How to Measure Horizontal Angles Using Theodolite

If you are interested in learning how to measure horizontal angles using a theodolite, then you have come to the right place. Friends, there are three methods of measuring the horizontal angles. I have explained each of these methods in detail here as:

1. Ordinary method

To measure a horizontal angle AOB by an ordinary method, you need to do the exact same steps as mentioned below:

  1.  Set up the theodolite at station point O and level it accurately.
  2. Set the vernier A, to the zero or 360° of the horizontal circle so do this, loosen the upper clamp and turn the upper plate until the zero of vernier A nearly coincides with the zero of the horizontal circle. Tighten the upper clamp and turn its tangent screw to bring the two zeroes into exact coincides.
  3. Loosen the lower clamp. Turn the instrument and direct the telescope approximately to the left-hand object (A) by sighting over the top of the telescope. Tighten the lower clamp and bisect A, exactly by turning the lower tangent screw. Bring point A, into exact, coincides with the point of intersection of the crosshairs at diaphragm by using the vertical circle clamp and tangent screws. Alternatively bring the vertical crosshair exactly on the lowest visible portion of the arrow or the ranging rod representing the point A, in order to minimize the error due to non vertically of the object.
  4. Having sighted the object A, see whether the vernier A, still reads zero. This is done to detect the error caused by turning the wrong tangent screw. Read the vernier B, and record both vernier readings.
  5. Loosen the upper clamp and turn the telescope clockwise until the line of sight is set nearly on the right-hand object (B). Then tighten the upper clamp and by turning its tangent screw, bisect B, exactly. In this operation, the lower clamp and its tangent screws should not be touched.
  6. Read both verniers. The reading of the vernier A, which was initially set at zero gives the value of the angle AOB directly and that of the other vernier B, by deducing 180°. The mean of the two vernier readings (after deducting 180° from the reading on vernier B, gives the value of the required angle AOB)
  7. Change the face of the instrument and repeat the whole process. The mean of the two vernier readings gives the second value of the angle ABC which should be approximately or exactly equal to the previous value.
  8. The mean of the two values of the angle AOB, one with the face left and the other with the face right, gives the required angle free from all instrumental errors.

2. Repetition Method

This method is used for very accurate work. In this method, the same angle is added several times mechanically and the correct value of the angle is obtained by dividing the accumulated reading by the number of repetitions. The number of repetitions made usually is six, three with the face left and three with the face right.

In this way, angles can be measured to the finer degree of accuracy than that obtainable with the least count of the vernier. However, it cannot be said that any desired degree of accuracy can be obtained by increasing the number of repetitions considerably because the errors due to frequent clamping, etc. are introduced.

There is, therefore, no advantage in increasing the number of observations beyond a certain limit. Three repetitions with face left and three repetitions with face right are quite sufficient except in cases of very precise work.

To measure the horizontal angle AOB by repetition method.

  1. Set up the theodolite at station point O and level it accurately. (The face of the instrument should be left.)
  2. Set the vernier A, to zero or 360° by using the upper clamp and its tangent screw. Then loosen the lower clamp direct the telescope to the left-hand object A, and bisect A, exactly by using the lower clamp and its tangent screw.
  3. Check the reading of the vernier A, and see whether it still reads zero, and then read the other vernier B.
  4. Loosen the upper clamp, turn the telescope clock wise and bisect the right-hand object (B) exactly by using the upper clamp and its tangent screw.
  5. Read both verniers. The object of reading the verniers is to obtain the approximate value of the angle. (Suppose the mean reading is 50°4).
  6. Loosen the lower clamp and turn the telescope clock wise until the object (A) is sighted again. Bisect A, accurately using the lower tangent screw. Check the vernier readings which must be the same as before.
  7. Loosen the upper clamp, turn the telescope clockwise and again sight towards B. Bisect B, accurately by using the upper tangent screw.

3. Reiteration Method

Reiteration is another precise and comparatively less tedious method of measuring the horizontal angles. It is generally preferred when several angles are to be measured at a particular station. This method consists of measuring the several angles successively and finally closing the horizon at the starting point. The final reading of the vernier A should be the same as its initial reading. If not, the discrepancy is equally distributed among all the measured angles.

Suppose it is required to measure the angles AOB, BOC and COD then to measure these angles by reiteration method.

  1. Set up the instrument over station point O and level it accurately.
  2. Set the vernier A, to 0° or 360° by using the upper clamp and its tangent screw.
  3. Direct the telescope to some well-defined object (P) or say, the station point A, which is known as the ‘Reference Object’. Bisect it accurately by using the lower clamp and its tangent screw. Check the reading at vernier A, which should still be 0° to 360° and note the reading at vernier B.
  4. Loosen the upper clamp and turn the telescope clockwise until point B, is exactly sighted by using an upper tangent screw. Read both verniers. The mean of the two vernier readings (after deducting 180° from the reading at vernier B,) will give the value of the angle AOB.
  5. Similarly bisect C and D successively, read both verniers at each bisection, find the values of the angle BOC and COD.
  6. Finally, close the horizon by sighting towards the reference object (P) or the station point A.
  7. The vernier A should now read 360°. If not, note down the error. This error occurs due to slipping etc.
  8. If the error is small, it is equally distributed among the several observed angles. If large, the readings should be discarded and a new set of readings be taken.
  9. Change the face of the instrument.
  10. Set the vernier A, to reading other than 0°, say, 60° or 90°. This is done to avoid errors of graduation.
  11. Again measure the angles in the same manner by turning the telescope this time in the counter clock wise direction to compensate or slip and errors due to twisting of the instrument.
  12. Close the horizon and apply the necessary correction to all the angles as before.
  13. The mean of the two results for each angle is taken as its true value.

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