FieldGenius 2010 Running on a Nautiz X7

FieldGenius is data-collection software by MicroSurvey.  I conducted this review of FieldGenius 2010 with it installed on a Nautiz X7 handheld device (Figure 4); my review of how the Nautiz works is at the end of this article.

For this review I used the Nautiz X7 and FieldGenius with a Sokkia Set 4 total station and also a Sokkia 530R total station (Figure 2).  Connecting to each was very straight-forward using a cable.  After several shots, I disconnected the cable and turned on the internal Bluetooth in the Nautiz and the 530R (Figure 3).  The Bluetooth worked great.  I did not notice any difference in speed or function.

Every job is a little different than the last.  Sometimes you collect the data at the site and take it back to the office to be reduced and drawn up.  Other times, a bit of data processing, computing, and drawing on the job site allow you to finish the job in one trip. FieldGenius 2010, when combined with the Nautiz X7, provides one of the most flexible surveying solutions I’ve seen.

FieldGenius allows you to collect data points and handle line work in a few different ways.  You can store points with descriptions and even add notes.  With each shot, the AutoMap function allows you to pick your point codes by typing the first one or two letters and selecting from the list.  If you enter a code that is not in the AutoMap library, a prompt will give you the option to add it for later recall.  The data points can be imported into your desktop software for processing and drafting (as you most likely are doing now). 

FieldGenius is very non-proprietary and is designed to be used with different mobile devices and with different survey equipment.  Modules are available for robotic total stations as well as RTK and network GPS receivers. 

One way FieldGenius maximizes use of the numeric keypad is to provide definable shortcuts.  You can assign commands to any key and save your settings in the short-cut definitions table.  It also seems to be more icon-driven than other field software packages I’ve seen.  Multiple toolbars are provided, and you can customize which ones are displayed.

Automated line work is taken to the next level in FieldGenius by adding icons to the map view that define the type of line or figure you are drawing.  A list of lines and figures allows you to select which one you are adding to with each shot.  This lets you run several different figures at the same time, handle lines, curves, and arcs, and get this all done without typing descriptions on the points. 

I shot some topo using the figures method icons.  Getting started was a bit awkward.  I have been using point codes to define symbols and line work for many years, so this method of workflow was a stretch for me.  The series of keystrokes was a change from my normal routine.  After taking several shots, I found a rhythm and could see the benefit of the FieldGenius method.  Younger surveyors are more accustomed to the icon-driven, point-and-click way of working.  I believe they will be right at home with the FieldGenius approach to shooting figures and will probably experience much less of a learning curve than learning codes and line-work descriptors.

FieldGenius goes well beyond data collection.  You can report and adjust traverse closures and calculate updated coordinates for control and side shots.  New points for staking can be computed in the map view with drawing commands or a variety of COGO commands.  Surfaces can be created and staked in FieldGenius as well as roading and alignments.  Lines and figures can be offset, intersected, or created and points calculated for staking.  If you can create it on your office PC, chances are good that you can get the job done in FieldGenius without cranking your truck.

If you are looking for a compact, cutting-edge product that combines the latest advancements in electronics with a forward-thinking approach to work flow in the field, I recommend taking a look at the Nautiz X7 with FieldGenius 2010.  It may be a change from equipment you’ve used in the past, but in this case I believe the difference is a good one.

Nautiz X7

The Nautiz X7 is marketed as a rugged, mobile computer and will run any software compatible with Windows Mobile. It’s owned by a company called Handheld Group.

At first glance, the Nautiz X7 is a regular, compact, data collector.  After using it though, I can tell you it is a lot more than that.  The Nautiz X7 is a data collector, a three-megapixel digital camera with autofocus and led flash, a GPS receiver that receives WAAS/EGROS corrections, a smart phone, a compass, an altimeter, and a ruggedized, mobile computer with Bluetooth and wi-fi, all in one handheld device. It works equally well as a simple survey data collector or as a mobile computer with the power of office-processing software at your fingertips.  It weighs 17 ounces including the rechargeable battery.

I’ve always been a fan of data collectors with a full button keyboard, and this is my first experience without one.  Much to my surprise, I adjusted quickly.  The touch-screen keyboard remains accessible via an on-screen icon. The smaller keyboard makes the Nautiz more compact than many other collectors, but its solid construction feels sturdy in your hand.

As I get older I am becoming more forgetful.  Fortunately, the Nautiz reduces the amount of equipment I need to keep with me.  The built-in digital camera is one great example.  Have you ever been on a job site when you saw something unusual that didn’t really have an easy description?  With the Nautiz, you don’t need to miss the shot because you’ve forgotten to bring a camera.  Simply snap a picture with your handheld and move on.  So many tools in one device improves efficiency and gets the job done faster and easier.  The camera is also great for taking pictures to include on FEMA elevation certificates.

The Nautiz I was provided for this review did not include a sim card, so I could not try the phone.  I did use the wi-fi connection to access the internet.  I exported a field book file from the job I was working on and emailed the file to my office.  This could have been done from any public hotspot, a myfi-type modem, or by using an internal sim card.  You can review data before your crew leaves the job site or quickly deliver it to clients.  I was able to browse the county tax parcel website for property records and the state court clerk’s website for deeds and plats.  The Nautiz provides office research wherever you happen to be.

MicroSurvey sells the Nautiz X7 with FieldGenius installed as a package, just as it was delivered to me.  They also sell both the Nautiz and FieldGenius separately.

About the Author

  • J. Craig Brewer, PLS
    J. Craig Brewer, PLS
    J. Craig Brewer, PLS is owner of Brewer Land Surveying in Savannah, Georgia. He has over 15 years of experience and is a licensed professional surveyor in Georgia and South Carolina.

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