How to Process Trimble GPS Points: A Guide for Glaciologists

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1 How to Process Trimble GPS Points: A Guide for Glaciologists Kat Huybers June 2, 2011 Abstract This manual is meant for the novice GPS processor. I do not attempt to explain geodesy or GPS theory at all. Rather, I describe, in good detail, the steps one must follow in order to process GPS measurements taken with Trimble roving receivers. I use Trimble Geomatics Office software, the Canadian Spatial Referencing System service, and Microsoft Excel for spreadsheet management. This manual is by no means complete or exhaustive, and may not be the most efficient way to process this data, but is hopefully a thorough explanation of a possible approach. 1 Organizing Your Files First, organize your files into folders wherein it will be easy for you to recognize what each file holds. For example, I sorted my files into folders based on collection location and the rover that the file was downloaded from. I recommend making a spreadsheet document to help organize all of your information. For every location visited, I make a new spreadsheet for each Trimble unit that I have. For example, when visiting Antarctica s Schmidt Hills, we brought four Trimble R7 rovers, one of which was set up as a temporary base station, and three of which were used to collect roving measurements. I therefore have four spreadsheets within my Schmidt Hills Excel File. Each sheet then lists the details of the files that were collected. 1.1 Type of File First, convert all of your files to.dat format. You can do this by highlighting all of the T00 files (downloaded directly from the rover) and right clicking on them. Choose Convert to DAT format. 1

2 At this point, I open Trimble Geomatics Office, and make a junk file. This file will not be used to process data, per se, but will help us organize our current files. 1.2 Finding the Time-stamp and Identifying Your Files In the left-hand menu, click on Projects and choose New Project Give the project a name like junk file, and click OK. When the Project Properties menu comes up, click on the Coordinate System tab. Under Coordinate System Settings, click Change. In our field location, we use the UTM coordinate system, with the 21 South zone, the WGS 1984 datum transformation 1, and the EGM96 geoid model. You should now see a blank black screen. In the left-hand menu, choose Import, then DAT file. Navigate to your file folder, select all of the file, then hit Open. A chart should appear with the title DAT checkin. You will be altering these values when you are actually processing the files, but for now, just use them to get the time and date stamps associated with each file. Copy the time and date stamps to your spreadsheet. In your spreadsheet, change the dates and times so that all of your information is in the same time zone. For example, the rovers were programmed in Mountain Standard Time, but my field notes were all written in the McMurdo (New Zealand) time zone. Hit cancel in your TGO junk file, and repeat the DAT checkin viewing with all of your files, file folders, etc. This process really helped me to figure out what each file was for, and allowed me to match the file names with my field notes easily. I could then fill in the Brief Summary of Points column on my spreadsheet, as well as the Type column (static or kinematic measurement). It also allowed me to highlight (and subsequently ignore) unnecessary files, such as files that are only 10 seconds long, or files that are leftover from when we were fiddling with the rovers before going to the field. 1 a standard coordinate frame for the Earth, a standard spheroidal reference surface (the datum or reference ellipsoid) for raw altitude data, and a gravitational equipotential surface (the geoid) that defines the nominal sea level, from Wikipedia 2

3 2 Acquiring a Base Station Our field location was quite far from a permanent base station, and we therefore had to use one of our rovers as a temporary base station. This rover antenna was placed on bedrock, and the receiver was powered by solar panels. The setup was left in place for a week or so. A new file was generated for each day. Because of atmospheric and ionospheric variations, and because there is no triangulation available (remember, we are using this rover to get a base station point), the values of the lat/lon/elev for each day s file will be slightly different. This section will help us figure out how to use this temporary base station to get a single point that you can be confident in. 2.1 Convert files to RINEX First, we must convert the DAT files associated with our temporary base station to RINEX (Receiver Independent Exchange) format. There exist several programs that will do this for you in large batches, but I was spending too much time trying to get the program loaded on my computer, so converted the files one by one as follows. First, in you Trimble Office Program menu, go to Utilities, then choose the Convert to RINEX utility. Once here, change your Output folder, Browse for your file, and click OK The first time you convert a file, you must fill out the Required field at the bottom right of the window, putting in your initials in each category (Run by, Observer, Agency). These will be automatically filled in on subsequent conversions. There will be two output files for each conversion: a.n file and a.o file. 2.2 Acquire Points from Canadian Spatial Reference System Now we are ready to get the points from the Canadian Spatial Reference System Precise Point Positioning (CSRS-PPP ). CSRS-PPP is an on-line application for GPS data post-processing that allows GPS users to submit observation data over the Internet and recover, using precise GPS Orbit and Clock information, enhanced positioning precisions in 3

4 the Canadian Spatial Reference System (CSRS) and the International Terrestrial Reference Frame (ITRF). This is a free service. Go to main_e.pl You will upload each static base station file one by one. Click the Choose File button, and select the.o RINEX file that corresponds to a day of your base station. Select the Static mode of processing For Antarctica, select the ITRF (Epoch of GPS data). Only choose the NAD83 if you are working in North America. Enter your address, and wait for your results to roll in! An will arrive, including a link that contains the full output of your processing. I recommend clicking that link, unzipping the file, and saving it for future reference. In the file folder, there will be a PDF, whose first page will contain most (if not all) of the information you will ever use from this process. 2.3 Working with and Averaging Points In the PDF associated with each file, there will be a row labeled ITRF05 (year) near the lower half of the page. Use these values for Latitude, Longitude, and Ellipsoidal Height in your spreadsheet. Also note the sigma errors associated with each point hopefully they are small, and tolerable for your level of accuracy. Note: The less time your base station acquired in a single file, the less accurate it will be. For example, my first and last files were only a few hours long, and were discarded, as their errors were large, and their estimated positions were relatively far from the other points. Take the average latitude, longitude, and elevation of your files. Choose the one coordinate solution that lies closest to the center of the mean and use that as your coordinates seed for the base. We will process the rover data using this as our base station. 4

5 3 Processing Points in Trimble Geomatics Office 3.1 Static Measurements Set Up Project Open Trimble Geomatics Office. Select New Project, and give your project a name, and a folder location. Change the Project Properties as needed. Again, I only needed to change the Coordinate System tab (see Finding the Time Stamp ). Make sure you are in Metric Load Base Station Data Select Import from the left-hand menu, and choose DAT file. An Open menu will appear. Navigate to your base station file folder, and import your temporary base station DAT files. A table showing the data files will come up. Uncheck any of the files that you will discard (too short, wrong location, etc.). Data pertaining to the same marker should have the same name, so go ahead and change the name to blah blah base station, where the blah blah can be filled in with the location of your station. Adjust other parameters, such as the antenna height, type, and where you measured the antenna to. Since this is your base station, they should all be the same value; you can highlight the whole column to make the changes just once and apply it to each of the values. Because you are adjusting these within TGO, you do not need to account for the antenna height of the base station when receiving the numbers back from the CSRS. (You may want to write down the TGO solution in the Excel file for your reference) Show the point name by selecting the point, right clicking on it, selecting Point Labels, then Name. Give your base station your known coordinates as follows: 1. Double click on point. A Properties menu will show up. 2. In the bottom right, select WGS-84 (rather than grid or local) 5

6 3. In the top right, click on the red and white circle, and select WGS Input the Latitude, Longitude, and Ellipsoidal Height that you received in your CSRS summary PDF. 5. On the right hand side, there exist two question marks with drop down menus. Select Control Quality for both. 6. You can now close the Properties window. If your point has disappeared, go to View, select Zoom, then Extents. The screen should then snap to your point. You now have a base station! Load Static Measurement Files Go back to Import on the left-hand menu, and select DAT File again. Navigate to your static measurements of interest, and open these files. NOTE: only files whose time-stamps overlap with your base station time-stamps will produce baselines. If you have a point that you took before or after setting up your base station, please see the section entitled Rover Points Taken Without Temporal Base Station Overlap below. As with the base station data, make sure that your rover DAT Checkin information is correct, and adjust accordingly. Click OK. A gray line will appear between your base station and your new point(s). Make sure nothing in your project is selected. In the menu on the left, select Process, then Process GPS Baselines. Wait for the button on the right to change from Stop to Save. A window showing processed baselines will appear, listing statistics. If any baselines are not automatically selected, this indicates that there were poor statistics in the baseline solutions, and those points should be attended to with caution. Select them manually and begin to weed out the errors (see the Flagged Points section below). Click on Save, and look at the error report if you want. 6

7 All baselines should now show up in color. Yellow indicates a sound baseline, while red indicates a compromised baseline. In a static survey, this should be further explored and corrected before exporting the data (see Flagged Points section below) Export to a Comma Separated Value File Select Export from the menu on the left, and select Pt,N,E,E,Code. Select the Custom tab, and chose the Name, North, East, Elev, Lat, Long, Height, Code(WGS-84) option. Click OK. The automatic export folder that it offers to save in is part of your project s folder. Give it a name, and click Save. This file contains the lat/lon/elev/height information that you will need to complete the columns in your excel file. With TGO baseline files, we assume that the error is tolerably low (unless they are flagged red, see below), and therefore do not put in information about the standard deviations. 3.2 Kinematic Measurements Set Up Project and Load Base Station Data Same as with Static Measurements (above) Load Kinematic Measurement Files Go back to Import on the left-hand menu, and select DAT File again. Navigate to your static measurements of interest, and open these files. NOTE: only files whose time-stamps overlap with your base station time-stamps will produce baselines. As with the base station data, make sure that your rover DAT Checkin information is correct, and adjust accordingly. Click OK. A gray line will appear between your base station and your new points. In the upper menu bar, click on the clock icon to bring up the Timeline menu. A new screen will pop up on the bottom. Pull the window up to see it better. 7

8 Click on the blue bar on the bottom for the appropriate continuous segment. The bar will change from dark blue to light blue. Right click on this bar, and select Properties. Under Segments and Antenna, change the segment type from Static to Continuous. Click yes, then ok. The data point may have disappeared, but don t worry. timeline window by clicking the clock icon again. Close the Select all points (ctrl a), and go to the Process header on the left-hand toolbar. Select Process GPS Baselines. You should see the full kinematic segment, with appropriately colored flags. To view the route without flag, go to View and select Plan. Red flags are less alarming for kinematic files than for static measurements, and so can be essentially ignored Export to a Comma Separated Value File Same as with Static Measurements (above) 4 Conversions, Errors and Missing Data 4.1 Rover Points Taken Without Temporal Base Station Overlap If a point or series of points were taken without temporal base station overlap, simply send the point to CSRS to get a fairly good estimate as to its lat/lon/height. See the section below to change the height to actual elevation. Follow the instructions under Acquiring a Base Station, stopping when you are asked to average the points. Note that the CSRS output will give you the height of the antenna above the ellipsoid. Before you do the conversion below, be sure to factor in the height of the antenna. If the antenna is mounted on a pole, subtract the height of the pole. To be very accurate, also note that the CSRS is measuring to the middle of the antenna. For both a Zephyr Geodetic Antenna and a compact L1L2, the Phase Center is meters high. 8

9 4.2 Ellipsoid Height to Elevation When inspecting individual points on your TGO output (by double clicking the point), you will notice both an elevation and a height field. The height field is the height above the ellipsoid, which is the mathematical model of the earth. The elevation is the height above mean sea level, as defined by the geoid model you are using. Please see Figure 1. Usually people use the elevation vs. height when we talk about actual measurements. Figure 1: Difference between height above geoid and elevation However, when we get a single point from the CSRS, we are only given the height above the ellipsoid. TGO automatically converts this to an elevation (which is why we input the correct zone in our Coordinate System), but if we have points that do not overlap with the base station, we can still make a conversion as follows: Go to geoid/geoid.html input the Lat/Lon/GPS elevation (above the ellipsoid) in the correct fields. A output file on the subsequent screen will give you the actual elevation above sea level, under Orthometic Height. 4.3 Flagged Points Error reports are common but frustrating realities. Red baselines in a kinematic survey are generally fine, but red baselines in a static survey should be further explored. I won t go into WHY the baselines are flagged (see Donovan Power s paper, or Shad ONeal s paper), but the following steps will help remove faulty satellite data, and reconcile the baselines. 9

10 Once your baselines have been processed, and you can identify the flagged lines, select one of those baselines. Click on the clock icon on the top toolbar to open the timeline. Identify which of the two timelines refers to the rover, and expand it by clicking on the plus sign to the left. Find the time slice that corresponds to the baseline in question. The satellites are identified by an SV##, and can be viewed in pairs of horizontal lines. Scroll up and down to assess if there are obvious errors in the satellite data (blips, dropped lines, wiggles etc.) they should be flat and complete through your time slice. Beginning with the most visually questionable satellite data, begin to omit those satellites. Drag a box around the data to highlight it. Right click on the box and click Enable/Disable. The lines will go from red and blue to gray. Reprocess the baseline by clicking Process GPS Baselines again. Be sure that the baseline in question is selected (will be bold on the map image). Methodically go through, subtracting satellites until this baseline is no longer flagged. You will get a clue as to the faulty satellites by looking at the chart that pops up once the baseline is done processing. The solution type should be fixed not floating. The ratio should be greater than 2.5, as it compares the best solution with the second best solution. The reference variance (refvar) should be close to 1, as it indicate how well the observed data fit the baseline solution. The RMS, or root mean square error is the mean standard deviation in the baseline measurement and should be as small as possible. 5 Conclusion This manual aimed to take us through the necessary steps for processing GPS data when using a temporary base station. Though it did not go into detail about how the data works, I do hope that it was a good introduction to some of the tools available for obtaining accurate locations in space. 10

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