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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Tracking your position in View/Edit Corridor Section

When compared to Land Desktop’s View/Edit Sections command, Civil 3D has always been the winner.  Still it was easy to get lost modifying your corridor.  Did I need to modify station 13+25.17 or 13+25?  Prior to Civil 3D 2009 I always found myself flip-flopping between plan view and the View/Edit Corridor Section command.  Civil 3D 2009 introduces some secret superpowers to the View/Edit Corridor Section command.

You may have to dust off your AutoCAD for DOS manual (from the bygone era when Autodesk gave us printed manuals) to remember the VIEWPORTS command. For the uninitiated, no I am not speaking of paper space viewports, I’m talking about model space viewports. Simply stated the VIEWPORTS command will split your model space view into a designated number of windows.

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Hydraflow installation error

clip_image001_thumb4I FINALLY finished writing my AU Power to the Parcel session handout this evening.  Just in time to submit it before today’s deadline.  With another AU deadline behind me I can shift my focus back to this my blog.

A number of my users have really embraced the Civil 3D Hydraflow Extensions.  After making a countless number of installations I finally came across my first real installation error.  Just after starting the install I was confronted with the error “Error 1327. Invalid Drive During Installation.

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Georeferenced DWF Files

I have come to rely on my power users.  Just the other day one of my power users (Michael Elander) came to me asking about georeferenced DWF’s.  To be frankly honest my knowledge of georeferenced DWF’s really extended no further than a flier I picked up at AU or something on Design Review 2008.  The concept I understood, but how to create one, I just hadn’t invested the time to figure it out.

The whole reason Mike wanted to pursue the topic was because he was asked to share some drawings with a third-party who was not our client.  They needed to be able to reference our drawing, but we didn’t want them to be able to manipulate our drawing.  As many have discovered over the years, locking down a DWG file is easier said than done.  Sure there are some third-party apps out there, but what about the tools we already had installed?

That’s where the idea of the georeferenced DWF came up.  Since AutoCAD 2008 we can Xref a DWF, snap to the linework contained within it, and provided we enable them, turn layers on/off.  Translation: it’s essentially a DWG which the third-party can’t modify – perfect!

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Creating a DEM with Civil 3D

imageOne of my users called me the other day asking if there was any way to convert our DTM surface into a DEM surface, as a client had called them asking if it was possible.  The short answer to the question was yes, but let me review the fundamental differences in these formats before getting into the how-to of this task.  Both formats exist for the same fundamental reason – to capture a representation of the earth’s surface.  What differs is the way each stores that data.

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Simple Civil 3D Road Transition With Feature Lines

Among the new features in Civil 3D 2009 is the ability to target Feature Lines. For those who may still be transitioning from Land Desktop, a Feature Line is, in essence, a 3D Polyline on steroids. Since Feature Lines are a topic of their own, I will not digress any further than to say this post will only touch on the abilities of Feature Lines. Prior to the release of AutoCAD Civil 3D 2009, to create a transition we would have to use a second alignment. While this method worked it truly wasn’t optimal.

Creating your Assembly

BasicLaneTransition Civil 3D SubassemblyFor those transitioning from LDT to C3D, Assemblies are what would otherwise be known as Templates in LDT. It should be noted that not all Subassemblies can transition. Consequently, as you construct your Assembly you’ll want to be sure to select an Assembly which can transition. For today’s discussion, I am going to choose the “BasicLaneTransition” from the “Imperial-Basic” Tool Palette.

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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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