Leland Hill, of Associated Appraisers of America, spoke at the recent a la mode convention in Las Vegas on a class called Field Data Techniques. I think that I would have called it "Boys and Their Toys" as Lee, Michael Elliot, and Rober Smoote (Apex) trotted out every manner of technology gadget for appraisers. ONE of the things that was presented caught my attention because I know the inventor.
Below are comments by Leland Hill on the Pocket Laser Target:
Many appraisers use Distos for measuring. I’ve been using Distos for several years. And while I can usually find a target and I’ve become very proficient using the Disto, I have found occasions where you just cannot seem to find a target without becoming very creative.
To address that problem, my good friend Paul James came up with some new Disto Targets that are just awesome. Paul took the time to research and test several different materials, finishes, and target sizes. He asked me (along with Michael Barnes) to help test them. Paul came up with a winning design using light weight aluminum that will not crack or break and fits neatly in a back pocket (that’s why non-breakable is important – in case you forget and sit on them).
For anybody that uses a Disto, I highly recommend that you get a set of these. I promise you they will come in handy from time to time.
If this sounds too much like a commercial for some of you, I apologize. Neither Paul nor Matt asked me to do this – I did it on my own. I think the Targets can benefit Disto users with their workflow and just wanted to let folks know how they can get them.
Click below to get ALL of the details on the Pocket Laser Target straight from the inventor, Paul James . . .
History of the Pocket Laser Target by Paul James
I started using a Disto 11/2003. I received it from Appraiser Depot as I was getting ready to leave on an elk hunting trip. Elk hunting was not great so I was able to try it out on many objects at varying distance and read most of the manual before I took it to the field on an appraisal assignment.
Although I was pretty adept at finding a target to use then adding or subtracting, I found a need for a portable type target that I could carry in my pocket.
Appraiser Depot helped me out with some targets made of a high impact type plastic. They worked well, but were soon broken since I carried them in my back pocket. Appraiser Depot was kind enough to send me a new set. Like the first set, they worked well and I tried not to sit on them. After they cracked and broke in cold weather I was again without targets.
I thought about what was wrong with my previous targets. One, they broke. Two, they were hard to see over 50’ away.
I set out to design a better mousetrap and tried many different materials, many different colors, many different finishes and many different sizes.
I’ve settled on aluminum plate and on the largest plates that will comfortably fit in my back pocket 3 ¾" X 6". I have 2 thickness plates. .063" which I think will be the most popular due to weight and .125" which are of course heavier, but nearly indestructible.
The target consists of 2 aluminum plates with a cut ½ thru each plate so they can be assembled in an uneven "X" form. After the slot is cut in the plates, the corners are rounded and the edges sanded. The aluminum plates have a "mill finish" which allows you to see the laser beam quite well, even in bright sunlight and with reflection off snow. Other finishes were tried, but this seems to work the best in bright light.
In addition to the 2 plates, the package contains a reusable adhesive from DAP, labeled either "Blue Stick" or "Fun Tack". Replacement adhesive can be found at most hardware or hobby stores and is generally in the adhesive section or paint department.
- To use the adhesive, roll 1 small strip into a ball (about the size of a quarter) and place on the interior short side of the target.
- Roll another strip and place it below the first (see photos).
- The X shaped target can now be attached to a corner and you can use the target from 2 directions.
You can also set the target on the ground (useful when you are measuring a semi circle or do not have a 90 degree corner) or you can use only 1 plate when you have a downspout or something similar to slide it behind.
I carry the targets in my back pocket, by taking the X shape apart and placing the plates on top of each other with the adhesive in the middle.
The adhesive lasts for several months or until you drop it in the dirt or fill it up with stucco crumbles or paint. It holds well on most surfaces, including stucco. The adhesive does lose some adhesion when the temperature is below 30.
ONE WARNING-The adhesive holds too well on loose and peeling paint. If you have loose paint on the corner trim, please set the target on the ground or plan to call for a repair i.e.: "repaint bare and peeling paint on the exterior siding trim"
I have been asked if a magnet could be attached to the plates. I see no reason why a magnet could not be attached on one side and adhesive used on the other side. If you are in a market where steel siding on houses or commercial buildings is common this might be a great idea.
I have used the targets when demonstrating the use of a Disto to someone new to laser measuring. They seem to have some assurance of their measurement when they can see the dot on the target.
I will readily admit that even though I carry a pair of targets in my pocket on all inspections, most of the time I can find some kind of target to use, but will also say when no target is found I do not have to make a trip back to my truck to get a target or move something into the laser path.
In my work area of Nowhere, New Mexico it is not unusual to find a dwelling with no other buildings in sight and a small target in your pocket can be very helpful.