Top 5 RTK GNSS Receivers for Forestry

Finding a good GPS antenna for your forestry projects can be difficult and time consuming. With more and more brands 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. 

For forestry surveying you want a good performing RTK GNSS receiver because you can deal with a lot of interference of all the trees in a forest. That doesn’t mean that you need a €10.000 GPS receiver anymore. Nowadays you can get a good perfoming GNSS receiver for half of that money or less. Ofcourse the lower you go in price the performance will get lower to but in most cases you don’t need the strongest and best performing GNSS antenna their is.

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 Forestry in 2022

Below is a list of the top 5 best RTK GNSS receivers for the forestry business that we think are cost effective and work well in the environments common in the forestry industry.

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 Galaxy G2 – Best Overall

 

South Galaxy G3 Pros

+ 965 Channels 

+  Fast FIX (CM accurate in 5 sec)

+  15 hours working time with 6800mAh battery

+  Connect via IP, Bluetooth, Cable

+  4G Internet modem

+  60° IMU tilt sensor

+  8 km “Farlink” radio solution

+  410-470 MHz range internal radio 

+  Robust aluminum housing

 

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For forestry we recommend the South Galaxy G2 RTK GNSS receiver. Its price compared to its performance is unmatched in the forestry surveying business. With the 60° IMU tilt sensor you can measure hard to reach points way more easily and if the trees interfere to much with the satellite signals a little tilt can make sure you still get that accurate fixed solution.

The South Galaxy G2 RTK GPS receiver is a multi-constellation GNSS receiver with 965 channels. With its highly intergrated and layered design the South Galaxy G2 GNNS receiver is smaller than most GPS receivers. It’s only 850g in weight and has a magnesium alloy body shell which makes it a robuust and strong GPS antenna with an IP68 rating. 

The 4G internet modem in the RTK GNSS receiver makes you connect to a RTK VRS correction network with ease, even if your data collector doesn’t have an internet modem. And even if you’re not able to connect with an RTK VRS correction network you can still get centimeter accurate with a base station. Thanks to the internal UHF radio with the Farlink protocol which achieves a typical working range of 8km, you can connect two RTK GNSS receivers with eachother to make your own rover and base set. 

The 6800mAh rechargeable and removable Lithium-ion battery let’s you work for 15 hours in rover mode. And if the battery runs dry while you’re on your surveying job you can switch the battery with new ones so you can keep on surveying with the South Galaxy G2 RTK GNSS receiver. 

Here are some possible South Galaxy G2 setups

south-galaxy-g2-1

South Galaxy G2 Rover set

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

Check options
south-Galaxy-G2

South Galaxy G2 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. Comnav T300 – Great performance

 

Comnav T300 Pros

+  965 Channels 

+  Fast FIX (CM accurate in 5 sec)

+  4G Internet modem

+  Connect via IP, Bluetooth, Cable

+  Smart battery design 

+  60° IMU tilt sensor

+  Low power consumption

 

ComNav SinoGNSS T300 PLUS RTK GPS GNSS receiver
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The Comnav T300 is a very reliable RTK GNSS receiver. It is very compact and can track all the working satellite constellations. With its SinoGNSS QUANTUM technology and strong anti-interference design, the Comnav T300 GPS receiver will provice high-accuracy positioning even in difficult areas.

Its rugged housing and IP67 rating makes it dustproof and waterproof to a depth of 1 meter and a suitible GNSS receiver even in harsh conditions. It has a costumer-grade battery design compatible with Canon LP-E6 which is easy to purchase and replace in your local market. The batteries are also hot swappable to ensure a fluent workflow in the field. 

The 4G internet modem let’s you connect with any VRS or CORS network with ease. So getting centimeter accurate with this RTK GPS receiver isn’t a problem. 

The build-in UHF radio let’s you connect with another GPS receiver to make sure you’re still able to get centimeter accurate without being connected with an RTK VRS or CORS network. You just have to connect two GNSS receivers with eachother so you’re creating a rover and base set. Your base station will send corrected positioning data to your rover.

Here are some possible Comnav T300 setups

Comnav T300 Rover set

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

Check options

Comnav T300 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. RTK FIX G1 – Tablet only and Rover option

 

RTK FIX G1 Pros

+  965 channels

+  Fast FIX (CM accurate in 5 sec)

+  Connect via Bluetooth, Cable

+  4G Internet modem

+  Easy to carry

+  Tablet with GNSS chip

 

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The RTK FIX G1 is on the 3rd place in this list. It is a RTK GNSS receiver and data collector in one. You have two options for this one: as tablet only option or rover set option. With the rover set you’ll get a GNSS antenna, surveying pole, antenna cable and pole mount. 

The RTK FIX G1 RTK GNSS receiver also has the option to be equipped with an 184 channels GNSS board or a 965 channels GNSS board. You can also choose to have a 4.2 bluetooth configuration or a 5.1 bluetooth configuration. 

The 4G internet modem in this RTK GPS receiver makes it easy to connect with an RTK VRS correction network service so you’re able to get centimeter accurate within seconds. 

The reason why the RTK FIX G1 is a great choice for foresty surveying is because it’s a strong and easy to carry GNSS receiver. The tablet only weighs 660 gram and has an IP67 rating so it’s also a reliable device in harsh conditions.

It has a Gorilla Glass 3 glove and wetfinger supported touchscreen and an Android 10 operating system.

Here are some possible RTK FIX G1 setups

RTK FIX G1 Tablet only

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

Check options

RTK FIX G1 Rover set

Tablet with GNSS antenna, survey pole, antenna cable and pole mount. 

Check options

 

4. Kolida K5 IMU – Good performance

 

Kolida K1 Pros

555 channels

4G internet 

+  Fast FIX (CM accurate in 5 sec)

+  Connect via IP, Bluetooth, Cable

+  60° IMU tilt sensor

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The Kolida K5 IMU is an RTK GNSS receiver with high performance. It uses intelligent voice technology which provides status indication and an operation guide. It has 555 channels and multi constellation tracking. The IMU tilt sensor which allows you to tilt up to 60° makes surveying in the forest much easier. If you need to measure a hard to reach spot the IMU tilt sensor can come in very handy to make sure those spots are better reached. 

The 4G internet modem in the GPS receiver allows you to connect with an RTK VRS correction network so you can get centimeter accurate in just a matter of seconds. Is there no internet connection or RTK VRS correction network available in the area you’re surveying? No problem! You can also easily set up a rover and base set with the Kolida K5 IMU RTK GNSS receiver and get corrected data from your own base station. The build-in UHF radio has a frequency range of 410-470MHz. 

This RTK GNSS antenna has an IP67 rating which makes it waterproof till 1 meter below surface and sealed against sand and dust. It has two Li-Ion batteries of 3400 mAh which allows you to work for 12 hours in rover mode.

Here are some possible KolidaK5 IMU setups

Kolida K5 IMU Rover set

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

Check options
Kolida-k1-pro

Kolida K5 IMU 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

 

5. Stonex S900A – Great performance but expensive

 

Stonex S900A Pros

+  800 Channels

+  Fast FIX (CM accurate in 5 sec)

+  Connect via IP, Bluetooth, Cable

+  IMU tilt sensor up to 60°

+  4G Internet modem

+  Two Hot swap batteries

Stonex S900 RTK GPS GNSS receiver
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The only reason the Stonex S900A GPS receiver is on the bottom of this list is because of its price. It is a way more expensive option compared to the options above. But it’s also a really strong and high performing RTK GNSS receiver. With 800 channels and fully customizable with options such as an IMU tilt sensor, UHF radio, NMEA update rate and Made in Italy or China options you can make this GNSS receiver just like you want it.

The IMU tilt sensor let’s you tilt up to 60° and has a fast initialization. The SureFix RTK positioning processor takes several inputs and determines the quality of the RTK solution, so you’ll always know the quality of your RTK solution.

Compatible with Atlas this RTK GNSS receiver makes you get centimeter level accuracy all around the world, even in difficult areas. And with the 4G internet modem you’re also able to connect the GPS receiver with an RTK VRS network very easily.

The Stonex S900A RTK GPS receiver has two hot swappable batteries, so in case the batteries run dry you can switch them for new ones very easily. The power level of your batteries can be checked on the controller or directly on a LED bar on the battery itself. 

 

 

Here are some possible Stonex S900A setups

Stonex S900A Rover set

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

Check options

Stonex S900A 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

Things to consider when choosing an RTK GPS receiver for Forestry

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. Choose a Strong GNSS Receiver 

In the forestry business the environments can be very harsh, because of that it is important to have a strong and rugged GNSS receiver. That’s why we always recommend a GPS receiver with an IP67 rating or higher. If something may happen it will be strong enough to survive it. This is ofcourse for minor things, not if a truck or something like that runs over it.

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