How Do I Measure a Machine Offset for DirtMate?

It is crucially important to measure the DirtMate's position on the machine accurately, as incorrect measurements will significantly impact the data quality and produce inaccurate DirtMate layers. 

Please be mindful of site-specific rules and safety during installation.

In construction, there's an old adage that says, "measure twice, cut once." That advice certainly rings true when it comes to offsets. You may only have access to a machine once, and likely only for a short period of time. So be sure to measure twice to ensure you've got it right.

When installing DirtMates on machines, make sure that the DirtMate is flat and facing forward. The DirtMate app provides an example of how this should look.

Setting Up the Machine

Preparing the machine will make measuring offsets easier and more accurate. Park the machine on a smooth, level surface, as this will aid in getting the correct measurement. Undulations and clumps of dirt can make the measurement inaccurate. If possible, arrange and book times to measure the machine dimensions and install the DirtMates. Allow 10min per machine. If this is not possible, you may need to arrange for this to be done outside of the site’s operational hours so there is no need to rush.

Taking the Measurements 

To accurately measure the machine dimensions, it is recommended to use a 16 ft (5 m) survey staff and a 6 ft (2 m) level commonly found on worksites. These tools will allow a single person to accurately locate and hold the correct position and measure the machine offsets for most machine types.

However, if these tools are unavailable, you can take the measurements using a tape measure. Two people are recommended to participate in this type of measurement to ensure greater accuracy. For example, each person will hold the end of the tape measure tight and look for the correct position for the measurement. It is difficult to hold and locate a position on the tires or track while up on top of a machine with only one person.

Measure the Track Width 

Lay the staff on the ground and use the level or straight edge to line up the end precisely with the edge of the track. Be careful not to move the staff once you have placed it.

Walk to the other side of the machine and, again, use the level or straight edge to line up the measurement. Ensure you use the measurement on the face of the level closest to the track or wheel. 

If you use imperial units, you must enter the values in decimal feet, not feet and inches.

Measure the Height of the DirtMate 

This is the height from the top of the DirtMate (not the antenna housing) to the surface of the ground below the machine tracks/tires. To accurately measure this height, place the level on top of the DirtMate.

Take all measurements on DirtMates from the divot on top of the DirtMate.

DirtMate Divot.png A single person can accurately measure the DirtMate height by placing the level onto the DirtMate and using the bubble to level the level.

Use the staff perpendicular to the level and resting on the ground next to the track or wheel, and clap them together with your fingers. This will hold them together and allow you to measure the height of the survey staff. Make sure that the bubble on the level remains in the middle, indicating that the staff is level. Next, read the measurement from the bottom of the level, not the top.




Measure the Horizontal Offset 

This is the distance from the divot on the top of the DirtMate to the left-hand edge of the machine track. It is recommended to use the level and staff.
This time, the Level is used on the vertical and the staff on the horizontal. 

If needed, such as on a large machine, you can take multiple measurements using the level as a straight edge. In the picture below, this would be achieved by measuring from the track to the body of the machine. Then the body to the roof edge, and the roof edge to the divot in the DirtMate. Add the measurements up to give the total offset.

I still can't do it!

We wrote these articles to equip you with everything you need to get the job done on your own, but we understand that sometimes this isn't sufficient.

If you're stuck, the Propeller Site Support team may be able to help. You can contact our support team by emailing

Related to