This triple frequency Ground Penetrating Radar contains pairs of 250, 500, and 1000MHz dipoles, alongside an integrated battery and all of the electronics, in one ‘antenna’ box. It communicates with the controller via a wireless link. This makes it a fully wireless GPR with no cables.*
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The GPR is charged by connecting a charger directly to the antenna box, the connector is then closed for use. The GPR cannot be switched on without the connection being closed, this prevents accidental battery discharge during transit and the possibility of accidently leaving it open during wet weather.
The antenna is attached to a modified golf trolley via two simple clips and assembly takes less than 1 minute. There is a LAN option but the wireless worked flawlessly throughout all the testing and on no occasion did we try to use a LAN. It’s interesting how much of a difference that wireless operation makes.
The golf trolley itself folds down fairly small and is very light weight, with wheels that are easily removeable by the press of a button. The wheel encoder uses a magnetic mechanism that cannot become clogged with mud, and the wheels were smooth and did not collect significant debris whilst surveying.
The golf trolley was the least refined solution out of the three GPR’s we tested and we didn’t have high expectations. However, some minor concerns about longevity aside, this actually proved to be the most practical system to use on-site. It goes in straight lines very well, but was also the most manoeuvrable of the three. The balance with the antenna was excellent. It was many times over the lightest and caused the least fatigue during extended use.
The antenna itself has a protective tray made of hard plastic and about 10mm thick, it has two wheels up front which prevent it digging into the ground (a typical problem of two wheel carts). Overall the protection for the underside of the antenna was very good.
On grass, UTSI modestly suggested that the trolley wasn’t much good and that it would be easier to drag the antenna with an alternative off-road wheel or using continuous triggering mode, both of which are pretty sensible solutions… however we did try the using the trolley on long grass and found that although it wasn’t perfect it was by far the easiest GPR to push and manoeuvre out of the options we tried.
The controller can be any Windows laptop… I have used my day to day working laptop to collect the data for the comparative test as well as a Panasonic Toughbook and a Panasonic Toughpad on different occasions, all with no issues.
In particular because of the wireless connection it was very convenient and the only requirement was to set a static IP address.
The controlling software is reliable, with no bugs. (We used an old and well tested version, not the latest one.) It was simple enough to use but not as refined as the versions by larger manufacturers, some users might not be confident with it and that is a shame because although it appears to require a high level of user knowledge, it really is not much. There were no instructions and after we were shown once, we did not have any difficulty. This was also the only software which did not crash during use.
On robustness, because there are no cables there is less that can break and little opportunity for water to get inside. The strong and well-designed skid worked very well at protecting the underside of the antenna box. The antenna box itself is lightly build and that does worry us, as did the light weight trolley (but we like the light weight).
I would not trust a typical employee to take care of this GPR it if it was being thrown in and out of a van, but with ‘normal’ care it should last without issues.*
*We did manage to break ours, the excellent performance on grass was offset a little when we tried ‘reversing’ without paying attention, the corner of the heavy duty skid tray dug into a tuft of grass, causing the antenna to rotate around until the wheel cable pulled its connector out. UTSI Electronics have promised to design this possibility out in their new trolley design so that it cannot happen in the future.
The integrated battery will last a full shift and makes the unit intrinsically safe, when the battery runs out it is possible to connect an external battery and continue working. The integrated battery was great and highly practical with only one exception – it necessitated carrying a dirty antenna into a hotel room or office for charging. We would make greater use of the external power supply in the future.
Overall, it’s probably not for everyone and it may not be robust enough for some types of customer, but we liked this GPR and it was a pleasure to use. We also love the fact the manufacturer is based in the UK, you can drive to their offices and they answer the phone.
UTSI Ground Penetrating Radars including the TriVue can be purchased through GeoMatrix in the UK.
Link to Geomatrix: https://www.geomatrix.co.uk/
Link to UTSI Electronics: http://www.utsielectronics.co.uk/