Survey equipment calibration - EDMs, staves, tapes and bands

Regulation 6(1)(a) and (b) of the Surveying (Cadastral Surveys) Regulations 2005 requires a licensed surveyor to use survey equipment that has been compared to a standard of measurement. The process and basis of comparison must be adequate to obtain the accuracy required under the regulations.

Regulation 6(2) requires licensed surveyors to retain records of comparisons and make them available for inspection upon request by the Surveyor-General.

On this page:

Comparison of EDM equipment

According to the Surveying (Cadastral Surveys) Regulations 2005, Electronic Distance Measurement (EDM) equipment used on any survey must be maintained and compared to a standard of measurement. EDMs should be calibrated:

  • at intervals not exceeding 12 calendar months
  • after every repair to all or part of such equipment
  • by comparison to a baseline approved by the Surveyor-General.

To assist surveyors in the calibration of EDM equipment, the Office of Surveyor-General Victoria maintains an EDM calibration handbook, EDM calibration software, and six EDM calibration baselines in Victoria.

EDM calibration handbook

Meteorological transfer standard corrections

The Office of Surveyor-General Victoria maintains a 'transfer standard' temperature and pressure gauge. The transfer standard is calibrated against the national standards for temperature and pressure on a biennial basis. During the annual baseline calibration surveys, each of the 'baseline standard' thermometer and barometer devices is compared against the transfer standard. These comparisons are undertaken to monitor and record the offset of the baseline standard thermometer and barometer.

In order to ensure that readings from meteorological equipment used in instrument calibration are comparable to the national standards for temperature and pressure, the recorded offset for the baseline standard to transfer standard must be applied as a correction. These corrections are listed in the table below, and must be included on the instrument calibration booking sheet.   

Baseline Temperature Pressure
Bendigo 0.0 +1.2
Braeside +0.2 -0.3
Cowwarr -0.3 +0.6
Geelong -0.1 +1.4
Hamilton -0.1 +1.5
Mitcham 0.0 +1.0

Table last updated 10/12/2015

Instrument parameters

Pulsed Instruments and instruments with a unit length of zero

For instruments with a unit length of zero and pulsed instruments, the meteorological observations must be entered into the instrument at the time of the calibration.

The unit length, frequency and carrier wave length are used in the calculation of the meteorological corrections and cyclic errors within the Baseline software. Surveyors can enter the instrument into the register, leave all the details blank and the software will still process the data correctly. 

Instrument parameter spreadsheets

The following Microsoft Excel Spreadsheets list instrument specific parameters to assist surveyors when using the Baseline software to calibrate EDM equipment.

EDM calibration software

To assist surveyors in the calibration of EDM equipment against standard baselines, an EDM calibration computer program  called Baseline (Version, July 2012) has been made available for public use by the Western Australia's land information authority, Landgate. The Office of Surveyor-General Victoria has adopted this software for the calibration of EDM baselines and EDM equipment in Victoria.

The latest version of Baseline and distribution file for the calibration of EDM equipment against Victoria's baselines is available from the following link: 

The distribution file available from this link is updated annually following the re-verification of Victoria's baselines. The EDM Calibration Handbook and online help provide the user with the necessary instructions to run Baseline.

The new version of Baseline has been prepared to overcome difficulties running on 64-bit versions of Windows 7. If users experience persistent run-time difficulties running Baseline on Windows 7, please contact geodetic survey via or on (03) 8636 2546.

Users who have obtained Baseline directly from Landgate must ensure they have the most up to date Victorian baseline information before reducing their results.

EDM calibration baselines

The Office of Surveyor-General Victoria maintains six EDM calibration baselines in Victoria: Bendigo, Braeside, Geelong, Hamilton, Cowwarr and Mitcham. As a verifying authority for length, Surveyor-General Victoria re-verifies these baselines on an annual basis in accordance with the provisions of the National Measurement Act 1960 and National Measurement Regulations 1999.

Information relating to Victoria's EDM calibration baselines and the respective controlling office for making bookings is given in the following table.  

Baseline location  Controlling office for bookings 
McDowells Road
adjacent to Bendigo Airport
Bendigo (PDF, 30.3 KB, 1 p.)
EDM Baseline Bookings
(03) 8636 2546

Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning
Survey Section
7 Taylor Street
Bendigo 3551
(03) 5430 4444
Braeside Park
Lower Dandenong Road
Melway 88 D10
Braeside Park Ranger's Office (03) 9265 7300
Braeside (PDF, 22.1 KB, 1 p.)

EDM Baseline Bookings
(03) 8636 2546

Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning
Land Victoria
Calibration Officer
GPO Box 527
Melbourne Vic 3001

Bellarine Rail Trail
Boundary Road
Melway 452 H10
Geelong Baseline (PDF, 25.2 KB, 1 p.)

EDM Baseline Bookings
(03) 8636 2546

St Quentin Consulting Pty Ltd
51 Little Fyans Street
South Geelong 3220
(03) 5229 2011

Balkans Road
2km west of
Fairburn Road
Hamilton (PDF, 15.8 KB, 1 p.)
EDM Baseline Bookings
(03) 8636 2546

Brayley & Hayes P/L
85 Kennedy Street
Hamilton, 3300
(03) 5571 9171

Foxs Road West
Cowwarr (PDF, 27.0 KB, 1 p.)

EDM Baseline Bookings
(03) 8636 2546

SMEC Urban Pty Ltd (Gippsland)
18 Breed Street
Traralgon, 3844
(03) 5173 0100
Menin Road,
Melway 48 F12
Nacha Moore Land Surveyors
(03) 9872 5512
Mitcham (PDF, 11.2 KB, 1 p.)

EDM Baseline Bookings
(03) 8636 2546

Nacha Moore Land Surveyors Pty Ltd
226 Mitcham Road
Mitcham, 3032

Baseline bookings

  • Bookings are required in advance to use the baselines.
  • Controlling offices are open between 8.30am and 4.30pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Baselines are available for use on weekdays only.
  • Users are required to have their own copies of official booking sheets.
  • No rubbish is to be left behind.
  • All gates must be left in their original position.
  • Pillar caps are to be refitted upon completion.
  • When using non-standard prisms, sighting difficulties may be experienced between pillars. The same type of prism must be used for the observations to achieve a valid calibration. 

For general enquiries:
Telephone: (03) 8636 2546

Comparison of surveying tapes and bands

Surveying tapes and bands used on any survey are required to be maintained and compared to a standard of measurement under the Surveying (Cadastral Surveys) Regulations 2005. Comparison with a standard of measurement can be achieved by comparing a field tape or band with a standard surveying tape or band which is currently certified under Regulation 13 of the National Measurement Regulations 1999 as a subsidiary standard of length.

If surveyors wish to continue to use steel bands, the Surveyor-General recommends that surveyors adopt the following certification procedures and specifications in order to satisfy the requirements of the regulation.

  • A field tape or band should be compared with a certified surveying tape or band before use and at six-monthly intervals thereafter, and immediately after repair of a break or other defect.
  • Every surveying band maintained as a standard of comparison shall be forwarded to a National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) certified calibration authority for examination and re-certification at intervals not exceeding three years. Two reputable, NATA certified laboratories offering steel band calibration services include:

Thales Australia Test and Calibration Service
421-449 Gordon Street,
Maribyrnong VIC 3032

T (03) 9319 4444 F (03) 9317 9954

Abstec Calibrations Australia Pty Ltd
79 Ledger Road, Beverley SA 5009

T (08) 8244 1355 F (08) 8445 1377

  • Any surveying band used as a standard of comparison shall conform to the following specifications
  • It must be manufactured of carbon-steel and be free of kinks, mends or any other deformity
  • The length shall not be less than 50m
  • The minimum width shall not be less than 3mm
  • The minimum thickness shall not be less than 0.5mm
  • All graduations appearing on the tape should be machined lines orientated to within 1 degree of normal to the length of the band and having a maximum width of 0.5mm
  • Every band should be so constructed as to have an over-length at each end of not less than 300mm
  • The band must be detachable from its winder
  • A band of more than 50m in length must be graduated at each 50m interval
  • It must have a current certificate issued under Regulation 13 of the National Measurement Regulations 1999.

Comparison of levelling staves

While Regulation 6 of the Surveying (Cadastral Surveys) Regulations 2005 deals specifically with licensed surveyors, Surveyor-General Victoria recommends that all surveyors regularly compare staves used in routine survey work to a recognised standard of measurement. The comparison of staves is particularly important when survey work necessitates high-levels of precision and integrity, such as may be required for the monitoring of structures and deformation surveys.

Surveyor-General Victoria is not authorised to provide a Regulation 13 certificate under the National Measurement Act 1960 for staves. However, the Office of Surveyor-General offers a staff comparison service that provides an accurate basis for comparison.

Staff comparison work undertaken by the Office of Surveyor-General Victoria involves the comparison of a series of readings taken along the entire length of each staff against an Elgo MIX Series magnetic length measuring system on a rigid level bench. The quoted uncertainty of the measuring system is (0.025mm + 0.02xL) mm at 20 degrees Celcius, where L is length in metres. From the series of readings, a systematic staff scale factor is estimated. This scale factor is the ratio of the measured intervals to true intervals. The error in the joints, or 'join factor', is also determined from this procedure.

Upon completion of the work, Surveyor-General Victoria issues a report of comparison that describes the method used and the staff scale factor.

Please note that the level bench and measuring system are not calibrated against a national standard, and that the report of comparison only provides an estimate of the systematic staff scale factor. Accordingly, staves compared by the Office of Surveyor-General Victoria using this method of comparison are not legally traceable to the national standard.

Staves submitted to the Office of Surveyor-General Victoria for comparison shall conform to the following specifications.

  • Length must be a maximum of 4.1m.
  • Construction must be of a thermally stable material, such a timber or fibreglass. Aluminium staves are only suitable if the scale is on a pre-tensioned invar strip.
  • Joins in staves must be either hinged or securely clamped.
  • Telescopic staves are unsuitable for comparison.
  • Staff graduations suitable for calibration are metres, feet or bar-coded. Each interval on bar-coded staves must be divisible by a constant, supplied by the manufacturer.

The Surveyor-General recommends that for staves used on a continual basis or on first-order high precision surveys, comparison should be undertaken twice a year at the two extremes of climate, e.g. January and July, when it can be assumed that the comparison factor at any other time of the year is at least between these limits. Comparison is particularly required if staves are being used for levelling in steep country. It is recommended that two staves used as a pair should be compared together.

Variation in the value of the comparison factor can be significant. However, the value is generally consistent for comparisons carried out at the same season each year. Acceptance tests should be carried out on newly purchased staves.

Acceptable limits are:

  • systematic scale factor, within range 0.99967 to 1.00033
  • join factor, less than +/- 0.001m.

Application form and equipment delivery details

Staves to be compared by the Office of Surveyor-General Victoria should be delivered to Geodetic Survey by courier or by personal delivery. Please complete the Staff Comparison Application Form for all staves:

When submitting staves by courier or in person, deliver the staves with a completed Staff Comparison Application Form to:

Geodetic Survey
Office of Surveyor-General Victoria

via the Security Desk
Level 27, 570 Bourke Street

Please inform security of your intention to deliver your staves to Geodetic Survey.

Payment and fees

Levelling staff comparison and report:

  • per levelling staff (two sections) $47.50 (GST Inclusive)
  • per levelling staff (three or more sections) $62.50 (GST Inclusive).

Land Victoria's preferred payment options are cash or cheque (made out to Land Victoria). Facilities for card transactions (MasterCard, VISA, EFTPOS) and purchase orders are also available.

Page last reviewed on 4 August 2016

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