Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Find Profile View Grid Start Point

If you want to find the Profile View Grid Start Point, you may end up not getting the expected results you wanted. When you use the FindXYAtStationAndElevation method of the profile view and use the StationStart and ElevationMin properties you may get an erroneous report if you are the profile view is set to Automatic. This is because the profile view uses padding in the style that is different then what is shown. An easy way around this is to set the elevation range mode to UserSpecified and get the XY value that way. Below is a function I used to test it out. The MessageWriter is something in the Civil3DRemindersPack, so just remove those lines of code if you aren’t building off it.

Public Function GetProfViewOrgin(ByVal ProfViewObjId As ObjectId) As Point2d

Dim doc As Document = Application.DocumentManager.MdiActiveDocument
Dim db As Database = doc.Database
Dim ed As Editor = doc.Editor
Using trans As Transaction = db.TransactionManager.StartTransaction

Dim profView As ProfileView
= DirectCast(trans.GetObject(ProfViewObjId, OpenMode.ForRead, True), ProfileView)

Dim dX As Double
Dim dY As Double

' Since the FindXY doesn't return what's shown on the screen always, check the

Select Case profView.ElevationRangeMode
Case ElevationRangeType.Automatic
"Automatic StaStart: " & profView.StationStart & " ElevMin: " & profView.ElevationMin)
= ElevationRangeType.UserSpecified
"User Specificed StaStart: " & profView.StationStart & " ElevMin: " & profView.ElevationMin)
profView.FindXYAtStationAndElevation(profView.StationStart, profView.ElevationMin, dX, dY)
' Don't need to set it back since the transaction isn't committed.
Case ElevationRangeType.UserSpecified
profView.FindXYAtStationAndElevation(profView.StationStart, profView.ElevationMin, dX, dY)
End Select

"StaStart: " & profView.StationStart & " ElevMin: " & profView.ElevationMin)
Return New Point2d(dX, dY)

End Using

End Function

Air Vol Block

Have you ever wondered how the building materials are created we use in our designs? Well I have, and as a part of my quest to learn more I’ve decided to tour manufacturer’s facilities. Erik, from Air Vol Block, recently gave me a tour of their facility. Air Vol Block is a local manufacturer of quality masonry products in the San Luis Obispo area. They primarily serve from South Monterey County to Santa Barbara County and have been in business since 1962 and provide a variety of products. In fact I’ve actually utilized Air Vol products in past products.

The first stop was where the molds were stored. They have a variety of different types of molds, typically 2011-01-25AirVolBlockTour 030one type of mold for each product. The thing that surprised me was the small amount of blocks each mold produced. They ranged from 2 each to 12 each. Looking at the amount of bricks it takes to build a parking lot, I definitely was expecting larger molds. Though I’m sure some manufacturers utilize larger molds. Erik explained the molds typically come from the manufacturer of the block making machine. Air Vol Block utilizes Columbia machinery.

Next up was the aggregate storage area. The storage area had a variety of the basic materials utilized. The basic materials to make blocks consist of water, sand, aggregate, cement and additives. Erik explained that different aggregate materials are utilized for 2011-01-25AirVolBlockTour 031different types of blocks. The primary aggregates consisted of granite, pumice and volcanic cinders. Granite is primarily utilized for pavers while volcanic cinders are used for a lighter weight product.  Most of the aggregates are sourced locally within the LEED distance criteria.

The aggregate and other materials are collected and put in a hopper to create a batch for production. Based on the size of the hopper it doesn’t appear to be that large of a batch done at one time. The color additives are kept adjacent to the bins for easy inclusion 2011-01-25AirVolBlockTour 032based on the type of product being produced. The mix is typically a low slump product, with the consistency of sand castle sand. If you’ve ever visited the southwest of the United States of America you may have noticed blocks that didn’t look like block used in most of the rest of the world. This type of block is called slump block. The slump block has a higher slump and is pressed down to give the appearance that the block has settled during manufacture. Historically the block is meant to mimic adobe blocks which was once a common building material in the southwest.

The hopper is then raised up and the material is allowed to flow into the mold. As the material is put in the mold it is 2011-01-25AirVolBlockTour 037compacted by vibration and a bit of force. The blocks are then put on plates and then moved to racks. Once the racks are filled up they are put in kilns to be steamed cured. Once the curing process is complete the racks are unloaded at the same time as the new blocks are being created. 2011-01-25AirVolBlockTour 039This provides an efficient method to limit the number of plates required. The process is automated and appeared to mostly require one person to operate the process. Erik told me that earlier methods to produced blocks using the mold process was more labor intensive as the blocks were manually taken from the mold machine and put on racks.

2011-01-25AirVolBlockTour 038

While split faced blocks were not being produced on my visit, there we some blocks left out from a previous production run. 2011-01-25AirVolBlockTour 035I’ve always been a bit curious on how they are made. Luckily during the tour I was able to find out. The split face blocks are made two at a time from the same mold. The two blocks are connected and have a score mark between them. A press then comes down and breaks the two blocks apart creating the split block appearance. 2011-01-25AirVolBlockTour 034Erik indicated that the process produces vary few failures.

Once the blocks are unloaded from the racks they are taken to either the tumbler or put directly on palettes. The tumbled blocks are typically one size to provide an easy way to put the pallets. The 2011-01-25AirVolBlockTour 042untumbled blocks are put directly put on pallets. The products are then stored in the yard awaiting an order.

Erik told me of some of the design aids available through them. They include an permeable pavement software to calculate the depth of the base. Software is also available to assist in the design of Allen Block segmental retaining walls.2011-01-25AirVolBlockTour 010 

Erik indicated there he is seeing an uptick in the amount of permeable pavement being utilized. He also reminded me of the correct way to dimension block, it’s Width x Height x Length. The dimensions for precision block walls are nominal with room left over for a 3/8” grout joint. For the slump block mentioned before the grout joint is 1/2”, and come in 6” heights.

Thanks to Erik for providing me the tour of the facility and hopefully you find this post a bit informative.

If you have a manufacture a civil related product and would like a blog post about it, let me know and I’ll see if I can visit.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Corridors – Feature Lines

Have you ever been confronted with this dialog box?


If your like me, you always want the EPS feature line/polyline to be exported from the corridor. In order to be select the EPS, without getting the dialog box, go into the Corridor Properties, Feature Lines Tab. Uncheck the subgrade feature lines that you don’t want to be shown.


As an added bonus the feature lines won’t be drawn in the drawing, reducing the file size by a small amount.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Civil Reminders

I'll be in Southern California (OC/LA area) this Friday and in the Central Valley Area (Fresno/Tulare) of California next week. If you want to meet for coffee, lunch or just want to meet me send me an email.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Water Main Coverage – An Alternative

If you didn’t like any of the two methods for determining water main coverage covered, or linked to in the last post, I’ve got a third method. This method doesn’t require any extra surfaces or profiles, but may cause drawing performance issues.

First create a Line Profile Label Style with just a line. Set the line to have Y Offsets that equate to the cover and the drawings scale.


You can take this further and have the Y Offsets to be expressions that take in account the Drawing Conversion Scale. Make sure the Orientation Reference for the label is set to View. Now add the label to the profile to show the cover.

Since you may be adding numerous labels into the drawing, it may cause performance issues with having to draw the labels. Also this wouldn’t work for a design profile which has vertical curves, without additional expression work.


This post brought to you by Civil Reminders.

Water Main Coverage

When designing for a water main or sewer line it’s sometimes nice to have a visual representation of where the minimum cover is located at. There isn’t an easy way to create this without using other objects. One such method is to create a new surface.


Next paste the surfaces that represent the surfaces you want to see the cover for. In this case I’m going to paste in the existing surface and then the corridor surface to create a composite surface.


Next select the surface and move it down the amount that represents the minimum cover. I usually select the surface and use the move command, and use a displacement value of 0,0,5.

Now create a profile from this surface.


I also set the minimum cover surface to not show any contours or boundaries. Now I have a way to see if I’ve achieved the minimum cover and it’s dynamic, so when the design surface changes, the minimum cover surface adjusts (as long as the Rebuild Automatic is enabled for the surface).

If you don’t like this method, check out this alternative way to accomplish the same goal:


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