Precision Measurements In Surveying, Navigation, Topography

How do you measure the slope of a hill? Or the height of an object, such as the trees in a park? Getting these figures requires more than a regular ruler or tape measure. And this is where precision inclinometers come in handy.

Also called clinometers, these are devices designed to measure angles of slope or tilt in degrees, minutes, seconds, or percentages with respect to gravity. The manual inclinometer system primarily consists of a probe, cable reel, a mobile readout unit, and a host of accessories, such as cable reel batteries and mobile chargers.

For decades now, they’ve been used by surveyors, engineers, and geologists to create accurate land assessments and topographical maps. They are also used for navigation and instrument calibration.

Inclinometers made by a trusted manufacturer of precision alignment equipment can also be used for safety applications. For instance, this measuring device allows city planners to build an appropriate runoff for sidewalks and streets. Engineers can study bridges and dams and determine their soundness over time.

Skiers and hikers can also rely on clinometers to measure the angles of snow-covered slopes and evaluate the risk for avalanches. Additionally, volcanologists can use inclinometers to record ground shifts in active volcanoes and use data analysis to predict volcanic activities.

The Different Types of Precision Inclinometers

Inclinometers come in different sizes and shapes, and each type is built to fulfill specific purposes. Here are the different types of inclinometers produced by a manufacturer of precision alignment equipment.

Ball inclinometers. If you are to navigate through the oceans, you will need a ball inclinometer. It’s a device used to measure tilts on sailboats and other watercraft. The readings are done by referencing a ball placed inside a bent tube. It’s available as a single- or dual-scale ball inclinometer.

Drum inclinometers. These are rugged instruments made to measure the tilts of an object. This inclinometer is typically graduated from 0° to 180° to 0°.

Optical inclinometers. Boasting a 360-degree operating range, this type of inclinometer is used primarily for calibration and alignment applications. NIST traceable calibration for your optical equipment is recommended.

Vernier inclinometers. This type of clinometer is frequently used to level and align machinery and small platforms. It’s a surveying instrument that can read angles in the horizontal plane.

Pendulum inclinometers. If you are to measure awkward locations, the pendulum inclinometer is the most suitable instrument to use. You can secure the angle reading with the help of an extended Vernier scale, equipped with a magnifier, and a drum-locking component.

Electronic inclinometers. Powered by a battery, this type of inclinometer has a range of ±45°, with a capacity of reading 0 to 360° angles. It also comes with a built-in calibration for enhanced accuracy.

Abney levels. Manufacturers of custom alignment telescopes and other precision instruments know just how vital Abney levels are. It’s composed of a clinometer and four scales. It is used to get one or a combinations of different slope readings (e.g., degrees, percent of grade, and topographic arc).

When choosing a precision instrument, you have to consider its measurement range, accuracy, and the number of axes measured. For a more convenient and accurate reading, you should also consider the output type and resolution (or the smallest measurable change in the output).