Top 5 best RTK GPS receivers for land surveyors

Finding a good GPS antenna for your land surveying projects can be difficult and time consuming. With more and more brand entering the market won’t make it any easier.

Normally you would have gone to your local dealer and he would tell you he has the best receiver for you, but is this really true? Most local dealers only have 1 to 2 brands and probably just offer you what they want to sell you, not which receiver is best and most cost-effective for you. 

As a land surveyor, you and your receiver have to deal with some tough conditions. Your GPS antenna has to be able to deal with these environments. Does that mean that you will need a €10.000 GNSS antenna? No. Nowadays you can get high performance RTK GNSS receivers for around €4000 to €5000. Yes you can get them cheaper but then you really have to ask yourself, do you want to be in a situation where you are standing in a difficult location and your GNSS antenna is not able to get a centimeter accurate fixed location? 

Sometimes spending that little extra money on the GNSS receiver will save you on working hours in the long run.  

Performance and price are 2 of the key ingredients of finding a good GPS receiver. Of course there are more components that play a role which we take in consideration as well. 

Here is our review process in detail:

  1. Performance
  2. Price
  3. Connectivity
  4. Compatibility
  5. Features  

Top 5 Best RTK GNSS Receivers For Land Surveying in 2021

Below is a list of the top 5 best RTK GNSS receivers for land surveyors that we’ve found perform well in tough conditions with good accuracy and speed.

Please note: As you probably know, a GPS surveying set is not complete without a good surveying software solution. Where the GNSS antenna determines the location its the software that allows you to determine what to do with this location. Wether this is uploading your DTM (digital terrain model) for staking out, or for point collection. In this review we focus on the GNSS antenna only because this is responsible for the performance. Please read the article below for a good software solution: 

  • Software Help Guide – Top 5 software for land surveying

 

1. South INNO7 – Best overall

 

INNO7 Pros

+  First GPS with 5G internet 

+  Fast FIX (CM accurate in 5 sec)

+  Connect via Cloud server, IP, Bluetooth, Cable

+  E-bubble and IMU tilt sensor (up to 60° angle)

+  LCD Color touch screen

+  15KM internal radio range 

+  Trimble board with full constellation support

 

South INNO7 RTK GPS GNSS receiver
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You might not have heard of them before but South Instrument has been around for over 15 years now. It’s a China based company with over 3000 employees and is currently the leading Geospatial manufacturer in China. 

Their latest release is the South INNO7 which will eventually replace the still very popular South Galaxy G1 PLUS and starts at a price of €4995. The INNO7 is at time of writing the First and Only GNSS receiver with 5G internet, making it ready for the future.

Besides its internet capabilities to connect to RTK providers, the INNO7 also allow you to send data to a Cloud service via IP. Off course you can also connect to your tablet or data collector via the traditional Bluetooth, USB or RS-232 cable. 

For land surveyors that use the INNO7 in a Rover and Base setup South has upgraded its Internal radio with the new FarLink protocol.  This in-build radio adopts a switchable 1 to 3 Watt radio with a maximum range of 15 Kilometers. Besides an increased range its power consumption is also reduced by 60%

In terms of performance the INNO7 is not falling behind either. With its Dual RTK engine the GNSS receiver can have a centimeter accurate fixed position in seconds. 

Fast IMU Initialisation

The INNO7 is integrated with a new generation IMU module that only need 2 to 5 seconds of shaking to complete its initialisation. After initialising the receiver can reach a maximum angle of 60 degrees. 

This allows you to measure places unreachable to the standard GNSS receiver without tilt functionalities. 

With the IMU tilt you can get even closer to the buildings, reach manhole covers that are blocked by parked cars or when under tree canopies that are too dense. That little extra tilt might give you the centimeter accurate fix you need.

Here are some recommended South INNO7 setups

Inno7 Rover set

A standard RTK GPS set for mapping your terrain, staking out or collecting points.

Check option

INNO7 Rover and Base set

When you live in a remote area a second GPS receiver is needed to act as a base station for correction data. 

Check options

 

2. Kolida K1 PRO – Affordable price

 

K1 PRO Pros

+  4G internet 

+  Fast FIX (CM accurate in 5 sec)

+  Connect via IP, Bluetooth, Cable

+  E-bubble and IMU tilt sensor (up to 60° angle)

+  13.600 mAh internal radio

+  Trimble board with full constellation support

 

Kolida K1 pro RTK GPS GNSS receiver
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Kolida Instrument is a Chinese based company as well and is actually a sub company of the South Instrument Group. Same as South they offer a good range of receivers but the difference is where South mostly uses external battery systems, Kolida has integrated a more internal approach. 

Their, at time of writing, flagship model which is the Kolida K1 PRO has an internal battery capacity of 13.600 mAh. This capacity should give you more than enough juice for a continuous survey throughout the day. 

Besides the impressive internal battery the K1 PRO’s top model implements a Trimble GNSS chip with full constellation support. Its triple frequency GPS L1 L2 L5 capabilities allow you to get a centimeter accurate fix in mere seconds, even in the toughest conditions. Besides GPS it also tracks all Galileo Glonass and BeiDou satellites.

In terms of connectivity the K1 PRO is not falling behind either as its able to connect to most of the known surveying software packages. You can either send the data via the internet, through USB or via traditional Bluetooth connection. The standard NMEA output sends the positioning data to any place it is needed.

Like the South INNO7, the K1 PRO is also equipped with a IMU. This calibration free Tilt compensation mechanism allow you to reach an angle of up to 60 degrees, making it possible to reach the places where traditional GNSS receiver can’t go.

Here are some recommended Kolida K1 PRO setups

Inno7 Rover set

A standard RTK GPS set for mapping your terrain, staking out or collecting points.

Check option

INNO7 Rover and Base set

When you live in a remote area a second GPS receiver is needed to act as a base station for correction data. 

Check options

 

3. E-Survey E600 – Cheapest price

 

E600 Pros

+  4G internet 

+  Fast FIX (CM accurate in 5 sec)

+  Connect via IP, Bluetooth, Cable

+  E-bubble and IMU tilt sensor (up to 60° angle)

+  Hot swappable battery system

+  Choose from 3 different GNSS boards

+  L-Band corrections with Hemisphere Board

 

E-survey E600 RTK GPS GNSS receiver
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This familiar looking RTK GNSS receiver is one of the best sellers from the Company E-Survey. The company has been active since 2005 and has a lot of experience in the geospatial industry. E-Survey is affiliated with the Unistrong group, which on its own is connected again with Hemisphere and Stonex. 

Also a full constellation RTK GNSS receiver, the E-Survey E600 outperforms most GPS receivers. Its Hemisphere GNSS board track GPS L1 L2 L5, BeiDou B1 B2 B3, Glonass G1 G2 G3 and Galileo E1 E5 E6. Like the previous GPS receivers, the E600 has IMU tilt capabilities as well with a max reach of 60 degrees.

With the E600 you’ll have access to 800 Channels which gives you more than enough processing capabilities to track each and every satellite and full capacity. Also for when you are in a country that does not have a local RTK or CORS solution and you don’t want to setup your own base station, you can use the Atlas L-Band correction data. With an initialisation time of approximately 5 minutes you can achieve an accuracy of around 5 to 10 centimeters anywhere on the planet.

 

 

4. Tersus Oscar – Good performance

 

Oscar Pros

+  4G internet 

+  Fast FIX (CM accurate in 5 sec)

+  Free Surveying software included

+  Connect via IP, Bluetooth, Cable

+  E-bubble and IMU tilt sensor (up to 60° angle)

+  Own developed GNSS board

+  Option of 3 models

Tersus Oscar Ulitmate RTK GPS GNSS receiver
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Tersus GNSS Inc. is one of the new kids on the block but are doing very well in increasing their marketshare. This China based company was established in 2014 and has currently released more than a dozen products. 

Its flagship RTK GNSS receiver, the Tersus Oscar is performing really well compared to its competitors. Also a full GNSS constellation receiver it has no problem getting an accurate RTK Fixed position in the most difficult places.

Its state of the art, in-house developed GNSS board supports 576 channels which gives you more than enough processing power to track every satellite at your disposal. Also equipped with a calibration free IMU sensor, measuring points at an angle should be an easy job to do

 

5. Satlab SL900 – European build

 

SL900 Pros

+  4G internet 

+  Fast FIX (CM accurate in 5 sec)

+  Free Surveying software included

+  Connect via IP, Bluetooth, Cable

+  E-bubble and IMU tilt sensor (up to 60° angle)

+  Own developed GNSS board

+  Option of 3 models

Satlab SL900 RTK GNSS GPS receiver
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Satlab Geosolutions have been kicking around for a while now. This originally Swedish based company have brought to market some really good RTK GNSS receivers for its time. Now with new technology in hands reach they have developed and put to market their new Satlab SL900 RTK GNSS receiver. 

This surveyors powerhouse is equipped with a 336 channel GNSS board and has full GNSS constellation access. Besides using the traditional RTK corrections to get centimetre accuracy, the SL900 lso allows you to use L-Band correction services like Omnistar and Trimble’s RTX to get 5 to 10 centimeter accuracy within 15 minutes. 

Its Tilt compensation technology is not as advanced as the models above and is only capable of reaching an angle of approximately 30 degrees

Satlab uses an open protocol connection which allows you to connect your GPS receiver to any type of data collector with land surveying software installed on it. This open source approach allows you to choose from a large variety of GPS survey software packages. 

For a traditional Rover and base setup the Satlab SL900 uses the standard 400 MHz frequency band and is able to use radio protocols like TRIMTALK, TRIMMARK and SATEL. Its maximum 4 Watt in-build radio is good for a range of approximately 8 kilometres.

Things to consider when choosing an RTK GPS receiver for land surveying

 

1. Besides The GPS Antenna You Will Need Surveying Software As Well

With just a GNSS receiver you are not going to get far. Yes the GPS antenna provides you with the positioning data and the accuracy that you need but you’ll still need a place to process all of this. 

This is what land surveying software is for. Within the software you can attach data to your GPS positioning data. By uploading DTM (Digital Terrain Models) into your software you can stake out these points based on the positioning data your GPS system provides. 

The receivers listed above are all compatible with most of the GPS survey software packages so connecting should not be an issue. Now the questions remains, Which software package do I need? You can read the article below to find a good solution:

  • Software Help Guide – Top 5 software for land surveying

 

2. Know which GNSS receiver setup you will need

Most land surveyors nowadays use a correction service to make your GPS receiver centimeter accurate. Without a correction source your GNSS antenna will never be centimeter accurate. 

 

 

Because they they use this, setting up your own base station is not needed anymore. Most land surveyors will go for a setup which is called a Rover setup.

This setup normally consists of:

  • RTK GNSS receiver with internet capabilities;
  • Data collector with land surveying software
  • Surveying pole with bracket for data collector
  • Correction data from a source like RTK FIX

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