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Distance Measuring Equipment Overview

There are several tools available to measure distances ranging from a basic tape measure to more sophisticated equipment to measure precise distances and longer distances.  Here's a list of the various types, including their application:
  1. Measuring Tape - The tool most people are already familiar with.  It is useful for measuring short distances, very low cost, and can be found in any hardware store.
  2. Measuring Wheel - Another common tool that has been around a while.  It consists of a wheel with a precise circumference, that registers partial-rotations to a counter which displays the accumulated distance.  This tool is useful for measuring longer distances within walking distance since the tool rolls on the ground as the surveyor pushes it.
  3. Laser Distance Meter - Very accurate tool for measuring distances of typically less than a 100 feet.  It consists of a laser and receiver where the instrument measures the time it takes the laser beam to hit the reference object and come back.  This tool relies on the presence of a reference vertically standing object such as a wall, tree, or a sign.
  4. Vehicular Distance Measuring Instrument (DMI) - This is a vehicular distance measuring instrument that mounts in a vehicle, typically on the dashboard or windshield.  It uses an external sensor input such as an interface to a Vehicle Speed Sensor (VSS) to determine distance traveled.  This is one of the most convenient tools to use to measure distances greater than a hundred feet, as distances can be measured in the comfort of vehicle.  This instrument also saves time and money.  Recent advances have been to utilize Global Positioning Satellites (GPS) for easier installation and additional information such as GPS coordinates.