Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Parallel oSnap

For the most part using AutoCAD and Civil 3D come pretty naturally to me. Occasionally I have a hard time grasping how a feature is supposed to work. One such feature is the Parallel oSnap.

I’ve read help, but it just didn’t click. The part from help is below.

Constrains a line segment, polyline segment, ray or xline to be parallel to another linear object. After you specify the first point of a linear object, specify the parallel object snap. Unlike other object snap modes, you move the cursor and hover over another linear object until the angle is acquired. Then, move the cursor back toward the object that you are creating. When the path of the object is parallel to the previous linear object, an alignment path is displayed, which you can use to create the parallel object.

Note Turn off ORTHO mode before using the parallel object snap. Object snap tracking and polar snap are turned off automatically during a parallel object snap operation. You must specify the first point of a linear object before using the parallel object snap.

I was OK picking the first point, it seemed really easy. I was able to select the object I wanted to be parallel to, but then help says to go “back toward the object you are creating.” Well it never seemed to show the path of the parallelness. I guess I just expected it to show up right away and not have to wait for the path to show up. The error message wasn’t much help.

No Endpoint found for specified point.
2D point or option keyword required.

I guess I needed an error message that said wait for the path to show up when the cursor is parallel to the target object. Well I got it figured out, you have to get the cursor near to where the object will be drawn and parallel to the other linear object. Here’s the oSnap in action:

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Civil Reminders

I’d like to announce my new business, Civil Reminders. Through Civil Reminders I hope to provide quality services in the areas of Civil 3D, cost estimating and Quantity Takeoffs. I may add Civil Engineering services in the future. Below is some more information regarding the services or you can find more information at the new website, Civil Reminders.

Civil Reminders is your place to get Civil 3D, cost estimating or Quantity Takeoff consulting services. Civil Reminders utilizes the latest in software and methods to bring you quality work.

AutoCAD Civil 3D

We have real world experience using AutoCAD Civil 3D since 2006 and are considered experts in its use. Civil Reminders provides customized training, template creation and feedback on workflow process. We also provide customization of AutoCAD and Civil 3D, including:

  • Custom Civil 3D Reports
  • Custom Civil 3D Pipe Rules
  • Custom Civil 3D Subassemblies

Cost Estimating

Civil Reminders has experience in performing cost estimates for projects ranging from road improvement projects to Buildings. Agencies we have experience doing cost estimates for include:

  • US Army Corps of Engineers
  • US Air Force
  • City of Los Angeles, Public Works
  • County of San Luis Obispo, Public Works

Quantity Takeoffs

Having accurate quantity takeoffs is a must, Civil Reminders has experience creating accurate quantity takeoffs for site civil projects, including earthwork takeoffs.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas

This Christmas Plan has been floating around for quite awhile. I've converted it to DWF to make it a bit more accessible.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

In Need of a Civil 3D Expert?

I'm currently exploring career options for the new year. Whether it be taking on freelance work, providing training in Civil 3D or a part/full time position at a company. I'm looking for a challenge, if you have one and are looking for help, let me know and let’s see if I'm a fit. Phone: (805) 270-5280

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Another Cool Civil 3D Blog

I just discovered Justin Ralston has a blog called C3dXtreme:

If you like all of the stuff I do on my blog then I’m sure you’d enjoy his blog. Like this blog, Justin is doing customization of Civil 3D and other topics. My favorite post so far is this one which provides some code to automatically add labels to road assemblies quickly. I think the site is worth the time to check out.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Custom Bench Subassembly – Updated

I recently posted regarding a custom bench subassembly I created for placing designed benches along a imageslope. The subassembly was mainly created to make it easy to design benches to meet the criteria contained within the International Building Code (IBC). One feature the program was missing was the capability to place a wider bench near the middle of taller slopes, as required by the IBC.
The updated version of the subassembly is available for Civil 3D 2010 & Civil 3D 2011 & Civil 3D 2012. The help file may be reviewed here. If you want more information send me an email or give me a call, contact information is on the right panel of this blog.
To order a copy use the button below. To receive the 2012 version, add a note that you would like that version instead.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Design by Many

At Autodesk university HP launched the Design By Many site for the AEC industry. Its a place where the AEC industry can post challenges and get responses from others in the industry. So far the site has a definite architecture slant going for it. In order to get more of the civil perspective on the site I’ve posted my own challenge regarding parking lot design.

At work I’m currently modifying a completed parking lot design. I’m finding the process to be frustrating in the inability to utilize most of the information I’ve already created. My challenge is to find out what workflow you’d like to see for parking lot design to improve the process. I’ve been thinking about it for quite a while and I’d like to get some other opinions.

Friday, December 10, 2010

AutoCAD Civil 3D 2011 Certified Professional

If you are looking for an AutoCAD Civil 3D 2011 Certified Professional, well I’m your man. At Autodesk University I took advantage of the free certification and passed both the Associate and Professional certifications. Not quite sure what I’m going to do with them, but I have them.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

C3D Reminders Pack 2011 – Free Version

I’ve finally updated the C3D Reminders Pack webpage to include the 2011 version of the program. I’ve periodically added to the pack, but haven’t added it to the page that comes up when the banner on this page is clicked.

This weekend I hope to put out a pay version of the C3D Reminders Pack which will include the C3DRLinkCrossingProfileViewLabel and C3DRLinkProfileViewLabeltoProfile commands. The commands provide a way to dynamically link profile view labels to a crossing pipe and a profile. That way you can label a crossing pipe or profile in a profile view and when the pipe or profile is moved the location of the profile view label will adjust accordingly. The cost of the Pack will be priced at an introductory price of  $100/seat.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

HP DesignJet 1055

Occasionally I have to deal with the plotter in the office, I try to avoid that thing. Sometimes the last person forgot to load the paper back into the machine after taking a long roll to put up as a window screen. Which means I get to load the paper. Sometimes it works the first time and other times it never seams to work. Usually it’s because the roll came away from the end of the spandrel leaving a gap.


Pushing the paper roll flush with the spandrel and retrying tends to fix the endless loop of me trying to get the paper to load without a paper out of alignment error.


Hopefully, after writing this post as a reminder, I’ll first check to see if the roll is flush instead of attempting it 5 to 10 times and then looking to see what could be the problem.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Crossing Pipe Label

The C3DRLinkCrossingProfileViewLabel links a profile view label to a pipe object. When the crossing pipe moves, the profile view label will relocate to the specified location.

  1. To run the command enter C3DRLinkCrossingProfileViewLabel at the command line.
  2. Follow the prompts; select the pipe in a profile view.
  3. Then select a station elevation profile view label in the same view.
  4. Specify the location the label should be pinned to. Fixed offset will maintain a constant distance from the invert of the crossing pipe.
    1. image
  5. The label will then adjust to the location of the pipe.


Here’s a video:

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AutoCAD Civil 3D: Beyond the Back of Curb

Michael Farrell class, a frequent Swamp forum contributor.

Use Offset Assembly to get subassemblies to be normal to the offset alignment.

Rename the offset assemblies name to one that makes sense.

Key Points:

  1. Always stationed back to the baseline.
  2. After assigning it an alignment you need to assign it a profile.
  3. The offset assembly must have an alignment to follow.

If you use side ditches between the lots, use a block and then project to the surface, then into a profile view and then create a profile based on the location of the blocks in a profile view.

Use the match parameters (right click option when selecting a corridor) and apply them to the lots.

Conditional subassembly talk.

Not quite sure if I want to design a whole site with a corridor. I think pasted surfaces work better.

Class Link:

Parameter References

Today I attended Jordy Brouwers Autodesk University class called AutoCAD® Civil 3D® to the Limits and Beyond. For the most part I knew most of the topics discussed in the class sessions. One thing I didn’t know about is the Paramater References contained within the Assembly Properties. With the parameter references one is able to link one subassembly parameter to another. So when one changes the other subassemblies that reference will also update.

In this example I’m setting the LaneOutsideSuper – Right Subassembly as the controlling subassembly and then assigning the slope to the ShoulderExtendSubbaseRight.


And for the other lane subassemblies.

Then when I go in and modify the LaneOutsideSuper – Right’s slope it will adjust the other subassembly slopes without having to go and select each one. Here’s a video:

Unfortunately I couldn’t get the corridor slope build to work correctly. It may because the alignment had superelevation assigned to it and upgraded from an earlier version. But I did get the slope to work correctly. You can’t link a subassembly across assemblies. If you copy an assembly the parameter references logic carries over into the new subassembly. It appears that the data types need to be the same.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

AutoCAD® Civil 3D® to the Limits and Beyond

Benelex group people.

The Netherlands is quite dense per square mile.

29% of the Netherlands is below sea level and 2/3 would flood without water protection. Doesn’t sound like a good place to build a crowded country.

That’s one large Civil 3D corridor for an interchange.

Take a look at Country Kits available in the install for other available tools (or do an internet search to see if anything good is available).

Remember to set your settings up in your template or in the current drawing to make sure the settings are correct. In the Commands folder in Settings you can change the default name format and settings.

Using points instead of a feature line or 3DPolyline is an interesting way to go.

Always check the design in 3D, object viewer or rotating in 3D model space.

Use multiple boundaries to create a combined, separated surface.

Don’t forget about paste surface to combined surfaces.

Alignment mask, if you don’t know what it is you should look it up.

Transparent commands, make sure you use them to help you work better.

Reference text in alignment labels.

Totally missed the Object Isolation on the right click menu.

Can get a subassembly reference from another subassembly, didn’t know that. Will have to look into that further.


Looks like you could have a master subassembly that controls the lane width for instance. If the lane needs to be changed from 10 feet to 12 feet, you change it in one place instead of multiple places. Have to make sure the number format is the same.

Use negative number in the section bands to get a look of a single band if you have multiple surfaces.

Class Link:

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

HP Designjet T2300 eMultifunction Printer (eMFP)

One of the things you get to see at Autodesk University is some of the products suppliers have  011come up with. While I have a popular Civil 3D blog, I tend to be a poor plotter. I usually let the CAD staff print out items to the large format printer. I usually botch it and have it come out the wrong way and need to trim a large amount of paper from the plot. HP has introduced a solution to help fix my printing problem called the HP ePrint & Share platform. The platform provides a preview image of the printout showng the DesignJet plotter with how the sheet will be aligned. This would help me correct my printing problem.

As well as helping me fix my printer problems the platform puts the printout on to an external server farm as a PDF. With this farm the printouts are available to print out in other locations. So you could share the files with others in other locations, letting them print directly to their Designjet plotter, since it works with older Designjet plotters.

I also got the opportunity to check out the HP Designjet T2300  027eMFP. The plotter has a sleek look with a touch screen display. Just like the consumer small format printers, the plotter lets you print from a USB stick, so you could print out a visitor’s plot’s without having them to bring the paper files in. I think it would be especially useful for people coming on an airplane trip.

Also available on the plotter is the ability to scan paper drawings. To convert the paper drawings to CAD, a copy of Raster Design is included with the purchase of the plotter.

While I haven’t field tested the plotter, it looks like a promising system. For more information:,

Slope Stability Analysis with AutoCAD® Civil 3D

I probably wouldn’t have focused on Peat so much. Peat can be quite deep.

The class is similar to concepts of taking Civil 3D surfaces and convert them into Map data for analysis. The rest of the class is similar to past classes Dana Probert has done on hydrology analysis. Would be a good source for additional information for the Map process.

If you want to automate the process to convert surfaces to shapefiles, check out these posts:

The posts don’t provide a complete solution, but provide a way to process the triangles for slopes to create polylines from the surface and then export the polylines into map. Could also add the elevation or object data to the polylines at the time of conversion.

Dang, he came up short on content to fill the whole hour.

Link to Class:

Delving Deeper: Mastering the Autodesk® Civil Visualization Extension

Deeper Concepts

  • Object Library Categories, stored in Resource Kits. The files are stored in there in the appropriate file. The ini is the parameter for the max file to get object settings.
  • Resource Kit Manager to add items to a kit or modify them.
  • Materials assigned in the file or allow Dynamite to assign materials with material IDs.
  • Move the pivot point to the ground level, center of the vehicle.
  • In the XZ plane the vehicle needs to be facing you.
  • Make sure the transformation is reset to make the current one is normal, Dynamite will ignore any translations, rotations or scaling.
  • Negative values make the vehicle go backwards to the direction of the shape to track.
  • Exporter configuration file can be changed.
    • Textures are assigned by u and v direction, u is normal to the object and v is tangential. (U-Tile, V-Tile)
    • U-Tile value of -1 indicates how many times it’s repeated across the link.
    • Using subassembly Type it will apply across multiple links.
    • ID is the material type.
    • Negative ID will flip the materials.

Optimizing Mental Ray

  • Think of visualization as a photographer (Set the settings for exposure)
  • May need to change the exposure control (EV) from the one Dynamite VSP uses.
  • Final gather lets you get indirect illumination.
  • Anti-aliasing will give better precision for viewing objects, say in Min 1 to Max 16
  • Soft Shadow Precision, blur affect on shadows. Higher values for long shadows, esp. for lots of shadows.
  • Glossy Reflection Precision probably isn’t needed for a infrastructure scene, probably use a smaller precision to get quicker rendering (Not all the way down).
  • Glossy Refraction Precision, lower it down to get down.
  • Look at slides to get the differences in render times. Shows the difference in quality and render time comparison.
  • Use difference values for still images and animation.
  • For animation render the final gather first and then the objects, not quite clear on this, need to look at the paper for the class.
  • Daylight system can add clouds, steps in handout.

Rendered Output for Design Analysis

  • Sight Checker, can see how far an object can be seen. More of a test to visually prove the design works. Not really a design tool.

Object Paint in 3ds Max Design

  • Tool to add trees to a scene.

Wrap up and 3D Movie

  • Can do a 3D movie, need to look on the web for links to create them.

Class Link:

DV220-3 Join the Revolution: Rendering with iRay

Notes, came in a bit late from the general session and trying to figure out where to go. Forgot to write down class locations.

Used to make photo realization without having to do a lot of set up.

Tries to mimic real life for the rendering. A whole lot of bounces of natural light that happens at the same time, iRay tries to mimic that process.

iRay takes some of the guess work out of the rendering process and makes less sight specific setup required. GPUs have provided better floating point precision to get a better rendering engine to make easier to use.

Lights and materials need to be physically possible, energy conservation is used to make sure the energy goes some where.

Built for people who don’t have a whole lot of experience rendering, people like me.

Hardware requirements: CUDA capable GPUs,

  • Use the latest Driver!!!!
  • SLI should be off for multi-GPU systems (will slow down the processing)
  • ECC should be off for Quadro and Tesla GPUs based on “Fermi” (3ds Max may not open)

Memory Usage

  • Entire scene must fit into GPU graphics memory, larger more complicated scenes needs more GPU power.
  • Each card needs enough room since the cards don’t add together for the room, use the largest one.
  • About 1GB memory per 8 million triangles.


  • Gaming may not work well since they aren’t built for continuous computations, may cause early computer failure.

Supported Materials

  • mental ray Arch & Design
  • Autodesk Materials (except metallic paint)
  • Autodesk Material Library
  • Some settings are ignored, ambient occlusion, round corners and final gather.
  • No programmable shaders, means some of the shipped materials don’t render. Avoid Autodesk wall paint and Autodesk Hardwood (takes up more processing, takes longer)

Use photometric lights (Target Light, Free Light, mr Sky Portal, IES)

Set up materials, setup the lights and then render.

Render Settings

  • Four simple settings
  • Camera Depth of Field
  • Exposure, tone mapping
  • Output Resolution
  • Render Duration (longer time, better results) Infinite and come back and stop it or a set time like 30 minutes to get to a meeting on time.

I need to beef up on remembering my high school photography class terminology of F-Stop and aperture.

MAXScript Options (Need to research this some more)

90% transparent window glass, may want to just turn off the glass to increase performance.

Process should get better with manufactures coming out with better GPU with Kepler and Maxwell (16x better) CUDA GPU Roadmap

GPU processing should make things better.

Link to class:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Custom Bench Subassembly

This is not the post you are looking for.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Cleaning out my office, notes on paper now on blog. It would be nice if the program would let you hover over the acronyms and view what they stand for.

DTHETA = Volumetric Moisture Deficit

PSIF = Wetting Front Suction

XKSAT = Hydraulic Conductivity

RTIMP = Percent Impervious

Initial Loss (Unrelated to Green & Ampt method of calculations)

IA = Initial Abstraction

Monday, November 15, 2010

Misbehaving Word Tables

This morning I discovered a troubling problem with Word tables. It appears that if one has track changes on and deletes the last row(s) from a table, the table starts to behave badly. It won’t recognize some changes you make or will hide the data. The way to get the table to behave is to accept the change to delete the rows. The table should then start to behave correctly. This is for Word 2007.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

AU and Change

Much has been written about AU and new attendees, but what about if you are going for the second time or haven’t been in a while? Well expect changed.

I remember the first AU I went to way back in 2006. That year the civil mixer was held at one of the Venetian’s night clubs. Lets just say the next year’s mixer combined with the entire AEC industry was much more subdued than the next year.  A definite change.

The level of giveaways has greatly varied over the years. I think the peak was 2007, where there appeared to be plenty of giveaways. Last year, most likely (sorry 7th grade English teacher for using the ‘dead’ words consecutively)  due to the economy, I found the number of giveaways was way down. Hopefully this year we’ll see a rebound in the number of junk items we can take home, or attempt to take home (in reference to the AUGI Mug with liquid inside).

The event length changes also. Last year the a whole 1/2 day got chopped off the schedule. This year AU got shorter with the Thursday evening event being replaced with a $75 MGM Resorts Gift Card (also known as a make your own party card).

Another change I’ve personally seen is the events you may get invited too. There’s this whole underground world of AU events. There’s meetings where Autodesk gets customers feedback, whether its a usability study or a group discussion on sustainability, there are also beta launch events. If you haven’t been to a beta launch event, make sure to get in the know if you want to see what’s upcoming in the next version of Civil 3D.

If your current schedule is full of the same type of classes you took the first time or the last time, how about changing it up and seeing what other Autodesk products are out there. Do you work with Civil 3D on water projects and end up a water tank you are working on? You may want to check out an MEP or Plant class to see if the products can improve your workflows. Since you’re in the class you can ask those around you what their experiences are, because they probably have done it or are looking for the same answers as you. If you wanted to know a bunch more about programming, there’s classes for that also.

I guess the biggest change for me is in the prizes I won. The first year I won a lightly used laptop computer from Tench’s company. I haven’t come close to  a prize like that, maybe this year I’ll be able to get a spork from the TechSmith booth this year.

This year is also different for me because it will be the first real year as a blogger at AU. At my last official AU in 2007, my blog was fairly new and no one really came and visited the blog. Today I have fairly good regular traffic to the blog’s content and people actually know who of me if I mention the blog.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

"Snagit is my..." Giveaway

I’m not a Mac kind of person, but Tech Smith has joined the list of software vendors creating content for MAC. As part of their marketing for the newly released SnagIt product for the MAC they are offering a Giveaway called "Snagit is my...". Now they’ve got some really great products they are giving away, but I’ve got my eye on the Titanium Spork. Who couldn’t love a spoon posing as a fork? Or is it a fork posing as a spoon?

Anyways, I thought I’d enter by doing a blog post in hopes of winning a spork. Now how is this related to Civil 3D? Well nearly all of the screenshots and videos on this blog are made with Tech Smith products. I couldn’t really think about doing it any other way.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Civil 3D Wish List Ballot

Once again AUGI has created a Civil 3D Wish List Ballot. The ballot is where AUGI members are able to vote on what wishes are important to them. Once the votes are tallied, on November 11, 2010, they will be forwarded to Autodesk.


While it is highly unlikely for the results of the wishes to appear in the next version of the product, it does influence future Civil 3D development.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Navisworks – Change Avatar

In Navisworks you can change the Avatar that appears when viewing the model. To change the avatar go from the Edit Viewport Settings button to the Collision Settings and change the Avatar from the drop down.


Human 2 comes with a hard hat.


You can make a new Avatar by putting it in the C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Navisworks Freedom 2011\avatars folder. An avatar model needs to be created for each portion of the crouch, which is 5 models. I copied each one and made my own. Instructions are also available in Help.


Subscription Advantage Packs

It’s been a while since I blogged about the Subscription Advantage Packs for Civil 3D 2011 and even longer for the ones for Civil 3D 2010. Have you downloaded them from the Subscription site yet? If not what are you waiting for? Even if you don’t find the tools useful today, someday you may think I wish Civil 3D did this or that and it may already do this or that and you won’t realize it because you didn’t download and install the Subscription Advantage Pack. You’ll head over to the Discussion Group to ask or complain about the feature not being there and you’ll appear a little foolish when someone points out the feature is available now in a Subscription Advantage Pack. So go now and download the subscription advantage pack for Civil 3D 2011 if that’s the software version you are using now or the Civil 3D 2010 version if that’s the one you are using currently. Also not there are Subscription Advantage packs available for other Autodesk products you may be using.

Just a friendly reminder about the Subscription Advantage Packs, brought to you from my trip to Autodesk AEC Headquarters in Waltham, MA (Paid for by Autodesk).

AU Virtual 2010

I’m going to AU! Not quite sure if I’ve announced that yet here on the blog.

All of the passes have been given away. Feel free to email me if you just want to say hey.

With the pass I have 4 free AU Virtual passes to give away (a $139 value). The first four people to email me that they want one get one. The email address link is to the right.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Back to Back Vertical Curves Without a Tangent

If you come from a Land Desktop background you are used to a PVI based design process. Civil 3D utilizes both a PVI and entity based workflow. Thankfully you can use either workflow. If you use the PVI based workflow if you want two verticals back to back you have to use a short tangent between them. If you use the entity based workflow you can attach vertical curves to each other.

To do this use the free and floating type of vertical curves.

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Corridor - Daylight Cut and Daylight Fill

In some areas for roadway projects people are required to show ---C---- or ------F------ linetypes where the roadway daylights. Using corridors it’s possible to do this using the feature lines which are created during the corridor building process.

Go into the Corridor Properties, Feature Lines tab and select the appropriate Feature Line Style. One may want to have the Daylight Feature Line Style to one that doesn’t show up to not conflict with the Daylight Cut or Daylight Fill Feature Line Styles.


One problem with this method is that if the corridor is spaced far apart the cut and fill feature lines won’t meet at the C/F transition point. I usually add some additional corridor section samples to get the cut/fill feature lines to meet, or come close to meeting.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Navisworks Manage – Materials

Sometimes materials may not show properly in Navisworks.


Things to look for:

  • Make sure the correct Texture Space is applied for the object.
    image Depending on the shape of the object a different texture space is required. In the case of a fence it appears that a plane texture space works best, which is what is shown above.
  • Use the Edit button, and make sure the Normal and Up directions are correct. In picture above the Normal values are incorrect. They should be 1,0,0 instead of 0.02,0.005,0.9 that Navisworks chose to use.

Here’s the picture of the fence with better settings.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Editing Civil 3D Reports

If you are trying to edit a Civil 3D Report, make sure the target .NET framework exists on the machine. The source files target .NET version 2.0 and may need to be revised to target version 3.5 (or maybe another one). To change the target go to the project’s Properties and choose Advanced Compile Options.


Also need to make sure to target the correct CPU.

This post is useful if when trying to customize the reports nothing happens or when netloading the dll comes up with lots of error messages.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Custom Daylight Bench Subassembly

Have you noticed something missing from the DaylightBench subassembly that ships with Civil 3D? I have, its missing some of the items required by the Uniform Building Code and International Building code (IBC). Specifically Appendix J: Grading, Section J109: Drainage and Terracing of the IBC. The section require terraces, with a ditch or swale, to be placed on slopes greater than 3:1 and at a not to exceed 30 foot vertical intervals. The swale or ditch is required to have a minimum slope of 5%. While not applicable in flat areas, it is required in the hilly portions of the world. 

In order to solve this issue I come across every once in a while; I decided to create a custom subassembly that targets a profile to be able to create the minimum slope of the swale. Subsequent bench spacing is based on the Maximum Cut or Fill height specified. Below is a plan view of a corridor using the custom subassembly.


If you want more information on how the subassembly works check out the help file on Google Docs.

In order to help pay blog related activities (such as crashing Autodesk University, going to AEC DevCamp or snacks while writing blog posts) I’m offering the custom subassembly for sale. Select the version you want, and press the buy now button. Once I get it in the email, I’ll email or send a link for the packet file and provide instructions on how to import the packet file into Civil 3D. I’ll also provide support for the custom subassembly, fixing any bugs that may come up.


Got a need for a custom subassembly or other customization of Civil 3D? Send me an email of what you want to accomplish and I’ll provide a quote to provide that service.

The custom daylight bench subassembly does not provide for a wider middle bench as required by the IBC if more than two benches are required.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Have you voted yet?

Want share this special voting opportunity with others? Download and print this AUv video flyer for my video and distribute to those who might be interested in learning more about Autodesk University Virtual and voting for me!

Thank you!!! And SnagIt Editor really needs a spell checker.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Custom Bench Subassembly

I haven’t had much time to remind you to vote for your favorite AU #2010 video. Cast your votes for any you like, but I’d prefer that you vote for my AU video entitled AUVideoLong (Contest Entry fredbobchris).

I’ve been busy creating a custom bench subassembly. The subassembly includes a swale at the bench and the ability to target a profile elevation for the centerline. After targeting the first bench the rest are spaced based on the max fill or cut height specified for the subassembly. Here’s some screen shots of what I’ve done so far.




And finally a top view of the corridor, if you look closely you can see the benches don’t follow the roadway, but are placed based on the profile target elevation.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

AU Voting and a Sample Line Tip

I just checked the AU 2010 voting and I have a total of 30 votes, way behind the lead vote getter of 74 and just behind the IndyDrafter and KungFu Drafter. Now I thought I had more readers who cared than 30, so if you haven’t done so already please take the time to sign up for AUv and vote. If you need some help figuring out were to go I created this video to help you out.

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And now for a Sample Line tip. If you have xrefed in your corridor and data shortcutted in your Alignment you can still create sample lines from a corridor even though the corridor isn’t in the drawing. Just choose the option from the Sample Line dialog and Civil 3D will pull the stations to add sample lines from the XREF.

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And if you go and vote now and I get a bunch more votes, I’ll add a post on how to modify the Slope Stake Report to get it to run when the corridor is XREFd, currently I’m told it doesn’t run when set up in the above video.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Autodesk University Voting Time

This year I decided to create a video for the AU 2010 YouTube Contest. My video is called AUVideoLong under the username of fredbobchris. Please take a few minutes of your time and sign up for AU Virtual (it’s free) and then vote for my video. The voting location link is in the Autodesk University Virtual 2010 lounge, which you will be provided access to after registering for AU Virtual. Thank You for voting!


Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Slope 5H:1V

OK, this is for the one or two people who need to have an H included in a surface slope label. Its easy to accomplish, first create an expression to get the H value. Its a complex formula where you take the Surface Slope and divide it into 1. I know, crazy talk.


Next add the expression to a slope label, put an H behind it then :1V. Then label away on the surface.


Navisworks – Expanded Material Options

It appears that the default setting for materials is Basic and only includes a limited number of options when editing a material. To get more material options go to Options and change the Presenter Profile from Basic to Advanced.


Additional options then will be available to edit the materials such as Color, Reflectance, Transparency, Displacement and 2D Texture Space.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Civil 3D Surfaces and Navisworks

Navisworks does not appear to recognize materials applied to Civil 3D surfaces, either applied as a mask or in Surface Properties.


To apply materials to a surface one needs to utilize Presenter to assign the material within Navisworks. If Presenter isn’t on go here to turn it on:


Then drag the material you want from presenter onto the Civil 3D object.


While it doesn’t look any better from this view, it does now have a material of Large Gravel assigned to it. If you want different materials applied to different areas you have to break up the surface into different surfaces based on what you want the material to be. Not a fun prospect in my opinion

Friday, October 01, 2010

Creating a Chainlink Fence in Navisworks Using Civil 3D

Figuring out how to create different objects to show your model in Navisworks can be difficult, mainly because Civil 3D isn’t a BIM product, in other words we don’t create models utilizing an actual object to represent itself. For instance instead of using a curb object we utilize a corridor object or a collection of feature lines. One such object that is difficult to figure out how to get to show up in Navisworks is a Chainlink fence. Kevin Lind pointed me in the correct direction on how to create a chainlink fence utilizing Civil 3D.

  • The first step is to create a feature line at the location where the fence is going to be.
  • Next sample from surface to get the feature line draped across the surface.
  • If you want the fence to end short of the surface, now is the time to move it up.
  • Now offset the feature line a small distance over and the appropriate distance up.
  • Now create a surface and add the feature lines to it.
  • If your fence has bends in it, add a boundary.

Since Navisworks does not recognize materials assigned in Civil 3D, a material will need to be created in Navisworks. The material will need to approximate a grid and have transparency. Here’s a picture of what I came up with for my first try. Not perfect, but I think it conveys the location and look of a fence fairly well.


Thursday, September 30, 2010

AutoCAD WS – Not Just Mobile

While I don’t personally own an iPhone, iPod or iPad, I borrowed my wife’s iPod Touch to check out the AutoCAD WS. I found the program a bit hard to use on such a small device. The program got confused when there was numerous objects where I wanted to zoom in closer. I found the user interface on a normal desktop a whole lot more enjoyable. It was easier to zoom in and select objects for modifications.

My biggest disappointment is the lack of compatibility with Civil 3D objects. My computer which has Civil 3D is down, but I suspect if proxygraphics is set to 1 AutoCAD WS may show the underlying primitives instead of boxes.  Another nice feature is the versioning. You can make changes to the  drawings and save them back to the server. The program then allows you to go back and view older versions of the file.

As well as being installed via the Subscription Advantage Pack, the WS Plugin for AutoCAD and AutoCAD based vertical products is available from the AutoCAD WS website. It may have sounded in a previous post of mine that it would only be available from the Subscription Advantage Pack.

Monday, September 27, 2010

AEC Blogger’s Day – Subscription Advantage Pack

Master James Wedding is presenting regarding the new Subscription Advantage Pack for Civil 3D 2011 to be released in the next few days. All of the Subscription Advantage Packs for AutoCAD, MAP 3D and Civil 3D should install onto Civil 3D this year.


AutoCAD gets an AutoCAD WS plugin to take the drawing from the computer to the mobile device. Formerly called Project Butterfly. View, edit and share from the web. WS has no official meaning. Do you have a suggestion for what it should mean?

DWG Conversion Tool – Replacement for Batch Convert

IGES Import/Export – Have no idea what this would be good for. Master John Evens indicates it has something to do with Inventor or Mechanical Desktop.


New FDO provider for ArcGIS. Access more data from ArcGIS Geodatabases which will utilize feature classes and schemas. Can directly connect directly to ArcGIS without going through converting the data to a SHP file and importing it into MAP. Can connect to databases such as the State of Utah’s or other agency databases on line, live.

Civil 3D

Style Management

Import Style and Settings command helps to bring in styles and settings into a drawing. Allows you to select a DWG or DWT file with a dialog box to bring in styles only or styles and settings. Still no option to just bring in a portion of the styles or settings. 918 styles and 1108 settings in the default drawing that ships with the program. If a drafter has messed up the styles, then you could overwrite the styles in the drawing with the correct ones. Not the best solution if you only want one or two styles overwritten. I’m thinking if you have to take 5 minutes trying to explain why this is good, it doesn’t really solve the problem.

Improved Point Imports

Once you select a file, a reduced list of point file formats is available based on what the file contains. So if the file is spaced by commas, comma file formats will be presented. A preview pane is also available to show you what column is assigned to which data type (not a graphic preview of where the points are going to be located at, with the existing linework show, which would be pretty cool to see if the N,E is the correct column).

Superelevation Control

Can transfer from one alignment to another

COGO Editor

Is a dialog box to help create traverses in a graphical manner. Can apply different error reports. Can change the accuracy of what the reports need to be run on. Zoom to segment, zoom to figure. Can change the input data as you go, so if you make a mistake you can go back and edit it rather then starting over. Can save the traverses into an external file and import it back into another drawing, run the dialog on existing polylines. “So simple Simeone could use it”.

DGN Import

The SAP provides the ability to import in DGN files that converts the DGN linework styles into AutoCAD linework styles. Converts the levels to layers. Need the RSC files for the DGN file in order for the linework styles to get the command to work as expected. Put the RSC file into the support file. Make sure you ask for the RSC file when receiving DGN files from others.

DGN Export

Can export utilizing the RSC files to get the linetypes to show up correctly in Microstation. Need to select a seed file that matches the file type you are sending out. Get the seed file from the requester to make things easy.

Don’t forget that Subscription Advantage Packs usually get rolled into the next version of the program.

Disclaimer: Autodesk paid for my trip and stay to attend this event live at Autodesk AEC Headquarters in Waltham, MA.

AEC Blogger’s Day – Subscription Advantage Pack Webcast



Since I don’t have an iPad, so probably not something I’ll be using, but may be of interest to some people. When it does come out check to see how Civil 3D objects are displayed. If they aren’t what you want make sure to voice what you want how Civil 3D objects to be shown.


Not quite sure how this will handle Civil 3D objects, hopefully better then the last tool for the job.


If you use Inventor or other product that utilizes IGES Import/Export you may want to check this out.



If you use Map and ArcGIS you’ll want to check out Maps SAP feature of FDO support for ArcGIS. One is able to directly link on the web a source for ArcGIS data.


Civil 3D SAP Stuff


A simpler dialog import for points, giving you a preview of the columns to see if you selected the correct file format. A graphical preview showing the points in models space would be cool to see if N/E are in the correct column. Maybe to the right of Advanced Options? Too soon for wishes?


Style import and settings, wholesale importing in of styles and/or settings from another drawing. A sledgehammer approach to bringing in style into a drawing or correcting styles which have been improperly edited. An example is in the picture below, go from bad styles with the same name to the corrected ones. Maybe have styles based on customer, with styles with the same name, to go from one to another in case the starting template was wrong.


COGO Point Editor, can edit as you type in the values for a closure, or select a polyline in the drawing. Then do a closure report. Probably will need to do some cleanup before converting the polylines to parcels since you will end up with overlapping polylines between the parcels.


Improved DGN import with support for RSC linetypes and levels. Export is improved by being able to utilize seed files to import them in. Need to make sure to get the RSC and Seed files from who you got the files from or are sending them to. DGN fidelity on exporting of drawing.


Coming soon to that thingy on the top right of Civil 3D.


Links if you want to type:


Civil Visualization

See post:

Storm and Sanitary Analysis

See post:

AEC Blogger’s Day – Vault Collaboration 2011

Vault has an updated process.

Lifecycle states through your design process to tailor to your design process.

Can declare files with permissions that are based on how far the drawing is in the design process. Be able to restrict users from the file, such as keeping engineer’s out of the file until the surveyors are done with the file.

Formalized workflow to go from work in process to accepted drawing as complete.


Work in Process >>> For Review >>> Approved

Each step can have its own permissions on who can view it. A little more to set up to create to formalize the process which can take more time and having to make decisions on how things work.

Categories, Automating Document Management. Categories assign how files are handled ie. who gets to modify it, when different user types can modify the file. Categories can be automatically assigned to drawings, say a surveyor creates a file, the file gets put in the Survey file category. Also can use file name to automatically assign the category. The category can be changed after it is created.

A trail of who opens the file is provided, so you can tell who messed up your files.

Multiple-Sites replication, it handles it in the background. Can determine what gets replicated to other offices, so not all projects need to be replicated to each office, able to pick and choose. A field office get access to their projects rather then a bunch of stuff they don’t need. Saves on bandwidth.

Vault is Files (DWG, .DOC, .PPT, .XLS) and Metadata, what the data contains or what it is about.

Probably need to get some help from your reseller to see if it will work for you, probably best suited for larger offices.

Scalable options based on your needs. Per seat license fee, get the server, pay for the clients.

Probably won’t see it in my office anytime soon.

AEC Blogger’s Day – Storm and Sanitary Analysis (SSA) Extension

Stand alone product which is a hydrology and hydraulic analysis tool. Downloadable from the subscription advantage pack.

No restriction on the number of nodes and links.

Stormwater management methods.

Water quality modeling for BMPs, TMDL and exfiltration methods. Based on EPA SWMM engine.

Import/Export from Civil 3D to SSA with STM. From SSA can export to SHP file since you can’t export from Civil 3D, but can from SSA.

SSA can fit in the process through design since it can be imported/exported back and forth. Probably not the best workflow, but better than what it was in the past.

AEC Blogger’s Day – Civil Visualization

Misses Dana Probert presented Civil Visualization.

Civil 3D visualization links:

3 am solutions

Design Visualization

White Paper

Autodesk Infrastructure YouTube Channel

6 month trial is available for new 3ds Max Design for new purchases of Civil 3D and possibly renewals.

Need to create the existing surface with holes to remove conflicts between the existing and proposed surface: See

Corridors out of date won’t show up for the Dynamite VSP exporter, need to make sure they are up to date. There is a button for that in Civil 3D 2011.


Adding cars is is easy as well as striping based on a corridor. The Civil Visualization is based mainly on corridors.

Non corridor models into 3ds Max are a whole lot of work.

Civil 3D 2011 – Update 1

Civil 3D 2011 Update 1 is out: I’m downloading it now, hopefully no nasty surprises.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Create Multiple Profiles

Do you have the need to create multiple existing ground surface profiles in a drawing? Way back I did a post accomplishing the task in Civil 3D 2008 using VBA. Here’s an update utilizing .NET and Civil 3D 2010.

' (C) Copyright 2010 by Christopher Fugitt Imports Autodesk.AutoCAD.ApplicationServices Imports Autodesk.AutoCAD.Runtime Imports AutoCAD = Autodesk.AutoCAD.Interop Imports AeccLandLib = Autodesk.AECC.Interop.Land Imports AeccLandUi = Autodesk.AECC.Interop.UiLand Imports AecUIBase = Autodesk.AEC.Interop.UIBase Imports Autodesk.AutoCAD.EditorInput Imports Autodesk.AutoCAD.DatabaseServices Imports Autodesk.AutoCAD.Interop.Common Imports Autodesk.Civil.ApplicationServices Imports Autodesk.Civil.Land Imports C3DRemindersPack.Utilities Imports Quux.C3DUtilities <Assembly: CommandClass(GetType(CreateEGProfiles))> Public Class CreateEGProfiles <CommandMethod("C3DRCreateEGProfiles")> _ Public Sub EGCreate() Dim db As Database = Application.DocumentManager.MdiActiveDocument.Database Dim tm As Autodesk.AutoCAD.DatabaseServices.TransactionManager = db.TransactionManager Dim trans As Autodesk.AutoCAD.DatabaseServices.Transaction = tm.StartTransaction() Try Dim oCivil As New AeccAppConnection Dim oC3DR As New Utilities Dim oType(0) As Type oType(0) = GetType(Autodesk.Civil.Land.DatabaseServices.Surface) Dim oSurfObjId As ObjectId = oC3DR.GetEntityWithOptions("Select Surface: ", "Surface not selected.)", oType) Dim obj As AeccLandLib.AeccSurface = oCivil.AeccDoc.ObjectIdToObject(CType(oSurfObjId.OldIdPtr, Integer)) Dim oAlign As AeccLandLib.AeccAlignment ' Get a style from the collection. Dim oStyle As AeccLandLib.AeccProfileStyle = oCivil.AeccDoc.LandProfileStyles.Item(0) For Each oAlign In oCivil.AeccDoc.AlignmentsSiteless Try 'Check to see if the profile exists, if it does it doesn't need to be recreated. Dim oProfile As AeccLandLib.AeccProfile = oAlign.Profiles.Item("ExistingGround") Catch ' The profile doesn't exist, so create it. oAlign.Profiles.AddFromSurface("ExistingGround", Autodesk.AECC.Interop.Land.AeccProfileType.aeccExistingGround, _ oStyle.Name, obj.Name, oAlign.StartingStation, oAlign.EndingStation, "0") End Try Next Dim oSite As AeccLandLib.AeccSite For Each oSite In oCivil.AeccDoc.Sites For Each oAlign In oSite.Alignments Try 'Check to see if the profile exists, if it does it doesn't need to be recreated. Dim oProfile As AeccLandLib.AeccProfile = oAlign.Profiles.Item("ExistingGround") Catch ' The profile doesn't exist, so create it. oAlign.Profiles.AddFromSurface("ExistingGround", Autodesk.AECC.Interop.Land.AeccProfileType.aeccExistingGround, _ oStyle.Name, obj.Name, oAlign.StartingStation, oAlign.EndingStation, "0") End Try Next Next trans.Commit() Catch ex As Autodesk.AutoCAD.Runtime.Exception trans.Abort() Finally trans.Dispose() ' Done with transaction End Try End Sub End Class

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Corrupt Feature Lines

Occasionally a site may become corrupt and cause a drawing to become unstable. If the feature lines are utilized to create a surface it is possible to get the feature lines back if the bak file or last backup of the drawing isn’t available. To start export the surface to XML. Then open another file and import the XML surface, making sure to import the Source Data.


This will bring in the feature lines as 3D polylines which may be converted back into feature lines and if necessary fitting curves to the feature lines. While not ideal, it can save some work by recovering some of the work that happened before the drawing became unstable.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Converting a Civil 3D Surface to a Revit Surface

Sometimes it’s necessary to convert a Civil 3D surface into a Revit surface.

The first thing is to change the drawing’s Proxygraphics setting to 1. This will save a copy of the linework that makes up the surface in the drawing. Make sure the major and minor contours are shown and they are on layers other than 0.

Next on the Insert Tab in Revit use the Link CAD to bring in the drawing that contains the Civil 3D Surface. Go to a 3D view and using the Massing & Site tab, use the Toposurface button to create a new surface. Then use the Create from Import >> Select Import Instance. Select the CAD drawing and only select the layers the contours are on.

Here’s the steps in video form:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Line Labels

Have you created your profile view and profile labels only to find that the last or first segment is missing a line label? The cause of this is often the anchor point of the text label component is set to the midpoint of the tangent.
In order to always get it to show up, and not to use a separate label style, utilize a line label component set to be hidden. For the anchors of the hidden line use the Anchor Tangent Start In View and Anchor Tangent End In View.
Now set the text label component to the middle of the HiddenLine.
Now the label will show up in all of the views.
Look in the comments for a case where this doesn't work, split profiles.


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