As many of my posts start out, this one comes from one of my clients. He was using the Pressure Networks in Civil 3D 2015 and noticed that when he added the inner diameter of the pipe to a label, it came up with question marks.

Question Marks for Inner Diameter

Question Marks for Inner Diameter

To add to the confusion, even though there is a property in the pipe object for inner diameter, it was grayed out and couldn’t be changed.

Inner Diameter Can't be Edited

Inner Diameter Can’t be Edited

So, this got me to thinking, there’s got to be some way to add that information to the pipe! Well, let’s go edit the catalog. If you aren’t familiar with it, you can edit your pressure network catalog using the Content Catalog Editor.

To open your Content Catalog Editor, go to your Windows Start Menu and find the location where you can start Civil 3D, there you will also see the Content Catalog Editor.

Content Catalog Editor Start

Content Catalog Editor Start

In the Content Catalog Editor (CCE), open your pressure network catalog. Civil 3D comes with three of them, choose the one you are using or the one you’ve created for your company. In this example, I’ll use the pushon catalog. By default, they can be found here for the imperial catalogs: C:\ProgramData\Autodesk\C3D 2015\enu\Pressure Pipes Catalog\Imperial. Change the obvious for metric.

Once the catalog is open, go to your pipes, and add the property for your inner diameter.

Edit the Inner Diameter

Edit the Inner Diameter

One thing to note, most 8″ pipe does not have an inner diameter of 8″. One manufacturer of C900 PVC pipe had 8″ PVC that varied from 7.26″ to 8.28″ depending on the pressure classification.

Now that the catalog has been modified, you’ll need to restart your Civil 3D and replace the pipes in your drawing that are missing the inner diameter. Unfortunately, I don’t know of a way to update the pipes that are in the drawing already (with the missing inner diameter) to show the new inner diameter in the catalog.

 

 

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A while back, I did a post about bringing DEM data into AutoCAD Civil 3D (you can read it HERE if you are interested). In the comments, people have asked several questions and have had some issues. One of the issues is, you have to know what coordinate system the DEM file is using. Another is that, no matter what coordinate system you are using, the DEM comes in as though the elevations where in meters (and will then convert those meters to feet).

Well, all that’s about to change. If you have the Autodesk Infrastructure Design Suite (Premium or Ultimate) then you also have Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler (AIM). You can use AIM as a DEM to Civil 3D surface converter. Simply import your DEM file into AIM, export to a .imx file, and then import that into Civil 3D.

Open up AIM and create a new project. Give it a name and a place to save it. Keep the coordinate system as LL84 (there’s no need to change it) and leave everything else the way it is.

Create a new project

Once the project is created, import the DEM file into AIM. This is done through the Data Sources panel. Expand out the different data sources and choose “Raster” as the data source. Browse to your DEM file, open it, and then Refresh the data. You will now have a beautiful surface in your model.

Import DEM as Raster

Refresh DEM

Now that the DEM is added to your model, export it out to Civil 3D via the .imx file. In the application menu of AIM (that’s the purple I in the top left corner of the application), choose the Export menu and then “Export to IMX”. In the Export to IMX dialog box, choose to export the entire model, and give it a file name. AIM will choose an appropriate coordinate system so just leave that alone. Depending on the size of the DEM file, this could take a few minutes.

Export to IMX

Once the .imx file is created, open Civil 3D. To import the .imx file, it’s important to remember to assign a coordinate system to your drawing. If you aren’t sure how to do this, click HERE. Once in Civil 3D choose the Import IMX command (it’s on the Import panel of the Home tab of the ribbon or type IMX_IMPORT at the command line). Simply browse to the .imx file and bring it in. Because both the .imx file and your drawing have coordinate systems assigned, the DEM file comes in at the correct location and at the correct elevation. You may want to change the name of the surface as well as the style but, you now have a beautiful DEM file in your drawing and you didn’t ever have to know what coordinate system it was using!

Import the .imx file into Civil 3D

And if anyone is wondering, the DEM file I used while creating this blog post created a surface in Civil 3D with almost 4 million points.

Surface Properties

<UPDATE>
This life of this tool has been extended to August 12th 2013 so get back out there and start using it some more!
</UPDATE>

Do you like using aerial imagery while working in Civil 3D? I know it’s always helped me when I’ve had access to it. You could use Google Earth but it has issues (see why HERE) and there are other alternatives to getting the imagery but they are all pretty tedious. Well, just announce is a new and very simple way to bring aerial images into your drawing.

Just announced is Project Basejump. This is a new product available at Autodesk Labs. This tool will allow you to easily bring in maps from Microsoft Bing. These maps are brought in via the Map 3D FDO tools. Don’t worry if you’ve never used FDO, it’s REALLY easy!

After you install the add-in, simply open up the Map Task Pane. You can access this by typing MAPWSPACE and then choosing the ON option. If you are using Civil 3D 2013, there is a button on the Palettes panel on the Home tab. This button basically runs the MAPWSPACE command so you’ll still have to tell the program you want it ON.

One thing you must do is assign a coordinate system to your drawing. If you don’t do this, your images won’t work. If you aren’t familiar with this, simply right click on the drawing name on the settings tab of the Prospector and choose Edit Drawing Settings. On the Units and Zone tab, assign an appropriate coordinate system to your drawing. If you aren’t sure what to use here, check with your surveyor on the project.

Assign Coordinate System

In this example, I’m using a Colorado state plane coordinate system and I’m in a blank drawing.

If you haven’t done so yet, go install the tool. You can find it HERE. Once installed, go to your Map Taskpane and select the Data button and choose “Connect to Data…”

Connect to Data

This will then bring up the Data Connect panel, also known as “FDO”. If you are familiar with this tool, you’ll notice a new option (in my case it’s the second one listed), “Add Basemap Services Connection”. If you aren’t familiar with this tool, just trust me that it’s new. Select the new connection type, on the right hand side give it a name (I called mine “Bing Maps”),  and then select the Connect button.

Creating the Connection

After selecting the button, you’ll be presented with the available data sources. Simply toggle on the ones you want (go ahead and select them all, it’s easy to toggle them on and off afterwards) and then hit the Add to Map button.

Select the Data

Civil 3D (or Map 3D) will then go out and query the data source and bring in the imagery for the coordinate system you assigned. As you can see in the following image, it brings in data for the entire defined coordinate system (Northern Colorado in this case).

Image Imported

This is a very low resolution image but as you zoom in, you’ll see more and more detail. You can also easily toggle on and off the images using the Map Taskpane. Simply hit the check box next to the image you want and deselect the images you don’t want (I can’t think of any advantage of having more than one turned on at any time). Personally, I kind of like the “Aerial with Labels” map.

Choose Your Image

When you zoom in, Civil 3D will continue to check with the Bing servers and get the best image it can for that specific zoom level. Here’s a picture of my house:

The image is about a year old as we now have grass in our yard and there are several more houses built in the area (we built our house, doing our part for the economy). We don’t live in a big city so the imagery isn’t quite as detailed. If I go check out someplace in Denver, the image is much higher quality:

Home of the Colorado Rockies

Go check it out! Let the developers know what you think. If you have any issues or problems or wishes or complaints, let them know. I’m pretty excited about where this is going.

One thing to note, this is a “Labs Technology Preview”. What this means is the technology might not ever actually make it into the program. In other words, check it out, give your feedback, and do everything you can to let Autodesk know that this is a good tool and they should continue to work on it and eventually make it a part of the program.

Now if they could just get it to bring in DEM information as well…

Note from Brian: There’s some new functionality in the 2015 release regarding images. Check it out HERE.

I’m constantly amazed at how many people import data from Google Earth into Civil 3D and then complain about how horrible the data is. There are two primary issues that I’ve seen when importing data from Google Earth. First of all, the imagery is inconsistent at best. The guys over at Being Civil wrote up a nice post about this issue HERE if you are interested (also, the images come in black and white). The surface data that you bring in is very limited. Sure, you can pick anywhere you want but you are limited to importing 5,000 points and, if you have a large area, that’s not very much data at all (I recently downloaded a DEM file with over 2.5 million points, now THAT’S data!). So, instead of relying on Google Earth, go out and get the data yourself! You’ll be much happier with the results.

For those of you with projects in the United States there is an amazing resource that I was familiar with but never really investigated much, the USGS Seamless Data Warehouse (I was playing around with the Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler and looking for data). You can find it at seamless.usgs.gov. Here you can browse a map to find your project location and download orthoimagery (i.e. aerial images) as well as surfaces (DEM files). You’ll need to create an account to download the data but it’s free.

Using the Seamless Viewer

When you get to seamless.usgs.gov, on the left hand side, there is a panel and on this panel, is a link to the Seamless Viewer (you can access it HERE if you like). It looks a little something like this:

Seamless Viewer Link

Once you click on this, it will take you to a map showing the entire United States (well, most of North America actually). Draw a rectangle around where your project is (you’ll see the state boundaries so use that as a guide and zoom in on the state the project is in). Once at the state level, you’ll probably need some assistance locating your project area. On the right hand side of the map, you can change what is being displayed in the map. By default (at least for me) all it showed was the digital elevation data. That really didn’t help me find the area I was looking for (Colorado is a big state, not as big as Texas of course, but still big) so I toggled on a few options to help me locate my project. The ones that seemed to help me the most were the Orthoimagery, the Transportation, and the Places (Names). As you can see in the following images, it makes a huge difference.

Before Editing the Display Options

After Editing the Display Options

Once you get zoomed in on the area of interest, you need to tell the Seamless servers what it is you want to download. On the right side of the map where the Display options are located, switch from Display to Download.

Download Options

In this case, I chose to download the NAIP (National Agriculture Imagery Program) Orthoimagery as well as the 1/3 second DEM from the National /Elevation Dataset. Once you’ve set what it is you want to download, you need to specify what part of the map that you want the data for. To do this, use the tools on the left side. I chose the “Define Rectangular Download Area” option.

Download Selections

A new window will pop up with links to download each file. The files you’ll get are simple .zip files. Once you unzip them you’ll get a ton of data. For the DEM, the files you need are the ones that end in .adf. Just keep all these files in one location and you can then create a surface from them in Civil 3D. The images will have a lot of files as well but really the only ones you need are the .tif file and the .tfw file. The .tif file is the actual image itself and the .tfw file is the world file. The world file lets Civil 3D properly locate it in your drawing. And honestly, I don’t think you really need the .tfw file as .tif files can have coordinate information embedded into them (aka GeoTIFF). I would still just leave them together to be safe.

Download Files

Using the Data in Civil 3D

Once you have the data, you need to add it into Civil 3D. First thing you want to do before adding in this data is to make sure your drawing has a coordinate system assigned to it. If you aren’t familiar with this, simply right click on the drawing name on the settings tab of the Prospector and choose Edit Drawing Settings. On the Units and Zone tab, assign an appropriate coordinate system to your drawing. If you aren’t sure what to use here, check with your surveyor on the project.

Coordinate System in Civil 3D

To bring the DEM file into Civil 3D, create a surface and add the DEM file as data. I’m not going to get into the details in the post as I’ve already talked about how to bring DEM files in to Civil 3D. You can read it HERE if you like. When you add the DEM file, use the coordinate system code LL83. Also make sure you read the comments as you’ll need create the surface in a metric drawing and use LandXML to bring it into a drawing that is in imperial units.

To bring the images into Civil 3D, use the Map Image Insert command MAPIINSERT (yes, two I’s in there). This will bring the images in georeferenced.

Conclusion

Sure this process takes longer then importing from Google Earth but think of it this way, “You get what you pay for”. In this case, you’re paying with time. Importing from Google Earth is fast but you get very poor data. Getting the data yourself takes a bit longer but you get MUCH better results. Check out this example, in the following image you can see where four of the images downloaded from the Seamless server line up and it’s REALLY close to being exactly matched up (I can’t see any offset or other error personally). Compare that with what you get out of Google Earth.

Image Overlap

If anyone has data sources similar to this for other countries, comment here so others can find them.

With the new release, some tools are added, some are updated, and some tools are replaced. Here’s an example of tools that have been replaced, sort of.

Civil 3D 2012 Subscription Extension introduced us to the Volumes Dashboard Extension (you can read about it HERE if you aren’t familiar with it). It has a lot of the same functionality, plus a LOT more, as the old volumes tools from the Analysis tab of the ribbon. Now, I love the new Volumes Dashboard but the problem is, in order to calculate volumes with it, you need to create a volume surface. Sometimes it’s nice to do a quick volume without having to create the volume surface.

Well, fear not my friends! The old tool remains in Civil 3D 2013, it just isn’t exposed on the ribbon anywhere, you need to type the command. The command is ReportSurfaceVolume. If you want the old bounded volumes tool (don’t see ANY advantage using this tool over the Volumes Dashboard) you can use the command ReportSurfBoundedVolume.

Type the Commands

Classic Volume Tool in 2013

Please, whatever you do, don’t discard the Volumes Dashboard because it really does rock!

Note from Brian: I wrote up an article showing an alternative way to bring in free surface and image data (at least for those in the United States) HERE. Go take a look at it and tell me what you think.

More new information: Check out Project Basejump now available from Autodesk Labs. “With Project Basejump, AutoCAD Map 3D and AutoCAD Civil 3D software users can access Microsoft Bing data including aerial imagery, road, traffic, and other information within an AutoCAD environment.”

Even more new information: Project Basejump is no longer available but in AutoCAD 2015, you can bring in the Bing imagery and plot it too. Read about it HERE.

So, there is a lot of talk about the cool new features in Civil 3D 2013 but, there is something I’m very bummed about. Do you like to have access to free data for preliminary design? Do you like to show your client where you project is in relationship to the world? How do you do this? Well, you use Google Earth. Unfortunately, in Civil 3D 2013 there is no longer the option to import from or export to Google Earth.

Here’s an image showing not only the ribbon where the import command should exist but also the surface settings showing where the command settings for these tools would be. As you can see, they are not there:

No Option to Import From Google Earth

On the Output tab, you’ll also so that the commands to export to Google Earth are missing as well:

No Option to Export to Google Earth

Why were these tools removed from Civil 3D? I honestly have no idea why they were removed. Perhaps someone in the know will comment and let us know why. Here’s my guess and yes, this is truly a guess; Autodesk was contacted by the Google legal team and was told not to include the functionality.

Anyways, I hate talking about the bad but if you use Google Earth regularly, you might want to hang onto Civil 3D 2012 a little longer.

:Authors note:
I’m going to close comments on this topic. Also, I’m going to remove all approved comments with the exception of Dave’s. If you would like to discuss it, head over to the discussion forum where there is a thread with this topic. You can find it HERE.

::Update::

Looks like it’s not limited to just Civil 3D. The Google Earth extension for AutoCAD in labs has “graduated”. Not sure what that means. Thanks to Juan Soto @Civil3d_Jedi for this info.

Google Earth extension “Graduates”

I’ve finally gotten a bit of time to test the performance gains of Civil 3D 2013 over Civil 3D 2012. I spent about 3 weeks testing every possible configuration of every situation of every…

Ok, I lied. I worked on it for about an hour this morning. Here’s what I did.

  1. Restart my computer.
  2. Launch C3D 2012 and time it.
  3. Close C3D.
  4. Relaunch C3D12 and time it.
  5. Open a drawing containing a large corridor and about a dozen datareferenced surfaces and time it.
  6. Rebuild the corridor and time it.
  7. Close the drawing.
  8. Open a drawing containing a large grading object and time it.
  9. Grip edit the featureline creating the grading object and time it.
  10. Repeat the entire process (including restarting my computer) with C3D 2013.

Here are my results:

Initial Launch:

4:46 – 2012
2:43 – 2013

Relaunch:

0:24 – 2012
0:16 – 2013

Open Corridor:

0:24 – 2012
0:12 – 2013

Rebuild Corridor:

0:19 – 2012
0:20 – 2013

Open Grading:

0:11 – 2012
0:08 – 2013

Rebuild Grading

0:25 – 2012
0:20 – 2013

This truely was not a very scientific study. My Civil 3D 2012 has a lot of add-ins installed such as the Interactive Terrain Shaping, the Bridge Modeler, Trimble Link, etc. (that’s why I think it took so long to do the initial launch). I also went through and upgraded the files to 2013 prior to running the test on 2013.

Anyways, I hope this helps someone in someway. What do your tests show?