Letters to my younger self

3023105-archive_blur_calligraphy_close-up_education_handwriting_handwritten_letter_old_old-lettersI am finding as I grow older, I am saddened by my arrogance and pride as a youth. Yes, confidence is one thing, but ignoring those that have experience in a given forum is foolish, no? For those that don’t know, I have two young daughters who will be a freshman and junior in high school. I am often met with brashness and usually some sort of eye-roll from them whenever I offer some direction. Who am I kidding, it’s usually directives like the trash needs to go out and has yet to be collected.  🙂

I mention that example not because it reminded me of my own youth, but because I often thought my way was far better than everyone else’s. Which, I suppose is ok if it really was better. But, typically it truly doesn’t matter. Did I mention I’m an engineer? There has to be order and precision to the chaos. Doing things twice seems wasteful to me. Maybe though, there is a lesson in the double or even triple effort to accomplish something?Continue reading “Letters to my younger self”

Feature Line Editing


Today is just a short reminder, again, to not use layers to control visibility with Civil 3D objects. I’m doing a project where I was given a file that had contours (same at elevation but most were not), text next to 2 lines in an X arrangement, spot elevations that were pointing to random spots along a curb line, etc. I would have hoped this came from an exploded version of the Civil 3D model, but with other factors like layer naming, I was not hopeful. So I set off to build the surface from scratch.Continue reading “Feature Line Editing”

Coordinate Systems and Drones

And now back to our regularly scheduled program… Have you heard of the drone invasion?

For those hiding under a rock because of the election, or other apocalyptic event,  drones have come to the forefront of data capture for many types of projects. Surveyors are actively digging into the technology to see how it can help them capture existing conditions quickly and at what quality they can capture.3DR and DJI are two companies that are offering drones to the commercial AEC industry.

For full disclosure, Synergis is now a partner with 3DR to provide the technology to our local customers.

The basic idea is the drone would fly a given area, take several pictures and upload that data to a cloud service to create composite imagery or elevation models. In order to accomplish this, All commercial drones have some sort of GPS recorder to stamp each image with coordinates. For clarity, this position stamp is rough in nature given the process described above and is typically within 5′ of the actual location. This is NOT acceptable to most survey firms for anything other than “napkin” sketched projects.

Many services have added the ability to add survey control to the process in order to tighten up the results. There is a best practices method to laying out the control over the capture area. According to 3DR, they can improve the location (x,y) accuracy of their data to within an inch!

In order to accomplish this correction, one bit of information is the need to have an EPSG code to identify the control’s coordinate system.Simply search by state or other information to find the EPSG code. For future reference, here are a few local codes to Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

 State  Coordinate System  Unit  EPSG Code
NJ  NAD83  Ft 3424
 NSRS2007  Ft  3616
 NAD83/2011  Ft  6527
PA NAD83 North  Ft  2271
NAD83 South  Ft  2272
NSRS2007 North  Ft  3650
NSRS2007 South Ft 3652

In case you need to transform your control coordinates, there is a great tool in that same website to re-project your coordinates from one system to another:


Lastly, if you have Recap 360 Pro, there is a setting to specify the coordinate system. In that setting you use a portion of a typical code (PA83 for instance) and get results which also include the EPSG code.


Until next time…

Controlling Points in XREFs

This is a post about conversations I have frequently with Surveyors and their office staff. First and foremost, DO NOT EXPLODE any Civil 3D objects! OK, now that I’ve said that… Civil 3D uses point groups and description keys to control how points are displayed, not layers.

Every surveyor just now threw up their hands and said, well… things I cannot repeat here. Let’s take a breath and find out how we can calm the masses while maintaining the Civil 3D model.

Continue reading “Controlling Points in XREFs”

Corridor Cul-de-sac troubleshooting

Corridors are quite fun to build, configure and eventually model various surfaces. Everyone has seen the smooth and clean examples.

Sometimes, the corridor object can get out of whack; subassemblies targeting the wrong alignments, daylighting specified to the wrong surface, etc. Maybe you’ve seen this simple error…


Of course intersection can pose their own problems, but what about all of those other corridor examples like bus stops or knuckles or even cul-de-sacs. Recently, I had a chance to help someone with just such an issue. And it looked like this. For some reason, the lane was not respecting the closest target making a hole in the surface.


Let’s see what we can find out….

Continue reading “Corridor Cul-de-sac troubleshooting”

Civil 3D Style Evolution

I teach a fair amount of classes around the functionality of Civil 3D. One common dilemma I hear students discuss is how to handle styles. Yes, you can put them in a template and have the standard set of styles available. But what happens when I need to present an object differently than the company standard? Agent Smith once said “You hear that Mr. Anderson?… That is the sound of inevitability…”

Yes, style change is inevitable. After the break, I’ll give you my solution which does not end in death…

Continue reading “Civil 3D Style Evolution”

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