Direct GNSS external receiver support in Survey123 3.3

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03-05-2019 09:00 AM
Esri Regular Contributor
8 52 6,498

To date, many users who require high accuracy location capture have found ways to do so with Survey123 – typically by using additional software to make the position from their external receiver output data through to their device’s internal position source. From version 3.3 onward, Survey123 can directly communicate with many external GNSS receivers, significantly improving both the connection experience and the quality of data captured.

The most common type of receiver available for Survey123 users is a Bluetooth GNSS receiver, but you can also connect to USB receivers and receivers that are available over a network connection. The key requirement is that the receiver outputs NMEA sentences.

In general, direct GNSS support is the same in Survey123 on all platforms (Windows, Android, iOS, Mac, Ubuntu) but for iOS we also need to liaise with each hardware manufacturer individually. So far we have worked with our friends at Bad Elf, Eos, Leica and SXBlue to ensure that Survey123 on iOS will work with their receivers. If you have other receivers that you need to use with Survey123 on iOS please let us know, but in the meantime, please get started by using your receiver with Windows or Android.

Prepare for high-accuracy data collection

Before choosing to use an external receiver with your survey, think about what additional metadata you need to display or collect. In some cases, it might be enough to incorporate accuracy into a constraint so that data cannot be captured unless a certain level of accuracy is met.

In other cases, you may want to show the accuracy on the survey so the user can decide what to do, and in others, you might want to just capture all the data behind the scenes showing nothing to the user and keeping it for someone to analyze at a later data.

You can use note, decimal or hidden questions to show or store metadata values in a survey. For more information see https://doc.arcgis.com/en/survey123/desktop/create-surveys/high-accuracy-prep.htm

 

Connect your receiver to your device

Steps to connect:

  1. Turn on your receiver and place it near your device.
  2. Go to your devices Bluetooth settings, and wait for your receiver’s name to appear in the list.
  3. Tap the receiver to pair it with your device.

Warning: During our testing, we have found the biggest contributor to success (or failure) when using an external receiver, is connection to your device. Whilst you’re testing you may be tempted to try connection on a few devices, possibly swapping receivers around. If you have having any trouble connecting within Survey123 – we strongly recommend checking the Bluetooth connection in your device settings. Most receivers will only connect to one device at a time – take a look around your office and be sure no one else is trying to connect to your receiver!

Of course, in the real world these issues shouldn’t arise – typically you will have one receiver that you connect to one device - but it’s hard not to tinker with new toys in the office before going out in the field and I wouldn’t want experimentation to be your downfall!

 

Configure Survey123 to use the receiver

Steps to configure:

  1. Open Survey123 and on the main menu choose Settings
  2. Choose Location
  3. Choose Add Provider, and wait for your connected receiver’s name to appear in the list
  4. Tap the receiver to add it

Once the receiver is selected you are shown the settings for that receiver. You can give it a recognizable name, change how you are alerted when a connection is poor or is lost, and configure antenna height and preferred altitude measurements. We have found changing the name very useful, we all have our preferred alerts and once you set up your hardware on a pole, the antenna height is great to set and forget. Altitude is a tricky one – frankly - only touch this if you really know what your doing. In most cases, the external receiver will sort this out for you.

 

Go back to the location page and see that your receiver is now connected.

 

 

 

If you want to see more information about the data being received, press the satellite icon in the title bar. This icon is also visible whilst you’re in the survey. Here you get three pages: location data, skyplot and the NMEA data stream.

 

Use external receiver to capture location in a survey

This is the easy part. Once your receiver is connected, location is captured in exactly the same way in a survey as before. Only now you might notice the satellite icon flashing in the title bar. The satellite icon changes based on it the connectivity state. This icon initially only displays a satellite, adding three beams when searching for a position.

When positions are being received, the satellite periodically blinks.

We have had feedback where users have captured data and their location was unexpectedly captured at location 0,0. Waiting just a brief moment longer – until the satellite icon is blinking - will ensure you get a reasonable location recorded even when you don’t have a geopoint question in your survey.

Accuracy reporting

Some organizations require reporting of the accuracy of location data to specific standards. You can use Survey123 to report whatever metadata (and subsequent accuracy calculations) you like. The attached sample survey demonstrates how to not only record the 95% confidence interval of a location, but also to constrain location capture to only when a minimum accuracy is achieved. The calculations in this survey are based upon conversion factors from the National Standard for Spatial Data Accuracy (pages 3-10 and 3-11).

 

RTK and post processing

This section is intended to point you right back to the GNSS hardware supplier of your choice. In some cases, hardware suppliers will direct you to use an app on your device to process the positions before they are passed through to Survey123. In these cases, you will need to continue using the internal location provider setting in Survey123.  The GNSS hardware suppliers’ app will pass the corrected location information through to Survey123 where you would record the corrected information. In these cases, there may be limited metadata you can record in the survey.

Some GNSS hardware outputs all available information through their NMEA data stream and you can extract the metadata into your survey for analysis at a later data.

For post-processing, you may also need to save additional files from your receiver along with the metadata that you can record in Survey123. Please check your post processing solution of choice for what data will be required.

Tags (3)
52 Comments
New Contributor III

Is the Trimble R1 receiver supported on IOS devices? 

Esri Regular Contributor

Trimble has not whitelisted Survey123 for use with their receivers on iOS, so no it will not work on iOS.

Whitelisting is not required on other operating systems so yes the Trimble R1 will work with Survey123 on Windows and Android.

Occasional Contributor

I guess this whitelisting would explain why I’ve been unable to connect the Trimble R1 with S123 (v3.3.64) on iOS (v12.1.4). However, the R1 works fine with Collector on iOS via GNSS Status. It’s frustrating that our 4 R1’s work with Collector but not S123 on our 28 iPads. Any idea if/when Trimble might whitelist S123 to work with their receivers on iOS?

Esri Regular Contributor

Whitelisting is not something Trimble has done with other apps, instead favoring apps to use their SDK (which is why Collector works for you). Using a platform specific SDK's is not something that fits in Survey123's current development pattern, hence why you can not connect to the R1 with Survey123. Saying that, whitelisting has worked well with other GNSS receivers and has proved to be a good pattern for Survey123.

The Survey123 team is in consultation with Trimble about this, and looking for a way forward, but I'm sorry but I cant give you a time frame for when you can use the Trimble R1 on iOS with Survey123. 

Occasional Contributor

I really love the new GNSS functionality for Survey 123! Great Job!  For some reason I am not able to get any satellite locations or info on the SkyPlot page.  I have an EOS Arrow 100 connected and everything else seems to be working fine.  


Thanks,

LTK

Occasional Contributor

Spoke too soon!  It is working now! 

Thanks,

LTK

New Contributor

HI, is Survey123 compatible with Garmin Glo2 GPS receiver ?

Esri Regular Contributor

Hi Patrick,

Survey123 should work with the Garmin Glo2 receiver.  Are you encountering issues?

New Contributor

Hi Brandon,

 
I just received my Garmin Glo 2, however I can not pair it with survey123, however, it works with my iphone I see it in my Bluetooth connection.
Do you have any idea how to make it work with Survey123?

 

Sencerely,

Esri Esteemed Contributor

Hi Patrick,

The Garmin Glo2 will work with Android and Windows; we are working to add support for iOS devices, which requires a few more steps due to Apple's requirements.  Refer to Use a high-accuracy receiver—Survey123 for ArcGIS | ArcGIS to see the list of devices currently supported on iOS.

New Contributor

Hi James,

Do you have an update on Garmin Glo 2 and support for IOS devices

Sencerely,

Esri Regular Contributor

The Garmin Glo 2 will be supported on iOS in the next release of Survey123 (no, I cant give an exact date).

Esri Esteemed Contributor

Following up from Marika's comment, Garmin Glo 2 was introduced with the 3.5 Hotfixes (3.5.176/3.5.177).

New Contributor

Are there any updates on when the Trimble R1 will be white listed for use with Survey123? 

I was a little disappointed after having a great use case for Survey123, and creating the survey only to find out that I can't use the R1 to collect more precise location information.  I'm now back to using Collector for this field task.

Esri Regular Contributor

We are still working with Trimble on the support of the R1 on iOS. We have made some good progress since my last message, bu not enough to be able to give release date.

New Contributor

Marika,

Thanks for the response!  I look forward to it working as I can see a great value in Survey123 and it replacing some of our more complex data collection duties that deal with inspection of new and existing assets.

Occasional Contributor

Any further updates on the R1, iOS and Survey123?  We are heavily invested in iPads and R1s and find it cumbersome to setup Collector and Survey123, when Survey123 would be suffice if we had another GNSS unit or an Android device. 

Cheers, 

Adam

Regular Contributor

Marika Vertzonis I'm also interested in a Trimble R1 status update. Please let us know if there has been any progress.

Esri Regular Contributor

To be specific, Trimble R1 works as expected on Android and Windows.

For iOS we are awaiting a configuration app from Trimble themselves.

New Contributor

Any word about the R1, iOS and Survey123?

Esri Regular Contributor

No word as yet. Still awaiting Trimble app update that will enable Survey123 support on iOS.

New Contributor

Thank you very much for the update.

Taylor Ellis

Southeast Region GIS, Senior

ellista@dot.state.al.us

(334) 353-6901

Southeast Region Office

100 Capitol Commerce Blvd.

Suite 210, Bldg. B

Montgomery, AL 36117

Occasional Contributor II

Needs to be updated to include the Geode

Esri Regular Contributor

Thanks for picking up this omission, we have updated the topic re Geode in prep for next release.

Occasional Contributor III

Hello @ Marika Vertzonis do you have any news regarding Trimble R1 and IOS? do you have any date when is this going to be solved? me tried today connecting Survey and R1 and it stays connecting. but the weird thing is we tried connecting R1 using an android device and, as the IOS device, it stayed connecting but collector worked fine in both devices.

Regards,

Diego Llamas

Esri Regular Contributor

Further to my earlier messages, it wont be a configuration app from Trimble, but a firmware update for the hardware, and an update Survey123. The update for Survey123 is planned in 3.9 and I will advise on this post when the Trimble firmware update is available.

New Contributor III

Trimble R1 support for Survey123 and QuickCapture coming soon!

We're expecting to release a firmware update for the R1 in the next few weeks which will be fully supported by Survey123 and QuickCapture.  As soon as the FW is available, I'll post a link to it here as well.

Occasional Contributor II

Will the R2 also be supported?

New Contributor III

Yes. The FW update for the R1 will be available first. Similar updates to

the R2 FW are underway and will be released as soon as possible.

New Contributor

Wanted to check in to see how the FW update for the R1 was coming along. We just purchased the R1 and are excited to start collecting with 123. 

New Contributor III

An updated firmware is now available for the R1.  The current beta release of Survey123 now supports the R1.  Of course, as soon as the beta release moves into production, it will be supported there as well.

You can download the latest FW release HERE.

New Contributor II

Will the Trimble R2 also be supported by the beta release of Survey 123 you refer to?  Is the support for the external receiver consistent across all Survey 123 platforms, iOS, Android and Windows?

New Contributor III

A similar update to the R2 is in progress and will be announced as soon as it becomes available.

With respect to the R1:

  • iOS is now supported through direct BT Pairing and NMEA
  • Android is (and has been) supported through Mock Locations and Android Location Extras for metadata
  • Windows is supported through standard BT COM port and NMEA
Occasional Contributor II

Is there anything special that needs setup on the R1/R2 that involves getting into the config interface of the unit itself, or should these work out of the box once the firmware update is applied?

GeoNet, The Esri Community | GIS and Geospatial Professional Community <https://community.esri.com/?et=blogs.comment.created>

Direct GNSS external receiver support in Survey123 3.3

new comment by Byron Gessel<https://community.esri.com/people/BMGessel?et=blogs.comment.created> - View all comments on this blog post<https://community.esri.com/groups/survey123/blog/2019/03/05/direct-gnss-external-receiver-support-in-survey123-33?commentID=83153&et=blogs.comment.created#comment-83153>

New Contributor II

Can Trimble RTX (Satellite) correction services be used with the R2 and Survey 123?

New Contributor III

Yes.  All correction services are supported.

New Contributor III

The R1 is fully supported out of the box, and includes full GNSS Metadata.  Simply pair the R1 to the iOS device, and then choose the R1 as the location provider in Survey123.

Standard receiver configuration such as real-time sources still need to be configured using GNSS Status.  Other than that, no other receiver configurations are required.

The R2 is supported on iOS, but without GNSS Metadata.  To achieve this, pair and connect the R2 to the iOS device and choose "Integrated Provider".  In this case, positions will be provided from the R2, but without GNSS Metadata.

The R2 is supported on Android through Android Mock Location provider and includes GNSS Metadata.  On Windows, the R2 is supported through standard Bluetooth COM and NMEA.

New Contributor III

Can you connect a  Topcon Hyper HR GNSS unit to the Survey123 App?

Thanks,

Dave McMillan

County Surveyor 

Riverside County

Occasional Contributor III

Is there a reason why GNSS Metadata is not supported on iOS? Having GNSS metadata is pretty important and I would like to understand the reasoning why GNSS metadata is not supported on one platform but is supported on another platform. We would like the flexibility to be able to be able to switch OS platforms with an R2 unit while still receiving the same functionality, including having GNSS metadata.

Occasional Contributor II

I am not a developer, but this is my understanding of how this is all working.

It has to do partially with iOS being a more locked down ecosystem, the way it handles external BT devices, and the specific application you are using. In Android, when using mock location, the entire GPS is handed off to the external device giving you access to accuracy and other information, however it does not appear that iOS handles BT GPS in the same way. It hands off the location but not much else. There is also the difference between Collector (written using Trimble SDK) and web applications such as QuickCapture and Survey123 that do not rely on the SDK but rather native GPS support. It is this native GPS support that is missing the metadata I believe. This is where the new firmware comes into play, which I think is supposed to allow this metadata to pass through to all applications in iOS, not just ones built using the Trimble SDK. 

I was trying to use the R2 in a custom web application using the HTML5 geolocation API and ran into this issue, as the location would come through but not the accuracy, making it much harder to use this custom app in iOS. This is the same issue for the Emlid Reach receivers.

Any developers on here please correct or clarify.

New Contributor III

Hi Ryan, there is a FW update required in order to support the type of connection to Survey123 which supports metadata output.  That update is in process and will be released as soon as possible.  I'll update this thread (and others) with that information when available.

New Contributor III

You're mostly correct, Malcolm.

  • Yes, Collector uses the Trimble SDK and as such, has full access to all metadata on all platforms.  The Trimble SDK has additional benefits such as the ability to configure the receiver (real-time sources, etc.) from within an application - as opposed to a user having to go to an external application to do that.  
  • Survey123 and QuickCapture are not WebApplications in the strictest sense.  They are native applications.
    • On Android: GNSS Manufacturers have the ability to overwrite the devices internal GNSS positions using what's called a Mock Location Provider - it basically takes the external GNSS position and makes it look, to Android Apps, like the device internal provider.  In some cases, as with Trimble, we use an additional Android facility called "Location Extras" which is where we can put all the extended metadata not typically available through the standard location services.  Survey123 and QuickCapture make use of this procedure with Trimble GNSS devices.
    • On iOS: GNSS Manufacturers have two options as well, though significantly different in implementation
      • Override the internal device GNSS:  Through the GNSS Device manufacturer's Bluetooth implementation, the External GNSS receiver will automatically override the internal device GNSS when connected.  While this is convenient and simple, iOS doesn't support any extra metadata over this method.  This is the method which is used by the Trimble R2 currently.
        • If using an R2, configure Survey123 and QuickCapture to use the "Internal Location Provider" when connected to the R2 - until the R2 supports the following (coming soon):
      • NMEA Data over dedicated iAP Channel:  A manufacturer also has the option to support what amounts to a dedicated channel for streaming NMEA data.  Once white-listed as an application (such as Survey123 & QuickCapture) for clearance to use said channel, that application has access to all data (including metadata via NMEA) from the External Device.  In this case, the application uses this external channel as the source for all position information and bypasses the internal GNSS.  The Trimble R1 supports this currently (FW v5.44+), and the Trimble R2 will support this soon, as indicated elsewhere in this thread.
Occasional Contributor II

Wow great explanation. So am I right in understanding that given your explanation, it will NEVER be possible to use the metadata from an external GPS on iOS in a true web application (say using Google Chrome or Safari) using the HTML5 GeoLocation API? If so this eliminates the idea of using external GPS units with a Progressive Web App on iOS, if these have to be first whitelisted, assuming they can be whitelisted at all - I realize this is not an Esri issue, but still interesting nonetheless.

New Contributor III

You're correct, access to metadata on iOS will not be possible outside of whatever the iOS Location Services API provides.  Furthermore, HTML5 Geolocation API has different implementation on different browsers and OSes.  You'll unfortunately see different behavior across mobile platforms (Android & iOS), and desktop (Windows & MacOS), and browsers (Safari, Chrome, IE, Edge, Firefox), and all the permutations.

Some browsers will return the most current position from LocationServices, but only update that location if it changes by some threshold distance or time interval.  Some will return the location from a reverse IP lookup.  Unfortunately those implementations are a bit of a black-box, and GNSS manufacturers have no control over it, unfortunately.

So much for write-it-once-run-it-many, huh? 

Esri Regular Contributor

I cant tell from the public documentation whether this is possible.

To connect any receiver to Survey123 there are 3 ways:

  1. have the receiver connect to the phone or tablet and have its data overwrite the internal position source of that phone or tablet (usually requires an app from the receiver manufacturer). Then in Survey123 connect to the internal position source. With this method you typically get good x and y, but other metadata may not be available.
  2. connect to the receiver via bluetooth, then associate that receiver in Survey123 and get a NMEA stream of data (NMEA output from the receiver needs to be implemented by the manufacturer). gives you all metadata.
  3. connect to the receiver via bluetooth, and then associate that receiver in Survey123 via an IP address to get the NMEA stream of data. This is similar the previous method, but has added benefit of being able to be used in multiple apps, ensuring continuous stream of NMEA data in each app at same time.

Key questions to ask hardware manufactures or resellers, are 'does the receiver overwrite the internal position of the phone or tablet?', and 'does the receiver output NMEA?'. If the answer to either of these is yes, then there's a very high probability you can use it with Survey123.

Occasional Contributor

As of this month, the Trimble R1 is now fully supported while running the GNSS Status app with Survey123 and there are several How-to video's online now that their resellers have created for both iOS and Android. 

Robert Thomas

New Contributor II

Robert,

Thank you or the update. So to be clear, when running Survey 123 with the Trimble R1 you must also have the GNSS status app open. What is the status of Survey 123 and the Trimble R2 GNSS receiver?

Regards,

Byron Gessel, GISP

JLH Group

Mission Support Alliance, LLC

Geospatial Information Technology Services

(509) 376-7056

New Contributor III

Byron - You only need to run GNSS Status if you're using an internet-based

correction source such as VRS or Direct IP.

If you're just using SBAS or Satellite RTX, configure it once using GNSS

Status, and that's it. Subsequent connections will then not require GNSS

Status to be running.

We're making progress on the R2 FW. That platform is a bit more complex

and requires different engineering and QA procedures. No definitive

timeline at this point for the release, but we're targeting "ASAP".

New Contributor II

Dan,

Thank you for the quick response and the very useful information.

Regards,

Byron Gessel, GISP

JLH Group

Mission Support Alliance, LLC

Geospatial Information Technology Services

(509) 376-7056

New Contributor II

Is the firmware update for the R2 available?