Gyroscopes take centre stage at IMSSA meeting

February 25th, 2016, Published in Articles: PositionIT


The Institute of Mine Surveyors of Southern Africa’s (IMSSA) North West branch met at Amandelbult Recreation Club for the first of three meetings this year. Keynoting the event was the new IMSSA president, Dr. Hennie Grobler, who delivered an insightful presentation on current gyroscopes technology and techniques.

In explaining this complex instrument’s workings, Grobler also said that few manufacturers still make gyros, mostly due to its high cost. Not only is a gyroscope very expensive even in surveying equipment terms, but it is also an extremely sensitive and delicate instrument. To function accurately gyroscopes rely on a “tape”, a hair-thin piece of wire, which once broken not only invalidates the instrument, but can itself costs many thousands of rands to replace, and cannot be replaced in South Africa.


The IMSSA North West branch committee.

Grobler also warned against the misconception of automatic gyros, emphasising the need to understand their working especially when interpreting results or troubleshooting measurements. Batteries that are in poor condition is one factor that can, for example, influence measurements.

He also explained two observation methods when using gyros – the pass through method (tracking), and the reversal point method (timing), saying that he prefers the latter himself. Meridian convergence too is underestimated he said, with most users in the upper part of South Africa still relying on tables which only include certain longitudinal lines for conversion.

When using a total station or theodolite with a gyroscope, Grobler recommends using it as a single unit, and concentrating on making measurements the one or the other to avoid inconsistency which can lead to inaccuracies.

Prof Hennie Grobler

Dr. Hennie Grobler next to a Meridian Weiser MW3 gyro at a prior meeting at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Sponsors of the event, VI Instruments and Reef Systems, also each had chance to showcase their products to the 96 attendees, which included 16 new young mine surveyors.

Through a live demonstration Johan Kok from VI Instruments showed off one of the company’s Topcon total stations’ scan capabilities. Kok said that there is a prism and non-prism scan mode, and showed how multiple scans can be processed on the company’s own Topcon Imagemaster software or third party software.

Rob Cunningham from Reef Systems demonstrated in another live demo the printer distributor’s Rowe system. He showed the printer’s pre-scan function, and explained how the clean-up image functionality for scans can help reduce file size and help manage scan data over networks.


VI Instruments’ Johan Kok, and Reef Systems’ Rob Cunningham.

Further meetings that were highlighted on the day include the IMSSA President’s Cup golf day, which will take place on 18 March this year, the Geomatics Indaba from 2 to 4 August, and the IMSSA AGM on 22 and 23 September 2016.

A gallery of the event can also be viewed here.

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