Is it possible to use the RS1D kit to make readings without ever connecting online, or would the geophone need to be manually programmed?
You can. If you want to use the recorded data for anything other than idle curiosity, you will need to use GPS to sync the time. You will also need to recover the data manually from time to time - by default I think it keeps data for one week.
Details on setting up off-line are here:
Thank you! I am exploring alternative channels for synchronizing machines so I think I can ignore the time sync for this experiment. Greatly appreciate your help!