Rangefinder Recommendations

General discussions of measurement techniques and the results of testing of techniques and equipment.

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JHarkness
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Rangefinder Recommendations

Post by JHarkness » Sat Jul 21, 2018 12:15 pm

I've been looking at buying a laser rangefinder, one with a built in tilt sensor. I had my eyes set on a Nikon Forestry Pro, but I've seen a lot of bad reviews for it since then, it is apparently very poor in performance when used in undergrowth or through a leafed out canopy. Supposedly it's only accurate to within 1.5', which is really not an improvement over my current tangent based measurement method, as long as I can see the top clearly, I've found that I'm accurate to within a foot with the tangent method after running several accuracy tests on it. I was looking at higher end rangefinders, but they're ridiculously expensive, it looks like the cheapest TruPulse out there is over $1,200, so I started looking for a mid range model, something between the price of the Nikon and the TruPulse, it seems that there is no such thing unfortunately.

Are there any mid range models out there? How does the Forestry Pro perform, is it by any chance better than what it's marked up to be? Are there any TruPulse models that are under $1,000?

I'm inclined to go with the Forestry Pro, even if it's only accurate to within 1.5', I can always take 10 to 15 measurements and average them together, theoretically, that should give an accuracy of up to a tenth of a foot, but it depends on what it reads most.

Thanks,
Joshua Harkness
"Be not simply good; be good for something." Henry David Thoreau

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mdvaden
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Re: Rangefinder Recommendations

Post by mdvaden » Sat Jul 21, 2018 12:51 pm

Is there a chance you may want one of these Impulse 200LR? They are discontinued. The latest greatest now is a 200X for about $1800. The 200LR used to cost $2800. I prefer the design of the 200LR, but it's less compact. Mine is barely used, stored in a case, with bracket and manual. It's probably worth about $1200 to me. I have a Trupulse 200 which suffices now. Because if I find a new world record, I'd likely ask one of two other people to confirm the measurements with their equipment anyway. I found that a camera tripod with ballhead and quick release plate works very nice for mounting the laser. These are accurate to about 1 inch. Range 1700 feet.
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JHarkness
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Re: Rangefinder Recommendations

Post by JHarkness » Sat Jul 21, 2018 1:17 pm

Unfortunately, I won't able to spend over $1,000 on a rangefinder, I was hoping not over $600. I also don't need that range, I won't be measuring anything over 200' any time soon and we don't really have a lot of places in the area where you can measure a tall tree from a distance. Thank you for the offer, though.

I think I will be going with the Forestry Pro and seeing how it performs, I'm sure I'll be able to figure out a few ways to improve accuracy. The big thing it will do for me is allow me to more easily measure trees with multiple leaders and allow me to take my measuring "equipment" on long hikes in the Adirondacks. When you're twenty miles from the nearest road, I think the ability to get a fairly accurate measurement is better than to get no measurement at all.

Joshua
"Be not simply good; be good for something." Henry David Thoreau

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mdvaden
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Re: Rangefinder Recommendations

Post by mdvaden » Sat Jul 21, 2018 1:30 pm

The range of the new 200X almost makes me chuckle. It's about 8,000 ft. With the Impulse 200LR, I rarely got more than 400 ft. away. If a tree is in a grove, that's when when 600 ft. or more was handy to get back and over the other tops. I don't think I ever used 1000 feet worth of reach. For Big Tree at Prairie Creek, I think we needed 800 feet away to get the top and then head toward it's base in increments. That's the beauty of 1/10 ft. accuracy inside a unit, is when a dozen measurements are taken and added or subtracted.
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dbhguru
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Re: Rangefinder Recommendations

Post by dbhguru » Sat Jul 21, 2018 3:00 pm

Joshua,

LTI often has used equipment for their various instruments discounted about 50%. I’ll be at LTI headquarters on July 29th. I’d be pleased to ask them what they have thst might interest you.

If you can get a used TruPulse 200X, it would probably be your best choice since you can penetrate clutter with it where as their other TruPulse models don’t support that capability.

I have several Nikon models including the Forestry Pro and can do a lot with it despite its lesser precision. However, you’ll have to test any instrument you get. Most have a weakness for some set of conditions.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
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Co-founder, National Cadre

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JHarkness
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Re: Rangefinder Recommendations

Post by JHarkness » Sat Jul 21, 2018 3:59 pm

Bob,

Thanks for the offer, but I won't take you up on it. I plan to go with the Forestry Pro for now, and yes, I plan to run a number of accuracy tests on it to see how it performs. That said, how are the TruPulse 200 and 200B models? I found a few used ones that seem to be in very good condition and are well priced.

Joshua
"Be not simply good; be good for something." Henry David Thoreau

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Rangefinder Recommendations

Post by Erik Danielsen » Sat Jul 21, 2018 7:21 pm

I purchased my Trupulse 200B on ebay for not much over $300 and feel it was worth every penny. It doesn't quite match the 200X, but the difference is not proportional to the difference in purchase cost. The 200X has some extra bells and whistles, but the 200B is undeniably a solid workhorse of a unit. I also prefer the vertical layout in hand. I am not sure if the nikon units have an equivalent to the VD function on the trupulses, which is what makes them so efficient during the exploratory work before finally locking in the solid measurements. The finest unit gradations available on the 200B are to read in yards and tenths, somewhat smaller increments than a half foot.

Pretty much any unit on the market can have its accuracy improved in practice by learning the unit's "clickover" points (there is a good bit of material here on the subject). Averaging multiple readings does not do much to to improve accuracy- there's no reason to assume the highest reading in a range is not just as accurate as the others. Twigs are complex and finicky reflection targets, and the type of target that can produce erroneous readings becomes familiar with experience. They stick out.

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dbhguru
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Re: Rangefinder Recommendations

Post by dbhguru » Sat Jul 21, 2018 10:27 pm

Joshua,

Erik gives dound advice. The TruPulse units are, indeed, workhorses. The Forestry Zoro foes gave an equivalent return to the TruPulse VD mode.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

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JHarkness
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Re: Rangefinder Recommendations

Post by JHarkness » Sun Jul 22, 2018 9:54 am

Erik, Bob,

I purchased a used TruPulse 200, with case, tripod mount and USB data transfer cable, for only a little more than the Nikon Forestry Pro. It seems to be in very good condition, just a few scratches on the body, so I'm quite pleased with the deal. Pretty good for a unit that goes for $2,000 when brand new. One of the things that interested me in it was it's brush penetration modes and it's brush filter, that should definitely make measuring easier and more accurate.

I'm hoping to stop by Ice Glen once I've got the hang of the unit to measure some of the hemlocks and the Ice Glen Pine, when were they last measured, it seems like it was a few years ago?

Joshua
"Be not simply good; be good for something." Henry David Thoreau

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dbhguru
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Re: Rangefinder Recommendations

Post by dbhguru » Sun Jul 22, 2018 10:55 am

Joshua,

Ice Glen pine was measured in the last 12 months by Jared Lockwood. I think Jared got 160.1 feet. There are atleast 5 pines in Ice Glen over 149 feet, and probably 6.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

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