Thursday, December 29, 2011

Intersection Design with ADA Ramps - Civil 3D

This workflow will utilize conditional subassemblies and automatically place ADA Ramps at selected locations. We will use the Intersection Wizard, draw a couple of polylines, set targets and apply a simple assembly set. The images below represent expected results once code set styles, default settings and custom assembly set have been established.
Download my custom assembly set.(XML File) The image below displays the Sterling Curb Return Fillet assembly that creates the ramps.

1.    Draw at least two alignments; create and design road profiles for intersection design.
3. Start the Intersection Wizard, set parameters. (offset, slopes, radius,etc)

4. Import Custom Assembly set

   5. Complete the wizard

6.    Draw polylines to represent sidewalk ramps.
7.    This step requires some knowledge of Civil 3D to completely understand the workflow (Solu-Around). Zoom to the assembly set that was imported into the drawing after completing the intersection wizard. Locate the Sterling Curb Return Fillets assembly. This assembly utilizes a conditional subassembly (horizontal targets). Select the intersection; locate edit targets in the ribbon. Select the one corner of the intersection and select target, locate Target Offset (ConditionalHorizontalTarget) select the polyline that represents the ramp. Repeat for the Target Offset below in the same dialog box and select the same polyline.
8. Ramp has been inserted into the corridor. These steps are not a solutions for all intersections or ramps, but a suggestion on how this can be approached. My second Solu-Around will be shown in Part 2. I will show how feature lines are utilized to design ramps. Build a surface from these feature lines and paste the new surface into the corridor surface for final grading.
Watch recorded steps during my 2011 Autodesk University class;

Monday, December 12, 2011

Vertical road alignments designed by the CLOUD

Wow! What is coming next? I uploaded the existing ground profile to the Cloud and it came back with the the road completly designed and a report was included. If I send a dollar to the CLOUD I wonder if it would send $100 back?

Ok, the truth is, it does send back a vertical alignment and it is optimized to meet minimum, maximum grade and pvi matching can be set.

Install the software from Autodesk Labs. Project Silverstar for AutoCAD Civil 3D This software will be located in the Toolspace under the Toolbox. Profile Optimization. Login to subscription and create a login into the Autodesk Cloud.

Right click to start this new utility. Login to the Autodesk Cloud (Existing ground profile is required) **Make sure a design speed is provided.

Set minimum and maximum grades, toggle matching PVI's.

Set PVI intensity, and notice
Maximum Solving Time.

BAM! The Cloud has received the data. All we have to do is wait for the return email. I planned on posting the results so I set the maximum time to 1 minute. Unfortunately it has been 1/2 hour and I have not received an email. Going to bed and will post the results tomorrow.

The results were returned from the cloud in about 1.5 hours. I have posted the Report, XML, and the ASCII file on the Autodesk CLOUD. Did you expect anything else? It only takes a second to view or download.
PDF report -
XML file -
ASCII file -

I believe this utility has a lot of potential. I would like it to ask for all PVI elevations that I have to match. Main roads, secondary roads etc. This utility is very similar to the best fit profile utility with a couple more options. Given the time it takes to return the design I believe this is more of a introduction to the Cloud then a program I can utilize at this time. Below are the steps to create a Best Fit Design Profile.
*See image below for best fit profile utility.

The team at Autodesk Labs is very responsive to all feedback. I cannot encourage you enough to share your expectations or obstacles. Below is the feedback that was returned to me.

Dear Mr. Studer,

Thank you for the valuable feedback. If you do not mind, I would be happy to discuss Project Silverstar further with you, in order to get more feedback?

First about the delay. I quickly looked at the log files on the cloud. Unfortunately, your job with the short solving time was just queued up behind some longer jobs. This is why you didn’t receive an answer quickly. We are working on improving our load-balancing to avoid such situations in the future as best as possible.

(I suggested the ability to add more PVI's)
Adding more PVI is a feature that we actually thought about already. I don’t think it would be a major problem to add this on the cloud side. On the client side (wizard), how would you, from a user perspective, best like to enter the PVI information? Would a list similar to the one for borrow/waste pits be a solution? One problem with such a list is that a user could potentially enter PVI’s that will conflict with other design constraints (minimum tangent length, grade constraints, etc.). Designing a user interface that takes that into account without confusing the user would be nice, but can be tricky. If you have any ideas or suggestions in this respect, please let me know.

As for the similarities with the best fit utility, SilverStar works actually quite different. The Best Fit utility tries to find a profile that fits the ground as close as possible. This can be computed very fast. SilverStar, on the other hand, tries to find a profile that minimizes total earthwork costs (cut, fill, load, and especially hauling), subject to a set of design constraints. From a computational perspective, this is a hard problem which requires significantly more computation time than Best Fit. This is one of the reason that the SilverStar algorithm is in the Cloud.

I hope this explains some of the issues. I am looking forward to get more feedback from you in order to get SilverStar more usable.

Thank you very much,
Valentin Koch
Principal Research Engineer
Autodesk Inc.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Civil 3D 2013 Preview and FREE 2012

The beta has been released for Civil 3D 2013, but before I look at it, I would like everyone to know that a $#!^ ton of add on programs are currently available for Civil 3D 2012. History has shown subscription users can learn features before they are released into the up coming version.

Another cool place to utilize cutting edge technology is Autodesk Labs. Part of my job involves keeping up with the latest software. Sounds easy, and is if thats all you have to do. To help everyone out I am posting software available for Civil 3D 2012. All of the software below is FREE.
**Autodesk subscriptions does require subscription.
Autodesk Civil 3D 2012 Subscription Downloads
• Volumes Dashboard Extension for AutoCAD Civil 3D 2012 (extension)
• 12d Data Extension for AutoCAD Civil 3D 2012
• AutoCAD Civil 3D 2012 Import/Export Extension for GENIO
• Bid Express Extension for AutoCAD Civil 3D 2012
• Autodesk Subassembly Composer for AutoCAD Civil 3D 2011 & 2012

Autodesk Labs
Bridge Modeler for AutoCAD Civil 3D
Corridor Solids for AutoCAD Civil 3D
Point Cloud Feature Extraction for AutoCAD Civil 3D
Project Silverstar for AutoCAD Civil 3D (utilizes the cloud)
River Analysis Extension for AutoCAD Civil 3D / AutoCAD Map 3D

Recommended and Software I am Utilizing **Free for 30 days - let them you know you saw it here and recieve a discount
Steltman Software
Sincpac C3D

Autodesk Civil 3D 2012 Utilities and Drivers
AutoCAD Civil 3D 2012 DACH Extension

AutoCAD Plant 3D 2012 Object Enablers
CAiCE Translator Extension for AutoCAD Civil 3D 2012
AutoCAD Civil 3D 2012 Spanish Import Export Tools
Autodesk Subassembly Composer Support Pack for AutoCAD Civil 3D 2011 & 2012
AutoCAD Civil 3D 2012 Cartogramma Extension
AutoCAD Civil 3D 2012 Borehole 64bit
AutoCAD Civil 3D 2012 PISTE Extension
Open Light 2012 Object Enabler (32-bit and 64-bit)
AutoCAD Civil 3D 2012 Transportation Extension
AutoCAD Structural Detailing 2012 Object Enablers (32-bit and 64-bit)

Autodesk Civil 3D 2012 Updates and Service Packs
AutoCAD Civil 3D Update Update 1 - 2011-Dec-08
AutoCAD 2012 Performance Slowdown Hotfix (32/64 bit)
AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT 2012 SP1 Ribbon Hotfix
Hotfix - Prospector Lock-up
AutoCAD 2012 Block Editor Save Corruption Hot Fix
Autodesk Infrastructure Design Suite Network License Hotfix
Welcome Screen Hotfix (UK English Only)
Welcome Screen and Ranges of Analysis Types Hotfix (German and Japanese only)
Autodesk Storm and Sanitary Analysis 2012 Hotfix (localized Civil 3D and Map 3D versions Only)
Standards Audit Report Hotfix for French AutoCAD® 2012
Autodesk 2012 Content Explorer Service Hot Fix
Autodesk Material Library Medium Resolution Image Library 2012
Autodesk IPv4 Network License Manager for Windows
Civil 3D Object Based Security Removal - Server
Autodesk IPv6 Network License Manager for Windows
I plan to post detailed information, videos and reviews on all of the software over the holidays on my website. Sterling Systems, LLC All updates will be posted as they are released.

Please let me know if I missed any current downloads or if you would like to recommend Civil 3D enhancements.  Below is a preview of my Toolsbox as a result of the downloads listed above.

Civil 3D – Elevation matching in Profile

Roadway design requires matching elevation throughout the project. For this example we will place the primary road elevation in the secondary road. Utilizing Civil 3D there is no easy way to mark this location in profile view. Most users will label the elevation or list the information with inquiry tools and enter this information as they design.

The workflow that I use projects a point into the profile view and is selected as the new road design is constructed. Yes the point and label are dynamic to the profile.

1. Create a corridor for the primary road.
2. Build a surface from the corridor.
3. Create a Random Point using Create Points toolbar.

Select the corridor surface as prompted. Point is placed marking the main road elevation at the intersection point.
4. Locate Profile View in the home ribbon and select Project Objects to Profile View.
5. Select the point when prompted, enter
6. Select profile view to label.

The label projected is dynamic and a custom style should be created. Change the primary road design, rebuild the corridor, and make sure the surface is up-to-date. Now select all points, right click and select Elevations from Surface. This is located in the right click menu and in the ribbon. All labels are updated, simply select the grip and drag it to the new elev.

This tip was pulled from my Autodesk University 2011 class Un-Conditional Corridor Love.

Civil 3D 2012 update 1

Update Civil 3D 2012, and if Civil 3D 2012 has been sitting on the shelf it is now time to dust it off and install it. Autodesk released the Civil 3D 2012 update 1 on Dec. 8th. It does include AutoCAD and Map updates. Check out the readme before installing. Also check out Autodesk Labs for new software related to Civil 3D.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Autodesk University 2011 (Corridor Solu-Arounds)

I have some exciting new Solu-Arounds for my AU class this year. They are going to be released live in Vegas, but will post them here shortly after.

Users can attend Virtual AU for FREE this year and subscription users have full access to free training by watching recoded classes online. Do a search by instructor to find my classes.

Class ID CI5085

Title UnConditional Corridor Love

Assemblies are essential for roadways, railways, traveled ways, channels, ditches, utility runs, and airport runways. They are relatively easy to create, and the 3D model is essential for design. This class will focus on conditional subassemblies and explore the possibilities for delivering data from the model that was not made obvious. The focus will be on applying one assembly with conditional subassemblies to automatically design driveways, sidewalks, intersections, medians, and even ADA ramps. We will reveal valuable tips and secrets. Code sets, styles, and settings are only the beginning. We will show you how to apply real-world materials to corridors and, if time permits, describe how to add paint stripes and animation along the centerline.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Civil 3D 2012 Save As error

Do not use SAVE AS 2007 to save back a Civil 3D 2012 drawing and try to use it in AutoCAD or Land Desktop 2009. The drawing seems to work in 2007, but in 2009 basic editing fuctions are lost. Received erors inserting blocks, copy and paste command.

Had to Wblock the drawing to remove errors. (Recover and audit couldn't repair the problem)

Instead of SAVE AS use Export to AuotoCAD dwg.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Civil 3D 2012 Prospector LOCKING UP

Typically if Civil 3D is locking up I always encouarge users to update display drivers, but if you are using Civil 3D 2012 and it locks up while adding or editing multiple Point Groups, Point Group Styles or multiple other Civil object groups or styles in the Prospector. First try hitting the Control (CTRL) key to unlock Civil 3D. This is much better then the alternative of shuting down and re-starting.

To prevent future lock-ups review this hotfix.
Link to Civil 3D 2012 Hotfix

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Creating Code Set - Plan View (Corridor Style)

The corridor model is represented graphically by roadway cross sections at predetermined stations, with longitudinal strings connecting points between adjacent stations. Points with the same code and in the same region of the section are automatically connected with longitudinal lines.

Let’s start with a code set called plan view and configure point codes to display figures. Feature line styles must be configured to display the correct colors, linetypes, and layers to display the corridor properly in plan view.

Creating Feature Line Styles

1. Select the plus sign for General under the toolspace. Continue to select plus signs until Feature Line Styles are located. Right click and create feature styles for each style that will be displayed in plan view. For example Edge of Pavement, will be configured to display cyan, and continuous linetype by setting it to the correct layer. Change the view direction to model and set the color to 250 if you would like to duplicate what was shown. Below is an example.

Creating a Code Set

2. Select the plus sign for general under the toolspace. Select the next plus sign under multipurpose style and locate Code Set Styles. Right click Code Set Styles to select NEW. A new code set displays minimum codes. Civil 3D applies default codes to subassemblies and all subassembly codes are held within the assembly. Importing codes is a great way to start building a code set. To import codes select importing codes in the bottom right and select a corridor or assembly.

Note: Before importing codes create and assign a feature Line style for no display. All feature lines will be assigned this by default. Rename all the standard styles to No Display for new codes sets to inherit the No Display style.

Assigning Codes

3. Edit the new code set style that was created above. Locate Point under the name column. Scroll over and set feature line styles for each component you want to display in plan view. We will continue to elaborate on this later.

Default Code Set Style

By default Civil 3D assigns a code set to a corridor. Locate Corridor under the settings tab in the toolspace. Edit Feature settings and assign a code set style under Default Styles.

Look for part II of Creating Code Set, the next part will cover assigning Links for Visulazation. For more information on Point Codes review my Autodesk University class. (Don't be left out in the CODE_CV9314-1 - 2009) Free to all subscription users. Autodesk University Website

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Civil 3D annotative scale - turned off?

Civil 3D labels automatically update as data or scale changes. I could only dream of this feature when I worked in the industry, but I must admit; the overtime money was appreciated.

95% percent of the time Civil 3D label collaboration saves time and money, but what about that 5% of the time a quick or unique print is required?

Civil 3D default label behavior
The first image shows the drawing in paperspace. The scale is 1”=200. The text automatically updated and is shown at .1 paperspace height. This is unavoidable, if it didn’t update immediately it will when you plot it.

Civil 3D Label Solu-Around
The second image shows the same drawing. The scale was originally set to 1”=40’. This time turn off regenauto by typing it into the command line. Change the viewport scale to 1”=200’ and the text display will stay the same.

Turning all labels off or changing the height of all labels would also provide the same results.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Civil 3D 2012 System Requirements

That time a year again. Companies are downloading 2012 products and preparing to install. Below are the system requirements for Civil 3D 2012 to consider before the installation.

For 32-Bit AutoCAD Civil 3D 2012
§  Microsoft® Windows® 7 (recommended) Enterprise, Ultimate, or Professional edition, Microsoft® Windows Vista® Enterprise, Business, or Ultimate edition (SP2 or later), or Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional edition (SP3 or later)
§  For Windows 7 or Windows Vista: Intel® Pentium® 4 processor or AMD Athlon™ dual-core processor, 3.0 GHz or faster with SSE2 technology
§  For Windows XP: Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon dual-core processor, 1.6 GHz or faster with SSE2 technology
§  1 GB RAM minimium (4 GB recommended)
§  12 GB disk space for installation (7 GB for electronic download with at least 2 GB free after installation)
§  1,280 x 1,024 true color video display adapter (1,600 x 1,200 with true color recommended, multiple monitors are supported)
§  Microsoft® Internet Explorer® 7.0 or later
§  DVD drive
For 64-Bit AutoCAD Civil 3D 2012
§  Windows 7 (recommended) Enterprise, Ultimate, or Professional edition, Windows Vista Enterprise, Business, or Ultimate edition (SP2 or later), or Windows XP Professional edition (SP2 or later)
§  AMD Athlon™ 64 processor with SSE2 technology, AMD Opteron™ processor with SSE2 technology, Intel® Xeon processor with Intel EM64T support and SSE2, or Intel Pentium 4 with Intel EM64T support and SSE2 technology
§  4 GB RAM minimum (8 GB recommended)
§  12 GB disk space for installation (7 GB for electronic download with at least 2 GB free after installation)
§  1,280 x 1,024 true color video display adapter (1,600 x 1,200 with true color recommended, multiple monitors are supported)
§  Internet Explorer 7.0 or later
§  DVD drive
Additional 3D Modeling Requirements
§  Intel Pentium 4 processor or AMD Athlon, 3.0 GHz or greater, or Intel or AMD dual-core processor, 2.0 GHz or greater
§  8 GB RAM or more
§  2 GB free hard disk available, not including installation requirements
§  1,280 x 1,024 true color video display adapter 128 MB or greater, Pixel Shader 3.0 or greater, Direct3D® capable workstation class graphics card
§  1,600 x 1,200 with true color (recommended, multiple monitors are supported)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Onsite this past week a client asked if there was any way to delete a style that was being USED in the drawing.
I answered; sure if you can find it. Next time I will ask what version are you running?

Finding Where Styles Are Used in a Drawing
1. Simple right click the style in use and select Find Reference
(marked by a yellow triangle ).

2. Double-click an item in the dialog box to navigate to the reference in Toolspace.Typically works well, but some user input may be required. (see attached)

Had to right click View Frame Group and edit feature settings.

**NOTE:The right click menu also offers a REPLACE option.
Also checkout importing and purging styles. Download Civil 3D 2012 and New Feature Videos

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Civil 3D Profile Ground Labels

Was hoping we could select no labels for profile 2 in Civil 3D 2012, maybe in 2013. Super simple Solu-around still required to show existing elevation and easily add finshed ground profile labels.

Solution: Import a new band to add FG labels to existing profile. See steps below for actual steps.

1. Create a profile band displaying existing grades only called EG elevations only.

2. Copy this existing style, rename it EG with FG elevations and add finish grade labels to the band.

3. Create existing ground profile and apply the EG elevations band only.

4.  Design finish ground profile, then select profile grid and click profile view properties.

5. Locate the band tab, click Import Band Set......

6. Select EG with FG, scroll over and update the profile 2 column.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Civil 3D 2012 Download and New Feature Videos

Download Civil 3D 2012 and start using it today.
Review New 2012 Features and Videos

Three simple commands are listed below to immediately enhance workflows for survey, design, and managing Civil 3D.
My favorite new design feature is the ability to see multiple baselines in Section View. Assemblies are shown through entire intersection.
Sampling Multiple Corridor Baselines

A feature all surveyors have been waiting for, the ability to rotate a symbol without the label. Select the point label and move the cursor over the top grip.

Move the cursor over the second grip to Rotate the marker.

For all users I like the ability to manage styles easier with the new import styles command. This was available previously for subscription users.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Point Cloud Feature Extraction for Civil 3D Now Available!
Full review will be discussed in part 2 of HDS in Civil 3D.
Downloads and videos currently available.

The last 11 years I have scanned and created HDS deliverables with Leica HDS scanners and software. 3D laser scanners are used in the field to capture existing conditions. The technology is still new to some, but for the early adopters it is a common workflow. As firms become familiar with this technology they often contract the scanning and look to benefit from the deliverables. To do this in the past firms were required to invest with 3rd party software.

It is exciting to see that Autodesk has released a new feature in Civil 3D 2011 that provides the ability to import HDS data directly into AutoCAD based products. This option is also available for Civil 3D 2010 subscriptions users.

Introduction to importing Leica HDS point clouds directly into Civil 3D.
Part 1 of 2
Leica point clouds are stored in an IMP format, and must be exported from Cyclone into a PTS format. Once this is accomplished, we are ready to import the point cloud into Civil 3D.

*Note: Any Point Clouds can be imported into Civil 3D if converted to an ASCII file format.

Once the point cloud is displayed, review it for pertinent data that was collected in the field. Moving the cursor over the point cloud displays elevation data.

Point Cloud color, like all Civil 3D objects are controlled with styles. The styles below were developed from Scaled Color Intensity and True Color (RGB).


True color (image required)

Elevation map
**Classifications color scheme, have no affect on HDS Point Clouds. They are used in combination with LIDAR Data only.

For available options select the point cloud and locate the ribbon. To modify point density, change the slider to the right for more points.

**Note: To provide quicker response time with Point Cloud data it is encouraged to set regenauto to off.

The ability to snap to points in cloud is very useful.

The future of Point Clouds in Civil 3D
Full review will be discussed in part 2 of HDS in Civil 3D. Downloads and videos currently available.
Point Cloud Feature Extraction for AutoCAD Civil 3D Now Available