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Trimble Access and Underground Utility locators

By Rob Koot posted 05-11-2023 16:11


Trimble Access and Underground Utility locators

You can connect Trimble® Access™ software to a utility locator and measure the location of underground assets such as cables and pipes.

Use Trimble Access to measure a ground point using a GNSS receiver or conventional instrument, and use the connected utility locator to measure the depth of the cable or pipe and send the depth information to Trimble Access. Trimble Access stores a pair of points: a ground point measurement and a vector from the ground point measurement to the utility using the depth received from the connected utility locator.

Trimble Access supports two commonly used brands of utility locator; Radio Detection and Vivax Metrotech.

Utility Location Definition (ULD) files are installed with Trimble Access for use with these two models; Radio Detection RD8100, and Vivax Metrotech vLoc3-Pro with Bluetooth.
The Trimble Access software should work equally well with similar models that communicate using similar protocols.

The ULD file defines communication protocols and how to parse the data string from the locator and record this information with the attributes defined in your Feature code library. The ULD and GlobalFeatures.fxl provided can be used to see how the system works—please configure as required to match your own feature code libraries.

The Trimble Access Help provides details on the configuration and use of underground locators, but this blog highlights a few tips here to help you get started, as well as provide a forum where users can share tips and information about similar models they have used.

Tips - Radio Detection RD8100, RD8200

  • The default PIN to pair with the RD8100 is 1234.
  • Communication protocol in the locator needs to be set to: ASCII format - Version 1

  • Locators with the built in GPS module have the option for the internal GPS data to be sent as part of the ASCII string (YES will send additional GPS data, and NO will not). If GPS+ set to YES, the locator identifier at the beginning of the string will be $RD8100, but if GPS+ is set to NO, the identifier will be $RD8K. If the locator does not have the GPS module, then the identifier will be $RD8K.
    The sample ULD file installed with Trimble Access is configured for the $RD8100 identifier. Trimble Access does not read the GPS data from the locator, so we recommend setting GPS+ to NO and to configure the ULD with the $RD8K identifier. (Alternatively you could set GPS+ to YES and use the ULD with $RD8100 identifier). 
    For locators with the GPS module, the GPS+ setting is in the BT menu. To configure:
    ·       Press power key to enter the locator menu
    ·       Use up/down arrow until BT is displayed
    ·       Press antenna key to enter BT menu
    ·       Use up/down arrow until PROT is displayed
    ·       Press antenna key to enter PROT menu
    ·       Use up/down arrow until ASCII is displayed
    ·       Press antenna key to enter ASCII menu
    ·       Use up/down arrow until GPS+ is displayed
    ·       Press antenna key to enter GPS+ menu
    ·       Use up/down arrow to toggle to YES or NO
    ·       Keep pressing the ‘f’ key until you are back to the main screen – about 5 times
  • RD8100 Operation Manual

Tips - Vivax Metrotech vLoc3-Pro

  • There is no default pin set for the vLoc3-Pro

  • The vLoc3.ULD file installed with Trimble Access is configured to work with the vLoc3 configured for the LOC1 format
  • vLoc3 Series Receiver's User Handbook

The latest .ULD files are available from Trimble Access Software Downloads and include additional Tips on connecting and configuring.

Have you successfully used other models of underground locators, for example the RD8200? If so please let us know how that went and if you needed to do anything special to get it to work.

Feel free to add your comments and experiences below, we’d be interested in your input on this.





05-31-2023 12:57

Jay figured out how to get his RD8100 working today.
The trick was to check the string the locator was sending. One way is to use something like Hyperterminal, or you can switch on debugging in Trimble Access (CTRL +D from Map) and then go into the debug menu and switch on logging: Debug/ Total station / Log serial, After pairing the locator and setting the ASCII format to 1, send a depth then check the log, I see this in SC.Log from my RD8100PDLG: 

 30:119659.339 Buffer             : [$RD8100,1,1,78,3,50,POWE,7FF00000,0.00,0.0,0.0000,0.0,0.032,74.0

The identifying string here is $RD8100 - which matches up with what is configured in the ULD file.
However, Jay's locator was sending the $RD8K identifier. The Blog notes describe the scenarios that result in a different identifier and what to change to make it work. As soon as Jay changed the ULD to match everything worked.

So the lesson here is that if you can't get your locator working with Trimble Access, check the string the locator is sending, and make sure it matches and everything lines up with the format configured in the ULD file. 

05-22-2023 09:21

I am not having any luck getting depths from my 8100. I successfully have it paired and set as my utility locator in my Bluetooth settings and in my survey style, but I am not receiving any depths. I see to use ASCII 1 as the protocol, but no luck. I've tried all four available ASCII options. Is anyone else having success with this?