Using RTK for construction staking is becoming increasingly popular among surveyors because it allows for improved accuracy, faster survey times and quicker return to the builder for continuation of the building project in question. Construction staking is a critical part of the building process, because it helps to identify everything from land grades and utilities to positioning for corners, structure walls, and other parts of the building as per the site survey. Having a building constructed in the exact right place on a parcel of land is critical, which is where construction staking comes in handy.
There are many professional surveyors already using RTK for construction staking, and it is likely only a matter of time before all survey professionals rely on this type of information for their surveying needs. The more technology advances, the more advanced tools are created. With advanced tools and methods, surveying can be much more efficient, accurate, and take less time than ever before. This allows for fewer professionals to do more work and ensure the same or better results because of the innovations of technology like RTK surveying tools and processes.
Currently RTK systems can be integrated with convention or robotic total stations to allow the surveyor even more options during construction staking.
In practice, RTK systems use a single base station receiver and a number of mobile units. The base station re-broadcasts the phase of the carrier that it measured, and the mobile units compare their own phase measurements with the ones received from the base station. There are several ways to transmit a correction signal from base station to mobile station. The most popular way to achieve real-time, low-cost signal transmission is to use a radio modem, typically in the UHF band. In most countries, certain frequencies are allocated specifically for RTK purposes. Most land survey equipment have a built-in UHF band radio modem as a standard option.
This allows the units to calculate their relative position to millimeters, although their absolute position is accurate only to the same accuracy as the position of the base station. The typical nominal accuracy for these dual-frequency systems is 1 centimeter ± 2 parts-per-million (ppm) horizontally and 2 centimeters ± 2 ppm vertically.
Using RTK for construction staking does depend on the availability of GPS satellites and receivers and over head coverage such as trees and buildings, which is something that professional surveyors have to check for before they can get started on the surveying process. However, there are usually software programs included with surveying equipment that make it easy to predict satellite locations and availability to ensure that RTK staking can be used at a particular site during a particular time or day. Real-time staking saves time, energy, and manpower resources in the professional surveying world, allowing more work to get done with accurate results and fewer man hours used. During a time when surveyors are in short supply, this is an asset that many cannot afford to live without.