Using QGIS as Survey tool

QGIS (previously known as Quantum GIS) is a cross-platform free and open-source desktop geographic information system (GIS) application that provides data viewing, editing, and analysis.
The first I heard of QGIS was on this forum approximately a year ago.
Survey for fence
Since then, I have been studying it in my spare time and have been amazed what a powerful tool it is. It can be used for almost any GIS application. I have recently used it for developing contour lines and publishing drone imagery, including elevation data. I am not an expert in its use but I’d like to show how I connect to it and hope to use it together with the Reach RS/Reach. Hopefully more ideas come as more users try it!
I am referring to QGIS running on Windows.There are other Android versions, etc. but I am not certain as to their functionality.
First of all, we need to connect our survey equipment to QGIS. There are two simple ways. One, over local network, or secondly, by USB. In order to connect over local network, the computer running QGIS needs to be on the same network as the rover. This can be via the rover’s hotspot. This screenshot shows the reach Rover config and the QGIS config.

The port number is the same as we’ll enter in QGIS to find position string.

In QGIS, the colour panel turns green to indicate connection when we enter in the i.p. address of the rover and the port number.
The second way to connect is via “serial device”, actually USB.First plug the micro USB into the opening on Rover.

Then, plug the other end into the computer usb port.

For this, the settings on your rover should look something like this.

When I viewed my devices on my Windows tablet, it showed a driver error
But this didn’t cause any trouble.
In QGIS, choose to connect by serial device and use the same COM port as is shown in connected devices.

In this screen clipping the colour bar is grey because I’m not actually connected now. (It’s cold and raining and I don’t have a USB cable long enough to reach indoors) :slight_smile:

Now that we’re connected we should see our position in QGIS similar to on our Reachview app.

But in QGIS, we can choose from a wide range of background maps, including, of course, or own drone imagery.

The gps panel shows gps status but I don’t trust it for showing if we have fix or not. We have to keep an eye on our reachview app for that. Correct me if I’m wrong.
Once we’re connected and have our layers and snapping settings ready. We can go to work! Adding points, lines, and polygons, based on our location.

Then, for the feature of manually entering lines. Often we need to enter a line and then enter distances and directions based on that line, e.g. 30 m at 90 degrees relative to a given line. QGIS has a feature called CAD tools that should work for this. First, enter the line(for example, property line.) Then, draw parallel or perpendicular lines from that one.
This is found in the advanced digitizing panel. Here you can select start point by vertex and then begin drawing from that point at a direction relative to a selected line.
Distances and angles can be preset here but I won’t attempt to show it as I am still learning. Let me refer you to a tutorial by Klas Karlsson
Back in the office after the survey, there are options to trim, extend, fillet linework, convert points to arcs, etc.I think these features could be used while surveying as well. Check out the plug-in QAD

Also check out plugin CadTools.

I think that’s enough info for today. Hopefully this helps someone and the community in general.
I used a Windows Surface Pro with a holder that had a threaded opening in the back. I was able to mount this to my pole by running a bolt backwards through topcons data collecter holder :slight_smile:


Impressive. The nice thing here is the flexibility and adaptability of the Reach from a simple precise True North Direction and Distance Backpack Tool to the Survey Tool with QGIS as you demonstrate here and other Applications.

Great info thanks

I have just connected reach to my laptop via bluetooth running windows10 and Qgis 2.18.5
Thought i would test some cogo and height measure today. Wish me luck :yum:


Just a tip for connecting reach to your computer through bluetooth. This may apply to other software as well.
If no COM port is assign to your bluetooth on the computer, you need to set this first.
Before you start, make sure reach is paired before you start-


Hit a major wall. The vertical wall. Has anybody figured out how to change or apply a plugin or a way to change how qgis is handle vertical height?
Im stuck at qgis giving only one choice, the geoid height. I need it to use ellipsoid height

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Does anybody understand the answer here?

Easy fix? set to No


THank you for this writeup. This post is a few years old and I’m now using a Reach RS2 with QGIS 3.10 but your instructions have held up well.
One issue i have run into is a substantial lag between the GNSS location and the cursor icon on QGIS running on a Windows10 laptop. I’m tethering both the Reach and the laptop to my VZ cellphone and getting an NTRIP rtk Fix status and everything looks good in Reachview. However pointing QGIS GPS panel to the ReachRS2’s IP# at Port 9001 it refreshes very infrequently. The crosshairs stays put while the Reach moves around.
I plan to save point and polygon vertices to Geopackage layers but i will try a shapefile tomorrow in case this is the source of the location refresh delay. Is there a way to refresh the location based on a NMEA stream coming over IP every second?
Has anyone else experienced this lag problem?

A second question i have is about stakeout or guided navigation to points in QGIS using this method.

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Hi Nico,

I’m currently trying to reproduce your issue. I’ll get back soon with the results.

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I have used QField for stakeout and to nagivate to point features (basically follow a grid pattern and record a GNSS position on every grid point) with Reach. I don’t know if you looked at Bluetooth output on Reach but it worked flawlessly for me. Basically share wifi with cell phone and get corrections from there, then output position to BT and use a tablet with Android compiled QField for field work.


What protocol are you using for the Bluetooth corrections? We had to use ERB with FieldGenius for Android.

In a subsequent test the next day QGIS GPS refreshed fine from the IP#:9001. I’m not sure what the issue was perhaps having to do with windows processes. If any one else experiences this try rebooting the windows computer.

Just regular NMEA as described in the BT/mock location guide.


Hi Nico,

Thanks for the update! Great to hear everything works fine now.

In the test I conducted, Reach was successfully connected to QGIS, and the position refreshed fine. So, the issue indeed isn’t on the Reach side.

Can you please share how you connected rs2 to qgis, in my case I connected by reach WiFi but the horizontal accuracy as show in gps information tab states 300

Hello I connected both the Reach and the laptop to a cellular hotspot. The Reach RS2 had Fix status and the laptop showed those high quality positions.
I was simultaneously sharing the Fix positions to a Ground penetrating radar as well via Bluetooth.

A post was split to a new topic: Can’t get the solution from Reach to QGIS