SEE AGAIN – I’ve always loved seeing construction guys with their tape wheels measuring distances for the different shapes they build. They rolled from point to point taking notes in a notebook at each stopping point. I used to think how cool it would be if there was a device that would measure distance and record it in an app on your phone. Well my wishes have been granted with the Plott Carta mapper. This device connects to your phone and records distances to an app. Let’s see how well this works in a real situation.
What is that?
The Plott Carta Mapper is a Bluetooth enabled measuring device created by Plott Inc. that will connect to an app on your phone. As you walk, it measures distance and makes a measuring point at every spot you mark in the app along the way. When you are done measuring your area, it can give you the total square footage of the area and the distance of each segment.
What’s in the box?
The Plott Carta mapper came in a very nice box as you can see below.
When you open it on the side with the carrying handle, you are presented with a foam that you remove. When you lift the top cover, you are presented with the Carta Plott. Inside the box there are the following items.
- A Plott Carta mapping wheel with the kickstand attached
- A set of three triple A batteries
- Under the wheel is the handle with the attached phone holder
- Map manual
- Accuracy +/-. 2%
- Smallest unit displayed – 0.01 M or 0.03 ft
- Battery life – approximately 18 hours
- Bluetooth 4.2
- Application operating system I / O and Android 5.0
- Dimensions 4 x 1.4 x 3.6 ft
- Weight 58 ounces
- Storage temperature range -4 to 158 degrees Fahrenheit
- Operating temperature range – 14 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit
Design and functionality
The Plott Carta Mapper is basically made up of two separate pieces. There is the main wheel which contains the batteries, the bluetooth connector and the kickstand as seen below. In this image, to the right of the word PLOTT, you can see a black circle with a TT in it. You tap on that circle and it will turn the TT in blue to turn on Bluetooth.
This is a photo of the rear of the wheel. You can see the battery compartment. You take a standard screwdriver and turn it 90 degrees to open the compartment.
This is a photo of the handle. At the bottom is a flange which you use to screw the handle onto the wheel. Near the base of the handle is a lever that you can pull up to extend the handle. At the top of the handle, the phone holder is attached.
Here is a photo of the handle mounted on the Plott Carta mapper wheel and the handle is extended to its full height.
Here’s a photo of the wheel with bluetooth turned on so you can see how that indicates bluetooth is on.
I mounted my husband’s iPhone 11 pro (not the max) so you can see how the holder holds the phone. By default, the media is in a vertical format.
You can rotate the phone holder to allow it to hold the phone in a horizontal position.
Then we go into the app and configure it. I download the Plott-Creativity into Reality app from Plott, Inc. on my iPhone 11 Pro.
In the Plott Carta mapping app, there are a few settings.
There is the device section where you pair the app via bluetooth with the Carta by checking the box next to the device.
There are also settings to keep the screen on all the time and not turn off, and one to enable video tutorials. I had the video option turned on initially, but it got boring pretty quickly, so I turned it off.
In the metrics section, you can select how you want the metrics to display in the app. I chose the feet and the inches.
Now we come to the heart of the review and a major sticking point for me. Other reviews that I have seen on the Plott Carta mapper have complained about the poor execution of the app. I thought these people didn’t know what they were doing and that they weren’t as technically savvy as I was. Well I’m sorry to say I was wrong. The functionality of the app left a lot to be desired. We are currently building a new house. On one side of our garage, I want the builder to create a cement sidewalk around the garage and build a landing pad behind the garage where I will store my trash. I decided to use the Carta to calculate the area of ââcement we might need to build this structure.
The first thing I did was hit the âLet’s Plottâ button at the bottom middle of the screen. I was presented with the pop-up below where I entered my project name.
When I clicked on done, I was asked which device I wanted to use. I thought it was weird because I had already paired the Carta with the app and it was the only paired device. Plott also makes a tape measure device. I chose the Carta.
From that point on I got a pop-up asking if Plott can use my location and I selected “Allow when using app”.
Finally, the following screen was presented to me.
I pushed and started to roll. As another reviewer, I noticed that I had to be a few inches from where I wanted to start tracing because the wheel wouldn’t register in the app until I rolled around a bit. Please forgive the lousy lines below. It was a construction site with big boulders and a steep incline that I didn’t think would take much more cement to make the sidewalk I wanted. My starting point was this red dot. I stepped forward five feet and hit the mark. I then turned left and walked past the garage and reached a protruding plank for another foundation for the next door. I had to press the scoring button, climb on the board and start riding again. As I got closer to my original starting point, the plot color changed to let me know I was back where I started. He found my starting point very precisely. I had no problem with the app freezing or anything like that.
The app says that you can take a photo and use it as a background. Honestly, unless you have a drone and size it appropriately, I really don’t see how many people could use the background feature. Even creating a straight sidewalk alongside the house would be difficult to capture while standing. The plot created would not make sense in this type of photo. That being said, I didn’t use the background image feature.
You can see that I have a path in this table. You can create multiple paths on a single chart. I also renamed this test project to garage sidewalk. You get the paths to display by clicking on the three lines in the blue box near the top of the screen. Clicking on the path name below will put you in guide mode. This allows you to retrace your steps if you need to mark certain points along your path with stakes and the like. I found the guide mode to be quite precise. What I have trouble with is getting to the point where the measurements are displayed. Sometimes I found that hitting those three lines made the path appear. Then I find that by hitting these three lines you get the measurement page where you can click your way and see the measurements.
This is the measurement page for path one. Even though I said feet and inches, you can see that it displays values ââin fractions of a foot. I am also disappointed with the way the distances are displayed on the diagram. What is the distance from the point in the upper left corner to the point in the lower left corner?
Here is another example of a test I did on an open floor in my house. It was a simple square and it is much easier to read.
I pulled my garage sidewalk lot again to show you how you can retrace your steps. Once your plot is open, you press the start button below. At this point, if you have videos turned on, you will get a tedious video on how plottracing works.
What I like
- No need to manually write the measurements. The Plott Carta mapping app does it for you.
- Very fast and painless Bluetooth connection
What to improve
- The measurement display is horrible
- The wheel does not start to measure at the start until the first few inches.
- The app itself is very clunky and difficult to use.
- There is no manual or instructions on how to use the app. It is very frustrating.
I later found out that the “S” button at the top left of any plot tells the app to allow curved lines. If you set it to be a straight line, it will only draw straight lines. Guess it’s handy, but I’m not sure how accurate your measurement will be by forcing straight lines. I love the concept of the Plott Carta mapper. I would have liked it to be more user-friendly. It would be a device to use as a rough estimator, but under no circumstances would I use it for real construction work.
Price: $ 169.95
Or buy: Amazon
Source: The sample for this product was provided by Plott.