Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Curbs–Caltrans A87A Curbs Subassembly

Today Civil Reminders is announcing the release of a new Caltrans Curbs Subassembly. The Subassemblyimage released today is the Caltrans A87A Subassembly. The subassembly may be used to facilitate accurate designs based on the Caltrans Standard Plan. The subassembly utilizes the dimensions of the Standard Plan so you don’t have to type them in.

More information on the subassembly may be found on it’s help page and on the Civil Reminders Apps page.

Did you find your way here through Google and didn’t see the subassembly you were looking for? If so send me an email and we can discuss getting your subassembly added to the Civil Reminders Apps Store.

Monday, August 29, 2011

SAC-Combining Strings

Sometimes when building subassemblies you may want to use a conditional statement to determine what codes should be used. For instance I'm currently creating a subassembly to model both the curb and sidewalk as one subassembly. Now I don’t want to duplicate points, since more points means more work by Civil 3D, I want one point to be labeled with the correct point codes.


For this case if just the curb is to be built I want the point code to be “Back”; if there is sidewalk to go along with it I want the point codes to be “Back,Sidewalk_In”. To accomplish this task I use a “&” to join the string values.


Pt_SWIn is a defined variable with the Type of String. So now I’m able to have one point and assign the appropriate point codes. Make sure you utilize a Define Variable to combine the string, using this method in the Point Codes place will not work.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hot Mix Asphalt Dikes–Caltrans A87B Types A,C,D,E,&F

Today Civil Reminders is announcing the release of a new Caltrans Hot Mix Asphalt Subassembly. The Subassembly released today is the Caltrans A87B Subassembly. The subassembly may be used to facilitateimage_thumb accurate designs based on the Caltrans Standard Plan. The subassembly utilizes the dimensions of the Standard Plan so you don’t have to type them in.

More information on the subassembly may be found on it’s help page and on the Civil Reminders Apps page.

Did you find your way here through Google and didn’t see the subassembly you were looking for? If so send me an email and we can discuss getting your subassembly added to the Civil Reminders Apps Store.

SAC–Left or Right?

So you’ve created you first subassembly and imported it into Civil 3D. You notice something wrong in AutoCAD Properties in that there is no Side Option. You look in Subassembly Composer and see it in the Input/Output Parameters list, so shouldn’t it show up in Civil 3D?

Well I wish it did, but in order to get the Left/Right option to show up you must give it a default value other then None.


Retaining Wall–Caltrans B3-3 (Type 1A)

Today Civil Reminders is announcing the release of a new Caltrans Retaining Wall Subassembly. The Subassembly released today is the Caltrans B3-3 (Type 1A) Subassembly. The subassembly may be used to facilitate B3-3BackFacingaccurate designs based on the Caltrans Standard Plan. The subassembly utilizes the dimensions of the Standard Plan so you don’t have to type them in.

In addition the subassembly utilizes a profile for Design Wall Height to provide the ability to control the design wall height using a profile, eliminating the hassle of multiple regions with an out of the box subassembly.

More information on the subassembly may be found on it’s help page and on the Civil Reminders Apps page.

Did you find your way here through Google and didn’t see the subassembly you were looking for? If so send me an email and we can discuss getting your subassembly added to the Civil Reminders Apps Store.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


As of this post date, if you download the Enumeration Example on Autodesk’s WikiHelp page you will find that it doesn’t work when used in Civil 3D. It does show correctly in the Subassembly Composer (SAC). Unfortunately Civil 3D is unable to convert the enumeration value to a string when used in a decision or switch. To overcome this deficiency a variable needs to defined that converts the value and then use the value in the switch or decision.

To create a variable use the Define Variable under Miscellaneous in SAC.


Next use a series of If/Then statements to convert the enumeration to string values.


Then change the switch value from what it was to the new variable name, in this case BarrierTypeString.

Now the subassembly will behave as expected.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Can the same point be in multiple point groups?

A Civil 3D Point can be in multiple point groups. It can be in each of the point groups contained with in a drawing. All Civil 3D points belong to the _All Points Point Group.

Now when you start using Civil 3D you may be confused on how Civil 3D decides on how the point style and point label should be displayed. If left to it’s own devices the Point will be displayed based on the settings contained in _All Points. As additional point groups are added to the drawing and said point gets added to other point groups, the point decides how to get shown by the Point Group priority list. The Point Group Priority list may be found by right clicking on Point Groups in Prospector. The dialog box that comes up lets you rearrange winning point group.


This provides some power in that you can turn on and off points (and labels) from showing in the drawing by adjusting the position of the point group. You can also override this ability by modifying the Point’s style or label style in AutoCAD Properties.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Stanford University - CIFE

I recently bartered with a research project at Stanford’s Center for Integrated Facility Engineering (CIFE) for a Caltrans B3-1 (Type 1) Retaining Wall subassembly. In exchange for the subassembly I’d get a tour of the CIFE facility.

”The CIFE mission is to be the world's premier academic research center for Virtual Design and Construction of Architecture - Engineering - Construction (AEC) industry projects ... to support exceptionally reliable engineering and management practices to plan, design, construct and operate sustainable facilities.”

The research project the subassembly is going to be used on is a study of using a model based approach in the heavy construction domain. The project the study is using is the West Merced Overhead Project on State Route 99, the link points to a Wiki page providing information regarding the study.100_1506

Walking around Stanford University is an interesting experience compared to my experiences attending a state University. For one there wasn’t a large ornate church in the middle of the campus. Based on the ornate artwork and fancy roof structure, you can tell Mr. Stanford was a very rich and generous person to establish the University. The more modern buildings have familiar names of William Gates, Jerry Yang, and NVIDIA.100_1511

Forest Peterson, a Research Assistant, headed the tour with my wife, two daughters and Forest’s daughter. We checked out the a new construction project adjacent to the CIFE building. While the two older children seamed interested in watching the construction equipment move around some aggregate the younger was complaining of the mild heat. The company doing the work is owned by Mr. Bill Gates (not affiliated with Microsoft) and is called Top Grade Construction. Though I think some people on campus do think the more famous Bill Gates owns the company, though I can see the confusion.

After 100_1512checking out the construction site we went over to the Mechanical Engineering building. At the bottom floor they had Google’s first server. It has been rumored that it was decorated with Lego’s, but I after seeing it in person the rumors are not true. The blocks decorating the server actually are DUPLO type blocks. It has a nice new case compared to the old display case.

Later in the afternoon we met with representatives of Synchro and a member of McCarthy. Since Synchro is a 4D scheduling company the topic of discussion was scheduling, 3D modeling and how they are used in the construction industry. It was interesting to hear perspectives from people in the construction industry and how hard it is for the new software tools to become accepted in industry.

Instead of using BIM it sounded more favorable to use Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) to describe the process of modeling before actually performing the construction. The topics of 4D scheduling focused on being able to visualize a schedule and by using Syncro’s products it’s possible to not only visualize the project through the schedule, but also assign other attributes to the schedule to analyze projects to include funding, energy use or impacts to others. I look forward to trying out a 10 day trial of the software to see how it can use Civil 3D models.

While 100_1507we were discussing the scheduling topics the younger members of the tour were busy playing with the interactive smart boards lining the room. They thoroughly enjoyed drawing on them.

The McCarthy member explained how he is using laser scanning, Civil 3D and Revit to verify the geometry during construction. As the building is being constructed the steel members are scanned and checked against the model. The floors are also scanned before and after concrete is poured. After scanning the data is brought into Civil 3D so a surface may be created to see the high/low points in the surface. The concrete surface then can be analyzed for potential problems before flooring materials are applied. Low or high points can be fixed.

The tour was great, I got to meet some interesting and knowledgeable people. If invited back, I’d definitely take them up on the offer.

Stanford University–Manhole Cover

Just a manhole cover from Stanford University. You can tell they have lots of money by the elaborateness of the design. These don’t look cheap.


AUGI Salary Survey

The AUGI Salary Survey is almost closed (tonight is the deadline). If you haven’t already take the survey. More information may be found here.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


If you want to recreate the LinkToSlope subassembly using the Subassembly Composer, then you may need this Expression:


The expression uses SuperSource which is the name of an Input Parameter using the Superelevation Enumeration. Use the expression either in the creation of a point or create a variable that is the grade to be used. There may be a better way, but as far as I can tell you can’t specify the input parameter of Superelevation to override the slope.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

SAC–Midpoint Between Two Points

In Subassembly Composer you may want to find the midpoint between two points (or a fraction thereof).


To do this use the Interpolate Point option of the Point Geometry Type. Then input the Interpolate Parameter to be what ever value you want, in this case 0.5.


You can also use a formula in the Interpolate Parameter. I haven’t come across an instance where this would be useful, but I’m sure if I continue to develop subassemblies I will.

Don’t want to deal with this stuff? Then let me do it for you by creating a custom subassembly to meet your needs! Contact information near the top right of this page.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Orlando, FL Visit

I’m heading to Orlando next month to watch the NASA’s GRAIL Mission launch from Kennedy Space Center. I’ll be showing up a few days earlier. If you are in the Orlando area and want to meet up for coffee or lunch leave a comment or send me an email.

During and after the event there will be blog posts about it on my other blog if you are interested in learning more about both the Grail mission and other NASA projects.

Subassembly Composer–Attachment Point

I’ve decided to post here instead of the Autodesk Wiki, at this point I’m not really seeing any benefit to posting information over there.

Due to the poor information contained in the Autodesk Wiki for Subassembly Composer I recently got a question on how to create an attachment point for the subassemblies created with Subassembly Composer.

The first step is to Define Enumeration. To do this go up to the View Menu and choose Define Enumeration. Create an Enum Group and then within that Enum Group create Enum Items. In this case I’ve created the InsertionPoint Enum Group containing the GutterEdge and BackOfCurb Enum items.


Now that you’ve created the Enum Group you can add an Input Parameter using the group created above. Please note that the Name of the parameter needs to be different then the Enum Group.


Now in your code you can use either a Decision or Switch to determine what attachment point needs to be used.


In the above code I’m specifying a point to go to.

Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler 2012 and AutoCAD Utility Design 2012

Today Autodesk announced the availability of the Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler (AIM) and AutoCAD Utility Design software products. AIM is formerly Project Galieleo and before that LandXplorer.

The Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler is really a planning tool. A tool to make it easier to model the existing data whether it be GIS, Lidar or other data with the new conceptual designs for the project. It provides an easier way to provide visualization of projects for the stakeholders who are not familiar with infrastructure methodologies.  Autodesk promises being able to create a 3D model of an entire city quickly (as long as you have the data).


There seems to be a need for infrastructure as evidenced by all these headlines.


Autodesk sees this technology fitting between and in the Plan and Design of the project loop of a project.


The current workflow is clumsy (isn’t that what we’ve been saying?). The product helps create, evaluate and communicate alternatives.




I’m not quite sure the value of the product in going from Planning to Design. It doesn’t seem to provide any direct link of the models. It doesn’t look like you can import the model and have a corridor with associated alignments, profiles and assemblies. It appears you get to start over with the design with only the location of the alignment.

AutoCAD Utility Design 2012

This product looks promising for electrical engineers in doing the off site electrical design. I didn’t see much evidence in the presentation that it did anything other than electrical work, which to me doesn’t reflect in the name what it does. Maybe in the future they will provide other types of utility design in the product.

The product provides the tools to do the electrical design including the ability to calculate voltage drop and size transformers. The design is rule based.









Monday, August 08, 2011

Retaining Wall–Caltrans B3-1 (Type 1)

I’ve been having fun with the Subassembly Composer recently and have created a Retaining Wall using the parameters of the Standard Plan B3-1.

Once you figure out how to use the various options it’s not that bad to use. Here are a few of the things I’ve learned:

If what you are using looks like this:


imageUse a sequence instead to make moving them around easier. You can drag and drop the items and rearrange them a lot easier then having to worry about moving the arrows.

If you want a target to be conditional, use a Decision and check to see if it is valid. If it is valid then I use the value specified, if it is not then I use a default value. This is useful if you want to see something instead of the subassembly going quitting on you.


I’ve also learned the Wiki help for the Subassembly Composer isn’t very good. I’ve added some to it so you don’t have to download a pkt file to see how to use something, but I didn’t too much. I’m conflicted if I should add it there and not get anything in return or post here and have a chance you will click an ad and provide some revenue for the site.

If you want a copy of the packet file for the Retaining wall, information on purchasing it may be found here on the Civil Reminders App Page.


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