SonTek RiverSurveyor

RiverSurveyor Compass Calibration

General overview and guidelines on how to do a compass calibration (“compass dance”) when using the SonTek M9/S5.

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The RiverSurveyor S5/M9 is a river discharge measurement system without the traditional limitations. The patented and award-winning RiverSurveyor measures extreme flood or drought situations within a single instrument and is small, portable, and easy to use without changing user settings. The results speak for themselves - the RiverSurveyor S5/M9 has revolutionized how discharge is measured in rivers and canals. 

  • Overview

    Taken to Incredible Extremes 

    Multiple acoustic frequencies with SmartPulseHD® make for the most robust and continuous shallow-to-deep measurements ever, and an array of four deterministic microcontrollers expertly apportion the proper acoustics, pulse scheme, and cell size, allowing users to focus on the measurement - not the setup. The system even has a vertical beam for accurate channel definition, and it’s all designed to work intuitively. Slow to fast, shallow to deep, the RiverSurveyor S5/M9 handles it all on the fly.

    Display. Process. Analyze

    The RiverSurvery S5/M9 will exceed your expectations during and after the measurement with the "RiverSurveyor Live!" software suite for both PC and mobile platforms. All programs take full advantage of SmartPulseHD, and the intelligent software ensures no loss of data during telemetry dropouts, with multi-language support available. Easily switch between computer or mobile devices during mid-measurement. Several quality indicators and statistics with selectable graphics provide instant feedback on data collection. 

    Get More Value

    The RiverSurveyor S5/M9 systems keep on getting better. Our engineers continue to improve and build upon the award-winning technology, with features to include:

    • No tagline/tape measure required: With RiverSurveyor Stationary Live, automatically measure the distance between stations with DGPS or RTK GPS equipped systems.
    • Manual configuration: Now, you can set blanking distance, cell size, and several cells for moving boat measurements.
    • Real-time QA/QC warnings: Know when there could be a problem before there is one.
    • Zipped files: New and improved compression and auto-decompression, faster access to large amounts of data.
    • Sample filter: Remove your random velocity outliers with ease.

    Interested in enjoying safe, remote-controlled surveying? With the rQPOD remote boat surveying package, you can! The rQPOD system is sold as a complete kit from SonTek and includes a Torrent Board V7 floating platform, a patent-pending motorized system. Combine this lightweight convertible platform with a RiverSurveyor-M9 or S5 to measure flow or a HydroSurveyor-M9 and measure bathymetry. This portable solution truly is ready wherever you need it! 


    • Multi-Band - Multiple acoustic frequencies1,2
    • Vertical acoustic beam1
    • SmartPulseHD®3
    • Internally computed discharge and secure data1
    • Standard 360º compass and two-axis tilt sensor
    • Reverberation control with ping rates to 70Hz
    • Bottom-tracking
    • RTK GPS (optional)

    1 U.S. Patent #8,125,849
    2 U.S. Patent #8,411,530
    3 U.S. Patent #8,780,672


    • Balances the highest resolution with the greatest range of depths
    • Superior channel definition extends the maximum measurable discharge depth
    • An intelligent algorithm that looks at water depth, velocity, and turbulence and then acoustically adapts to those conditions using pulse-coherent, broadband, and incoherent techniques. High-def cell sizes down to 2 cm.
    • All discharge computations are done internally within the S5 or M9 unit (not in the computer!) – No lost data from communications dropouts.
    • Compensates for vessel motion due to surface conditions.
    • High ping rates ensure extremely robust data collection.
    • High precision vessel tracking and depth measurement without GPS requirement.
    • Ultra-precise earth-referenced positioning as an alternative to bottom tracking in moving beds or other difficult situations.

  • Specifications
    S5 M9
    Profiling Range — Distance 0.06 to 5m    0.06 to 40m     
    Profiling Range1 — Velocity ±20 m/s ±20 m/s
    Velocity1 — Accuracy ±0.25% of measured velocity
    ±0.25% of measured velocity  
    Velocity — Resolution 0.001 m/s 0.001 m/s
    Number of Cells Up to 128 Up to 128
    Cell Size 0.02 to 0.5m 0.02 to 4m
    Transducer Configuration Five (5) Transducers Nine (9) Transducers
    4-beam 3.0 MHz
    Janus 25° Slant Angle
    Dual 4-beam 3.0 MHz/1.0 MHz  
    Janus 25° Slant Angle
    1.0 MHz Vertical Beam Echosounder   0.5 MHz Vertical Beam Echosounder  
    Depth — Range 0.20 to 15 m 0.20 to 80m
    Depth — Accuracy 1% 1%
    Depth — Resolution 0.001 m 0.001 m
    Discharge Measurement Range — Bottom-Track 0.3 to 5m 0.3 to 40m
    Discharge Measurement Range — RTK GPS 0.3 to 15 m 0.3 to 80 m
    Discharge Measurement — Computations Internal Internal

    1Please contact SonTek for accuracies better than 1% or velocities >10 m/s

    Power Communications Module

    The optional Bridge interface module will provide a Bluetooth interface between the 2.4 GHz radio in the PCM and a computer or tablet.


    • Type: Standard AA batteries1
    • Average Duration: 8 hours of continuous operation (6 hours with RTK GPS enabled)

    GPS Options

    • SBAS GPS Horizontal Accuracy2: <1.0m
    • RTK GPS Horizontal Accuracy2: <0.02m ; Vertical Accuracy <0.04m2,3
    Power Communications Module   
    Range (Std.; 10 dBm)4 Range (High; 22dBm)4
    Base to Rover 1000m   3000m     
    PC to Rover 450m 1500m
    Bridge to Rover 200m                                    400m

    1Standard AA batteries are defined as alkaline or NiMH rechargeables, with a diameter of up to 14.5mm.

    2Depends on the multipath environment, antenna selection, number of satellites in view, satellite geometry, and ionospheric activity.

    3Requires absolute RTK solution. Only available with HydroSurveyor

    4High power may not be available in all countries; all ranges with default 2 dBi antenna and line-of-sight.

  • Accessories

    River/HydroSurveyor Battery Charger

    Battery Charger for AA NiMH batteries

    River/HydroSurveyor Antenna

    2.4-GHz Antenna (2 dBi)

    River/HydroSurveyor GPS Antenna

    DGPS / RTK GPS Antenna

  • Software

    RiverSurveyor Live (RSL) - V 4.2

    New Improvements!

    • Now includes brand new PCM3 compatibility.
    • New GPS hardware in the PCM and RTK Base allows for automatic switching between DGPS and RTK mode when a base station is present and paired.

    Other recent fixes include:

    • Matlab export – now handles large *.riv/*.rivr files.
    • Matlab export – Fixed Transmit length and blanking distance units.
    • Salinity warning changed from 35ppt to 45ppt
    • USGS screening distance option is disabled for S5
    • Matlab auto-export disabled if there are missing samples

    Exceed your expectations both during and after measurement with RiverSurveyor LIVE software (now optimized for Dell Venue 8 tablet). RiverSurveyor Live v4.2 is a Windows 7/8 compatible package with the latest advancements for open channel hydraulics visualization. This software includes language support for English, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, Catalan, French, German, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, Turkish, Polish, Hungarian Afrikaans and Russian.

    RiverSurveyor LIVE with SmartPulseHD™ contains intelligent algorithms that look at water depth, velocity and turbulence, and then adapts the acoustic pulse scheme to those conditions. See the clearest velocity picture possible with cell sizes down to 2 cm!

    RiverSurveyor S5/M9 Firmware - V 4.10

    New RiverSurveyor S5/M9 firmware for use with all versions of RiverSurveyor LIVE and RiverSurveyor Stationary LIVE. Note: SonTek recommends updating the PC software prior to upgrading the M9/S5 firmware

    • Corrects date/time update issue

    IMPORTANT: For more detailed information, download the firmware file, unzip it and read the Release Notes for complete installation instructions.

    Flowpack Software - V 1.21

    Become an instant velocity-indexing pro! FlowPack allows you to generate easy to interpret Velocity-Index ratings. Promising to make your data reporting process a whole lot friendlier (and faster), FlowPack also provides a simple method to store flow, velocity, and stage measurements — all through one software program. FlowPack can produce comprehensive reports that assist you in making better, more informed decisions.

    Get the Software and Firmware

  • Video

    RiverSurveyor: Collecting Acoustic Stationary and Moving Boat Discharge Data

    You might have heard about some of the big upgrades to the powerful, multi-frequency RiverSurveyor-M9, but we didn’t want you to take our word for it – the proof is in the data – and we want to share examples on how RiverSurveyor 4.0 has dramatically simplified the data collection process for hydrologists and water monitoring specialists like you!

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