Archive for Uncategorized

Daily Affirmation

Here are some images from a model and design I did this weekend that made me realize it was all worth it.

There is some serious exaggeration on the renderings to show off the grade differences.

The guys here at are probably sick of seeing these images, but I am just amazed that I was able to do this in the course of just normal every day design.

No harder or easier than the old way- but you can really see your design!

Here is the corridor that made the Cul De Sac above.

More on UCS vs Dview in Civil 3D

As much I try to avoid this subject, I feel that I must explain why I don’t ever change the UCS in any form.

But I have an open mind so feel free to comment. I think it is about time we had a good rousing debate and cleared the air!

And this is just my (Dana) opinion. The other bloggers can lay their reasoning out whenever they feel like it 🙂

In my last post, Take Advantage of Twisting Labels, I said that twisting your view was required to get your labels to automatically flip.

I have other reasons for prefering dview in general.

It comes from my first days as a new EIT at an engineering firm. I was dangerous in CAD…. They’d give me something seemingly simple to do- like change lot numbers on a site plan, and when they went back into the drawing they’d find all of their special attributed blocks exploded down to dtext and that sort of thing.

So I was told never to mess with anything.

As my skills grew, I noticed that if I started my work in a drawing that came from an architect sometimes when I tried to import a surface or something from the project, it would come in all strange. It was explained to me that the architect didn’t care when north was and rotated the UCS for whatever reason.

In the old days, your UCS Y axis was North to softdesk and Land Desktop. (here is an article I found that explains it well from a Softdesk perspective UCS vs Dview Twist )

So if you didn’t remember to change your UCS back to world before importing or exporting points, your surveyors where halfway to Tahiti before they realized their stakeout points were bogus.

Civil 3D apparently takes that off the table. I had a minor brainstorm last night thinking that “Why can’t we just change the UCS for a North rotation?” when Nick shot me down and sent me to search in help.

 Go to your HELP menu and search for these terms and read up….

Autodesk Civil 3D object data AutoCAD World Coordinate System coordinates

I tried it. I labeled bearings, etc. on some parcels and alignments, then I changed the UCS and the labels nor the mapchecks changed.

I also did another experiment. I imported a list of points. Then I changed my UCS so that my Y axis was 45 degrees turned. I reimported the same list of points from ascii. They came in at the exact same spot. So it is truly using the World Coordinate System when dealing with Civil 3D objects.

In some respects, I think I would rather it react to the UCS. I think that an appropriate use of the UCS would be a North rotation.

However, that takes my original fears off the table. UCS changes won’t muck with the Civil 3D data.

But your labels only react to the view change.

Going through it both ways, it appears to me (and correct me if I am wrong PLEASE) that dview leaves you in world, but rotates the view. Like turning a sheet of graph paper on a table.

Changing your UCS would be like erasing the Y axis arrow on my graph paper and redrawing it., then turning the paper until North faces up again.

Interesting enough, it seems that you are actually dview twisting without realizing it in your second scenario because if you actually enter into the dview commmand after doing the UCS view change, you see that a dview twist has actually been applied for you.

In my mind, I’d rather not mess with Y period. There are too many people I share data with that still use Land Desktop and Softdesk. There is too much confusion over North these days and with increased pressure to submit in State Plane Coordinates and be GIS friendly that anything I can do to make sure that stays intact, I will.

Take Advantage of the Twisting Labels

This isn’t really a Civil 3D thing, but since Civil 3D labels respond to a dview twist, it is about time we all figured out how to do one with as little pain as possible.

There is always a lot of passion surrounding the use of UCS rotation vs Dview twist to change the way your plan looks when placed in a layout. For some more information about UCS vs Dview in Civil3D see my next post.

I am a resident of a Dview state, so I cast my vote for the twist. Jason, however, is from UCS country, so perhaps he will share his approach later.

One of the main objections to the Dview twist is that it can be tricky to figure out your twist angle, where with UCS you can do UCS follow or some other methods that make the flip fast. I always struggled coming up with a dview twist angle until I found this.

There is an express tool that makes this go really quickly.

It is called ALIGNSPACE and it works very similarly to the ALIGN command in AutoCAD.

I have a site plan with area labels I’d like to always remain readable, and I’d like the long roads to be parallel to the bottom of the page.

I make sure my area label is setup to change with the view.

Go into layout and make your viewport

Draw a Guideline parallel to the bottom of the page.

Execute Express>Layout Tools> Alignspace

Choose two points in model space and two points in paper space as directed.

REGENALL to see your label size and flip react.

Now if you want to replicate this view in model space so that you can work on your drawing in an orientation that makes sense to you, you can name the view so you can access it again- either in model space or on another sheet.

Making Civil 3D do Water Pipes and Networks Part I

Civil 3D is setup for gravity pipes, however you can use it to help you design, draft and annotate other types of systems, like forcemains, natural gas, cable conduit, or even water networks if you have some creativity.

Make Pipe Styles to match how you want to see your water pipes in plan and profile.

Make yourself Parts list that includes your water pipes, and for now, just null structures.****I changed my mind on the null structure thing.  Pick a simple cylinder, but still use the style tricks below.  See Water Part I (1/2) for how to do this***

Make a rule set that puts your pipe in with desired cover and no slope. This will get you started, but your pipes will definitely need hand tweaking (coming in Part II)

Draw in the centerline of your water pipes.

At first, your null structures probably will look like this:

But if you make a structure style that is no show it almost looks right:

Now, make that no show style NOT do part masking:

You’d never even know it was there.

Coming soon, Part II- Profiles and Part III- Tricking Civil 3D into doing your laterals, valves and hydrants.

Converting SurvCADD (or Eaglepoint) Points to Civil 3D

So you get your data from the outside surveyor.

And the drawing contains points. But they are not softesk points, nor LDT points, nor Civil 3D points.

Perhaps they are SurvCADD or EaglePoint.

Can you use them?

Yes. It is pretty easy actually. These points are essentially special attributed blocks and we can use one of my favorite (but often neglected) AutoCAD tools- Attribute extraction- to generate a text file that we can bring back into Civil 3D.

Attribute Extraction is a really neat tool that counts blocks and reports on their attributes. It is a standard AutoCAD feature and can be used in anything built on AutoCAD such as Map, Civil 3D, Land Desktop, Arch Desktop, etc. 2007 and 2007. Maybe lower versions, too, in slightly different form.

Therefore, this procedure also works for converting SurvCADD or EaglePoint points to Land Desktop Points.

This whole process takes about 5 mins the first time as you get your bearings and about 1 minute next time you do it. It is worth the effort even if you don’t “need” the points.

First you need your tools menu. This is an AutoCAD menu, so you have to go into the CUI and add the tools menu to your workspace.

Then you go under Tools>Attribute Extraction

Go through the wizard, noting that you can save this “template” that will extract the data you need.

I am just going to tell it to search my whole drawing for eligible blocks.

I noted the name of those special point blocks, so I am going to uncheck the other blocks it found.

You need to grab the elements of PNEZD from a combination of Attributes and regular properties (like X and Y position)

Arrange this box to the right order and eliminate what you don’t want to wind up in your file.

Make yourself a txt or csv

Save this template for future use.

Open the file to check it out.

Points>Create Points

Real live Civil 3D points from SurvCADD point blocks.