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, and a lot of labour is done in the field, and damage occurs.
In this article, we will show you a list of the Best Digital Theodolites that you may consider.
Here are the best digital theodolites you can buy in 2023:
- 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|
|Spectra Precision DET-2 Digital Electronic Theodolite|
|Johnson Level 40-6932 Two Second Theodolite|
|Topcon DT-209 Waterproof and Dustproof Digital Theodolite||Read Our Review|
Best for most construction
|David White DT8-05P 5-Sec. Digital Theodolite, with Optical Plummet|
|SitePro 26-DT05 5-Second Digital Theodolite|
Best Overall: Spectra Precision DET-2 Digital Electronic Theodolite
- Affordable price
- Automatic shutdown
- Allows you to work inside buildings and other environments with little or no light
- 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 a 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 a 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|
19.3 x 13 x 12.5 inches
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
- Tilt sensor provides great accuracy
- Easy to use keypad
- Reduce-eye-fatigue LCD screen
- 3-year warranty
- May hard to move around due to its size
The Johnson Level 40-6932 Two Second Theodolite features a 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 indoors or near dawn and dusk.
A simple six-button keypad and a 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 the instant conversion of vertical angles to percent of grade.
|Johnson Level 40-6932 Two Second Theodolite Specifications|
17.79 x 10.27 x 14.61 inches
This theodolite is suitable for all your basic needs.
Premium Choice: Topcon DT-209 Waterproof and Dustproof Digital Theodolite
- 26x magnification
- Advance algorithm for restoring the azimuth
- Moisture resistant
The Topcon DT-209 Digital Theodolite can calculate 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 an advanced algorithm to restore the azimuth after the instrument’s power is cut off, improving the reliability of angle measurements and reducing power consumption.
The DT209 also includes a fixed tribrach with a bubble vial and a built-in optical plummet for precise positioning and levelling of the instrument on the job site.
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|
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
- 5-sec angular accuracy
- Easy to operate
- Automatic shutdown
- Durable construction
- 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 centre 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|
8 x 7 x 13.5 inches
Best Budget: SitePro 26-DT05 5-Second Digital Theodolite
- 30X magnification
- 5-sec angular accuracy
- Durable construction
- May hard to move around due to its size
This SitePro 5-Second Digital Theodolite features a 30-power telescope that 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 provides all the information in degrees or percentages. With an automatic power shut-off function, this will help you save some battery. Optical plummet is used for the centring of a point instead of the plumb bob. Water-resistant and sealed construction allow long usable life.
|SitePro 26-DT05 5-Second Digital Theodolite Specifications|
19 x 17 x 13 inches
With 30X magnification and 3x optical plummet, this theodolite provides a clear sight in a short time.
Digital Theodolite Buying Guide
Theodolites are surveying tools that are used to measure horizontal and vertical angles. It also has lots of things to consider before buying one. This part will show the Theodolites buying guide to help you be less confused when choosing a suitable product.
1. Types of Theodolites
Today, there are several types of theodolites in use. Typically, we can see four types on the construction sites.
- Repeating: This type takes multiple measurements on a graduated scale. The mean value is then used to average the findings. This is deemed optimum in situations where the base is not stable, or space is restricted.
- Directional: This type takes readings through a fixed circle. The angle between them is calculated by subtracting the first reading from the second reading.
- Digital Theodolites: These digital theodolites do away with the necessity to read scales on graduated circles. They instead provide a computerized readout of the angles.
- Total Station: This type combines theodolite functions with electronic distance measurement. It also contains digital data and documentation.
2. What are the different parts of a digital theodolite?
A digital theodolite is made up of a telescope set on a base. To orient the target, a sight on the top of the telescope is employed. A focusing knob is used to highlight the object in focus.
The telescope's eyepiece is used to locate the target. On the opposite side of the telescope, an objective lens is used to sight and magnify the target as needed. It is made up of an LCD that displays the reading of the target in focus. The display system additionally includes operating keys for interacting with the display.
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.
Suppose you need to measure azimuth and angles of elevation for moving objects, such as aircraft, ships or perhaps a weather balloon or pilot balloon. In that case, you might consider some 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 crucial to constructing roads and for constructing buildings, railways, and bridges. For virtually any type of construction engineering, a transit theodolite is a vital 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.
Digital theodolite is made of various metals, including cast iron for the base, hardened steel for the bearing centre and sockets, brass for the frame, silver for the graduated horizontal circle, and aluminium where appropriate to lessen the weight supported on the centres.
In general, digital theodolite's material is mainly brass, aluminium and metal. In which, the most expensive is aluminium due to its durable, most robust and lightweight features. However, the material is a part that decides the quality. Aluminium is the highest quality, the most expensive one. Meanwhile, metal is the second one which is a little heavier than aluminium.
5. Tips for caring a Digital Theodolite
Theodolites, like other instruments, require adequate care and maintenance to achieve the most outstanding results and avoid wear and tear on the instrument. Here are some tips that users can apply for your digital theodolite.
- Do not immerse the instrument in water or other chemicals.
- While moving theodolite, make sure it is securely locked in its case. Do not let the instrument fall.
- When it's raining, put a cover over the instrument.
- Do not gaze straight into the sun through the instrument's telescope.
- A wooden tripod can better protect the instrument from vibrations than an aluminium tripod.
- After using an instrument, it should always be cleaned with soft tissues. Allow the theodolite to dry before storing it in its case if it is moist or wet.
- When storing the instrument, make sure the telescope is in a vertical position.
Popular Brand of Digital Theodolites
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.
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-levelling models, levels and more.
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 levelling, marking and layout tools, which includes construction grade lasers, levels and squares.
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 consists 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.
Do theodolites measure distance?
Yes. We can use a surveyor's nail or a stake to mark the location of the theodolite. This location serves as the starting point for calculating angles and lengths. Place the theodolite on top of the tripod and secure it with the mounting knob. Calculate the distance between the ground and the instrument.
Surveyor uses EDM equipment to shoot an energy wave at a reflector held by the second surveyor to measure the horizontal distance between two spots. Total stations are instruments that integrate electronic distance measurement and theodolites' angle measuring capabilities into a single unit.
What is the difference between a theodolite and a total station?
Theodolite and Total Station are land surveying tools used to determine information about the plot under consideration for building. However, these are different products having their function.
• The theodolite: Theodolite specializes in measuring horizontal and vertical angles to the degree (For example, 1/3600th of a degree). It is often made up of two revolving disks or dials marked with degrees from 0 to 360. Angle measurements can be taken by rotating the telescope horizontally or vertically.
• The total station: Total station is a versatile surveying tool that uses electronic distance measurement (EDM). Total stations can acquire significantly more accurate information over long distances by using the laser. They have a high level of precision in measuring distance, angles, and heights. The data gathered by a total station can be easily accessed and analyzed on a computer by connecting it to a USB port.
Theodolites can only measure angles, have a range of less than a kilometre, and are less exact than total stations. They are also less expensive than total stations.
Can a theodolite be used as a level?
Yes, you can use the theodolite as a level. The elevation angle of the telescope can then be set to 0 at the horizon plane. Using the telescope as a level instrument, you may sight a range pole at a level spot.
Theodolite can be used to measure angles in both the horizontal and vertical. The horizontal angles are then converted into bearings. It can, however, be used as a makeshift level instrument if the work is not critical. Theodolites are most commonly used in surveying, but they are also valuable for the following applications:
- Navigating sMeteorology
- Creating building corners and lines
- Angles and straight lines are measured and laid out.
- The walls of a wood frame must be aligned.
- Panel construction
- Plumbing a column or a corner of a structure
How To Use a Theodolite
Its type and model determine the procedure. However, mainly we have six steps to use a theodolite.
- First, users use a nail or stake to mark the survey point.
- Second, we place the tripod at eye level. The centre of the circle should be directly over the stake. Secure the tripod legs once they have been positioned.
- Third, we adjust the legs of the theodolite to ensure that it is absolutely flat.
- Fourth, calculate the distance between the theodolite and the ground.
- Fifth, check that the eyepiece is appropriately focused and that the axes are centred.
- Then, start your work by noting sightings and measurements.
Theodolite uses for many purposes, but mainly it is used for measuring angles, scaling points of construction works. Unlike other levelling 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.