Welcome to Alabama Total Station. We are the Surveyor's Headquarters for Total Stations.  Check out the following Pages on our site:


Robotic Total Stations – The most versatile instruments on the market today.

Care – These pages are dedicated the Cleaning, Servicing & Routine Adjustments that need to be done to keep your total station in top working order. You can also find users manuals through this page.

Deals – This page contains our current deals on total stations.

Parts – A list of spare parts and accessories that you may need for your particular instruments.

Used Equipment – This page is a service to the Land Surveying community. You can list your used instrument here or you can find equipment to get you going if you're on a budget. Our affiliated equipment repair shop can check out and make repairs on these instruments for you before you purchase them.

Resources – These are external links to some other sites which may be of interest to the Surveying community.


Call Alabama Total Station today at  (888) 211-3229  or fill out a contact form request for more information concerning your land surveying equipment needs.

Pros and Cons of Acquiring a Robotic Total Station

A robotic total station is probably of the most hi-tech electronic instruments that are being used by surveyors today. This are post talks about the advantages and the disadvantages of this surveying instrument. 


One of the biggest advantage of the robotic total station over the optical total station is that it has a motor inside it that allows it to be operated by user remotely. This feature allows the surveyor to be away from the instrument while he do his stuff, because of this you CAN cut the survey crew by one person. And that is a SIGNIFICANT savings to the surveyor.

Most modern optical stations include the distance meter, theodolite, AND data collection all in the convenience of one instrument. The robotic total station just adds the robotic servo motors.

Furthermore, robots can work all day and don't complain. They don't require bathroom breaks or water breaks. They don't even lay out drunk or call in sick when you have an important job that needs to be done. They only require a charged battery. Robots also are capable of turning more precise angles.

All these advantages lead to a lesser cost of operation as fewer persons are required to do the job.


With the introduction of robotic total stations, many surveyors don't find the need for an assistant, choosing to survey as a "one-man" crew. As such, this does mean that someone may be unemployed. Of course, you could keep that person and train them for another job or use them to increase production.

Since electronic total stations have been around, there has been a tendency by surveyors to treat these instruments as "black boxes," which means that you trust whatever numbers pop out of it without question. Even though today's surveying instruments are extremely helpful, they are still just tools. Remember the saying "garbage in – garbage out."

With the total station itself, one problem might be that electrical malfunctions could happen, especially in extreme weather conditions. A constant power supply is essential for the machine to keep working. Interruption of power or signals could happen once it loses its power and this could generate wrong data and could greatly affect the whole project.

All electronic surveying equipment requires routine maintenance and care. While these instruments are somewhat rugged, it is possible that rough handling and rough conditions can cause expensive problems. But, with proper care, this could be alleviated.

The most notable disadvantage for robotic total stations is the price. These machines typically run about double what an optical total station does. While this DOES require a substantial investment, with the offsetting of the labor cost, the payback on this type equipment should be relatively quick. My experience is that you could pay back the cost within a year's time or less.

To sum it all up, a robotic total station is a great piece of machinery to have and will definitely help surveyors in cutting their workload and not to mention their production costs. But, as we mentioned above, there are other things to consider as you contemplate the purchase of one of these advanced pieces of surveying equipment.

Which Total Station Should I Choose?


total stationA total station is an electronic instrument that is used by people in various professions. This device is commonly used by the police in handling crime scene investigations and by construction companies to layout the work they will construct. But mainly, the total station is an instrument used by surveyors. An electronic theodolite is the basis of the total station, which also consists of an electronic distance meter (EDM), and a data storage component. Each element is essential to the performance of the measurements necessary to complete a survey of a site.

This device has four purposes rolled into one specifically:  for angle measurement, distance measurement; coordinate calculation and storage of data. This is the reason why professionals who are in the surveying business carefully choose which particular total station will suit their unique needs. Keep in mind that the most common total stations nowadays are robotic which provides many more opportunities for costs savings for  the users. This is why you must be particular in inquiring about the specific uses of each type of total station.

There are several Total Station types and models in the market these days. For instance, some models possess internal electronic data storage which assists in recording horizontal and vertical angle measurements or distances. Simultaneously, there are also total stations that make use of external data collectors.

There are four basic types of total stations and they include the following:

1.                    Robotic total stations – One of the smoothest ways to survey an area is with the use of this device. It permits the user to control the device remotely, meaning you do not have to have an instrument operator standing by the total station. This is greatly beneficial in that you need not hire an assistant to hold the rod for you. You can be “out front” where the work is happening to make the correct decisions. There are many essential features on a robotic total station so make sure you ask about the latest technological advances that will suit your needs.

2.                    Imaging total stations – This kind of total station adds either a photographic or laser scanning element or both. With this new tool in the market, the surveyors could offer many more services that greatly benefit from these high resolution images. Moreover, the laser scanner component can capture topographic data automatically. The imaging capability provides an accurate photo documentation of the site’s existing condition, which in effect, is beneficial in generating productivity and minimizing expenses caused by re-visits to the site.

3.                    Construction Total Stations – These type total stations are specifically designed to aid construction efforts. These total stations are typically more rugged for the environment they will be used in and they may not have the same high precision that other total stations have. Some construction applications don’t require this high level of accuracy. Therefore, these total stations will be more economical for the particular purpose. Discuss your accuracy requirements with the manufacturer or fellow contractors before selecting the type of construction total station you will purchase. Another good source of information might be your local surveyor.

4.                    Optical Total Stations – This type total station is the basis for both the robotic and imaging total stations. While an optical total station can have many features, this type total station will require an instrument operator at the device. It will also not have the imagining capabilities mentioned above. This device is essentially designed for your everyday surveying applications. These instruments will typically be lower priced than the more specialized total stations above. But, with the addition of another crew person, they may not be more economical. You should again discuss these economic benefits with your equipment representative and/or other surveyors.

In sum, total stations are a must in about every surveying application. Keep in mind that there are many competing offers in the market today. Be sure that you thoroughly understand the specific purpose for each device and your application. Choosing the right “tool” to use is ninety percent of getting the job done.


Call Alabama Total Station today at  (888) 211-3229  or fill out a contact form request or contact a TopCon Dealer for more information concerning your land surveying needs 

Laser Scanning Saves Survey Firm’s Job and Increases Productivity


Topcon Laser Scanner helps local surveying firm save job and increase productivity


In the POB Article, "Mining Data", Earl Dudley, Inc is given credit for introducing a new technology, laser scanning, to a firm who was at risk of losing a client to new regulations.


Over the years, PERC Engineering staff, located in Jasper, Alabama, attended regular surveying seminars where Earl Dudley presented new surveying technology to the industry. When the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) mandated changed procedures and requirements, PERC not only recognized that they were not able to do the job the old way and were at risk of being replaced, but they also recognized the opportunity to use this new surveying technology which allowed them to save the job for the firm.

“It was exactly what we needed,” Lynell Early, PERC Vice President says. “We couldn’t wait to get familiar with it and put it to work in the field.”

Not only did laser scanning allow PERC to keep their client, it also allowed them to do a better job for the client.

“On an application like this [volume verification], the accuracy is far better with the scanner than what we could do otherwise,” he says. “We are actually getting the shape of the pile; if it gradually curves, we get that. There is no doubt in my mind that we are getting a more representative reading of what’s there than if we were out there with a stick.”

Adding to the improved precision and the job security that this new technology offered, PERC was able to do the same work in less time with less field personnel.  With the slight increase in office time and personnel, this will ultimately allow the company to trim labor expenses.

The sky's the limit now for PERC. Now that they have experience and success with the laser scanning equipment, they're looking for other ways to use it.

“Now that we have a decent handle on working with point clouds, we will look at every scanning job we can get.”

So, the take away lesson is that, first of all, you need to keep up with what's going on in the industry. Technological improvements over the years have changed the face of surveying.  Not only have these technologies changed the way we do things, but they've opened up more opportunities for new work.  Being on the leading edge of technology pays off big dividends in the long run.

For more information on how Earl Dudley can help your firm improve your surveying technology and land new work, call Adam Arrington at 800-633-6457.