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Top 4 budget-friendly GNSS receivers for Land Surveying

Finding a high-quality yet affordable GNSS receiver for land surveying can be a challenge. Many GNSS receivers that are often "feature-rich" come at a high price point and are difficult to integrate into your workflow without a substantial expense. As GNSS technology has progressed over the years, new manufacturers have begun creating feature-rich equipment at a fraction of the price point. This has allowed a wide range of industries to adopt GNSS technology and bring survey and GIS workflows in-house.

An industry-leading GNSS receiver for land surveying should have a high signal-to-noise ratio, low multipath interference, and a wide range of frequency and power options. It should also be able to receive multiple constellations, such as GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo, and be able to track multiple frequencies and signals simultaneously. Moreover, it should have a good antenna design for increased accuracy, and be able to adapt to changing environmental conditions such as temperature, elevation, and vegetation. Certainly, it should be able to provide precise and reliable data, with minimal downtime and maintenance.

The Stonex S900+ is a high-accuracy GNSS receiver perfect for land surveying and high-accuracy applications. It offers a wide range of features at an affordable price point including:

- Integrated Hemisphere P40 GNSS board with 1408 channels

- Three-Year standard warranty

- Compact, lightweight design with 12-hours of battery life

- Hot-swappable dual battery set-up

- Integrated double frequency UHF radio and cellular modem

- Integrated inertial measurement unit (IMU) allows for calibration-free tilt measurements up to 60 degrees

- All constellations and signals tracked at no extra cost

- No firmware or software update fees

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Stonex S900+

The Stonex S980+ is a new generation of GNSS receivers as it features a new integrated 5-watt internal radio to increase your baseline and radio connectivity. Designed for use in surveying, mapping, and GIS applications, it is the perfect base receiver to pair with the Stonex S900A or other third-party GNSS receivers. The S980A features:

- 1408 channels

- Two-Year standard warranty

- 10-hours of battery life

- East configuration from touch screen

- 5-watt internal radio

- Integrated inertial measurement unit (IMU) allows for calibration-free tilt measurements up to 60 degrees

- All constellations and signals tracked at no extra cost

- No firmware or software update fees

- 1 PPS port for precise time synchronization 

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Stonex S980+

The Emlid Reach RS2+ is on this list thanks to its combination of capability, affordability, and usability. Tracking multiple constellations including GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and BeiDou, the Reach RS2+ is an extremely accurate receiver at an affordable price point. It features:

- 184 channels

- Only 950 grams

- LoRa radio technology (0.1 watt)

- E-Bubble sensor

- 10 Hz GPS / 5 Hz GNSS update rate

- 22 hours operation on internal battery

- 16 GB internal storage

It is important to note that while the Reach RS2+ is a very capable GNSS receiver, it does lack a couple of features that a high-end GNSS receiver such as the Stonex S900+have. The first would be the 0.1 watt LoRA radio; while this is great for smaller job sites, it does not provide a long baseline on larger job sites due to the lack of power. Additionally, in our internal tests the Reach RS2+ does not provide the same convergence under canopy due to the lack of true L5 tracking.


With this being said, for many applications such as laying ground control points for UAV operations, the Reach RS2+ exceeds the competition due to the affordable price point. Read our step-by-step guide to setup Reach RS2+ to work as a base for drone RTK connection without external network connections.

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Emlid Reach RS2+

4) Emlid Reach RX

The Reach RX is the newest receiver from Emlid focused on NTRIP corrections designed for quick and portable applications.

Weighing only 250 grams, the Reach RX is extremely lightweight making it ideal for difficult terrain.

Despite the affordable price point, the RX tracks GPS/QZSS, GLONASS, GALILEO and BeiDou for high-accuracy shots. This is the perfect tool for non-surveyors looking to enhance their workflows with cm-level accuracy topographic data. 

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Emlid Reach RX

When it comes to land surveying, having a reliable and accurate GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) receiver is crucial. Choosing the right GNSS receiver for your land surveying needs can be a daunting task, but by considering the following factors, you can make an informed decision.

Number of channels: A GNSS receiver with more channels can track more satellites at once, resulting in greater accuracy and faster position fixes. Look for a receiver with at least 12 channels, but more is always better.

Battery life: Land surveying can take hours or even days, so it's important to have a receiver with a long battery life. Look for a receiver with at least 10 hours of battery life, however, the longer the better.

Durability: Land surveying can be tough on equipment, so you'll want a receiver that can withstand rough conditions. Opt for a receiver that is rugged and waterproof.

Data storage: Look for a receiver that has a large data storage capacity, so you can store and export your survey data easily.

Connectivity: A variety of connectivity options, such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, facilitates the transfer of data to other devices.

Cost: GNSS receivers can range in price from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. Determine your budget and find a receiver that meets your needs within your budget.

Selecting the right GNSS receiver for land surveying depends on your specific needs and the type of work you will be doing. By considering the factors mentioned above, you will be able to choose a receiver that will help you achieve accurate and precise measurements.

For industry leading geomatics equipment, contact a member of our team today to find the right equipment for your application.


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