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Jason Nicoll
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For speed and convenience (ie only needing 1 person), it is my understanding that a laser level is the most efficient tool for measuring levels. Any thoughts and recommendations on which models are best for dam and contour swale design?

Cheers
 
Morgan Morrigan
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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a lot of them are not that great to use during the day.

most of the best ones for grading require a "target" either visisble or audible.

cheap circle and beam bubble leveling is not very accurate, and not reproducible.


Do you have other house building to do?
If you are going to be doing other construction, i really like the crosshair lasers.
The Gizmo is out there for a couple hundred bucks, and works fabulous indoors, and ok at night outdoors. It self levels, so you dont have to fight with junky bubble levels.
Just have to stake and mark outdoors in evening.
there are a bunch on ebay, as the contractors have upgraded to the audio trigger and high end gps.

I have used mine outdoors during day, but you have to know where it is going to hit, and have the shady side of the stake to work with.

That said, it is tremendous at match marking across rooms, shelving, verticals, marking around poles, etc,......

http://www.ebay.com/itm/LASER-GIZMO-SELF-LEVELING-CROSS-LASER-/111071357654?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item19dc5e6ad6

here is a box type, that includes the target. The Bosch, ryobi, etc ones are ok, especially for marking ceiling points, but the gizmo typically comes with a pole set for indoor use.


http://www.ebay.com/itm/CST-BERGER-LASERMARK-SELF-LEVELING-CROSS-LASER-LEVEL-XT-ILM-LOOK/390591863016?_trksid=p2047675.m1982&_trkparms=aid%3D333005%26algo%3DRIC.FIT%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D177%26meid%3D7589506876438466910%26pid%3D100009%26prg%3D1088%26rk%3D2%26sd%3D111071357654%26



the pros, graze here

http://www.contractor-books.com/CB/LaserMark/LM_ILM.htm

http://www.laserfocusworld.com/index.html

 
Morgan Morrigan
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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or this is just a screaming deal for an old school level. quality instrument, and good tripod.
will have to just add a stick, and an assistant, or use this to set stakes, and come back with line laser and mark in the evening.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Kern-Swiss-gko-a-builders-level-/111069667637?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item19dc44a135

i cant believe how many old instruments on on ebay......

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Lietz-Sokkisha-B2A-Automatic-level-with-Case/111066691884?_trksid=p2047675.m2109&_trkparms=aid%3D555012%26algo%3DPW.MBE%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D15638%26meid%3D7590925763507028589%26pid%3D100010%26prg%3D7492%26rk%3D1%26sd%3D111069667637%26

i think these cost over 10k when they came out...

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Trimble-R8-GPS-GNSS-Receiver-Trimble-TSC2-Controller/111070043086?_trksid=p2047675.m2109&_trkparms=aid%3D555012%26algo%3DPW.MBE%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D15638%26meid%3D7591126876537084490%26pid%3D100010%26prg%3D7492%26rk%3D3%26sd%3D111066601849%26
 
Jason Nicoll
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wow, thanks for all the info. I shall dive into it and check out the options.

Are you familiar with the type that geoff lawton used in the harvesting water dvd? It was tri-bubble mounted and once set, the operator could walk to a location with a 2m ruler and when close to the level, the laser would emit sounds indicating to move the ruler up or down until the level was found (by a different tone). This one looked great for a solitary person finding levels during the day.

Cheers
 
Jordan Lowery
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Jason we use what you saw in Geoffs video. It's called a laser transit level. One person can easily work it. Mid day, night, wind, it doesn't matter. You get dead level contour lines. One thing is they are pricey. But if your doing a lot of contour paths, Swales, terraces, etc I find it to be an excellent tool.
 
Morgan Morrigan
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Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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Yeah, a lot of the other lasers use the rotating head.

This is what fails outdoors, and wouldn't recommend a used one because of that.

A lot of the "targets" use audio and lights, and can be used with all the laser levels.
Most of them are set up to use a surveyors stick , and not the pole type. They have wide clamps.
Just to note.
 
Jason Nicoll
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I see, so the target that is attached to the surveyors rod is what beeps to indicate direction to level, right?

I was trying to find a reasonably priced model and have failed at finding any that have decent reviews or that have been reviewed in connection to permaculture. I did find one that was reasonable priced with all the kit, but it has terrible reviews:

http://www.amazon.com/CST-57-LM30PKG-Complete-Leveling-Package/dp/B00080QFBU/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1368387558&sr=8-3&keywords=laser+transit+level

I'll keep looking for a model that is reasonably priced for permaculture needs ie isn't top of the line (professional surveyor) but isn't a toy either. If anyone has suggestions on good value transit levels, please mention the make and model or link.

Cheers
 
John Redman
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Location: Perkinston Mississippi zone 9a
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I purchased the dewalt 18 volt manual level http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00005NMUQ/ref=asc_df_B00005NMUQ2461667?smid=A2LM8ZC59IT9RX&tag=nextagusmp0404127-20&linkCode=asn&creative=395105&creativeASIN=B00005NMUQ years ago, (came with the detector then) at times I wish I had spent the extra $ on a self leveling, other times while laying out a down hill grade it's nice to have the manual. When using the manual level model, I've found I have to check the bubbles often because the rotating head causes a constant vibration that tends to ease the laser just slightly out of level. I have dewalt 18 volt drills so my decision was easy for a purchase.

Have you considered renting one, the weekly rate is pretty affordable.
 
Eric Thompson
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Location: Bothell, WA - USA
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I would definitely recommend the laser level with auto-level and sensor for a one-man operation. I picked mine up used (but barely!) - make sure you know how to check out the self-level if you buy a used one.
I can easily use it at 100 ft in daylight with the sensor - this has an optical filter to tune it in to the red light and the frequency of rotation, so you don't need to see the laser trace.
 
Paul Schmidt
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Build an A-Frame. Cost: $0 using three pieces of scrap wood, some string, and a rock. This will find any contour line very easily. You can also find constant slopes with a quick calibration.
 
Jamie Heaney
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Location: Southern Maine
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My opinion is that they are over rated and many work poorly. Considering these are only a couple bucks and work simply and perfectly with a piece of string, I do not see why anyone would spend anything on anything else.
 
Jason Nicoll
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Its about the speed and convenience. The way I see the choices are:

A frames are super cheap to make but slow as they require walking the frame at 1-2m each step. Ideal for small properties
Bunyip levels are also cheap to make and can measure 10m distance but require 2 people to hold each rod. Ideal for small to medium properties.
Dumpy levels are more expensive but can cover greater distances and still require 2 people. One to look through the lens and the other to hold and move the measuring rod.
Laser Transit Levels are expensive (although they have come down significantly in price) and are possibly the fastest method for surveying levels on small to medium acreage sites (2-30 acres). They only require one person and have uses for laying level floors, tiling etc.



 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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a 3m/10ft A-frame is remarkably fast. Add a small third leg to act as a tripod so it will stand while you pop stakes solo and you can cover a lot of ground.

You would need a laser level with a several hundred foot range to be faster, as the setup/move time would eat any time savings unless you could set it up ONCE for the whole swale.

I really wish there was a good system at a DIY price, as it would be really nice to set one up at the keypoint and run slopes away.

 
R Scott
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What if you used one of these: http://www.amazon.com/Johnson-Level-Tool-80-5556-Contractor/dp/B000KKWQ9S/ref=pd_sim_sbs_lg_1

You set your reference point as a tripod/stick and then carry the contractor level and a monopod (to get the height consistent) and shoot back to the target. Should be a good way to shoot long distances, like to make sure the ends of swales are level (a little variance in the middle can be dealt with)
 
Jason Nicoll
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Hey Scott

Some great ideas. I especially like the idea of a stand for the A frame, so it becomes a A-tripod or an Apod (damn, that might be a good name for it). I shall try that out and see how fast I can be. The Sight Level is a great tool. I use mine all the time for rough level surveying, but I wouldn't have much confidence in my ability to set a contour using the small bubble as the level. Have you tried it like that to make swales? I'd love to know how accurate it could be.

Jason
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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You can get within 1-2 inches per 100 foot pretty easy. I wouldn't use it to set sewer lines, but it is closer than needed for basic swales.

 
jonathan white
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Location: Brooklyn
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As a builder, a transit level has proven invaluable. I will definitely be using it to survey my property this summer. While I've spent over 1500 clams on my setup, a person wanting to survey their property can do a very good job of it with a 450 dollar setup and some flags. I prefer using multiple colors. The contrast is very helpful. A laser and indicator work anytime and is the most accurate option available.
 
Morgan Morrigan
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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or if you are going to have to move it anyway, water tubing levels work fine.

http://www.factsfacts.com/MyHomeRepair/WaterLevel.htm

http://www.amazon.com/Zircon-58467-Electronic-Water-Level/dp/B0009YJB7U/ref=sr_1_2?s=hi&ie=UTF8&qid=1368832847&sr=1-2&keywords=water+tube+level
 
No prison can hold Chairface Chippendale. And on a totally different topic ... my stuff:
Ernie and Erica Wisner's Rocket Mass Heater Everything Combo
https://permies.com/t/40993/digital-market/digital-market/Ernie-Erica-Wisner-Rocket-Mass
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