Civil 3D is used around the globe but I only use it here in Colorado. The coordinate systems in Colorado, and almost all surveying around here, uses the US Survey foot, not the International foot. If you aren’t aware of the difference, one US Survey Foot is 1200/3937 meters whereas the International Foot is 0.3048 meters. The difference between the two definitions of the foot is only 2 parts per million. In other words, 1,000,000 International Feet is equal to 999,998 US Survey Foot. Now, in most situations, it’s irrelevant but, when you are surveying in state plane coordinate systems, it is important to know which one to use. If you accidentally use International Feet instead of US Survey Feet, you can be off by a considerable distance.

So, all this rambling brings me to the point of this post, when you create a survey database in Civil 3D, it has to set units of some sort and, since it is an “international” program, I guess the developers decided to use “international feet” as the default imperial unit. Now, in Colorado, we use the Survey Foot and I don’t want to have to go and change this setting every time I create a new database because, if I forget, that could be a very bad thing. What I’m going to demo is not just for units but can be used for all the different settings in the database.

The first thing you have to do is create a survey database and set all the settings the way you want them. These settings will be what we are going to use in the next step.

Survey Database Settings

In this example, the only change I’ve made is to set the units to US Survey Foot. Once I have all the settings correct, I export the settings out to an external file. This file can be in a shared network location for all users to have access to if you want. To export the settings, there is a button at the top of the database settings dialog box to export them. If you have projects that use different settings then the default but they are consistently different, you can also import specific settings using the import settings button just to the right of the export button.

Export Survey Database Settings

Now that we have all the settings saved to a file, we need to tell Civil 3D to use these settings the next time we create a survey database. This is done through the Survey User Settings. These settings are found at the top of the survey tab on the prospector. In the user settings, you can specify the file you just saved as the default settings for the next time you create a database.

Survey User Settings

Now the next time you create a survey database, all your settings will be preset for you and you can get straight to work. Hope this helps!

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