Mysticetus Theodolite Support

New Mysticetus Version –

About time we moved this show onto land, right?

Mysticetus has had limited support for theodolite tracking so far, in the form of hand-entering declination angles and absolute bearings to sightings, but now we get to use theodolites for real.

With this release Mysticetus connects to your theodolite, downloads the appropriate raw angles, converts those angles to the appropriate bearings and declinations, and locates your sighting on the map, taking into account curvature of the earth, interpolated tide levels, eyepiece height, etc.

In typical Mysticetus fashion, everything about this is configurable. First off, you can download the Theodolite Sample.Mysticetus file from the downloads page, if you want to see how to use the new settings and formulas:

First up, go to Configure->System Options->Theodolite, and tell Mysticetus about your theodolite.

Enter your theodolite’s location, a name and altitude above MSL, and eyepiece height or use the position (pos) and altitude (alt) wizards. Preferable you will use the wizards make sure you have a GPS connected to Mysticetus and have allowed it to warm up for 10 minutes.

Mysticetus will then place an icon on your map for the theodolite, with it facing its zero (reference) point. In this example, I simply set the reference/zero point to magnetic north, but you can enter your own bearing, or you can enter the position (latitude/longitude) of a known landmark and Mysticetus will calculate the bearing and range for you. This reference point becomes the zero for horizontal (bearing) calculations.

Select the port used to connect to the Theodolite – Mysticetus will only prompt with ports that look like they might be a theodolite (in this specific example, the theo installed itself on COM28 – Mysticetus won’t show you COM1, COM2, COM3, etc. because they don’t make sense…only COM28 in this case). Once connected, you can press the Test Connection button and Mysticetus will display the raw information returned from the connected theodolite (or an error indicating a problem, or an out-of-level situation, etc.).

This includes the raw horizontal and vertical values, as well as those converted based on reference/zero point.

You can add Tide levels in one of three ways:

  1. Enter by hand (gets old very quickly)
  2. Copy from Excel (create two columns, one for date/time, one for tide height – if you don’t include units for height, Mysticetus assumes meters). Copy and paste into Mysticetus.
  3. Copy from WxTide32 (

Right click in the Tides window, and choose the Paste option.

Mysticetus understands Copy and Paste from both Excel and WxTide32 (a great freeware Tide prediction program that supports thousands of stations around the world). If you copy from WxTide32, make sure you configure WxTide32 with the following settings:

  1. Use Meters rather than Feet.
  2. Display times in 24 hour format
  3. Use Short Date/Time

Tell WxTide32 to create a set of tide values for the station you care about (I like using 5 minute increments – because everything is automated, it doesn’t matter if you have thousands of tide records), then copy and paste the values from WxTide to Mysticetus.

Now the fun really begins. Mysticetus has three new formulas that can be applied to cells in the entry sheets:

  1. TheoInfo
  2. TheoHorz
  3. TheoVert
Here’s a shot of a new sample Theodolite entry sheet with these values implemented. Note that under the covers Mysticetus (as usual) maintains every bit of precision it can (many decimal places), but for the user interface it only shows a few digits of precision – there is no data loss due to precision.

Note the plotting of the sightings on the map.

IMPORTANT NOTE: As usual for Mysticetus, it’s not Dave’s Way or the Highway. In this example, I trigger the read from the theodolite by pressing “x” in the Date/Time field, but you don’t have to do it this way. Since the theodolite functionality is implemented as highly configurable formulas and entry sheets, you can set up things exactly how you want.

Maybe you want to trigger these formulas by pressing a Hot Key rather than “x” – no sweat, go ahead and create a new Macro to do that (remember Macros and HotKeys from a few months ago? No? Well, drop me an email and I’ll remind you 🙂 )

Or maybe you want to record a bunch of other fields with your sighting (counts, calves, birds, photo records, etc.) – as usual, no sweat. Just start with the theodolite template and add all the fields you want.

All standard Mysticetus rules (or lack/flexibility thereof) apply.


Anyways, Mysticetus now fully support Aerial, Vessel and Theodolite-based surveys. And it is all highly configurable to meet individual needs.

Pretty cool huh? That was a heck of lot more work than I thought it was going to be, but it was darned fun.

Big thanks to the US Navy (via HDR) for loaning me a Sokkia DT510 to reverse engineer. I might have to buy one of these – I enjoy just having it on my desk, checking out angles to trees and our horses and such – I love gadgets 🙂

Also a big thanks to Dr. Bernd Würsig for guiding me through the actual usage of these things, and helping me define the configuration user interface.

As usual – comments and questions are welcome. If you have a different theodolite model you’d like me to reverse engineer, let’s talk. And, of course, if you want to do something different(ly) and the above setup/features don’t cover it – let me know and we’ll see what I can come up with.


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