Surveying software

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Which is the best or recommended software to download for a computerised survey similar to  'Goatchurch' which strangely has not finished due to problems with the software I presume  :shrug:
Is there any problems to watch out for?
I have heard that Survex is confusing ?

Please advise :)

I only have reasonable experience of two programs: Survex and Compass.

Survex was written by geeks for geeks and is therefore ... geeky. It is very flexible and quite powerful, it just takes a little time and attention to understand. Arguably it is now being superseded by Therion . I haven't played with that yet but suspect it is worth a look.

Compass is superficially easier to use, but in fact actually requires as much thought as Survex to get it right. It is what was used to generate the Goatchurch survey you mention. the only reason that project has stalled is the need to get Chris and I sat at the same desk for a couple of hours. the final drawing is a first-order pig.

I've used Survex and On Station. OS is pretty easy to use and has an input form similar to Microsoft Excel, Survex is a bit of a pain to use but produces a 'better looking' survey than OS, an afternoons tinkering and you'll probably be able to get your head around the programming. OS also can show different surveys in different colours which is useful when working out survey legs, errors etc. Hwoever, OS is no longer developed and was designed for Windows 3.1 so gets stroppy if too much data is input.


The main cave survey guru in Derbyshire, the esteemed John Beck uses AutoCAD.

Its a full on engineering CAD package, but once you get the basics, its pretty good for drawing surveys with the whole groove 3D thing going on.

However - I've never heard of anyone else using it, Survex seems to be the most popular package it would seem.

Of course you'd have to save your pennys if you where going to actually purchase AutoCAD software as its blinking expensive.

I still use my old copy from what when I wos just a lowly engineering student.

Ive not done a survey from scratch using it - just added to, and amended one of Johns.

Peter Burgess:
My colleague who draws up our mines surveys uses a combination of AutoCad and CorelDraw. The mines are more or less level workings with no significant elevations to concern us, so no 3D issues. Nevertheless, you now know that someone else also uses AutoCad for underground surveys.


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