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    Theodolites
    From: Paul Hirose
    Date: 1999 Mar 28, 15:53 EST

    Someone on the list was looking for a theodolite but was having
    trouble finding a source.  Well, I was strolling down Colorado Blvd.
    in Pasadena (Calif.) and noticed a military surplus shop with several
    theodolites on display in the front window.  Didn't make note of the
    prices, unfortunately.
    Also, there are periodic auctions at Air Force bases and perhaps bases
    from other services as well.  The Defense Re-utilization and Marketing
    Office at Edwards AFB has unloaded several theodolites, I learned.
    One was a Wild T-3 which went to "some guy from Alaska".
    I think there's a Web site for info on these auctions.  Can get
    details if anyone's interested.
    I once had a job where I had access to a T-3.  Didn't use it myself;
    we just stored it for the people who used it.  On slow nights I would
    take it out to look at the Moon or just play with it.  Beautiful
    instrument.  No electronics.  All opto-mechanical.  It was Swiss, I
    think, and I'd guess it was about 1960 vintage.  Etched glass circles
    for vertical and horizontal.  All the works were enclosed and
    protected from dust and weather.  You read the circles through a
    microscope whose eyepiece was right next to the one for the telescope.
    An optical micrometer read to a tenth second, although you had to
    develop an "eye" to get consistent readings.  We may still have the
    manual at work.  I'll have to look tomorrow.
    Nowadays we have four Wild T3000s on the shelf.  These are electronic,
    also reading to .1".  The calibration lab only guarantees them to 1",
    however.  I think that's because their equipment doesn't go any finer.
    Normally the setup people use two or more T3000s at a time, all
    connected to a computer, but there's an LCD and control panel on the
    theodolite and you can use it stand-alone.  This model automatically
    does many of the delicate, time-consuming alignments you had to
    perform on the old T-3 to prepare it for use.  It's tremendously
    faster and easier to read.  But for a personal plaything, I'd take the
    T-3.  Plastic buttons and digital displays are no match for the
    chrome-plated knobs and doodads that seemed to sprout from all sides
    of the T-3!
    Even more fun might be one of the American-style theodolites you see
    in 1940s surveying books.  Unlike the enclosed European types, these
    were "open" designs with big metal circles read by paired microscopes
    on opposite sides of each circle.  I've never seen one of these in the
    flesh.  You'd probably have to pay antique prices for one.  There must
    have been lots in use decades ago.  Wonder what ever became of them.
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