Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Civil 3D 2012 to Navisworks Manage

What is Navisworks Manage?

Navisworks is a project review tool that is a relative newcomer to the Autodesk family of products. I think of Navisworks as a universal viewer and CAD-aggregator. There are several varieties of Navisworks, Navisworks Manage is the fullest functionality flavor of the product. I've got several customers using the heck out of it for scheduling and staging construction activity. With Navisworks you can pull together many different file types including DWG, DGN, point clouds, Revit, Inventor, 3DS Max, Sketchup and Pro E files (just to name a few).

Getting Started:

In Navisworks Manage, you will want to change a setting that will make it much easier to update the model from the Civil 3D file.

From the Navisworks Application Menu click Options (similar to how you jump into Options in AutoCAD).

Expand the Model category on the left part of the Options Editor and highlight Performance.

Place a checkmark next to Close NWC/NWD files on load.

This option allows us to keep the Navisworks project open and export a new output file (NWC as I create later in this post). If I kept it on, it would not allow me to overwrite the NWCs as updates occur. For those of you familiar with the XLOADCTL variable, think of this option as changing XLOADCTL from 0 to 2.

In Civil 3D 2012 (this will also work in 2011, btw):

Freeze unwanted layers and hide items you don't want displayed in Navisworks. Generally, the only things you want to bring in are pipes, surfaces, corridors and parcels that have elevation to them. I recommend creating a Layer State specifically for NWCOUT.

At the command line, type NWCOUT. Civil 3D will prompt you to save an NWC file. Save it in a sensible location with the rest of the project you are working with. This file provides the link between Civil 3D and Navisworks, so renaming it, moving it or deleting it once it is in use would break the link. Wait a moment or two for the NWC file to generate.

In Navisworks:

In Navisworks, click Append.

Once the file has been imported, use the view cube and the navigation bar to look around in the project, similar to how you would in the Civil 3D object viewer.

In my example, I have pipes that I'd like to see, but in most views they are obscured by the surface model. I can make the surface model transparent.

Select the surface in Navisworks by clicking on it. A context tab pops up and you can override the default color and transparency here.

If you have made changes to the project in Civil 3D and wish to update the Navisworks side, click the refresh button in Navisworks' Quick Access toolbar.

As you go back and forth between civil 3D, any overrides you place on objects in Navisworks hold - even after a refresh. Do not re-Append the NWC or you will end up with duplicate data!

That's all for now. I plan to add more information about working with Civil 3D objects and Timeliner (the scheduling piece of Navisworks). See you soon!

Friday, May 20, 2011

It's About Damn Time: A Post About Microstation to Civil 3D

Hey all!  I've been on hiatus from blogging due to the fact that I've been cranking out words to be included in the soon-to-be-released Mastering Civil 3D 2012.  You should buy this book.  REALLY you should.

So I'm back...and here's like a post and stuff:

In 1959, a revolution rocked the world and the only people who noticed were surveyors and mapping professionals. This was the year that the US and its buddies decided to change the formal definition of a foot from 1ft = 0.3048006096 meters to 1 ft = 0.3048000 meters.

The problem is, most land was already surveyed by 1959, so a change in the definition of a foot could change the recorded location of survey monuments up to several feet. This major moving of the proverbial cheese has been received with mixed acceptance. For the most part, surveyors still use the 1 ft = 0.3048006096 meter definition for their work.

Why does CAD care?

One of the fundamental differences between Microstation and AutoCAD is how the programs handle units and coordinate systems. Under the hood, Microstation only stores things in meters. To an end-user using feet, Microstation uses the International foot value to convert for display. It is on the data-end that programs like InRoads and Caice compensate for the slight discrepancies between US survey feet and International feet.

The DGN by itself is always stuck in International feet.

Attached to this post is the procedure for importing a DGN and getting it translated from International feet to US survey feet. The steps in the attached document outline how to manually force the program to translate the coordinates.

How to Import a DGN into Civil 3D CORRECTLY