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Home > Operation -- Using the Laser Distance Meter

Operation -- Using the Laser Distance Meter

Operation -- Using the Laser Distance Meter

Frequently Asked Questions

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Operation -- Using the Laser Distance Meter
Do I need a special target?
The range is stated as 300 feet, or 600 feet, why can't I get a measurement that long?
How do people use laser measuring devices?
Does the surface need to be flat?
Can I perform an indirect measurement while holding the instrument in my hand?
Is there anything I can do that will help me see the red dot more clearly?
In what situations  would I use the Addition or Subtraction Keys?
What is the purpose of the Timer?
How do I take a single measurement?
What is the Minimum/Maximum function and how do I use it?
How do I change the reference or "zero point" of the DISTO?
How do I use the Area feature of the Leica DISTO?
How do I use the Volume feature of the Leica DISTO?
What does the MENU key do?


Do I need a special target?
It depends on the distance being measured. The Disto will measure to most surfaces. Special targets are not normally required for measurements under 100 feet. The laser needs to hit something for the optics to be able to determine the distance. If the measurement is to an outside corner, a target can often be affixed to the corner for the Disto to be aimed at. The target does not have to be elaborate. Something as simple as a post-it note will often work. In bright light, longer distances may require a reflective target. The distance at which a target is needed varies according to the amount of ambient light, the surface being measured and the Disto laser model used. Generally, most Distos will measure at least 75-100 feet outdoors in bright sunlight, without a reflective target. The Disto A5 and the new Disto A6 can measure up to 250-300 ft without a target, even in bright sunlight. Measurements with these devices can be made up to 650 ft with a reflective target. Leica manufactures special reflective laser targets that allow users to obtain measurements in less than ideal conditions. See them on our accessory page

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The range is stated as 300 feet or 600 feet. Why can't I get a measurement that long?
The range on laser measuring devices is defined as the distance the device will measure to a reflective target. The range is reduced when measuring to non-reflective targets. The distance a laser will measure without a reflective target varies according to:
1) the amount of ambient light (the darker the better),
2) the surface being measured (smooth textures and lighter colors are normally better),
3) the laser being used (ranges vary from 100 to 650 feet),
4) how steady the laser is being held, (the laser dot needs to remain in the same spot), and
5) the cleanliness of the laser optics (care for laser optics as you would a camera lens).

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How do people use laser measuring devices?
There are many different ways to use a laser measuring device. The most simple application is to measure the distance between two walls, posts, columns, etc. The laser is placed with the base against one wall, as a tape measure would be, and the dot is aimed at the opposite wall, column, post etc. The "measure" button is pressed, and the distance is displayed on the device. For applications where there is no surface to aim the laser dot at, such as measuring the outside of a box, a target may be held against or affixed to the box so there is a surface for the laser dot to hit. Alternatively,the triangulation feature may be used, if available.

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Does the surface need to be flat?
No, true laser measuring devices, such as the Leica Disto, will read the distance to the laser dot, regardless of the angle of the surface upon which the laser is shining. This allows the user to obtain continuous measurements while scanning the laser across, or up and down a wall.

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Can I perform an indirect measurement (Pythagoras) while holding the instrument in my hand?

Yes, but be aware that the result is more of an estimate than an exact measurement. To obtain good results it is critical that each measurement used be from the same reference point. Several other factors affect the accuracy of indirect measurements. To download and view an animated video presentation/tutorial on how to use the indirect measurement (triangulation) feature, go to the free download page.

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I am having a problem seeing the red dot when measuring long distances in bright sunlight. Is there anything I can do that will help me to see the red dot more clearly?
Yes. For distances up to about 150 feet, the glasses can be very helpful when trying to locate the red dot. For distances greater than 150 feet, you should consider using a reflective target. However, a magnified view finder will offer the most assistance. Viewfinder's with 2X magnification are built-in features on the Disto A3, A5, A6 and Plus measuring devices. An external view finder with 4X magnification can be attached to other Disto models.

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In what situations would I use the Addition or Subtraction Keys?
The addition and subtraction keys often eliminate the need to triangulate measurements, by allowing the user to take advantage of existing targets. For example, when measuring the front exterior wall of a house, if there is no easy-to-use target on the corner (such as a piece of corner trim or a downspout), a measurement from one corner to any feature on the front wall (such as a light fixture, water spigot, door trim or railing) can be taken. The user can then walk to the opposite corner, press the + key, measure the distance to the same light fixture, etc, and press the = key. The total width of the house will be displayed. Below is an example that demonstrates how the subtraction method would be applied. In this example, the resulting distance (X) can be attained by taking two measurements (A and B) and subtracting measurement B from measurement A.

Example: Subtracting a Measurement

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What is the purpose of the Timer?
The timer can be very helpful when there is a need to position the Disto device in a location where it is impossible to depress the DIST key. Additionally, when measuring very long distances, the slightest move of the Disto (such as depressing the DIST key) can prevent it from registering a distance. You can position the Disto on a tripod, set the tripod reference, use the timer for measuring the distance and eliminate the need to depress the DIST key.

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How do I take a single measurement?
Press the DIST key to turn on the Disto. The laser dot and display turn on. The device is now in "Pointing Mode."
Aim the laser dot at the point to be measured. Press the DIST key a second time to initiate the distance measurement.
The result is displayed within 1-4 seconds, depending on the distance measured.




Click here to view an animated tutorial

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What is the Minimum/Maximum function and how do I use it?
This function allows the user to take continuous measurements as well as measure the minimum or maximum distance from a fixed measuring point. The continuous function is commonly used to set a given distance between two moveable objects. The minimum function is often used to determine the shortest perpendicular distance between two walls (minimum values). The maximum function is commonly used for measuring diagonal distances to ascertain "squareness" (maximum values).
Press and hold the DIST key until you hear a beep (about 1 second), indicating the device is in a continuous measuring mode. (On earlier models, a button toggled between single and continuous modes). The distance to the dot will be continuously updated on the display and the maximum and minimum distances measured will also be displayed and updated as they change. (Newer models only) See figures I and J.
Press the DIST key again and the continuous measurement will be stopped. The values for maximum and minimum distances are shown in the display as well as the last measured value.

(Older models have a separate button for max/min measurements)






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How do I change the reference or "zero point" of the DISTO?
The measuring reference point is the "zero position" used by the Disto. It can be set to the front or rear of the unit and is automatically changed to the end of the positioning bracket if the bracket is opened completely.
The default reference setting is from the base or the "rear" of the instrument.
By pressing the REFERENCE key, the setting can be changed so that the next measurement taken will be from the "front" of the instrument. The "beep" emitted when the measurement is taken changes when the front reference position is used.
To override the default setting and use the "front" reference permanently, press the REFERENCE key longer.
Press the REFERENCE key longer again to change back to the "rear" reference.
The reference setting can also be changed to the center of the tripod screw thread by use of the menu function.

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How do I use the Area feature of the Leica DISTO?
Press the key once for the area function.
Press the DIST key to measure the first dimension (length) of the rectangle.
Press the DIST key to measure the second dimension (width) of the rectangle.
The resulting area will be displayed.


Partial Measurements
The two dimensions (length and width) can be made up of several partial measurements. Follow these steps when using partial measurements to determine the area of a rectangle:


1) Press the key.
2) Press the PLUS key or MINUS key.
3) Press the DIST key to take the first partial measurement.
4) Press the PLUS key or MINUS key.
5) Press the DIST key to take the second partial measurement.
6) Press the EQUAL key after all partial payments have been made.
The end result represents one dimension of the area measurement (i.e. length). To measure the second dimension of the area measurement, repeat steps 2 through 6.


Perimeter While the resulting area is displayed, press and continue to hold down the key. The perimeter of the room will be displayed.

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How do I use the Volume feature of the Leica DISTO?
Press the AREA/VOLUME key twice for the volume function.
Press the DIST key to measure the first dimension (length).
Press the DIST key to measure the second dimension (width).
Press the DIST key to measure the third dimension (ht).
The resulting volume will be displayed.


Partial Measurements The three dimensions (length,width and height) can be made up of several partial measurements. Follow these steps when using partial measurements to determine the volume of a room:


1) Press the key twice.
2) Press the PLUS key or MINUS key.
3) Press the DIST key to take the first partial measurement.
4) Press the PLUS key or MINUS key.
5) Press the DIST key to take the second partial measurement.
6) Press the EQUAL key after all partial payments have been made.
The end result represents one dimension of the area measurement (i.e. length). To measure the second and third dimensions of the volume measurement, repeat steps 2 through 6.


Room Calculation Information -- Ceiling or Floor Area, Total Surface Area and Perimeter
While the volume measurement is displayed in the main line, press and hold down the key. Three measurements will be displayed:
1) Ceiling (or floor) area,
2) Total surface area of the walls, and
3) Perimeter of the room.

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What does the MENU key do?
The MENU key is used for establishing settings for the Disto device. These settings remain in effect even when the Disto is powered down. The four categories that are displayed in the menu are:
UNIT
OFFSET
TRIPOD
RESET.

When changing the presets, press the MENU key until the desired item is displayed. You can then scroll through the possible settings with the Plus and/or Minus keys. When the desired setting is displayed, press the EQUAL key.
To exit without saving the changes, press theCLEAR key.

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How do I change the unit of measurement?
Press the MENU button until a blinking "UNIT" is displayed on the screen.
Press the EQUAL key.
Use the Plus or Minus keys to select the desired distance unit of measurement. The possible distance measurement units (and their corresponding area and volume units) are shown below.
Distance Area Volume
0.000 m -----> 0.000 m 0.000 m
0.00 m -----> 0.00 m 0.00 m
0 m -----> 0.000 m 0.000 m
0.00 ft -----> 0.00 ft 0.00 ft
0.00 1/32 ft in -----> 0.00 ft 0.00 ft

Press the EQUAL key to save the desired setting.

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