How to Use Handheld GPS for Surveying

How to Use Handheld GPS for Surveying?

Handheld GPS units have revolutionized the surveying industry, providing accurate and real-time data acquisition capabilities.

They are compact, user-friendly gadgets that utilize advanced technology to pinpoint your exact location on Earth.

To effectively use a handheld GPS for surveying, you need to have the proper equipment, including a GPS receiver, rover rods, poles, bipods/tripods, and antennae.

Additionally, you must ensure accurate calibration and familiarize yourself with the device’s interface and functions.

With these handheld GPS surveying techniques, you can streamline your surveying process and enhance your accuracy and efficiency.

Whether you are surveying land for construction, mapping out boundaries, or conducting land management tasks, a handheld GPS is a valuable tool that can greatly improve your productivity.

In this article, we will guide you through the steps of using a handheld GPS for surveying, offer tips for troubleshooting and maintenance, and discuss the benefits of incorporating handheld GPS devices into your surveying workflow.

Steps to Survey Your Property with GPS

Surveying your property with a handheld GPS is a simple and efficient process that can provide you with accurate data for various purposes.

To ensure a successful survey, follow these steps:

1. Plan Your Survey

Before you begin, it’s essential to plan your survey.

Determine the specific areas you need to survey and the data you want to collect.

This will help you establish clear surveying goals and ensure that you cover all the necessary points.

1. Set Up Your GPS Receiver

Once you’re on-site, set up your GPS receiver by turning it on and allowing it to establish a connection with the satellites.

Ensure that your receiver has a clear view of the sky to receive accurate signals.

Remember to calibrate your GPS device to enhance its accuracy for the specific area you’re surveying.

1. Collect Data

With your GPS receiver ready, start collecting data by marking waypoints.

Waypoints are specific geographical points that you want to record, such as property corners or significant landmarks.

As you move around your property, mark these waypoints using your GPS device, ensuring you capture all the necessary details.

Additionally, consider recording tracks.

Tracks allow you to visualize your surveying progress as you move around the property.

This can be especially useful when mapping large areas or complex features.

1. Transfer and Analyze Data

After completing your survey, it’s time to transfer the data from your GPS receiver to mapping software for analysis.

Use a computer connection or compatible data transfer method to transfer the recorded waypoints and tracks to mapping software.

This will allow you to visualize and analyze the data more comprehensively.

By following these steps, you can effectively survey your property using a handheld GPS device.

This method offers several benefits, including increased accuracy, efficiency, and the ability to collect precise data for construction projects or land management purposes.

Benefits of Handheld GPS in Surveying

· Accurate and real-time data acquisition

· Compact and user-friendly design

· Improved efficiency and productivity

· Ability to survey and map large areas

· Enhanced accuracy for precise measurements

With these advantages, handheld GPS devices have become essential tools for modern surveyors.

Whether you’re surveying a small property or a vast tract of land, using a handheld GPS will streamline your workflow and provide you with reliable data for informed decision-making.

Operating a Handheld GPS for Mapping

A handheld GPS is a valuable tool for land surveying, providing accurate location data for mapping purposes.

To effectively operate a handheld GPS for mapping, there are a few key steps to follow:

1. Familiarize yourself with the device: Begin by turning on the handheld GPS and exploring its different screens and menus.

Take note of the functions and options available, as this will help you navigate and utilize the device effectively.

2. Mark specific locations: Use the waypoints feature to save specific locations during your survey.

This will allow you to easily reference and mark important points on your map.

3. Record your path: Turning on the track log feature will enable the GPS to record your path as you move.

This can be particularly useful for creating accurate maps of your survey area.

By following these steps, you can optimize the use of your handheld GPS for mapping purposes, ensuring accurate and detailed survey data.

Additionally, it is worth noting that a handheld GPS can be connected to a computer using GPSBabel software.

This allows you to transfer waypoints and tracks from the GPS to mapping software such as JOSM for further analysis and visualization.

Benefits of using a handheld GPS for surveying:

· Accurate location data: A handheld GPS provides precise coordinates, allowing for accurate mapping and surveying.

· Portability: Handheld GPS units are compact and lightweight, making them easy to carry and use in various surveying environments.

· Real-time data acquisition: With a handheld GPS, you can instantly access and record data on-site, eliminating the need for post-processing.

· User-friendly interface: Most handheld GPS devices have intuitive interfaces, making them accessible to both experienced surveyors and beginners.

In summary, operating a handheld GPS for mapping involves familiarizing yourself with the device, marking specific locations, and recording your path.

By utilizing the advanced capabilities of a handheld GPS, you can enhance the accuracy and efficiency of your surveying tasks.

Troubleshooting and Maintenance Tips for Handheld GPS

Using a handheld GPS for surveying can greatly enhance your accuracy and efficiency in collecting data.

However, like any electronic device, it can sometimes encounter issues that may affect its performance.

Here are some troubleshooting and maintenance tips to help you overcome common problems and ensure the optimal functioning of your handheld GPS.

Signal Interference and Inaccurate Readings

· Move to an open space: If you’re experiencing signal interference or getting inaccurate readings, try moving to an open area away from tall buildings or dense vegetation.

This will improve satellite reception and provide more accurate data.

· Check calibration settings: Ensure that your GPS device is properly calibrated.

Incorrect calibration can result in inaccurate measurements.

Refer to your device’s manual or settings menu to adjust the calibration settings if necessary.

Device Malfunctions

· Refer to the manual: If your handheld GPS is malfunctioning, consult the manufacturer’s manual for troubleshooting instructions.

It may provide step-by-step guidance on resolving common issues.

· Contact customer support: If the problem persists or you’re unable to find a solution in the manual, reach out to the customer support of your GPS device’s manufacturer.

They can provide further assistance and guidance specific to your device model.

Maintenance and Care

· Clean the device: Regularly clean your handheld GPS with a soft cloth to remove dust, dirt, and fingerprints.

This will help maintain visibility on the screen and prevent any damage to the device.

· Proper storage: When not in use, store your handheld GPS in a safe and dry place, away from extreme temperatures or moisture.

This will help prolong its lifespan and prevent any potential damage.

· Periodic maintenance checks: Conduct periodic maintenance checks on your device to ensure it is functioning optimally.

This may include updating the firmware or software, performing system diagnostics, or calibrating the GPS as needed.

By following these troubleshooting and maintenance tips, you can overcome common issues and keep your handheld GPS in excellent working condition.

This will enable you to continue using it for accurate surveying and data collection, maximizing the benefits it offers in your surveying endeavors.


In conclusion, handheld GPS devices have revolutionized the surveying industry, providing surveyors with accurate and real-time data acquisition capabilities.

The benefits of using handheld GPS for surveying are undeniable, offering improved accuracy, efficiency, and productivity in land surveying projects.

By following the proper steps and familiarizing yourself with the device’s interface and functions, you can effectively use a handheld GPS for surveying.

Plan your survey, set up your GPS receiver, collect data, transfer it to mapping software, and analyze the results to utilize the data for construction or land management purposes.

To fully maximize the potential of handheld GPS devices, it is important to stay updated with the latest advancements in GPS technology and software.

By doing so, you can enhance your surveying capabilities and collect precise and valuable data.

If you’re looking for recommendations and reviews on the best handheld GPS devices for surveying, be sure to check out our comprehensive article on the Best GPS for Surveying.


How do I use a handheld GPS for surveying?

To use a handheld GPS for surveying, you need to have the proper equipment and familiarize yourself with the device’s interface and functions.

You also need to follow steps such as planning your survey, setting up your GPS receiver, collecting data, transferring data to mapping software, and analyzing the data.

What are the steps to survey your property with a GPS?

The steps to survey your property with a GPS include connecting to a known point using GPS satellites, marking waypoints to record specific geographical points, navigating between waypoints, and recording tracks.

It is important to plan your survey, set up your GPS receiver, collect data, transfer data to mapping software, and analyze the data.

How do I operate a handheld GPS for mapping?

To operate a handheld GPS for mapping, you need to turn on the device, familiarize yourself with the different screens and menus, save waypoints to mark specific locations and turn on the track log to record your path.

You can also connect the GPS to a computer using GPSBabel software to copy waypoints and tracks for further analysis in mapping software.

What should I do if I encounter issues while using a handheld GPS for surveying?

If you encounter issues while using a handheld GPS for surveying, you can try moving to an open space for clear signal reception, checking and adjusting the calibration settings of the GPS device, and referring to the manufacturer’s manual or customer support for troubleshooting assistance.

Additionally, maintaining the device by cleaning it and conducting periodic maintenance checks can help ensure optimal performance.