Sending Field Data Back to OfficePosted by gbunk on April 25, 2019 at 11:20 pm
We have Spectra Precision Ranger 3’s with latest updates (running Survey Pro). We have the ability in the field to connect the Ranger 3 to a mobile hotspot for internet access. The Ranger 3 runs Windows Mobile Embedded (whatever latest version is). We do not have laptops for field use.
I am looking for a way for the field crew to be able to send me points files back to the office for my review when necessary. I would then want to do the reverse – send them files back for them to import and use (i.e. boundary resolution, construction stakeout changes/additions. . .).
Does anyone have a solution that’s simple and works? I’m thinking either email from the data collector attaching the files, or uploading the files to a cloud storage site. I understand we could use Spectra’s “Central”, but that requires paying for “warranty subscription” from Trimble and there must be a free or nearly free alternative .
- 15 Replies
- MemberApril 26, 2019 at 12:34 am
We use the same set up(Ranger 3/survey pro) on each of our S5’s. We find the quickest way to move the raw file to the office and to move a text file out to the field is through an (usb c to usb flash drive for my Google Pixel 3), or (micro USB to USB flash drive for Androids) or (lightning to USB flash drive where you have to download an app for iPhones).
It’s really easy with this flash drive to pull information off your phone and then plug it into your data collector for upload. They typically cost around $20, the Apple ones are closer to $40.
We find it easier then trying to hotspot with the Data Collector. The Gmail app on the data collector is very finicky.
- MemberApril 26, 2019 at 1:51 am
Ok, Iike that idea flash driving it into the phone. (I wonder if Bluetooth file transfer would work?) Are you talking about one of these OTG card readers for phones: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07NXX5KXQ/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_mgMWCb73JX58G ?
I have an Android phone with USB-C, but my partner has an iPhone. I’m pretty sure I could handle getting access to the files in Android, but expected iOS would be way more difficult (it’s been awhile since I had an iPhone, but I remember Apple keeping file access very restrictive). I guess you’re saying you run an app that then gives the access.
Any other ideas/options?
- MemberApril 26, 2019 at 1:20 pm
At a previous employment, we ran TSC3’s with Survey Controller software. We began with mobile hotspots but then quickly switched to onboard cellular chips. Less parts, more reliable, and one less battery to worry about it. We set up a gmail account for each controller in the Windows mail app. The office could send us .csv files when needed and we could send .csv, .dc, or whatever was needed. You’d go to the mail app, download the file, and then save it to the Trimble Data folder utilizing Windows Explorer. It seems kinda cumbersome at first but after you get used to the steps, it’s really easy. I’ll be honest, being able to share data back and forth was a game changer for me.
- MemberApril 26, 2019 at 2:26 pm
Apparently setting up gmail access with the default mail app in Windows Mobile is broken. I’ve found the following post from Trimble pointing to a 3rd party mail client to try: https://community.trimble.com/thread/1974 . This is on my todo list, but I’m still wondering what others are doing.
At my previous employer I had a laptop and simply took that in the field; I do miss having that (full CAD/Carlson in the field ability in addition to being able to send files back – heck I even had VPN access to the server to copy/paste files directly). That is ultimately the way to go, but that’s not in the cards right now and more than needed for other field crew people to send me files. I’m also looking to keep it rather simple for them (navigating through the file browser in Windows Mobile is bad enough!).
- MemberApril 26, 2019 at 2:39 pm
The Profimail solution from lonelycatgames.com works… sometimes. I work for a Trimble dealer and have gotten many calls over the past few months where people were not able to send or receive mail. When I get those calls, I try to go to the developer’s website only to find it down. The solution for transferring files to a phone with a flash drive is a much more reliable solution, IMO.
- MemberApril 26, 2019 at 5:13 pm
I got each of my field crews a refurbished panasonic toughbook. You can get them cheap if you go for the earlier models and do not need to run any power hungry programs.
- MemberApril 26, 2019 at 8:09 pm
I run an ftp server in the office with password protection, no anonymous access. Then I use total commander on my yuma (windows 7) and TSC3 (windows mobile) which has ftp. Very easy to send files back and forth.
- MemberApril 26, 2019 at 8:19 pm
I have Google drive on all my PC’s and Windows Tablets. I map a drive as G: for the Google cloud drive on all devices. Google automatically syncs the data in this G: drive when the internet is available. Been using the method for several years now. It is a no brainer. When I finish fieldwork, the data gets back to my office before I do.
- MemberApril 26, 2019 at 8:23 pm
Hmm . . . I like that idea. I’ll have to look into Total Commander. We don’t have an FTP setup, but I’m sure we could get one setup.
- MemberApril 26, 2019 at 8:26 pm
Well I thought Google Drive for Windows Mobile was now unsupported and “broken”. Or are you not using Windows Mobile Op. Sys.? If so, is there a Google Drive App to install?
- MemberApril 26, 2019 at 8:40 pm
I’m using Windows 10 x64 PC version on Tablet and PC. Google has an exe file to install G drive on Windows PC.
Apps for Windows Mobile 6.5 has been dead for many years. ActiveSync and Mobile device center are very unstable and slow.
- MemberApril 27, 2019 at 1:26 pm
I´ve been using Profimail for over 2 years and it works good enough. It´s a pretty simple email app but it is the fastest and easiest way to do it. And yes you can a gmail account with Profimail.
- MemberApril 27, 2019 at 2:16 pm
Thanks for your reply! I may still give it a shot.
- MemberApril 27, 2019 at 2:53 pm
We use Asana for all files transfers at this point (we are using geocell tablets, but there is work arounds using mifi and phones). The crews get assigned tasks and the tasks are loaded with PDF’s, point files, drawings, etc from the office. Then at the end of the job they crew loads raw data, texts files, and job pictures onto their task and completes it. The next day all files are downloaded, sorted, and processed first thing in the morning. All transfers are done on the road by the field crews, so there isn’t crews sitting around waiting for data uploads or a computer.
The transfer time takes about 30 seconds so we can get data back/out really fast….For those times that the contract poured the FFE 0.1′ off and quick adjustments need to be made to all the stakeout.
For the most part, my 5 crews are in and out of the office in 10 minutes or less.
- MemberMay 7, 2019 at 7:42 pm
Following up on this. I’ve discovered that our newest and most updated Ranger 3 works using the built in Outlook app and a free Outlook.com email address (I just created a free email address for file transfer use only). Now in Survey Pro I simply go to “File” and “Share” where you simply enter an email address, choose files, and send. No exiting Survey Pro or anything! Now for the office to send emails to the the field, the field crew will need to launch Outlook, save the attached files somewhere inside the “My Documents” folder (because that’s all Outlook gives you access to), relaunch Survey Pro, and browse/upload new files. I did confirm that using a Gmail email account still doesn’t work.
One complication I am having is with our second older Ranger 3 data collector. It will not connect to the mail server. I finally determined that that data collector needs a Windows Mobile update installed to match the version installed on our newer one (just a slight difference in the build number).
For now I am happy and optimistic that we can get it working on data collector #2 also.
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