Waterproof and Dustproof Digital Theodolite

            Topcon DT-209 Waterproof and Dustproof Digital Theodolite
            Topcon DT-209 Waterproof and Dustproof Digital Theodolite
            Pros
            • 26x magnification
            • Advance algorithm for restoring the azimuth
            • Moisture resistant
            Cons
            • Costly

            The Topcon DT-209 Digital Theodolite can calculates vertical and horizontal angles accurately. Featuring an advanced absolute encoder and high quality telescope with 26x magnification and 3-inch resolving power, this optical instrument produces reliable angle measurements and exceptional viewing quality of the target. This technology uses advanced algorithm to restore the azimuth after the instrument’s power is cut off, improving reliability of angle measurements and reducing power consumption.

            The DT209 also includes a fixed tribrach with bubble vial and a built-in optical plummet for precise positioning and leveling of the instrument on the jobsite.

            Its telescope is also constructed to prevent moisture and eliminate lens fogging. Compact and lightweight, this survey tool offers up to 170 hours of continuous measurement in angle mode using four standard AA alkaline batteries.

            Topcon DT-209 Waterproof and Dustproof Digital Theodolite Specifications

            Item Weight

            19.6 pounds

            Display Style

            LCD

            Material

            Metal

            Warranty

            5 years

            Verdict

            The DT 209 digital theodolite promotes productive surveying even in harsh weather.

            Best for most construction: David White DT8-05P 5-Sec. Digital Theodolite, with Optical Plummet

            David White DT8-05P 5-Sec. Digital Theodolite, with Optical Plummet
            David White DT8-05P 5-Sec. Digital Theodolite, with Optical Plummet
            Pros
            • 5-sec angular accuracy
            • Easy to operate
            • Automatic shutdown
            • Durable construction
            Cons
            • Quite heavy

            The DT8-05P 5-second digital theodolite for general construction applications gives you accurate measurements in an affordable, versatile, easy to use platform.

            It features with optical plummet used to center the instrument over a point, in place of a plumb bob, which moves in a strong wind.

            The incremental encoding detection system with dual digital displays for easy accessibility and operation. Coaxial tangent and clamp screws provide ease of use in sighting and alignment.

            Operating costs are kept low with the included rechargeable battery pack and charger. Its automatic power shut-off function allows to save battery life. Built-in battery pack can be attached and detached by a single action

            Water resistant and sealed construction for durability.

            David White DT8-05P 5-Sec. Digital Theodolite, with Optical Plummet Specifications

            Product Dimensions

            8 x 7 x 13.5 inches

            Item Weight

            9.7 pounds

            Material

            Metal

            Display Style

            LCD

            Verdict

            A durable yet affordable theodolite.

            Best Budget: SitePro 26-DT05 5-Second Digital Theodolite

            SitePro 26-DT05 5-Second Digital Theodolite
            SitePro 26-DT05 5-Second Digital Theodolite
            Pros
            • 30X magnification
            • 5-sec angular accuracy
            • Durable construction
            Cons
            • May hard to move around due to its size

            This SitePro 5-Second Digital Theodolite features 30-power telescope provides a bright wide field of view and the built-Inch 3x optical plummet enables quick and easy setups. 5-second precise vertical and horizontal accuracy and readout with available 1-second display option. Its incremental encoding detection system with dual digital displays for easy to read precise readouts.

            The simple push button provide all the information in degrees or percentage. With automatic power shut-off function, this will help you save some battery. Optical plummet is used for centering of point instead of plumb bob. Water resistant and sealed construction allow long usable life.

            SitePro 26-DT05 5-Second Digital Theodolite Specifications

            Product Dimensions

            19 x 17 x 13 inches

            Display Style

            LCD

            Verdict

            With 30X magnification and 3x optical plummet, this theodolite provides a clear sight in a short time.

            Digital Theodolite Buying Guide

            Accuracy: This accuracy is measured in “seconds”. In radial measurements, we assume that there are 360 degrees in a circle. Taken a step further, you can divide each degree into 60 equal parts, or “minutes”. Taken one step further, you can divide these minutes into 60 equal parts or “seconds”.

            Most commercially viable total stations provide measurements with 1, 3, or 5 second accuracy. That’s 1/3600, 1/1200, or 1/720 of a degree, respectively.

            If you need to measure azimuth and angles of elevation for moving objects, such as aircraft, ships or perhaps a weather balloon or pilot balloon, then you might consider some type of observation theodolite. In some cases, this theodolite will be fixed and mounted in a permanent place and in some cases, you will need to be able to move it to various locations. These observation theodolites sometimes are called pibal theodolites, which stands for pilot balloon observation theodolites; however, not all observation theodolites are pibal theodolites.

            When you see a surveyor working in the middle of a road in your town, the type of theodolite in use is probably a transit theodolite. These are definitely crucial to the construction of roads but also used for constructing buildings, railways and bridges. For virtually any type of construction engineering, a transit theodolite is an important tool. After all, if an engineer is uncertain about the angles of a road or the foundation of a building, this can result in catastrophic failure.

            Popular Brand of Digital Theodolites

            Spectra

            Spectra Geospatial is an established brand known for delivering quality products to the survey, GIS and construction markets. Focusing on the specific needs of the conventional surveying market, the Spectra Geospatial brand offers a complete product portfolio including Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), Global Positioning Systems (GPS), optical total stations, data collection hardware, field and office software, as well as a wide range of construction tools.

            David White

            Founded in 1895 by Hungarian immigrant David White, this Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based company was incorporated in 1912. David White, an instrument manufacturer, started the company with the help of relatives in the Milwaukee area.

            The company's reputation in optics craftsmanship helped it grow to the brand name it is today - an excellent manufacturer of quality theodolites and other survey equipment including rotating lasers, self-leveling models, levels and more.

            SitePro

            SitePro is a leading supplier of surveying, engineers’ and contractor’s tools and accessories including optical and laser instruments, measuring devices, work gear, and field supplies for surveyors, industrial and construction use. SitePro aims to give its customers the value and quality they seek to increase productivity and performance.

            Johnson Level

            With more than 70 years of developing solutions to help professional tradesmen do their work more accurately, more quickly and more reliably, Johnson brand products are one of the most trusted by professionals worldwide. Over the years, they have built a comprehensive portfolio of leveling, marking and layout tools, which includes construction grade lasers, levels and squares.

            FAQs

            What is a digital theodolite?

            Digital theodolite is a modern engineering instrument for measuring both horizontal and vertical angles. It is a key tool in surveying and engineering work. A digital theodolite 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

            What is theodolite used for?

            A theodolite is a precision instrument used for measuring angles both horizontally and vertically. Theodolites have a lot in common with transits but they tend to have a more precise reading and provide greater accuracy in measuring angles than transits do.

            Theodolites are mainly used for surveying, but they are also useful in these applications for navigating, meteorology, laying out building corners and lines, measuring and laying out angles and straight lines, aligning wood frame walls, forming panels, and plumbing a column or building corner.

            The machine also has angle reference mode, recording data, exporting KML files via email. Its macros are well suited for outdoor sports, hiking, boating, hunting, golfing, sightseeing and photography.

            Conclusion

            The theodolite uses for many purposes, but mainly it is used for measuring angles, scaling points of construction works. Unlike other leveling instruments, theodolites have an internal optical device that makes reading circles much more accurate than other instruments. Also, because the theodolite allows you to take fewer repeat readings, these measurements can be made much more quickly. This will help you a lot when it comes to construction works.


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