Get Ready for a Successful Field Season

In this upcoming field season, users can prepare for greater success with the right tools and systems for the best performance. To prepare your team to get the work done accurately and efficiently, users need to explore common pitfalls to avoid and best practices for success in the field. In this article, users can expect to learn how to prepare tools and systems for the new season, set up a GPS receiver for optimal performance in various environments, learn best practices for accurate and reliable data capture, how to prepare before the project starts, and bringing all of this information together for a successful project.

Getting ready: preparing your tools and systems for the new season

In preparing for the new field season, it is essential to begin with safety. Users should always be mindful of the work environment and the risks users may be exposed to. Safety briefings, signage, and communication are all helpful in having a safe environment for users and equipment.

Once users have established a safe environment, consider the needs of the project by asking these three questions:

 1. Do we clearly define the project goals and deliverables?

2. Do we have the tools, team, and training to accomplish the job?

3. Do we have a written plan of execution?

After addressing these three questions, assessing the gear is the next step. Users should ensure that the equipment being used will meet the need of the project. It can be helpful to define who, what, and how the gear will be used to have a successful workflow. Planning this out can benefit users in the field data collection process.

A users system for field data collection may include, but is not limited to:

  • Field Computer
    • Tablet
    • Smartphone
  • Sensor
    • GNSS Receiver
  • Software
    • Reference Data
    • Workflows
    • User Interface
    • Storage
  • Other Sensors/Instruments
    • Soil Sampler
    • Water Probes
    • Tree Core Tool
    • Animal ID Tags
    • Camera
    • Tape Measure

Ensuring your equipment meets your needs

Key questions to ask before purchasing a field computing device may include:

  1. Can the Operating System run my primary apps?
  2. Can the device last all day without running out of power?
  3. Is the screen sunlight-readable?
  4. Does the device come built to endure rain, drops, and other environmental factors?
  5. Can the device connect with my GNSS receiver without the use of cables?
  6. Can the device connect to the internet in the field to download or upload data?

Rugged field Computing devices from Juniper Systems include:

The Mesa® 3 Rugged Tablet is a field computer that runs Windows™ or Android™ operating systems. This rugged tablet comes with all-day battery life and hot-swapping capabilities making it easy for professionals in the field to work as long as the job takes. Users of the Mesa line can work long hours without worrying about losing power or having to squint with the 7-inch sunlight-readable display. The Mesa will provide a bright and durable touch screen. Users can learn how a Juniper Rugged Tablet is different from the competition or check out the top 5 features to understand how a field computer can benefit users in various environments.

Mesa 3
Mesa 3 Rugged Tablet running Uinta mapping software

Key questions to ask before purchasing a sensor may include:

  1. Can the sensor provide real-time data?
  2. Does the sensor last all day long without running out of power?
  3. How user-friendly is the sensor?
  4. What are the accuracy options?
  5. Can the sensor work optimally in various weather conditions?

Juniper Systems’ GNSS sensor options include single and multi-frequency:

The Geode™ GNS3 GNSS Receiver is available in single and multi-frequency options to meet the various needs of professionals worldwide. The single-frequency option has sub-meter accuracy, while the multi-frequency option has sub-meter, sub-foot, and decimeter accuracy levels. Both models are compatible with Windows® PC, Android™, and iPhone®/iPad®. The Geode GNS3 is a simple-to-use, compact-size, Juniper Rugged™ GNSS receiver that lasts all day long with the Overtime Technology battery. Users can get an in-depth introduction to the latest Geode GNSS Receiver or read how professionals in the Underground Mapping industry can benefit from using this GNSS receiver.

The Geode GNS3 GNSS Receiver for harsh environments.
Juniper Systems’ Geode GNSS Receiver

Key questions to ask before purchasing software may include:

  1. Does the software improve the efficiency of data capturing?
  2. Is high-accuracy mapping supported?
  3. Can the software be customized to reflect the data collected accurately?
  4. Is the interface built to be user-friendly?
  5. What are the options for exporting data?
  6. Does the software come with support?

Juniper System offers hassle-free field data collection software:

Uinta™ mapping and data collection software is an easy-to-use, customizable software and GIS mapping tool. This hassle-free software empowers users to become more efficient in the field or office, create and access projects, and accurately map various assets. Users interested in learning more about this software can visit the Uinta category of the blog for use-case stories of professionals in various industries.

Uinta Mapping and Data Collection Software.
Uinta Mapping and Data Collection Software works with Windows and Android devices.

GPS receiver set-up and options for optimal performance in various conditions

To get the highest level of accuracy from a GNSS receiver, users should choose the best correction service to meet the needs of the job. This can depend on the type of GNSS receiver being used, the budget, and where the job is in the world. Some of the most common correction services are satellite-Based Augmentation Systems, or SBAS, Network Transportation of RTCM data via Internet Protocol or NTRIP, and Atlas.

Benefits of SBAS:

  • Provides correction to GPS data, reducing ionospheric error
    • The biggest source of GNSS error
  • Reduces 3-5m positioning to sub-meter
  • Free, no subscription necessary
  • Can tolerate signal interruption

Challenges of SBAS:

  • Geosynchronous Satellites
    • Can be blocked by terrain
  • Limited Coverage Areas
    • Regional service
  • Ionospheric correction only

Benefits of NTRIP:

  • High real-time accuracy
    • Fast solutions, < 1 minute
  • Local correction service
  • Available in most populated areas

Challenges of NTRIP:

  • Limited Coverage Areas
    • Regional service
  • Requires continuous cellular data connection
  • Operational Costs Vary
  • Datum and Projections can vary

Benefits of Atlas:

  • Worldwide Coverage
  • Multiple Accuracy Levels
  • Selectable subscription lengths (H30 & H10)
  • Can tolerate interruptions once convergence is achieved

Challenges of Atlas:

  • Geosynchronous, can be blocked by terrain
  • Longer convergence times
    • Basic – 5 minutes
    • H30 – 10-15 minutes
    • H10 – 30 minutes
  • Subscription-based

Best practices for accurate and reliable data capture

For accuracy and reliable data collection in the field, users should consider the following questions:

  • How will the device be carried?
  • What is the intended use of the device?
  • Does the job require maximum precision?
  • Will the project require a large area to be covered?
  • Does the job need users to carry additional equipment?

Users should consider mounting the system on a pole to get maximum precision in the field.

The Geode Sub-meter GPS receiver with the Mesa Rugged Tablet on a Construction site.
The Geode and Mesa Pro being used at a construction site.

Users might consider using a backpack mount to cover a large area in an efficient amount of time.

To learn how and why professionals utilize these various accessories, check out the 5 best accessories for a GNSS Receiver article. The article discusses what to consider for accessories in the field and who the items can be purchased through.

Improving the accuracy of data to be collected and mapped can be a challenge without applying best practices. Best practices for better GPS accuracy in the field can be accomplished by following these steps:

  1. Get a good GPS Ephemeris and Almanac on the receiver being used.
  2. Set a good antenna mask angle.
  3. Be aware of obstructions in the area.
  4. Get supportive tools and equipment.
  5. Use applications that can interact between the GNSS Receiver and the device.
  6. Check the settings of the device.

Bringing it all together for a successful project

It takes all hands on deck to prepare for a successful project. Users must come prepared with the appropriate equipment and software. The team must be properly trained to use the software and hardware to be effective and efficient in the field. Everyone should know the project needs, how to troubleshoot common problems, and know the passwords and logins to ensure that data can be collected and stored properly. These considerations can make all the difference in the start and completion of fieldwork mapping and data collection. To learn more about what Juniper Systems has to offer, contact our team today.

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