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Discussion in 'Heavy Equipment & Pavement' started by toomuchtime, Jan 29, 2010.

  1. toomuchtime

    toomuchtime LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 267

    Im new to the excavation world so plase excuss my ingnorance.

    We have a few pads on our property that need to be pulled down recompacted and leveled. I think I would like to purchacse a laser system to help in this and I would like to purchase a unit that I could use commerically if need be. Any recommendations? Can anyone explain how they work in dummy terms? Do the receivers attach to my machine or a grade stake?

    Also there is a Proshot L1-AS single axis unit for sale near for me 600.00. what do you guys think about these?

    Thanks in advance
  2. Scag48

    Scag48 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,067

    Buy the most laser you can afford. Even if you're new to the biz, if you can afford a higher quality laser the first time, go for it. If you don't, you'll end up buying a higher quality laser down the road anyway.

    With that said, my old man started out with a $600 Porter Cable laser from Home Depot. Worked for him the little bit that we used it but he upgraded to a Trimble a couple years later.

    Lasers are quite simple. Whatever you buy, make sure it is self levelling. Dialing in on the bubbles is alright but a real PITA if you're in a hurry. I only used a non self levelling laser once and man it was a hassle since I was moving the laser multiple times during a regular work day.

    In a nutshell, here's how a laser works. Once the laser is setup on the tripod and levelled up, the laser will start spinning. Once that happens, the beam that is projected 360 degrees around the laser will be dead level. Take a grade rod and your reciever, hold the rod plumb and slide the reciever up or down the rod until you find the beam. Most recievers have both audible and visual indicators that you've reached the beam. Now, look at your grade rod and wherever the reciever clamp is on the rod, that's how high that laser sits off the ground. That's what we call "zeroing out". Once the laser is setup and we found the reading on the rod, say it's 4.55 or 4 feet and 55 hundredths, you can go a couple different routes from there. If you have a spot that is already grade, you can set the rod on that point and set the reciever on the rod for that elevation. Anywhere you go with the rod will be grade.

    If you're working in a cut and set the reciever at the same elevation of 4.55 and you want a cut of .80, slide the rod up to 5.35. Now anywhere in your cut area will be a level pad. Conversely, a fill is the same thing. If you're getting a zero'd rod reading of 4.55 and want a fill of .80, slide the reciever down the rod to 3.75. Remember, this only works for level work areas. You can buy slope lasers to shoot down slopes and carry a dialed percentage but for most guys that's a little more than they need.
  3. AWJ Services

    AWJ Services LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Ga
    Messages: 4,281

    I purchased a very inexpensive high quality laser to replace my other laser and I feel that your better off to buy a good dual grade or buy what I bought. There is no advantage of any lasers between the 2 and it is 500 dollars compared to 3k+.

    This is what I purchased. It comes with a 3 year instant exchange warranty.


    Here is the spec sheet


    I replaced a Leica laser with this one and have been happy with it. It does single grade as well.

    If you can afford it buy a Dual grade long range laser Like this one. It will be a wise investment.


    Or this.

  4. curtisfarmer

    curtisfarmer LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 511

    I spent $300 on a Johnson Controls self leveling head, $70 tripod, $90 reciever, and I think $60 for the rod. It is accurate to 1/8th @ 800' and it works great for me. I use mine more for large landscape construction projects as opposed to mainly excavation and I have used it in jacking up houses and barns and other things too.

    I can see the concept of buying the best for those who rely on them as the technology leapfrogs quickly, but I feel for limited uses such as mine, an affordable unit will certainly pay off.
  5. bobcatexc

    bobcatexc LawnSite Senior Member
    from IL
    Messages: 277

    AWJ I remember discussing your new Spectra laser a while back when you ordered it. So are you able to manually adjust the slope up and down like you thought. I've got a Leica Rugby 100 that I can manually set up on two different elevations and adjust the beam up or down to match, works pretty good for cutting swales or digging trenches for drainage pipe. I would like to have a fancier one that you can dial in the percentage, but the Leica will do for now.
  6. curtisfarmer

    curtisfarmer LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 511

    I had to build a public park in an area which wasn't square, but the design had a lot of straight angles all centered from on point. Long story short, I ended up remembering how the pyramids where calculated (square in an area devoid of reference point) and also used a torpedo level to run straight lines and build a design in an area which sloped, pitched, wasn't square, and so on. Very challenging for those who havn't done it. Lose 1 reference point, nothing comes out right.
  7. AWJ Services

    AWJ Services LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Ga
    Messages: 4,281

    Yes it does manual slope. It works like the Leica 100.
    The Leica is a much higher quality constructed laser but it comes at a much higher price. The Spectre laser has incredible battery life. It goes 2 to 3 times as long as the Leica did and has only 2 d batteries instead of 4.
    I looked at the cheap Chinese lasers like the Johnsons, Northwest, etc and the Spectre is in a different category. It is a commercial grade laser. It is weather proof and comes with a 3 year exchange warranty. I purchased several of the cheaper lasers with varied success so I was reluctant to purchase the Spectre due to it's low price. I spoke with several reapir companies and they all agreed that the Spectre was built well. I would however recomend a Leica over this if you can afford the extra money even though 500 dollars for a commercial laser with that warranty is a bargain in my opinion.
  8. curtisfarmer

    curtisfarmer LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 511

    I should have said torpedo laser instead of level. When running long lines, I find the laser to be best.

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