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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