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Importance of levelling
The determination of elevations, known, levelling, is a comparatively simple but extremely important process. The significance of relative elevations cannot be exaggerated They are so important that one cannot imagine a construction project in which they are not critical From terracing on a farm or the building of simple wall to the construction of drainage projects or the largest buildings and bridges.
Reference elevation or datums
For a large percentage of surveys, it is reasonable to use some convenient point as a reference or datum with respect to which elevation of other points can be determined Example, the surface of a body of water in the vicinity can be assigned a convenient elevation Any value can be assigned to the datum, for example, 100 m or 1000 m but the assigned value is usually sufficiently large so that nearby point will not have negative value
Levelling is the operation required in the determination or more strictly, the comparison, of heights of points on the surface of the earth The qualification is necessary, since the height of one point can be given only relative to a plane, this plane is called a datum and in topographical work the datum used is the mean level of the sea, since it makes international comparison of heights possible
In England, mean sea level was determined at Newlyn, Cornwall, from hourly observation of the sea level over a six year period from 1 May 1915 In United States, the sea level datum is the value of mean sea level determined by averaging the hourly elevations of the sea level over a long periods, usually 19 years This level is termed Ordinance Datum and is the one which will normally be used, though on small works an arbitrary datum may be chosen The basic equipment required in levelling is: A device which gives a truly horizontal line (the Level) A suitably graduated staff (The Levelling staff)
addition, equipment is necessary to enable the points levelled to be located relative to each other on a map, plan or section Before proceeding with detailed description of the equipment and its use, however, some definitions are required
level line is one which is at a constant height relative to mean sea level, and since it follows the mean surface of the earth it must be a curved line A horizontal line, however, is tangential to the level at any particular point, since it is perpendicular to the direction of gravity at that point
Over short distance the two lines are taken to coincide; but over long distance a correction for their divergence becomes necessary Figure 3.1 illustrates this point In this figure, h represents the height of the instrument above mean sea level For a distance of 100 m the correction is less than 1 mm in level
The levelling device must be set up so that its longitudinal axis is at right angles to the direction of gravity (i,.e. the line taken by a plumb bob), and the line of sight will then be horizontal, assuming the instrument to be in correct adjustment Early levelling devices utilized the plumb bob If a semicircular protractor, with a plumb bob attached to its centre, is held vertically, flat edge uppermost, then when the string of the plumb bob cuts the 90° graduation, the flat edge is horizontal and sight can be taken along it
This, broadly, was the principle of the earliest practical levels, dating to pre-Roman times and, as shown later, some modern self-levelling instruments employ a form of pendulum as part of the self levelling mechanism It is interesting to note that in this context that another of the early levelling devices, the water level, and it was self levelling. It consist of a U-tube partly filled with water, and it was only necessary to sight along the two free water surfaces to obtain horizontal sight.
Many levelling instrument do not use a plumb bob, this being replaced by a spirit level, a glass tube curved internally in longitudinal profile and partly filled with fluid The spirit level acts in effect as a very long plumb bob The difference in the readings on the vertically held graduated staff where intersected by the horizontal line of sight is a direct measure of the difference in height between the two staff stations
The surveyor’s telescope
The Kepler’s type telescope is the one used in surveying. It consists essentially of two convex lenses mounted so that their princial axes lie on the same line to form the optical axis of the instrument The converging object lens (that is, the one nearest to the object, AB forms a real image, ab, the rays from which pass on to the eyepiece, where they are retracted again and form a virtual image at the some convenient distance in front of the eye
Note that this image, a1b1, is inverted and magnified Magnification is an important property of surveying telescope the resolving power depending directly upon magnification. However, the field of view diminishes with increase magnification and, accordingly, in order to obtain a bright image of the staff, the clear aperture of the objective needs to be increased as magnification increases.
To provide positive and visible horizontal and vertical reference lines in the telescope, a diaphragm is inserted in front of the eyepiece in a plane at right angles to the optical axis. There are many forms of diaphragm (alternatively termed cross-hairs, graticule or reticule), but nowdays it is usually a thin glass plate on which the lines are engraved
imaginary line passing through the intersection normal to the cross-hairs and through the optical centre of the glass is called line of collimation of the instrument, and all level readings are taken to this line
diaphragm is held inside the telescope tube by four adjusting screws, which enable - The cross-hairs to be adjusted so that the horizontal cross-hair is truly horizontal - The line of collimation to be moved vertically and laterally
focusing this simple telescope, the real image formed by the objective lens is made to lie in the same plane as the diaphragm If this is not done, some serious errors in reading will ensue because of the phenomenon known as parallax
It is a matter of common observation and can be readily confirmed by the student that if, when viewing with the eye two distant objects that lie approximately along a straight line, the eye is moved to one side, then the more distant object moves relative to the nearer one in the same direction as the eye, and this is known as parallax If the image is not formed in the plane of the diaphragm, and parallax is observed when the eye is moved slightly when viewing through the telescope, different will be given depending upon the position of the eye
instruments were of the external focusing type: that is, they had the same basic construction as the simple one shown in Figure below. The eyepiece and the object lens were mounted in two tubes arranged so that one could slide inside the other, and focusing was achieved by moving one of the systems relative to the other
type is now superseded by the internal focusing telescope (Figure below), in which the eyepiece and object lens are mounted in a tube of fixed length A movable concave lens is usually inserted between them.
The concave lens is moved by means of a rack and pinion gearing, the pinion being connected by a spindle to the focusing screw, and the image focused on the cross-hairs without any movement of the object lens as shown Figure 3.7. The image from the objective would form at P’ if the concave lens was absent, and it is treated at the virtual object for that lens, the actual image forming at P
Although this extra lens absorbd some light, the disadvantage of this is more than offset by having a closed tube into which dust and moisture have no access In addition, the internal focusing telescope is much more compact, while wear on the sliding surfaces is much less serious than in the external focusing type, where it causes ‘droop’ with consequent loss of alignment in the principal axes of the eyepiece and objective
Some manufacturers introduce prism systems into the optical path inside the telescope, which re-inverts the image so that the eye will be presented with an upright picture In automatic levels, devices to ensure that the lineof collimation is horizontal are introduced in the optical path There are, in fact, in modern surveying instrumentation, a great number of different designs of telescopes, some looking more like periscopes than telescopes In all instruments, however, the purpose of the telescope remains the same; To define precisely a line of sight and to magnify a target
The levelling staff
Staff used for ordinary levelling work are sectional and are assembled either relescopically or by slotting onto one another vertically Most modern staffs made of mahogany are still available BS 4484: Part 1:1969 requires length of either 3 m, 4 m or 5 m on extension, upon which the closed lengths naturally depend
It is possible that an extended length of 4.267 m will also be encountered since this was a typical equivalent Imperial dimension for the Sopwith staff shown in Fig 3.8. BS 4484: Part 1 requires upright figuring with graduations 10 mm deep spaced at 10 mm intervals, the lower three graduations in each 100 mm intervals being connected by a vertical band to form an E-shape, natural or reversed
The 50 mm or 100 mm intervals are therefore located by these shapes The graduations of the first metre length are coloured black on a white background, with next metre length showing graduation red graduations and so on alternately To assist in holding the staff truly vertical, a small circular spirit level and a pair of handles are sometimes incorporated
In a Dumpy level the telescope and vertical spindle are cast as one piece The levelling head shown consist essentially of two plates, the telescope being mounted on the upper plate while the lower plate screws directly on to a tripod The two plates are held apart by three levelling screws or foot screws, and adjustments to these enable accurate levelling of the instrument to be carried out When this has been effected, using the bubble attached to the telescope, the instrument should remain level no matter in which direction it is pointed
The following sequence of operations is required to bring a tilting level ready for use. (b) Screw the lower plate of the instrument on the head of the tripod, whose legs have been opened and firmly fixed on the ground (c) The circular bubble should be brought to its central position, using the foot screw or ‘ball and socket’ assembly. If using an instrument fitted with foot screw, the best procedures is as follows. Referring Fig 3.14, by rotating foot screws 1 and 2 in opposite directions at the same time the bubble can be st on the line 1---2. Now, by rotating foot screw 3 only, the bubble can be centred in the target ring
It is essential that parallax between the cross-hairs and the image of the levelling staff can be eliminated, for reasons already explained. There is no doubt that failure to do so is responsible for much error in levelling. To eliminate parallax: (i) hold a piece of white paper in front of the objective, and focus the eyepiece so that the cross-hairs appear clear and distinct. This is usually achieved by turning the eyepiece, which is threaded into telescope barrel. It must be realised that the eyepiece setting depends on the characteristics of the surveyor’s eye, so that it will vary from one person to another; for one given operator, the setting will not vary; (ii) now sight the levelling staff and focus its image with the focusing screw so that when the eye is moved slightly there is no relative movement between the image and the crosshairs
Centre the sensitive bubble using the tilting screw before every reading. Ensure that the tripod itself is untouched when taking readings (b), (c) and (d) can be referred to as temporary adjustments
Fig 3.9 Fig 3.8
Procedure in levelling
The basic operation is the determination of the difference in level between two points Consider two points A and B as shown Figure 3.28. Set up the level, assumed to be in perfect adjuctment, so that readings may be made on a staff held vertically on A and B are 3.222 m and 1.414 m respectively (Figure 3.28a)
The difference in level between A and B is equal to AC, 3.222-1.414 =1.808 m, and this is represents a RISE in the height of the land at B relative to A. If the reading at B is greater than that at A (Figure 3.28b), say 3.484 m, then the difference in level would be 3.22-3.484 = -0.262 m. This would represent a FALL in the height of the land at B relative to A.
we have that in any two succesive staff readings: - Secodn reading less than first represent RISE - Second reading greater than first represents a FALL
If the actual level of one of the two points is known, the level of other may be found by either adding the rise or subtracting the fall. Example, if the level at A is 128.480 m above Ordinance datum (AOD), then Level at B = Level at A + RISE = 128.480 + 1.808 = 130.288 m (above datum)
Level at B = Level at A – Fall (Figure 3.28b) = 128.480 -0.262 = 128.218 m above datum The levels at A and B are known as reduced levels (RL), because they give the level of the land at these points ‘reduced’ or referred to a datum level (I this case, Ordinance datum, which is the mean sea height)
The mentioned method of reducing the staff readings gives a system of booking known as the RISE AND FALL method A second method, known as the HEIGHT OF COLLIMATION method, also exists and because the two methods are in common use they must both be known In this second method, the height of the line of collimation above the datum is found by adding the staff reading, obtained with staff on a point of known level, to the RL of that point.
Thus, in Figure 3.28,the height of collimation is 128.480 + 3.222 = 131.702 m AOD, and this will remain constant until the level is moved to another position The levels of points such as B are determined by deducting the staff reading at these points from the height of collimation - Level at B = height of collimation – Reading B = 131.702 – 1.414 = 130.288 m AOD Level at B = Height of collimation- Reading at B = 131.702 – 3.484 = 128.218 m AOD
Uses of levelling
Apart from the general problem determining the difference in level between two points, which has already been fully dealt with, the main uses of levelling are: The taking of longitudinal sections Cross sections Contouring Setting out levels
Accuracy in levelling
The main factor affecting accuracy in levelling are as follows: Reading of staff Bubble not being central Instrument not being in adjustment Differential settlement of the tripod Tilting and settlement of the staff Sensitivity of bubble of compensator
Assuming a tripod on firm ground with its legs well dug in, we can ignore the effects of tripod settlement Similarly, the effect of staff tilt and settlement can be kept to the minimum by use of a staff with a target bubble to ensure vertically standing on firm ground on a change plate The effects of maladjustment are eliminated in long runs of levelling by equal backsight and foresight with the level set up such that its line of sight is as high as possible.
depend on (1) the magnification and image clarify afforded by the telescope, (2) on the manner in which the staff is marked and (3) the length of sight
The accuracy of bubble centring depends on the methods used to view the bubble The less accurate instruments are fitted with viewing mirrors while those of higher accuracy are fitted with prismatic viewers The uncertainty caused by bubble mislevelment in tilting levels is comparable to the uncertainty due to mislevelment of the compensator in automatic instruments Manufacturer usually quote the setting accuracy of the bubble or compensator for their instruments
accuracy of setting for a standard engineer’s level would lie somewhere in the range of ±1.5" to ±0.5", with the more precise instruments capable of being set horizontal to ±0.2“ The precision of staff reading over any range can be determined from this value
McCormac (5th Ed), Surveying, john Wiley & Sons, Inc. Arthur Bannister, Stanley Raymond, Raymond Baker, Surveying, (7Ed), Pearson/ Prentice Hall
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