Thursday, April 30, 2009

Welded Steel Pipe Part Family

This Part Family is brought to you by Kiewit. They hired me in college as an intern and I got a shirt from them a few months back, so when I got a request for a part family I thought I’d help them out. Well it’s not really a Part Family, but an unedited video on how to create your own.

The location of the part families is something similar to this: C:\ProgramData\Autodesk\C3D 2010\enu\Pipes Catalog\US Imperial Pipes\Circular Pipes\

I made some mistakes in creating the part family. You will want to enter the wall thickness as inches. I converted the wall thickness to feet, which is incorrect. I went back in and changed the value, but was having difficulty getting the pipe already in the drawing to show correctly. If you do it correct from the start you shouldn’t have that problem. The video doesn’t have any sound.

The XML Notpad and GUID Generator may be found on the Microsoft site.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Modifying Station Increment Report

If you run the Station Increment Report from the Toolbox you will get station information at the increment interval specified in the dialog box.


If you have Station Equations included in the alignment you may get results that you don’t necessarily want since the data won’t be returned at even station values.


This post will show how you can modify the VBA report to print even stations. This math would also apply to .net report, some of the code would be slightly different. To edit the VBA report you will need to vbaload the project, the file is located here on a Vista OS:

C:\ProgramData\Autodesk\C3D 2010\enu\Data\Reports\vba\Report_AlignStaInc.dvb

The location for XP is similar as well as for other versions of Civil 3D. The code that needs to be changed is shown below.


The first thing that needs to be added are the variables used.


Next code is added to adjust the curStation value to output the correct station equation value to get an even station value.


The code does a Do Loop until bTest is equal to False. bTest was set to True in the code above. It then checks to see if the number of station equations is exceeded, if it is the Do Loop is exited and the code is run regularly. If there are station equations then the code proceeds and checks to see if a station equation is applied between the current station and the station interval before it. If it is, the code adjusts the current station to account for the station equation. As it goes through the Do Loop if there are not station equations in the range or if all of the ones in the range have been gone through then the Do Loop is exited by setting bTest = False. I probably could have removed the bTest check and used Exit Do instead. The code then runs through the code as normal, except now the report returns at even stations, most of the time.


I said most of the time because the Station Equation may skip an even station, in which you will get a random station before the even station.


I only tested the changes on when data set, so I may not have gotten all of the bugs and as always you should verify the report is outputting the correct values.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Autodesk RSS Feeds

I signed up for the Autodesk RSS feed and now get all of the Knowledge Base content, hotfixes, tips, and service packs information to read in Google Reader. I've found it's a good way to see what's broken and how to fix it. To sign up you can use this link:
I used the Product Support, Updates & Service Packs option so I didn't get all of the Marketing stuff.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Civil 3D 2010 – ANZ Content Pack

In the new version of Civil 3D you are able to install content packs. I looked at the UK and Ireland Content Pack in my last post. In this post I’ll explore some of the extra tools that come with the ANZ Content Pack (Australia and New Zealand).


The 2D to 3D Contours Conversion takes 2D polylines and assigns an elevation to them.

The surface analysis tools are handy to transfer surface elevation analysis from surface to surface and from one drawing to another.

Convert Blocks to COGO Points takes blocks and creates points from the insertion points.

I didn’t have a drawing available that I could tryout the Drawing Frame Grid to Viewport, so I’m not quite sure of what it does. It does sound good though.

This post looks suspiciously familiar.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Civil 3D 2010 – UK and Ireland Content Pack

In the new version of Civil 3D you are able to install content packs. I looked at the California Content Pack, but couldn’t really tell why it was special to where I work. I did look at some of the other content packs and found some cool tools. In this post I’ll explore some of the extra tools that come with the UK and Ireland content packs.

In the Toolbox there are some additional tools.


The 2D to 3D Contours Conversion takes 2D polylines and assigns an elevation to them.

The surface analysis tools are handy to transfer surface elevation analysis from surface to surface and from one drawing to another.

Convert Blocks to COGO Points takes blocks and creates points from the insertion points.

I didn’t have a drawing available that I could tryout the Drawing Frame Grid to Viewport, so I’m not quite sure of what it does. It does sound good though. In my next post I’ll go over the Additional Tools available in the ANZ Content Pack.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

STOP!! Exploding Grading Objects

Well not all the time. If you are exploding grading objects to get the daylight line and then adding the daylight line back to the surface along with the feature you should stop. What should you do instead and why? Well this post will answer those pressing questions.

First the How? You should detach the surface from the grading and then add then paste the surface to the design surface. Here’s the steps on how to do this. First go into the Grading Properties and deselect the Automatic Surface Creation checkmark.


A warning message will pop up, when it does press the No button.


Then press OK to get out of the Grading Group Properties window. You will get another warning message and press OK.


So now you have two separate non dynamically linked objects in the drawing. Go ahead and delete the Grading Objects in the grading group and paste the surface into your design surface for the daylight.

So that was the how, now the why. A daylight line is created with lots of vertices, probably more than the feature you graded from has. So when you add the daylight line to the surface you don’t always get the result you are after. The picture below shows what can be missing and how the triangulation may be wrong.


The detached grading surface uses all of the data that created the daylight line. If we take a look at what makes up the detached grading surface we can see all of the stuff we’re missing.


So as you can see there is much more to grading object then a daylight line and a feature line. There are boundaries, projection lines and legs which help make sure the daylight grading is accurate.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


It’s been about 6 months since I received a free SpaceExplorer from Logitech. Since I’ve had it this imagelong I’d thought I’d finally give it a review (I suspect that’s why they gave it to me).

I can’t say that it’s been the first thing I go to when opening Civil 3D, and I kind of wish I did though. Using the Space Explorer tends to reinforce the fact most work in Civil 3D is done in 2D. The video cardimage demands that Civil 3D puts on a system doesn’t make exploring large models in a fluid 3D model space convenient. Waiting for the program to crash at one wrong move can be a bit disturbing. Since the 3D mouse doesn’t work in Object Viewer, it doesn’t make it easy to isolate an object to reduce the processing loads. The exterior buttons on the Space Explorer help reduce the need of having you left hand firmly planted on the keyboard. There are buttons for ESC, CTRL, ALT and SHIFT to the left of the 3D mouse. The buttons are customizable so you may change them to other commands. The two buttons to the bottom are Panel, which brings up the control panel for the mouse and the Fit which is zoom extents.

To the right of the 3D mouse are buttons for views Top, Left, Right, Front and 2D. I can see where imagethese would really be handy for modeling work, but I don’t find them useful when using Civil 3D. Once again these buttons can be changed to other commands.

At the top of the mouse there are additional buttons. The 1 and 2 default to nothing in Civil 3D, but once again they are customizable to Civil 3D Commands. The – and + are to increase or decrease the zoom factor or you can set your own commands.


The real strengths of the 3D Mouse are strongly realized when utilizing it in other programs. Flying around in Google Earth makes seem more like playing a video game while searching for the new project site. The photo explorer that comes with the device zooms in on pictures quickly without delay that some of the Microsoft picture viewers have.

So how much does it cost? It costs $299 and 3DConnexion is nice enough to provide a payback calculator to help you convince your boss to get it for you.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pipe Networks – Readme File

After installing Civil 3D 2010 make sure to read the ReadMe file. There is some documented bugs and/or pitfalls that you can avoid. One of them is plotting to a DWF when a Pipe Network is data shortcutted into the drawing. The ReadMe file states:

“Pipe networks referenced into a drawing using data shortcuts may not appear in a DWF. This can occur if the drawing is not saved before creating the DWF. To avoid this situation, save the drawing before creating the DWF.”

So read the ReadMe and you may save yourself some time trying to figure out why something doesn’t work.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Pipe Network As-Builts – Pipe Rules

A few weeks ago I mentioned some ideas that I had for creating pipe networks for as-builts. Justin Ralston had already done some work in creating the pipe rules that would do just that and posted them to the Civil 3D Customization Discussion Group. I added some code to the rule that helped it somewhat, but didn’t fix it all. Unfortunately I deleted the modified files when I uninstalled Civil 3D 2009, so if you want the change to the custom rule you’ll have to add the change to the code.

Copying Assemblies – Civil 3D 2010

Copying Assemblies causes the subassemblies to not paste correctly. If you use the copy command and the paste command the subassemblies get a vertical offset, similar to this picture.


To prevent this use the Copy with Base Point option (Shift+Ctrl+C) and then paste making sure to use 0,0 as the base point. Then move the assembly and put it where you want. The video below shows how it to do it.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

CUI Modifying - Switch Windows

Switching windows can be kind of a pane with the Ribbon. It’s hidden in the View Ribbon thingamajig it takes one too many clicks for my taste. We can save some clicks by adding the Switch Window to the Quick Access Toolbar.


This video goes through the steps of adding the Switch Windows to the Quick Access Toolbar through the cui.

Off course you can always use the Ctrl+Tab to switch between windows.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Civil 3D 2010 - Offset Alignments

A new feature in C3D 2010 is offset alignments. You have a Centerline Alignment and then you are able to create offset alignments that are tied to the Centerline Alignment. This video goes over a quick way to create two offsets for an alignment. I’m still getting used to the Ribbon, so it takes me a little while to find where to create offset alignments. (The video’s don’t have sound)

So that worked well. But what can go wrong? Well if you create an offset alignment that isn’t mathematically possible you start having problems. In this next video I’ll undo the offsets and then create an offset that doesn’t work and show what shows up in Prospector. I’ll also move the centerline alignment to show that the offset alignment will follow the centerline alignment.

So as you can see from the video ???-???-??? shows up as the offset alignment’s name instead of the default name format. So what happens if you have your offsets and then decide that it needs to be wider and you go past the mathematically possible value? This video shows what happens.

From the video you can see that Civil 3D won’t allow you to exceed the mathematically possible offsets.

National Safe Digging Month

It's Safe Digging Month. Remember to call before you dig and calling is even required for work you do at your house, at least in Southern California.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Pipe Slope Along a Run – Update Structures

In a previous post I showed how one could adjust a pipe run’s slope. There a appears to be a problem in that the structure’s don’t update. This post will take that code and have the structures update after the pipe slopes have been changed. So download the previous file, if you haven’t already and make the following change to the bottom of the Sub PipeSlopeRun().


The added code is highlighted in yellow. The code cycles through the structures in the shortest path and resizes the structures based on the pipe depths. For some reason the last object selected isn’t updated, so the last part updates the last object selected if it is a structure.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Pipe Network - Custom Parameters

Sometimes you want additional information included in a pipe or structure object. Maybe the velocity of the material flowing in the pipe or the quantity of material flowing in the pipe per unit of time. There is a way using programming to add information to a pipe or structure that will show up in labels. Here’s a shot of a structure the way it’s provided.


And here’s a shot showing the custom data added to the structure.


And here’s a screen shot of the label options in the Text Component Editor.


So how do you do this? You add a Pipe Network Catalog Definition to the drawing. The catalog definition is then available to all of the structures or pipes within in the drawing. A code examples are available in Civil 3D Developer’s help or in the Civil 3D 2009 VBA Customization vBook. The name can be anything that you want, it doesn’t have to be Custom Part Data. One could couple this will reactors and store the velocity or Q in the pipe, when the pipe changes the data held in the pipe would also change. I’d do an example, but I haven’t figured out reactors yet.

Monday, April 06, 2009


Today I passed the LEED AP test.

The test encouraged me to use my car, increasing pollution and land development impact from automobile use. I had to drive 2-1/2 hours each way to the nearest testing center. The parking lot of the testing facility was not within 1/2 mile of a train or subway station. The testing room did not provide daylighting or views. Strangely I didn’t miss a connection to the outside while taking the test. The parking lot/site of the testing facility looked wholly developed with little to no pervious area. The parking lot was poorly maintained and it was raveling causing pollutants to enter the environment. If I desired to take my bike to the testing facility I’d wouldn’t have had a place to park my bike, since there was no bike storage available. If I borrowed my parents zero emissions vehicle to go to the testing facility I would have had to park far from the entrance since they did not allow parking near the entrance and they didn’t provide preferred parking for low-emission & fuel efficient vehicles.

You’d think if the goal was a whole building approach the USGBC could have done a better job of finding a company that provided facilities that followed the intent of the process or is this just a marketing tool?

Anyways, it seems to be popular to do a brain dump on one’s experience in taking the test and here’s mine:

  • I registered for the test three weeks ago and spent about 40 hours studying for the test.
  • I spent most of the time using flashcards in the first two weeks of studying.
  • I tried reading the Reference Guide, but found it didn’t keep my attention.
  • I found the practice test at most useful, and spent most of last weekend taking them. It made studying the topics easier than reading the Reference Guide. The question format was similar to the actual test.
  • I got a score of 187 out of 200, 170 is a passing score.
  • The testing facility was high security with cameras and they require you to empty the pockets of everything and I couldn’t wear my sombrero de baseball.
  • I learned that grass is evil and shouldn’t be counted for anything. Not sure what I should do with the non-irrigated grass in my backyard. Zero potable water use, but evidently it’s harming the environment.

Not sure if this will help you, unless you’ve already registered for the test. A new version is coming and to take the old test you had to register before April 1, 2009.

Oh, and I did this post because LEED is probably a popular search term for Google and will probably generate lots of pageviews, I guess I’m voting for marketing.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Workplace Meatball Sandwich

Cooking with Civil 3D Reminders:

Bread hollowed out to make room for the meatballs and sauce.


Meatballs and sauce heating up in the microwave.


Aluminum foil cradle to keep the sandwich upright.


Toasting in the toaster oven.


Finished Meatball Sandwich


Maybe I’ll try Civil3Diva’s Piping Hot Pulled Pork Pot Sandwiches.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Pipe Rule Numbers

If you plan on doing your own pipe rules you may want to use a particular format that shows when you set a parameter for a rule in the C3DPiperules.xml file. I was unsuccessful in getting an official list from Autodesk, but here is what I deduced by going through each number. The numbers correspond to a format type in the edit feature settings and that is the precision/format is used when you see the rule.

1-5 Unitless?

6-7 Station?

8 Grade/Slope

9 Grade

10 Slope

11 Direction

12 Lat Long?

13 Lat Long?

14 Angle

15 ???

16 Distance

17 Dimension

18 Coordinate

19 Coordinate

20 Area

21 Elevation

22 Elevation

23 Dimension

24 Volume

25 Distance

26 Degrees

27-30 Unitless

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Civil 3D 2010 - Daylight Grading

Note: This post was an April Fool’s post and Civil 3D 2010 will ship with Grade to a Surface available in the Grading Criteria. Sorry for any convenience this may have caused. But the post still has an alternative method when the Grade to Surface doesn’t work.

One of the surprising changes in the Civil 3D 2010 product is the removal of the ability to Grade to a Surface. I guess the developers have given up on the feature until it becomes more stable.


So what are we to do? Well I’ve come up with an alternative method, while it does take a few more steps it is more reliable. The first thing you need to do is to grade to distance at the slope you want that will be sufficient to daylight the feature line.


Next create a volume surface using the Existing Ground surface and the grading surface.


Next add a User-Defined Contour at the 0 elevation, or the daylight line.


The user-defined contour in yellow, as you can see it’s only half of the solution.


Next extract the user-defined contour from the surface.


Now edit the grading to do the opposite slope and then rebuild the TIN Volume Surface created earlier. As you can see in the picture below all of the daylight lines for the grading exist. Extract the second user-defined from the TIN Volume Surface.


So now convert the extracted user-defined contours from 2D polylines to 3D Polylines.


Now sample Elevations from Surface for the two 3D Polylines.


Now add the 3D Polylines to your surface. You may want to increase the supplementing factors for the breaklines around the daylight lines.


As the surface below shows the surface needs a boundary around the surface.


The completed surface.


So that’s the finished surface. Sure it takes a few more steps, but there is less chance of crashing and it may be good thing that the feature has been removed from Civil 3D 2010.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin