AU2016 has come and gone and I’m really excited about point clouds right now. I sat in a lab with Ramesh from Autodesk (using point clouds in InfraWorks) and he gave me the data set he was using as a sample. In the class, he imported the data set into ReCap, trimmed out the unneeded bits, and then brought that into InfraWorks which worked just fine.

Point Cloud Comparison.png

Same Clipped Point Cloud in InfraWorks and Civil 3D

The problem is, if you bring that same clipped point cloud into AutoCAD Civil 3D (or any other AutoCAD based program), the point cloud is not clipped. According to the Autodesk Knowledge Network, this is a known problem and they are working on fixing it however, the only solution currently listed there is, “For InfraWorks the point cloud functionality has been corrected with release 2016”. That’s not much of a solution if you ask me but, I did happen to discover one.

after clipping the point cloud in ReCap, export the project out. This will create a new point cloud that can then be inserted just fine. To export the point cloud, mouse over the House icon, the Down Arrow icon, and then click the Up Arrow icon.

Export.png

Export the Clipped Project

ReCap will then ask you if you want to unify the scans. I’m not exactly sure what this does but I think it combines all the scan files into one file. When I did this, I simply used the default settings and clicked the “space ship” icon.

Unified.png

Huh? A space ship? Really?

Once the project has been exported, simply import that into Civil 3D (or any other AutoCAD based program) and the point cloud will be clipped.

Exported_vs._Original.png

Comparison between original file and exported file in Civil 3D

Hopefully this will help someone out that’s struggling with point clouds in AutoCAD. If you have time, I would love to hear how you are using point clouds in either InfraWorks or Civil 3D. Leave a comment and let us all know!

Have you ever had two surfaces that you needed to combine together but the problem is, at the boundary of the inner surface, its elevations don’t match the elevations of the outer surface. In cases like this, if you paste them together you can get some really odd things going on where they are supposed to meet.

An example of this might be that you have one surface that was created from USGS data and another surface that was surveyed. They should be close to the same elevations but they won’t be exact. I often have people ask me if there’s a way to combine them but use a buffer between. Using a buffer you won’t get those almost vertical triangles or triangles that go out for quite a while until they connect into the other surface.

basics_of_the_issue

Pasting Surfaces Issue

In the above image, I have two surfaces, one with green triangles and a yellow border and one with grey contours. I need to paste them together to create a combined surface. Any surface points that are under the border of the inner surface when it’s pasted in will be removed and that white, thick line represents the triangles from the outer surface that are unchanged. As you can see, there are some odd things going on.

Since there’s no way to add a buffer when pasting surfaces, what do you do? Well, here’s how you do it in five simple steps:

  1. Extract the border of the inner surface.
  2. Offset this extracted border the buffer distance.
  3. Assign the elevations from the outer surface to this new object.
  4. Create a surface from this offset.
  5. Paste all three surfaces together.

1. Extract the border of the inner surface.

You probably already know how to do this but, in case you don’t, it’s pretty simple. Just follow these steps:

  • Make sure the surface you want to extract the border from is using a style that actually displays the border (you can’t extract something if the surface isn’t dislaying it).
  • Select the surface and on the ribbon expand out “Extract from Surface” and choose “Extract Objects”.

    Extract_Border.png

    Extract Objects

  • Select “Border” from the options in the next dialog box (deselect anything else you don’t want to extract from your surface) and click OK.

    Extract_Border_2.png

    Select the Border to Extract

You now have a 3D polyline in your drawing where the border of the surface is.

2. Offset this extracted border the buffer distance

Again, pretty simple but I’ll explain the steps here. On the Modify tab of the ribbon, on Edit Geometry panel, there’s a command called, “Stepped Offset”.

Stepped_Offset.png

Stepped Offset

Follow the command line prompts and offset it the distance you need. When it comes to setting the elevation, it really doesn’t matter what you choose as we’ll set the elevation of this new polyline in the next step. The AutoCAD Offset command most likely will not work as this is likely to be a 3D Polyline and the Offset command only works on 2D objects.

Offset_Polyline.png

Offset Polyline

 

3. Assign the elevations from the outer surface to this new object

This new polyline needs the elevations of the outer surface. Still on the Modify tab of the Ribbon, on the Edit Elevations panel, there is a command called, “Elevations from Surface”.

Elevations_from_Surface.png

Elevations from Surface

Run this command and select the polyline. Next you’ll see a new dialog box asking you which surface to use. Select the outer surface (in this example it’s called “Pre-EG”) and make sure you toggle ON the option for, “Insert intermediate grade break points”.

Elevations_from_Surface_Options.png

Elevations from Surface Options

Your new 3D polyline now follows the outer surface exactly and we’re ready for the next step.

4. Create a surface from this object.

Again, pretty simple but here are the steps.

  1. On the Home tab of the ribbon, on the Create Ground Data panel, expand out Surfaces, and select the first option, “Create Surface”.
  2. Name it appropriately (I would call it something like “<inner surface name> Pasting Buffer”. Set any other settings you want (the style really doesn’t matter – I would probably choose something like, “No Display” if it’s an option).
  3. On the prospector, expand out the new surface, expand out the definition, right click on Breaklines and chose, “Add”. Select the offset 3d polyline and apply the breakline settings as desired.

And that’s it. You’re done.

5. Paste all three surfaces together.

Now, that you have done all that, we are ready to paste them all together. You can past them into the original outside surface but I’m not a fan of that. I would much rather have the outside surface remain intact in case I need to use it for something else. I typically will create a new surface (see step four for the steps to create a new surface).

On the Prospector tab, expand out the new surface, expand out definitions, and choose “Paste”. Select the surfaces you want to paste in. The order you paste them in is very important as whatever is within the border of the incoming surface will completely overwrite everything inside it. The order we will use here is 1) Outside surface 2) Buffer surface 3) Inner surface.

Pasting_Order.png

Paste Order

The following sequence of images show the progression of the new surface as the other three surfaces are pasted in. I left in the thick white line from earlier as a reference.

Outer_Surface_Pated.png

Outer Surface Pasted In

Buffer_Surface_Pasted.png

Buffer Surface Pasted In

Inner_Surface_Pasted.png

Inner Surface Pasted In

As you can see, that buffer works very nicely. You can compare this to a surface that only has the outer and inner surfaces pasted in.

Compare_with_no_buffer_surface.png

Same surface without the buffer surface

What do you think? Is this something you might use? Leave a comment if you do this a different way. I always love to hear about different ways of accomplishing things!

The data set I used is from the training manual “A Practical Guide to Civil 3D 2017” by Rick Elis. You can order a copy from his company CADapult if you would like one. This is the book I use in my classes.

If you’ve downloaded the Civil 3D 2017 v1 Enhancements and tried using the Swap Pressure Network Parts command, you might have seen some odd things happening…

Error.jpg

Shifting Parts When Swapping Parts (picture from Autodesk)

Autodesk has released a hotfix for this. It’s a simple fix, just download a file and swap out the one on your system with the new file. The hotfix can be found HERE.

A few weeks ago, the Civil 3D product team released some new functionality for Civil 3D 2017 and they called it the “AutoCAD Civil 3D v1 Enhancements”. You can read the official documentation HERE. Don’t be too worried about what it’s called, it’s basically the same thing we had back in 2016 and earlier called Productivity Packs.

Not all the tools that are part of the v1 Enhancements are new, some of them are the tools that are traditionally available via the productivity packs (such as the Autodesk Civil Engineering Data Translator, the rail Turnouts and Crossings, and the Traverse, Input, Edit, and Adjustments. There are, however, some new tools that I will discuss here. In the following image, you can see all the tools that are available:

available_tools

Available Tools in the v1 Enhancements

Probably the easiest way to download the tools (provided you have the permissions to install on your system) just use the Autodesk Desktop Manager. Most likely it will be running in your Windows taskbar (you know, the bottom right of your screen). You can launch it from there, or from the Windows Start Menu. If you need to download them so you can add them to a deployment or install them on multiple computers, you can find them HERE.

autodesk_desktop_app

Autodesk Desktop Manager

If you are looking to download it (so you can deploy it to your organization for example), you can go to manage.autodesk.com and download it there. It can be found under Updates.

v1_download

AutoCAD Civil 3D 2017 v1 Enhancements

 

Labels

In Civil 3D 2016, we could add custom properties to any object in Civil 3D that we wanted (you can read about how to do that HERE). 2017 added a button on the ribbon to assist with this (woohoo) but there wasn’t much we could do with those properties. In the 2017 v1 enhancements, we can now add that data to our labels! Now that’s progress!

property_sets

Property Sets Data in Labels

Analyze Gravity Network

We’ve been able to compute runoff and flow in pipes for a long time with Civil 3D but we’ve always had to leave the program and open another (i.e. Storm and Sanitary Analysis or Storm Sewers). In the v1 Enhancements, there are now tools to run a simple analysis directly within Civil 3D.

The Analyze Gravity Network command now allows you to run a HEC-22 Analysis directly in Civil 3D with your pipe network. You’ll need to create catchments and assign them to the appropriate structures and then run the command. Choose the IDF curve, set the properties of the parts in the network, and then review the results.

Analyze Gravity Network

Swap Pressure Network Parts

Introduced in Civil 3D 2013, Pressure Networks have been an options for everyone needing to model water distribution or other pressure networks. One of the drawbacks (and very frustrating things) is if you put in pipes of the wrong size, there was no way to change them to a new size, the only option was to erase them and recreate them. With the v1 enhancements, that all changes.

After running the command, simply select the parts you want to swap to a new size (pipes, fittings, and appurtenances). Choose the new size and what elevation you want to preserve (crown, invert, center, etc.) and it swaps them out for you!

Swap_Pressure_Network_Parts.png

Swap Pressure Network Parts

Wrap Up

So, what is your favorite part of the v1 enhancements? Was there something I missed? Something Autodesk missed? Feel free to comment and let the world know what you think!

 

 

 

 

 

One of the things I’ve struggled with in the past is some of the reports don’t work well with Internet Explorer 10. I wrote up a blog post on how to adjust the settings within Internet Explorer to emulate IE9 but it’s not fun to do. A reader of my blog mentioned an add-on for Google Chrome that allows it to emulate Internet Explorer, it’s called IE Tab.

IE_Tab

This is really simple, set Chrome as your default browser, run the report, click on the button on the toolbar, allow the content, and you’re golden!

IE Tab.gif

If you are using Pressure Networks within Civil 3D, do yourself a favor and install the new service pack for Civil 3D 2016 (SP3) and Civil 3D 2017 (SP1.1). These fix several pressure networks issues which I’ll talk about here.

A little bit of background, a few weeks ago (not sure of the exact date) the Civil 3D product team released service pack 1 (SP1) for Civil 3D 2017. There were some issues with it so they pulled it down and then just last week they re-released it as service pack 1.1 (SP1.1). As of this writing, it’s not available on the Civil 3D support website HERE but I was able to download it via the Autodesk Desktop App. It should show up eventually. The Civil 3D 2016 SP3 is available at that link.

Autodesk_Desktop_App

Service Pack in the Autodesk Desktop App

So what are the issues that are fixed and why are they important? You can read up on the changes included in the service packs here: 2016 SP3 and 2017 SP1.1. The two issues I’ll be referring to in this post are:

  1. An issue that caused unexpected behavior when using grips to edit pressure network pipes in profile view has been resolved.
  2. An issue has been resolved where edits to the level of a pressure network were not retained when the pressure network was data-referenced

Reference Issue

Let’s talk about number 2 first as, in my opinion, that’s the big one. When you create a pressure network and edit the elevations of the pipe by either putting in a vertical curve or have it follow the surface, when you data reference that pipe into another drawing, the pipe comes in straight.

Reference Issue

Reference Issue

As you can see in the previous image, on the left is the source drawing containing two pressure pipes. One of the pipes has been vertically curved and the other has been set to follow the surface. When referenced into another drawing, they come in straight as can be seen on the right.

After installing the service pack, simply open the same drawings and synchronize the references. You’ll see that the referenced pipes are the same as the source pipes.

Reference Resolved

Reference Issue Resolved

Grip Issue

The second item I will be discussing here is the issue with grip editing. This isn’t always an issue but can be in certain cases. First off, what is the issue? Well, if you set a pressure pipe to follow a surface and then use grips to edit the elevations of the different parts, sometimes the grip will be applied to the adjacent grip instead of the selected grip.

Grip Edit Issue

Grip Edit Issue

After installing the service packs, this is no longer an issue.

Grips Resolved

Grips Working Correctly

So, what causes this issue in the first place? This only seems to be an issue if the alignment and the pressure pipe are going in opposite directions. When you create the alignment from pressure network, make sure the pipes and the alignments are going the same way. Even with the latest service packs, if they are going opposite directions, you’ll still see a small issue, the last grip on the pressure pipe won’t display.

Missing_Grip

Missing Grip

As far as I know, there’s no way to edit that grip in this view, you’ll need to create a different alignment going the opposite direction to be able to edit it. In other words, it’s still a good idea to have your pressure pipes still go the same direction as the alignment but it’s not quite as important.

AutoCAD 2016 saw the introduction of the Geometric Center object snap. If you aren’t familiar with this snap, it basically will snap to the “geometric center” of an object, such as a polyline. What’s the geometric center? Well, it’s the centroid or center of mass. The problem is, this snap is not available in the Snap Override menu within Civil 3D 2016 or 2017.

<note>It was pointed out to me that this doesn’t work in 2016. The shortcut menu in the ACAD.CUI that is installed with Civil 3D 2016 is incomplete as well. If you are using 2016, you’ll need to copy the menu from the ACAD.CUI that gets installed with AutoCAD, not the one installed with Civil 3D. Open the ACAD.CUI in the transfers tab and copy it over that way. </note>

AutoCAD vs. Civil 3D.png

AutoCAD vs. Civil 3D

You’ll also notice that in AutoCAD, you get the icons showing what the different snaps do whereas in Civil 3D, you don’t. If you want to enable this, you’ll need to replace the Civil 3D Snap Override menu with the AutoCAD version. To do this, go into your CUI editor (type CUI at the command line if you haven’t been there before).

Copy_Menu.png

Copy AutoCAD Menu

In the CUI, scroll towards the bottom (I hid the Command List to make it easier to see), expand out Partial Customization Files, ACAD, and Shortcut Menus. Under the Shortcut Menus, right click on “Object Snap Cursor Menu” and choose “Copy”. Now that the AutoCAD version is copied, we’ll go replace the Civil 3D version with the AutoCAD version. Collapse up the Partial Customization Files and expand out Shortcut Menus (directly under CIVIL), right click on Object Snap Cursor Menu and choose Delete.

Paste_Here.png

Replace the Civil 3D menu with the AutoCAD menu

Once the old menu has been deleted, right click on the Shortcut Menus and choose Paste. This will paste the AutoCAD version of the menu that we copied into the Civil CUI file. Now, simply close the CUI editor and return to Civil 3D and be happy with your new snap overrides menu.

Snap_Menu_in_Civil_3D.png

Civil 3D with the new snap menu