Macrometer V-1000

The Macrometer Interferometric Surveyor was the first GPS [Global Positioning System] suitable for geodetic work. Its conceptual foundation is Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI), a radio astronomical technique that allows one to determine distances between two receivers on the ground by measuring the phase difference between signals from a radio source on high.
The story begins in 1967 when, soon after VLBI was introduced, Irwin Shapiro realized that this technique could be used for geodetic work. By 1969, he and colleagues had used quasars to determine the 845-km baseline between large radio telescopes in Massachusetts and West Virginia. In the 1970s, Robert Preston showed that smaller antennas could receive radio signals from artificial satellites; and Charles Counselman III and Hans Hinteregger devised a much more precise VLBI technique known as differential interferometry, and used it to track Apollo astronauts driving around on the moon. The Air Force Geophysics Laboratory funded much of this work.
With the first GPS satellites up and running, it seemed time to commercialize the VLBI technology. Macrometrics, Inc. was formed in 1981, and it unveiled the Macrometer V-1000 in 1982. Tests conducted by the Federal Geodetic Control Committee yielded results better than 1:300,000, or three times better than first-order standards. Aero Service, a Division of Western Geophysical Co. of America, bought Macrometrics in 1984, and continued producing Macrometers for a few more years.
Counselman, a consultant to Macrometrics, submitted a patent application in 1982, and assigned the rights to Macrometrics. This application resulted in several patents that covered practically every subsequent GPS receiver made in the United States. The one patent identified on the Macrometer antenna in the Museum (No. 4,647,942) described a "Circularly Polarized Antenna for Satellite Positioning Systems." Others described methods of determining positions from GPS signals that required no knowledge of the GPS encryption codes, no steerable antenna, and only a small part of a VLBI signal-processing system.
Ref: Macrometrics, Inc., Macrometer Interferometric Surveyor, 1000 Series Field Manual (Woburn, Mass., 1983).
Robert W. King, et. al., Surveying with GPS, Monograph No. 9, School of Surveying, University of New South Wales (Nov. 1985).
Currently not on view
overall: 70.5 cm x 55 cm x 66 cm; 27 3/4 in x 21 5/8 in x 26 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Western Atlas International, Inc.
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Measuring & Mapping
Surveying and Geodesy
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center


Will this item be on display again? I was one of the first individuals to use the Macrometer V1000 in the field for surveying and part of the team that conducted the tests to certify it with the Bureau of Standards and Federal Geodetic Control. It would be nice to see it on display as it represented a leap in technology for high accuracy surveys.

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