carlson_rw5 – Carlson SurvCE Raw Data File Format (RW5)

New in version 0.4.

Carlson RW5 is an exchange format used by the Carlson SurvCE software.

The official documentation about the format is provided on the Carlson website.

RW5 is a rich format for raw data about the entire field operation of total stations and even GPS.

For example:

OC,OP111,N 16556174.237,E 942130.662,EL 16.404
BK,OP111,BP108,BS0.00000,BC0.00000 LS,HI5.684,HR5.500

At the moment, a minimal subset of the specification is supported, consisting of the OC, BP, LS and SS record types.

Carlson Record Information

The format is a comma separated ASCII file containing record types, headers, recorded data and comments. The format is based on the Tripod Data System raw data specification with the exception of angle sets.

Angle sets are recorded as BD, BR, FD and FR records to allow reduction of all possible data that can be recorded by SurvCE using the “Set Collection” routine. Essentially, these records are identical to a sideshot record. With the exception of the aforementioned angle set records, if the Tripod Data System specification is modified to provide enhanced functionality, the added or modified data will reside in comment records to avoid incompatibility with existing software.

Each record is made of one line of text, with comma-separated fields of ASCII text format:


The first field is a two-letter code of the type of record. All the following fields are composed with 1- or 2- letter field codes (such as OP, N or FP) and numeric values called an (ENUM). The “Notes” field is introduced by the -- code and contains a description of the record.

In practice, each point has a unique number and can be referenced for various purposes from other records.

Sideshot records (SS) reference the Occupy point record in the``OP`` field.

Record types

Record Type Explanation Applicable for
-- * Note General Raw Data
JB* Job  
MO* Mode Setup  
BD* Backsight Direct Conventional Raw Data
BK* Backsight  
BR* Backsight Reverse  
FD* Foresight Direct  
FR* Foresight Reverse  
GPS GPS Position in
Lat: dd.mmss
Lon: dd.mmss - Negative for West
WGS84 Ellipsoid Elevation
GS Reduced local coordinate from GPS record
and localization data
LS* Line of Sight  
OC* Occupy Point  
OF Off Center Shot  
SP* Store Point  
TR/SS* Traverse / Sideshot  

* implemented type

Field headers

Field header Explanation Applicable for
AD Azimuth Direction
0: North
1: South
AL* Angle-Left  
AR* Angle-Right  
AU* Angle Unit
0: 360° sexagesimal
1: 400 gon
AZ* Azimuth  
BC* Back Circle  
BP* Back Point  
BR* Bearing
BS Backsight
when back point is not defined
CE* Change Elevation  
DL* Deflection-Left  
DR* Deflection-Right  
DT Local Date
E* Easting
[E space]
EC Earth Curvature
0: off
1: on
EL* Elevation  
EO EDM Offset  
FE Foresight Elevation  
FP* Foresight Point  
HD* Horizontal Distance  
HI* Height of Instrument  
HR* Height of Rod  
N Northing
[N space]
OC Occupy Point  
OP Occupy Point  
PN Point Number  
SD* Slope Distance  
SF Scale Factor  
TM Local Time
UN* Distance Unit
0: feet
1: meter
2: US feet
VA* Vertical Angle  
ZE* Zenith  
-- Note  

* Filed implemented


Backsight Record

Record type:


Field headers:

OP Occupy point
BP Back Point
BS Backsight
BC Back Circle


Job Record

Record type:


Field headers:

NM Job name
DT Date
TM Time


Line of Sight Record

Record type:


Field headers:

HI Height of Instrument
HR Height of Rod


Mode Setup Record

The mode setup will be recorded at the beginning of the raw data file.

Record type:


Field headers:

AD Azimuth direction
UN Distance unit
SF Scale factor
EC Earth Curvature
EO EDM offset
AU Angle Unit


Occupy Record

Record type:


Field headers:

PN Point number
N Northing
E Easting
EL Elevation
-- Note

OC,OP1,N 5000.00000,E 5000.00000,EL100.000,--CP

Off Center Shot Record

Record type:


Field headers:

AR Angle right
ZE Zenith (actual)
SD Slope Distance

OF,ZE90.3333,--Vert Angle Offset

Store Point Record

Record type:


Field headers:

PN Point Number
N Northing
E Easting
EL Elevation
-- Note

SP,PN100,N 5002.0000,E 5000.0000,EL100.0000,--PP

Traverse / Sideshot Record / Backsight Direct / Backsight Reverse / Foresight Direct / Foresight Reverse

Record type:

TR / SS / BD / BR / FD / FR

Field headers:

OP Occupy Point
FP Foresight Point
(one of the following)
- AZ Azimuth
- BR Bearing
- AR Angle-Right
- AL Angle-Left
- DR Deflection-Right
- DL Deflection-Left (one of the following)
- ZE Zenith
- VA Vertical angle
- CE Change Elevation
(one of the following)
- SD Slope Distance
- HD Horizontal Distance
-- Note


TOPS is capable of converting raw measurement data into local coordinates, by performing a sequential processing of all records in their order.

Known limitations

Support for measurements is still incomplete, here is a list of TODO:
  • add all missing code
  • get comments
  • add the possibility to customize code

See also

Information on Carlson RW5
Carlson RW5 format
Documentation for Carlson RW5 from Carlson knowledgebase.