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TDC650 in the rain/rugged environments

  • 1.  TDC650 in the rain/rugged environments

    Posted 04-06-2023 08:59

    Hi all,

    I currently have a team out in the field using multiple TDC650s in a fairly rainy environment (drizzle to light rain). They are struggling to collect data because every drop that hits the screen closes Field Maps, opens new apps, and generally jumping all over the place. The screen is also reacting when things like a backpack strap or leaves touch it. We've attempted to change the screen sensitivity and that hasn't been successful. The team is currently holding the units in plastic bags to help try to keep rain and other objects from accidentally touching the screen.

    Has anyone else encountered this and do you have any suggestions, particularly for a rainy/vegetated environment? 

    Thanks so much,

    Stephanie Clarke

  • 2.  RE: TDC650 in the rain/rugged environments

    Posted 05-03-2023 05:41

    Our field staff have experienced this same problem with TDC600s when it's rainy and humid. We haven't had any luck addressing the problem. I contacted support through our distributor and their only suggestion was to use an umbrella.

    Mitch East

  • 3.  RE: TDC650 in the rain/rugged environments

    Posted 05-03-2023 09:13

    Hi Mitch/ Stephanie

    This is one of the challenges of capacitive touchscreen technology (and is applicable to ALL smartphone devices). 
    Capacitive screens detect anything that is conductive, usually your finger or a capacitive pen. When rain accumulates on the screen this messes with the accuracy and so the screen cannot accurately determine your finger contact when it is smeared with the water. 

    The best (and unfortunately most basic) advice is to keep the screen clear of rain droplets as best as you can. Holding the device at a more upright angle can help (this reduces the surface area of the exposed screen and encourages the rain to run off) otherwise It's something we have to manage until technology catches up. An umbrella is probably a good suggestion although the irony of having an IP67 rated device is not lost on us here

    If anyone else in the community has any practical suggestions to help mitigate this then all comments wlecome!

    Tom Harrison

  • 4.  RE: TDC650 in the rain/rugged environments

    Posted 12-06-2023 18:12

    This probably isn't a "practical suggestion," but maybe Trimble could offer a resistive touchscreen option for the next TDC model?  :/ (Renamed to sound like new screen technology, if needed?)  I understand that things had to switch to an Android platform, but I'm not understanding why that necessarily had to include capacitive touchscreens (other than that's the latest / greatest screen type).  Honestly, I'm sure we're in the minority here, but we still just need handheld GPS units - we all have personal smartphones & don't need work phones.  If someone could figure out how to retrofit Geo 7X's to operate Android & currently-supported field software, we would happily give them our money!  Make a compatible motherboard/whatever to fit in the Geo 7 housing, train the resellers how to install them, & charge us whatever you want to send 'em in.

    I've only tried a Nautiz X6 & my iPhone with Field Maps so far, but screen sensitivity was a major issue with both.  I haven't found a perfect screenlock or screen sensitivity setting yet to record a line feature while carrying the unit (w/a DA2 on a Handle) in a pouch, but I'll keep trying.  (We need to have 2 hands free sometimes in dense vegetation, and we need for the unit to track us while we're going. Or, at a minimum, not completely freak out when the pouch touches it or the screen locks.)

    I guess if any Trimble software &/or hardware (TDC units, DA2, Trimble Mobile Manager, etc.) doesn't currently operate well with device screens locked / in sleep mode, maybe that's something you all could improve?  That won't help when users need to collect data in the rain, of course, but it would at least help between sites; even carrying the Nautiz in my hand and "awake," it was hard to keep from unintentionally opening or closing apps, editing features, etc.  

    I remember with our very first GeoExplorer (Windows CE, c2002), we attached a clear plastic flap with some duct tape that we could lift up to type in the rain - I guess we'll go back to that for whatever "smart" devices we end up buying! 

    Alicia Jackson

  • 5.  RE: TDC650 in the rain/rugged environments

    Posted 12-07-2023 08:39
    Edited by Sarah Hirsch 12-07-2023 08:49


    We are in the same boat! We just need a GPS unit that is actually suited for fieldwork. The Geo7x units were much more suited for the rain and heat we experience in Florida. Seems silly that the newest and greatest seems to take some steps back in terms of rugged field devices. We would much rather have a hardy unit that can withstand the elements than have flashy new functions that we never use because we all already carry a smartphone with us that can perform those functions. 

    I like the plastic flap with some duct tape idea. We might have to give that a try! Do you have a photo of it that you would be willing to share?


    Sarah Hirsch

  • 6.  RE: TDC650 in the rain/rugged environments

    Posted 12-08-2023 09:04

    Ha!  I don't, unfortunately.  I think it was just a piece of plastic packaging (like maybe the top of a salad container?) taped to the housing at the top & covering the whole screen.  I think the screens of those units were ~recessed like the 7X's, so we could cover the whole screen without touching it if that makes sense.  Our Nautiz X6 is so smooth, I think we'd have to build up the edges of the casing somehow in order to get enough separation from the screen.  Or find some blister packaging the right size molded w/corners, or fold & tape it to make right angles... hmm.  A little (weak) piece of Velcro at the bottom might be nice, too, but I don't think we'll have the room.

    Alicia Jackson

  • 7.  RE: TDC650 in the rain/rugged environments

    Posted 03-10-2024 13:53

    Hi, have you looked into accessibility apps on Google play. Touch Lock Lite (with occasional ads) might help you to record linear features without  the screen menus going crazy due to incidental contacts. I record water mains, I quickly setup the job, start auto recording, activate the screen lock, and start walking. You have to double tap at a specific location on the screen to deactivate the app.

    You might find it useful, you might not?

    There's another app called ease touch, were you have to press and hold the screen before it registers a touch. It's kind of annoying, especially when typing, and it's not perfect - (it has a menu which sits in a corner of your choosing) which can still be accidentally activated by the rain. 
    That said (when it behaves) it can reduce incidental touches. It can also be quickly dismissed by touching two opposite corners of the screen with your finger and thumb.

    Try, play around with them,  you might adapt to them, and when it's not raining you can get a break from them :)

    Colin Carson