The Theory and History of Gyro-theodolite

In surveying, a gyro-theodolite (also: surveying gyro) is an instrument composed of a gyroscope mounted to a theodolite. It is used to determine the orientation of true north. It is the main instrument for orientation in mine surveying and in tunnel engineering, where astronomical star sights are not visible and GPS does not work.

In 1852, the French physicist Léon Foucault discovered that a gyro with two degrees of freedom points north. This principle was adapted by Max Schuler in 1921 to build the first surveying gyro. In 1949, the gyro-theodolite – at that time called a “meridian pointer” or “meridian indicator”– was first used by the Clausthal Mining Academy underground. Several years later it was improved with the addition of autocollimation telescopes. In 1960, the Fennel Kassel company produced the first of the KT1 series of gyro-theodolites. Fennel Kassel and others later produced gyro attachments that can be mounted on normal theodolites.

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