Acquiring, Converting, and Using DEM Downloads in Civil 3D

imageWhile importing surface data from Google Earth is probably the easiest way to get some conceptual topographical data into your drawings, DEM’s have to be a close second.  For the uninitiated, DEM’s or Digital Elevation Models could be described as a surface whose data is organized in a grid.  This is fundamentally different than DTM’s (standard Civil 3D surface) which still stores a collection of points, but in the form of triangles not a structured grid.  The great thing about DEM’s is they’re readily available for FREE from a wonderful website named the Geo Community.  Now don’t be fooled when you visit the site as you will see all sorts of premium content; never fear as there’s ample data that can be had for free!

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Mastering Civil 3D Review

Mastering Civil 3D 2008 Over the last several months I have been working my way through the ever popular Mastering AutoCAD Civil 3D 2008 book, written by the gang over at Civil3D.com (Engineered Efficiency). As a fellow member of the blogosphere, I have had the privilege to establish a professional relationship with a good portion of the Engineered Efficiency (EE) team. For those unfamiliar with EE, they are arguably the best Civil 3D implementation team in the business!

I’ll never forget last spring when I went to the Experience the Possibilities Tour in Washington DC. During the presentation I asked a question about Civil 3D that was in fact both rather detailed, and quirky. The Autodesk representative answered the question, but with some loose ends remaining. After the session broke, Dana Probert of EE (who I had never met in person), found me in the crowd to both answer and explain the details about the feature I was questioning.

My point in sharing that story is that the EE team has many years of experience solving the real-world problems firms implementing Civil 3D. More importantly they simply know how things interconnect within Civil 3D, and can easily recommend the best approach to a given situation. To that end, the book has been structured in way such that you are learning best practices as you go. Taking that one step further for many of the complex concepts, the Mastering AutoCAD Civil 3D 2008 book expands on the why and how of many details.

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Finding the 3D in Map 3D: Surface Visualization

Flash The September / October issue of AUGIWorld is now available for download.  The cover story for this issue is “A First Good Impression”.  Impression is a brand new program that Autodesk released this year which allows you to give your CAD drawings a hand sketched look.  Anyone faced with creating such exhibits and illustrations will definitely want to read this months AUGIWorld.

In addition to the “A First Good Impression” article, there are numerous other articles worth giving a read.  Of those articles is one by yours truly titled “Finding the 3D in Map 3D: Surface Visualization”. AUGIWorld is available electronically by clicking HERE.

Download the September / October AUGIWorld

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Composing Parcel Label Styles in Civil 3D 2008

New to Civil 3D 2008 is the ability to create composed parcel labels. Before the introduction of composed parcel label styles, one would have to configure a separate parcel label style for each labeling scenario. Or in other words, a style to show the parcels area in square feet, another to show it in acres, and another to show no area at all. It should also be mentioned that the lot number and lot area were a single object, meaning you could not move one independent to the other.

These shortcomings are what the new composed parcel labels set out to solve. In lieu of having a separate style for every labeling scenario you can think of, now you can simplify your style library by having a series of parcel label components. You will notice in this drawing I only have 5 parcel area label styles. My fundamental style, Lot Number, simply displays the lot number, nothing else. To display the lot’s area I will add my “Lot Area” area label style to the parcel(s) whose area I need to label. There are a couple ways this can be done.

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Map 3D Drawing Status Bar in Civil 3D

Civil 3D users – did you know that Map 3D has a specialized drawing status bar?

It seems the typical Civil 3D user knows little to nothing about the abilities of Map 3D. As those who do use it know, Map 3D is an incredibly powerful geospatial tool. Autodesk did publish their “GIS Skills for Engineers” document with the release of AutoCAD Civil 3D 2008 and AutoCAD Map 3D 2008. For anyone who has to use GIS data in an engineering environment, the document is a must read.

In reading through the document one thing I noticed was its use of a drawing status bar I had never seen before. That got me to thinking, and in true CAD Geek fashion, on a quest for the answer for this little riddle. Finally after fiddling around for some time I was finally able to uncover the answer to unlocking this super top secret drawing status bar. I say super top secret because (to my knowledge) the Map 3D Status Bar cannot be enabled from within AutoCAD. So how does one enable it?

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Isolating Individual Objects

Hidden for some time now in the lower right-hand corner of AutoCAD is a little light bulb. If you are like most, you have simply let this little light bulb burn –wasting electricity. At first glance it may seem a little out of place. After all light bulbs belong in the layer manager– right?

Even still – what’s up with the light bulb in the lower corner of the screen? What many seem to discount as being a status notification of some sort is in fact an actual command.

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