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Old 06-15-2016, 08:25 PM   #1
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Laser level, sight level, or other level methods with high accuracy?


I am building a pole style building and will need to establish level lines with high accuracy over about 100ft. I am very used to using a sight level but at 100ft, it gets hard to get nats ass. We used them to level storm drains, sewer pipe grade, etc. I am not sure they are right for leveling a building?

I also spec'd and used a rotating laser level system to build a municipal retaining wall system for a bridge job. My idea worked flawlessly, however I recall a day that we backtracked several hours because I was trusting that laser and well.....that laser MOVED! We determined shock from the dozer operating nearby caused the laser to reset itself and things got off.

So, which laser might be of interest here, it makes me nervous building something from a line created in space that I cannot really verify until things are too far along. I am unsure of the sight level accuracy either as some of it is dependent on how well to level the device before use.

I plan to establish master reference pins in the field to double check things but I would rather not have to question my tools.

I would like to maintain accuracy of 1/16" at 100ft. That might seem tight for 100ft but in my experience, when things are held to tight tolerance, things just seems to come together better at the end.
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Old 06-15-2016, 08:38 PM   #2
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Re: Laser level, sight level, or other level methods with high accuracy?


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Originally Posted by viper View Post
I am building a pole style building and will need to establish level lines with high accuracy over about 100ft. I am very used to using a sight level but at 100ft, it gets hard to get nats ass. We used them to level storm drains, sewer pipe grade, etc. I am not sure they are right for leveling a building?

I also spec'd and used a rotating laser level system to build a municipal retaining wall system for a bridge job. My idea worked flawlessly, however I recall a day that we backtracked several hours because I was trusting that laser and well.....that laser MOVED! We determined shock from the dozer operating nearby caused the laser to reset itself and things got off.

So, which laser might be of interest here, it makes me nervous building something from a line created in space that I cannot really verify until things are too far along. I am unsure of the sight level accuracy either as some of it is dependent on how well to level the device before use.

I plan to establish master reference pins in the field to double check things but I would rather not have to question my tools.

I would like to maintain accuracy of 1/16" at 100ft. That might seem tight for 100ft but in my experience, when things are held to tight tolerance, things just seems to come together better at the end.

If you want guaranteed accuracy, just use the old water level.
It will be just as accurate at 1000' as at 100'.
That's what I used when I built my house.
I made it for next to nothing from a 5 gal. bucket and plastic tubing.
If you're careful in using it, you can certainly get 1/16" accuracy.

Arky
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Old 06-15-2016, 08:59 PM   #3
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Re: Laser level, sight level, or other level methods with high accuracy?


The only drawback to the water level is it's a bit cumbersome. If you can manage the tubes with the construction process they are constant and reliable.

As for the rotating laser you used mine also has to be checked regularly and does poorly in bright sunlight. The detectors work, but sure a lot easier at dusk. However, I was cheap and bought the kind that has to be manually leveled. Not sure about the self leveling ones or whether they introduce another level of concern.

In any case, I really like my rotating level and it saved a lot of time. Locating reference pins to verify it is still level is a must.

Bud
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Old 06-15-2016, 09:36 PM   #4
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Re: Laser level, sight level, or other level methods with high accuracy?


Sight level should be plenty accurate at 100'
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Old 06-16-2016, 01:28 PM   #5
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Re: Laser level, sight level, or other level methods with high accuracy?


Can't go wrong with a water level, IMO. Read the +/- distance all rotating levels expect to be off some, you may be surprised... same with an engineers level type transit, unless a really expensive one. Also set more than one elevation mark locations - reducing your errors. Double check everything as you found out the hard way.

Gary
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Old 06-16-2016, 03:35 PM   #6
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Re: Laser level, sight level, or other level methods with high accuracy?


Any decent quality instrument will have documentation detailing the accuracy, precision and repeatability of measurements. A decent sight level with a quality story pole should be good to about .01 feet per measurement, which is about a tenth of an inch. Getting that type of precision requires correct use of the instrument, careful leveling of the equipment, and usually several repeated measurements. You should also plan to sight forward from A to B and backward from B to A to verify the measurements.
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Old 06-16-2016, 06:26 PM   #7
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Re: Laser level, sight level, or other level methods with high accuracy?


Quote:
I also spec'd and used a rotating laser level system to build a municipal retaining wall system for a bridge job. My idea worked flawlessly, however I recall a day that we backtracked several hours because I was trusting that laser and well.....that laser MOVED! We determined shock from the dozer operating nearby caused the laser to reset itself and things got off.
Ayuh,..... I'm in the blacktop biz, We gotta know if there's fall, 'n where it is,....

We used to use a sight level, a few years ago, we went to a laser, a Bosch unit,....
Our unit will work at that size, with the story pole, 'n detector,... Easy,...

In yer story quoted, We always shoot a benchmark pin, when we start a job, to test back too,.....
Set it just outa the actual jobsite,....
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Old 06-21-2016, 02:10 PM   #8
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Re: Laser level, sight level, or other level methods with high accuracy?


subscribed to this thread, this seems like a very interesting thread
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Old 06-22-2016, 08:28 PM   #9
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Re: Laser level, sight level, or other level methods with high accuracy?


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Originally Posted by viper View Post
I am building a pole style building and will need to establish level lines with high accuracy over about 100ft.


I would like to maintain accuracy of 1/16" at 100ft. That might seem tight for 100ft but in my experience, when things are held to tight tolerance, things just seems to come together better at the end.
1/16" at 100' feet is ridiculously tight unless, you are building some type of building for scientific research or engineering at which point you will want to invest in the expensive lasers.
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Old 06-23-2016, 10:31 AM   #10
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Re: Laser level, sight level, or other level methods with high accuracy?


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Ayuh,..... I'm in the blacktop biz, We gotta know if there's fall, 'n where it is,....

We used to use a sight level, a few years ago, we went to a laser, a Bosch unit,....
Our unit will work at that size, with the story pole, 'n detector,... Easy,...

In yer story quoted, We always shoot a benchmark pin, when we start a job, to test back too,.....
Set it just outa the actual jobsite,....
I am curious if you know the model and if this is an auto leveling, rotating type? Have you ever had issues or errors with this unit?
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Old 06-23-2016, 10:59 AM   #11
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Re: Laser level, sight level, or other level methods with high accuracy?


Mine is not auto leveling and when set up in the early morning and then checked with the heat of high noon I always found it had moved. I don't know if auto-leveling would eliminate this shifting, but I would certainly do as Bondo said, shoot a reference and check it every time you go to use it. It is a simple step that is necessary on a busy job site.

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Old 06-23-2016, 07:11 PM   #12
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Re: Laser level, sight level, or other level methods with high accuracy?


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I am curious if you know the model and if this is an auto leveling, rotating type? Have you ever had issues or errors with this unit?

Ayuh,.... Model number I don't remember,...

Takes 4 D-cell batteries though,...

A $500. class machine,....

Yes on the auto-level,...
Set it on a reasonably flat spot on a dirt pile, give it a few seconds, 'n it's ready to go,....
Visible light indoors, detectors outdoors,....

The 1st unit we had worked great til midway the 2nd season, 'n it quit,....
I took it back to the local contractor supply where we got it, 'n they gave me a brand new unit off the shelf to keep the job goin',...

A few weeks later I was in there, 'n asked 'bout it,...
Bouch said that model was discontinued, 'n we now had the newest copy of that class machine,...
Thank you, 'n no charge,...

That was probably 4 or 5 years/ seasons ago,....
The thing is used almost daily, weekly for sure,...

As for errors,....
So far, the water has been goin' where we thought it oughta, 'n none of the houses built have fallen over from outa level foundations,....
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Old 06-23-2016, 08:19 PM   #13
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Re: Laser level, sight level, or other level methods with high accuracy?


I own a laser lever, a transit, a DLS electronic water level, and a ZipLevel Pro-2000. The ZipLevel is by far the most accurate (0.10 inch over 200 feet).
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Old 06-24-2016, 10:35 AM   #14
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Re: Laser level, sight level, or other level methods with high accuracy?


Thanks guys. In looking at the problem, I think I can live with the 3/32 accuracy or maybe even 1/8 and just setup in the middle of the building for my reference lines. Realizing once I strike my lines, I should be able to build from those and not need the laser constantly.

There is a concern of visibility in the daytime. I know there are receivers but the ones I have used, they don't seem to have a very defined marking point? Like pencil line type of accurate?

I think I would prefer a quality tool but not sure who has the best bank for the buck. I would prefer Trimble, Topcon, CST, Johnson, etc. I might have concerns with rated vs real accuracy on something by Dewalt but maybe they don't actually build it anyway.
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