Trimble S Series Total Station comparison


Shopping for a used Trimble Robotic Total Station

UPDATED: November 2018

Back in 2006 Trimble introduced us to the S6 total station. Soon after its introduction came the S8 and VX instruments with greater accuracy, longer range and added scanning capability. Today these phenomenal instruments have been updated and replaced with new faces, including the S3, S5, S7 and S9. The current choices and combinations can seem overwhelming, so hopefully we can put them all in one place, and help you make the best decision possible.

 

Trimble S6 (Version 1)

Introduced around 2006, the Trimble S6 included Carl Zeiss optics and the latest MagDrive technology. The S6 has fewer moving parts over any of its predecessors and competitors - reducing the need for expensive servicing.

The S6 instruments were built to last! These instruments are rock-solid and extremely dependable. With current pre-owned prices ranging from $10,000 to $16,000 (originally over $25,000) these instruments have both retained their value and present a great opportunity to save!

Available in Servo, AutoLock and Robotic versions.

QUICK SPEC SUMMARY:

MagDrive™ electro-magnetic technology with SurePoint
DR 300+ Distance (Range without prism). . . 1300 m *normal, 90% reflective surface
DR Plus (Range with single prism). . . . . . . . 2500 m (8,202 ft)

ROBOTIC SURVEYING

Passive prisms. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 500 m–700 m (1,640–2,297 ft)
Trimble MultiTrack™ Target. . . . . . . . . . . . 800 m (2,625 ft)


Trimble S6 (Version 2)

The S6 experienced only a few upgrades around 2010, including - slightly faster MagDrive technology and most significantly - optional VISION technology (remote camera) and L2P service. Sometime around late 2012, DR 300+ terminology gave way to "DR Plus". This seems to be a change in name - not function. DR300+ and DR Plus appear to have the same specifications. Trimble officially stopped production of the S6 in 2015, replacing it with: S5 and S7.

QUICK SPEC SUMMARY:

Available in Servo, AutoLock and Robotic versions.
MagDrive™ electro-magnetic technology with SurePoint
DR Plus (Range without prism) . . . . . . . 1300 m “normal, 90% reflective surface”
DR Plus (Range with single prism). . . . . .2500 m (8,202 ft)

ROBOTIC SURVEYING

Passive prisms. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 500 m–700 m (1,640–2,297 ft)
Trimble MultiTrack™ Target. . . . . . . . . . 800 m (2,625 ft)

Notable Options:

- Locate2Protect real-time equipment monitoring
- VISION


Trimble S3

The Trimble S3 was introduced around 2010 as a less expensive option for surveyors. There are only a few features that separate the S3 from the S6, (ver 1).

The first is Active Tracking - which is the ability to track Active Prisms, such as the MT1000 and AT360 prisms.

Active Tracking was also a standard feature for the S6, but optional for the S3. The S3 will track passive prisms, so if you are surveying in large, open rural areas this is typically not an issue. If you have an S3 without Active Tracking, you may be able to upgrade it through your authorized Trimble service center. Additionally, the S3’s reflectorless measurement capability is only 400 meters – which is significantly less than the 1,300-meter capability of the S6.

Other features missing in the S3 are: Bluetooth, mini-display, and integrated optical plummet (use's optics in tribrach instead).

QUICK SPEC SUMMARY:

Available in Servo, AutoLock and Robotic versions.
MagDrive™ electro-magnetic technology with SurePoint
DR Standard (Range without prism). . . . . . . 400 m (1,313 ft) “normal, 90% reflective surface”
DR Standard (Range with single prism). . . . . 2500 m (8,202 ft)

ROBOTIC SURVEYING

Passive prisms. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 300–500 m (984–1,640 ft)
Trimble MultiTrack™ Target. . . . . . . . . . . . Not Listed – TBD

Notable Options:

- ActiveTrack (Active prism tracking)


Trimble S5

Replacing the S3, is the Trimble S5 which was introduced in 2015 (along with the S7 and S9). Similar to the S3, the S5 is positioned as an economical instrument that has many upgradable features.

What’s new in this fleet is - They are slightly faster than the S6 and S3, include optional VISION technology, and the Locate2Protect service.

QUICK SPEC SUMMARY:

Available in AutoLock and Robotic versions.
MagDrive™ electro-magnetic technology with SurePoint
DR Plus (Range without prism) . . . . . . . 1300 m “normal, 90% reflective surface”
DR Plus (Range with single prism). . . . . .2500 m (8,202 ft)

ROBOTIC SURVEYING

Passive prisms. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 500 m–700 m (1,640–2,297 ft)
Trimble MultiTrack™ Target. . . . . . . . 800 m (2,625 ft)
Trimble Active Track 360 Target. . . . . 500 m (1,640 Ft)

Notable Options:

- ActiveTrack (Active prism tracking)


Trimble S7

The Trimble S7 was introduced in 2015 as part of a new line up. The S7 is a direct replacement for the S6 – including multiple accuracy options as well as the latest VISION technology, Locate2Protect service, and 3D scanning as standard options.

Available in Robotic versions only.

QUICK SPEC SUMMARY:

MagDrive™ electro-magnetic technology with SurePoint
DR Plus (Range without prism) . . . . 1300 m “normal, 90% reflective surface”
DR Plus (Range with single prism). . . . . .2500 m (8,202 ft)

ROBOTIC SURVEYING

Passive prisms. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .500 m–700 m (1,640–2,297 ft)
Trimble MultiTrack™ Target. . . . . . . . 800 m (2,625 ft)
Trimble Active Track 360 Target. . . . . 500 m (1,640 Ft)

Standard Features

- Locate2Protect real-time equipment monitoring
- VISION
- SureScan @ 15 point per second


Trimble S8

Originally introduced in 2007, the S8, also received some optional upgrades in 2010, including: Auto-focus, VISION, L2P, DR HP, FineLock and .05” accuracy. The S8 was focused on precision, long distance and accuracy, making it the only choice for high-speed railway and other, super-precise applications.

MagDrive™ electro-magnetic technology with SurePoint

QUICK SPEC SUMMARY:

DR Plus (Range without prism) . . . . . . . 1300 m “normal, 90% reflective surface”
DR Plus (Range with single prism). . . . . .2500 m (8,202 ft)
DR HP (Range with single prism) . . . . . . 3000 m (9,800 ft)

ROBOTIC SURVEYING

Passive prisms. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .500 m–700 m (1,640–2,297 ft)
Trimble MultiTrack™ Target. . . . . . . . 800 m (2,625 ft)

Notable Options:

- Locate2Protect real-time equipment monitoring
- HP (High Precision) versions offer .05 angle accuracy
- FineLock
- Long-Range FineLock
-VISION
- Automatic Focus


Trimble VX Spatial Station

Originally introduced in 2007, the VX Spatial Station was basically an S6 - with the added functionality of 3D scanning and digital imaging.

Designed to capture images, shapes and details and combine them with precise x,y,z coordinates, the VX essentially provides office staff with the "full picture" of the project. It really was a leap forward for survey technology - Instead of points on a screen, the VX delivers images that are accurately georeferenced.

The VX can create ortho-rectified images for GIS systems after processing in RealWorks software, or export to Google Earth. Along with the S6 and S8, the VX saw minor updates in 2010.

MagDrive™ electro-magnetic technology with SurePoint

QUICK SPEC SUMMARY:

DR Plus (Range without prism) . . . . . . 1300 m “normal, 90% reflective surface”
DR Plus (Range to single prism). . . . . . 2500 m (8,202 ft)

ROBOTIC SURVEYING

Passive prisms. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .500 m–700 m (1,640–2,297 ft)
Trimble MultiTrack™ Target. . . . . . . . 800 m (2,625 ft)

Notable Options:

-VISION *ver 1
- Automatic Focus
- SureScan @ 15 point per second


Trimble S9

More options than a Starbucks coffee! The S9 comes in at least 10 different configurations! Introduced in 2015, the S9 replaces the VX and S8 in both precise and long-range applications.

QUICK SPEC SUMMARY:

DR Plus (Range without prism). . . . . . . 1300 m “normal, 90% reflective surface”
DR Plus (Range to single prism). . . . . . 2500 m (8,202 ft)
DR HP (Range to single prism). . . . . . . 3300 m (9,800 ft)

ROBOTIC SURVEYING

Passive prisms. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .500 m–700 m (1,640–2,297 ft)
Trimble MultiTrack™ Target. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 800 m (2,625 ft)
Trimble ActiveTrack 360 Target (DR Plus EDM). . . . 500 m (1,640 Ft)
Trimble ActiveTrack 360 Target (DR HP EDM). . . . . . 200 m (656 ft)

Notable Options:

- Locate2Protect real-time equipment monitoring
- HP (High Precision) versions offer .05 angle accuracy
- FineLock
- Long-Range FineLock
- SureScan @ 15 point per second
- VISION
- Automatic Focus



Trimble technology terms

Servo

S series Servo instruments are intended to function like a traditional total station, with some automation benefits. The biggest advantage of the Servo S6 over a traditional total station is when setting/staking out, the instrument calculates and automatically aims towards the calculated position of the selected point.
Additionally, the instrument will automatically point towards a selected reference target to check for instrument movement during measurements. Other than that, you do the rest.

If desired Servo instruments can be upgraded to AutoLock, or even Robotic. Of course, the upgrade will cost more than buying a Robotic unit in the first place. These units operate best when using the TCU controller, as they are locked onboard the instrument - as opposed to fumbling around with a separate data collector.

AutoLock

Autolock enables the instrument to automatically lock on to - and follow a prism. This means that the instrument is taking care of the pointing, and that position can be continuously updated as the target moves around the jobsite. Autolock is especially useful for site topo measurements. It is also useful when working in poor visibility and dark conditions.

Tasks such as measuring a round of angles can also be automated. Autolock eliminates the need to repetitively lock and unlock the horizontal and vertical axis, as well as target focusing. Bottom line – this feature saves time in the field.

Robotic

Robotic enabled instruments do not require anyone to physically position the instrument. Robotic total stations have built in drives that operate both horizontal and vertical axis and will automatically follow and track a prism. This enables single-user operation – as all tasks are performed at the rod with the data collector communicating to the instrument via wireless radio.

Trimble DR Technology

Direct Reflex (DR) technology enables measurement without a prism to almost any type of surface.

DR HP

Offers increased accuracy or High Precision (HP) when measuring to prisms.

SurePoint

Ensures accurate pointing and measurements by actively correcting for unwanted movements like wind, handling, and sinkage.

FineLock

Uses a more narrow field of view to detect targets without interference from surrounding prisms.

Long-Range FineLock

Extends distance measurements (to prisms) to 2500 m with 1 cm accuracy.

Automatic Servo Focus

Sets the optical focus for quick manual aiming when monitoring points in DR mode – with Trimble Access

VISION™

VISION technology gives surveyors the ability to remotely see and measure with live video feed from the instrument on their data controller. Surveyors can see everything the instrument sees without a trip back to the tripod.


In summary, Trimble S series instruments are dependable, reliable and maintain their value. All iterations are excellent performers and can last a lifetime when cared for. Knowing the differences and how they apply to your application is important.

When buying any pre-owned instrument make sure to have your authorized Trimble service center inspect the unit before making a purchase. When properly cared for and maintained, an S6 from 2006 can perform as well today as it did when it was new.

Please use this information as an additional guide to help you make your decision. Some features and functions listed as “standard” or “optional” may change overtime. Your local Trimble dealer is your best source of information. The Trimble Exchange Marketplace is the best place to buy quality pre-owned Trimble products!


This website is now managed by TEM, LLC
For more information - please visit our new site:
Trimble Exchange Marketplace