OFFSET METHOD IN SURVEY

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OFFSET METHOD IN SURVEY

© All Rights Reserved

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Surveying is the science and art of measuring distances and angles on or near the surface of the

earth. It is an orderly process of acquiring data relating to the physical characteristics of the earth

and in particular the relative position of points and the magnitude of areas. Evidence of surveying

and recorded information exists from as long ago as five thousand years in places such as China,

India, Babylon and Egypt.

Ancient Egyptian surveyors were called harpedonapata (rope-stretcher). They used ropes and

knots, tied at pre-determined intervals, to measure distances. The 3-4-5 triangle (later formalised

by Pythagoras) was discovered to give a right angle easily by using a rope knotted at distances of

3,4 and 5 units (as below) and shaped (stretched) to form a triangle with a knot at each corner

(vertex).

Surveying activity 1: An offset survey

Aim:

To practice the method of surveying using offset (perpendicular) measurements from a given base

line. To calculate perimeter and area.

Worksheet

Paper, ruler, pencil and eraser,

Protractor

Calculator

The diagrams on the worksheet represent notes taken by a surveyor in the field. The surveyor

began by dividing the area to be surveyed into two sections. This was the base-line and

perpendicular distances were measured and jotted down along the base-line ( the open centre-line

in the diagrams) in a notebook.

Question: What equipment do you think the surveyor has used for this survey?

Your job is to re-join the two sections and produce an accurate scale drawing of the piece of land

that was surveyed. You must select an appropriate scale for the size of your page and take care to

be accurate - use a ruler and be sure to measure or construct the right angles carefully.

When your drawing is complete find the perimeter (by measuring) and the area (by calculation) of

the land. Answer to the nearest metre.

Question: What area rules will you need? Write them down and check they are correct.

The following worksheet has four diagrams of offset survey notes. The answers are given at the

bottom of the page.

Perimeter can be measured carefully with a ruler and should give results to within one or two

metres of the answer. The calculation of area will be more difficult requiring the shape to be divided

into component pieces. Results should generally agree with the given answers. Students could be

asked to consider the sources of error if their area does not agree.

This technique of surveying can be used to find the perimeter and area of a selected part of the

school grounds. Students should think about the equipment needed to perform the survey and

remember that good practice is to double check all measurements by an alternative means. For

example, back-bearings to check bearings, two independent measures of distance, two angles to

position a point and three to check its validity. In some schools dumpy levels are available through

the Manual Arts department and are excellent for this type of work.

Worksheet:

Answers:

1. P = 199m, A = 266m2

2. P = 178m, A = 1516m2

3. P = 202m, A = 2727m2

4. P = 269m, A = 3943m2

Surveying activity 2: Triangulation

Aim:

To practice the method of surveying using triangulation. To find perimeters and areas of the land

surveyed.

Worksheet

Paper, ruler, pencil and eraser

Protractor

Calculator

The diagrams on the worksheet represent notes taken by a surveyor in the field. The surveyor has

established a baseline XY of known length. W is the position to be determined and this has been

accomplished by taking bearings to W from X, and to W from Y. A rough sketch and the

measurement details are recorded in the surveyor's notebook.

Question: What equipment do you think the surveyor has used for this survey?

Your job is to produce an accurate scale drawing of the area surveyed. You must select an

appropriate scale for the size of your page. Consider the angles carefully. You may need to think

about the angles involved as each diagram has a north line. For surveying the relationship to north

is important. Take care with question 4. It will give you a four-sided figure and is an example of a

multiple triangulation (in practice surveyors may use many triangles to cover an area).

When each drawing is complete find the perimeter (by measuring) and the area (by Heron's

Formula) of the land. Question 4 will require you to think about the area calculation. A different

method may be used. Trigonometry may be required. Answer to the nearest metre.

Question: What is Heron's Formula for the area of a triangle? Write it down and remember it.

The following worksheet has four diagrams of notes taken in survey by triangulation. The answers

are given at the bottom of the page. Encourage students to discuss the sources of error and decide

whether the errors are significant or not. What is an acceptable difference to the given answer?

This technique of surveying can be practiced in the school grounds. Students should think about the

equipment needed to perform the survey. Hand held compasses are sufficient but you may find the

Manual Arts department has a dumpy level, or two, and these are the better option. Plane table

equipment and techniques can also be used. Remember that it is good practice to double check all

measurements by an alternative means. For example, back-bearing to check bearings, two

independent measures of distance, two angles to position a point and three to check its validity.

Worksheet:

Assume all measurements are in metres. Choose an appropriate scale. Remember to work in

relationship to the indicated north line.

Answers:

1. P = 135m, A = 820m2

2. P = 124m, A = 718m2

3. P = 207m, A = 2039m2

4. P = 235m, A = 3262m2

Surveying activity 3: Radiation

Aim:

Worksheet

Paper, ruler, pencil and eraser

Protractor

Calculator

The diagrams on the worksheet represent notes taken by a surveyor in the field. The surveyor has

first drawn a north line to which all bearings and distances are referenced. The north line does not

form a part of the land area being surveyed. This would only be the case if there were a distance

indicated on it.

Question: What equipment do you think the surveyor has used for this survey?

Your job is to produce an accurate scale drawing of the land that has been surveyed using the

information from the notes. You must select an appropriate scale for the size of your page and take

care with the accuracy of your measurements.

When your drawing is complete find the perimeter by measuring the lengths of the sides carefully.

Also find the area of the last scale drawing using Heron's formula. Answer to the nearest metre.

Question: What is Heron's Formula for the area of a triangle? Write it down and remember it.

The following worksheet has four diagrams of surveys by the method of radiation. The answers are

given at the bottom of the page. Students should discuss the source of errors and consider the size

of an error as significant, or otherwise.

This technique of surveying can be used to find the perimeter and perhaps the area of a selected

part of the school grounds. Students should think about the equipment needed to carry out the

practical work of the survey and remember that it is good practice to double check all

measurements by an alternative means. For example, back-bearings to check bearings, two

independent measures of distance, two angles to position a point and three to check its validity.

Investigate whether there are dumpy levels available in the school, perhaps through the Manual

Arts department. Hand compasses are sufficient but to experience using a dumpy level would be

better.

Worksheet

Assume all distance measurements are in metres an angle measurements are in degrees. Choose

an appropriate scale. Label the diagrams clearly and show all lengths.

Answers:

1. P = 178m

2. P = 266m

3. P = 231m

4. P = 253m, A = 2919m2

Surveying activity 4: In the distance

This idea was presented to me by Bob Christopherson as a way to explain in simple terms the

workings of a dumpy level. It demonstrates the principle extremely well and is a great activity to do

with students. Thankyou for this contribution.

Aim:

To make a simple distance measuring instrument and use it to approximate the distance to an

observed object. To develop an understanding of the principles by which surveying equipment such

as a dumpy level works.

A simple distance measuring device

Chalk Instructions for students:

In this activity you may be required to make the simple equipment, or you may be supplied with

them already prepared. Examine the item and note anything important about the dimensions and

position of the triangle drawn on the wood.

Use the measuring tape to mark a distance of one metre in chalk on a vertical surface such as a

wall or post. It does not have to be from the ground but must be exactly one metre between the

two chalk marks. If using a stadia rod then just find appropriate markings on the rod for an interval

of one metre.

Now take the simple measuring device. Hold the corner of the triangle marked on the wood directly

beside your eye if there is a hole drilled in the wood this assists levelling the triangle with the eye

because you can put your finger through the hole and hold it steady beside your eye. Move

backwards and/or forwards until the two nails line up with the one metre you have marked.

Measure the distance from the metre marking on the object to where you are standing. Record this

distance.

Change the marking on the vertical surface and repeat the process. Try two different distances (e.g.

0.65m and 1.3m). Record your distances measured on the ground from the object. Is their a

relationship between the measuring device, its triangle and nails, and the results you have

obtained?

Finally select two objects at some distance and approximate their distance from you with the

measuring device. How does this relate to the workings of a dumpy level? Explain.

Materials for this activity are inexpensive and may be provided free of charge by your Manual Arts

department or even the students. The instruments are really simple to make and durable. Students

may be able to make them themselves or you may chose to have them already prepared, ready for

use.

Choose a fairly open area to do this work. The classroom is not really suitable as desks get in the

way and distances of more than five metres will be difficult to accommodate.

Extension:

Some golfers use a small instrument called a range finder to estimate the distance to the flag. It

works on the assumption that the flag is a fixed height of two metres. This is not actually true as

the height of the flag depends on the location of the hole, its elevation and its visibility.

The view through the range finder is shown in the diagram below.

Assuming the flag is fixed at two metres in height, students could investigate:

Find an equation to fit the curve using a graphics calculator, or by using algebra and a

knowledge of functions (Maths B).

Discuss accuracy and reliability of the distances approximated.

Evaluate the practical worth of the instrument to golfers

Surveying activity 5: How far?

Aim:

To use the principles of geometry and trigonometry to determine the distance between two

locations, in particular places which are inaccessible to manual measurement.

Measuring tape or trundle wheel

Compass or dumpy level

Notebook and pen to record data

Instructions for students:

Method (1): Imagine an object located on the far side of a river. You want to know how far it is

away. This can be done using the properties of an isosceles triangle. Fix a position at 90 to the

object on the near side of the river. Walk at 90 to this line along the bank until the bearing of the

object is 45. Measure the distance walked. This is equal to the distance across the river to the

object. See diagram A below.

Method (2): Use trigonometry to calculate the distance across the river. Fix your position at 90 to

the object on the near side of the river. Walk at 90 to this line along the bank for a known distance

and take a bearing to the object. The tangent ratio can then be used to calculate the distance

across the river. See diagram B below.

Method (3): Take any two bearings to the object from a base-line on the near side of the river.

Measure the distance between the positions from which the bearings were taken. Produce an

accurate scale drawing from the data collected. Construct and measure the perpendicular distance

to the object on the scale drawing.

Method (4): Any other legitimate procedure. Students may find any number of ways to calculate

the distance - great! The important thing is for the solution to be supported by diagrams and

calculations which justify the method used.

This type of practical work can be done in the school grounds by selecting an object that lies

beyond some sort of barrier. For example, on the other side of a fence, road, creek or pathway. An

important rule is that no one crosses the barrier.

Students can be asked to use at least two different methods to find the distance and to justify the

work they have done with diagrams and calculations. Whatever method is used the answers

obtained should agree.

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