# autocad civil 3d - points

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Create Points

Overview

In this lesson, you learn how to work with points in AutoCAD Civil 3D. Points are one of the

most fundamental elements in site development and transportation projects. They can be

used to represent existing conditions and proposed construction locations. Point data that

represents existing conditions is usually created from survey data files generated from total

station survey, GPS, or LiDAR survey equipment.

Engineers and construction personnel create points required for construction from design

data. Once a design is completed, engineers extract point data from the design, and then send

this information to the field for construction staking. Points created during the design areuploaded to GPS and Total Station survey equipment, and used for construction staking.

In common terms, a point represents a singular location in space. It is usually characterized

with an X and Y (easting and northing) coordinate pair in two-dimensional (2D) space, or an X,

Y, and Z (easting, northing, and elevation) coordinate triplet in three-dimensional (3D) space.

In Civil 3D, points are represented with a point object, which is an intelligent object with the

following properties:

Number

Description

Elevation

Northing

Lesson

Education Curriculum Student Workbook

3

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Easting

Point objects are as shown in the following illustration.

The Civil 3D point object consists of a marker and a label. The display of the marker is

controlled with a point style. In this illustration, you can see how different point styles can be

used to show different types of points. The display of the label is controlled with a point label

style. Different label styles can be used to show specific point data.

Objectives

After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

Explain how points are used in different phases of an engineering project.

Describe how to use grips to modify points and point labels.

Describe which objects can be used to create points in a drawing.

Import points from an external text file into a drawing.

Describe how point groups are used to identify characteristics shared by points.

Explain the function of point tables.

Create a description key.

List the guidelines for managing points.

Create points manually.

Create point groups.

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Exercises

The following exercises are provided in a step-by-step format in this lesson:

1. Import Points

2.

Create Description Keys

3. Create Points Manually

4. Create Point Groups

You create points from survey data to generate a base plan drawing and a surface object to

model the existing conditions. Following the design process, you can also create points from

Civil 3D object data that can be used for construction staking.

A point represents a singular location in space with elevation, northing, and eastingcoordinates. It also has properties that represent the point number, a raw (field) description,

and an expanded (full) description. For modeling existing conditions, points are typically

imported from a text file or created from the survey database. A Civil 3D point object is shown

in the following illustration.

Point marker

Point number

Point elevation

Point description

Point Uses

Before the engineering begins, legal surveyors use points to define land parcel boundaries.

Points represent the corners of property boundaries and are connected with parcel segments

to define the land parcel. During this process, surveyors also use points to represent

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horizontal and vertical survey control points. These points are referenced when establishing

locations for boundary, topographic, and construction surveys.

Topographic surveyors use points to define existing conditions prior to design and

construction. Existing conditions are represented with a pre-engineering base plan drawing,

and an existing ground surface model. The base plan drawing is created with symbols andlinework. Symbols are inserted at spot locations such as catch basins, manholes, and power

poles. Base plan linework is created by connecting points with similar descriptions, such as

edge of pavement and bottom of ditch. The existing ground surface model is created from

points that represent the true topography. Points representing manhole inverts and fire

hydrant tops are excluded from the existing ground surface model.

Designers create points on the design model that can be used for construction staking. Points

created on the design model contain description, coordinate, and elevation data that

contractors can use to lay out the proposed design for field construction.

Examples

The following are examples of how points are used in projects.

Points are imported from a text file that usually contains point number, northing, easting,

elevation, and description. If point numbers are not provided in the text file, they are

automatically created during the import. The following illustration shows an external text file

with point data.

Prior to developing a parcel of land, a boundary survey is completed to define the limits of the

parcel boundary. Surveyors use points to show property corners and survey control locations

as shown in the following illustration.

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Points are also used for pre-engineering topographic mapping and the creation of the existing

ground surface model, as shown in the following illustration.

Points can also be used for construction purposes. Construction points can be created for road

gutter lines and uploaded to a data collector for construction staking, as shown in the

following illustration.

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Graphically Editing Points with GripsOften points are created in close proximity to each other. This can make it difficult to read the

data associated with the points. You can use grips to control the positioning of labels and

other information associated with points.

The following illustration shows the grips used to control the display of points and points

labels.

Rotate point grip

Toggle subitem grip

Drag point grip

Move point grip

The drag point grip is the square grip that is displayed on the point marker. When you click the

drag point grip, you can move unlocked points to a new location. The northing and easting

values for the point are updated based on the new location.

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Use the drag label grip to reposition the entire point label away from the point object. When

you use the drag label grip, the point label adopts its dragged state display property.

Use the toggle subitem grip to display grips for the individual point components. You can then

move the point components individually.

Use the green circular rotate point grip to rotate the marker about its insertion point. You canuse this grip to orient symbols to properly align with base plan linework.

Creating Points

The most common method for creating points that represent existing conditions is to import

the points from an external text file, which is usually contains point number, northing, easting,

elevation and description point data.

The Create Points toolbar offers many different tools for creating points, and is shown in the

following illustration:

Create points manually, and other creation methods

Create points from horizontal and vertical alignments

Create points on surfaces and polylines

Create points from an external text file

Managing Points

Points are used in different phases of engineering projects and can be difficult to organize and

manage. Surveyors and designers sometimes work with thousands of points that have many

different descriptions. Description keys and point groups are powerful tools that can help

manage your points. Description keys help automate point layering and symbol insertion,while point groups enable you to collectively manage points with similar characteristics.

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Point groups provide a flexible and convenient way to identify points that share common

characteristics or points that are used to perform a task, such as creating a surface. Point

groups can also help control the display of points with certain characteristics during the design

process.

You create point groups by defining the characteristics that a point must possess in order to

be part of the group. For example, you can specify that a point belongs to a point group based

on its point number, its name, its raw or full description, its elevation, or any combination of

these parameters. Point group style overrides can be used to assign a point style and label

style to the point objects.

The following illustration shows the Point Group dialog box.

You can control the display of points by assigning a point style and a point label style within a

point group. In order to do this, however, you must use Point Group Overrides to override the

assignment of a point style and point label style that was done through either default style

assignment, manual style assignment, or assignment of styles with description keys.

Points groups are typically used to organize the points based on major features. For example,

you would create a point group for an existing water main or existing storm sewers. Best

practices for the use of description keys and point groups is to use description keys to assign

the point style and the point label style, and to use point groups to temporarily override these

style assignments to aid with the design process. When working with a large number of points,

using many point groups may degrade the performance of the drawing.

Point Group Examples

You use point groups to model an existing ground surface. A point group for surface modeling

would exclude points that do not represent the terrain, such as manhole inverts and tops of

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fire hydrants. A point group for survey control is useful to see which points make up the

survey control network.

Point Tables

Points can contain critical information that sometimes needs to be displayed in a concise

format in the drawing area. You can use point table objects to display point data in a table.

Point tables are often used for showing survey control points or proposed tree planting

schedules.

It is sometimes useful to show the point data for survey control in a point table in the drawing

area, as shown in the following illustration. This makes it easy for construction staff to identify

monuments and traverse hubs for construction staking.

Description Keys

With description keys, you can simplify and standardize the creation of point data in your

drawings. Description keys automate the base plan creation process.

For example, when you create points, you can use a description key to assign the point style, a

point label style, or to place the points on a specific layer. After you create description keys

using your organization's standards, you can save them as a part of a drawing template (.dwt).

When you use the template as the starting point for your drawings, the description keys are

carried forward to the new drawing.

The following illustration shows how description keys manage imported points.

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Description Key Functions

Description keys are organized in description key sets and can be saved in the drawing

template.

Description keys are used for the following:

Alternate Point Descriptions

Surveyors collect data with field descriptions, also known as raw descriptions. Field

descriptions are usually abbreviated and can sometimes be numeric. When you assign an

alternate point description, you can expand on the abbreviated field description to make the

description more meaningful to those in the office.

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Point Style

The point style controls the display of the point node, or marker. The point style can reference

an AutoCAD block and can be used to display base plan symbols such as catch basins, trees,

and manholes.

Point Label Style

You can label points with elevation only, description only, point number only, or any

combination of these and other parameters with point label styles.

Layer

The layer name is the layer the point is created on.

Description Key Examples

An organization can create a single set of description keys and use this set to import data from

a number of survey companies. For example, a description key set can have entries for the rawdescriptions APPLE* and TREE*. These entries ensure that an appropriate point style and

other properties are assigned, regardless of whether the source data has a category for each

specific type of tree or a single generic tree category. Instead of creating a description key set

for each source of data, a firm can use the same set of description keys any time point data is

imported.

Key Terms

Point A point is a singular location in space. A 2D point is a location on a plane

and identified with an X, Y coordinate pair. A 3D point adds an elevationcoordinate and is identified with an X, Y, and Z coordinate triplet. Points

are used to represent existing and proposed features.

Point Group A point group is a collection of similar points in Civil 3D. Point groups

can be created using both inclusion and exclusion criteria. You can

create point groups based on point number range, descriptions,

graphical selection, and elevation ranges. Point groups are useful for

manipulating large groups of points with a single edit. You can assign

point styles and point label styles to point groups. Point groups are

recommended for surface modeling.

Point Style The point style controls the display of the point node. You can use

AutoCAD blocks to create customized point styles for different types of

points.

Point Label Style The point label style controls the display of the point label. You can

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create different point label styles to show different types of point data.

Raw Description The raw description is the description a surveyor assigns to a point in

the field. Raw descriptions are abbreviated alpha or numeric

descriptions. Surveyors prefer these types of descriptions because they

simplify the actual entry of the description in the field.Full Description The full description is an alternative point description that is assigned to

a point. The full description expands on the abbreviated or numeric raw

description assigned by the surveyor. Civil 3D description keys

automatically assign a full description to a raw description.

Description Keys Description keys are lookup tables in Civil 3D that automatically assign a

full description to points. They also automatically assign point styles and

point label styles to points. Description keys are stored in a description

key set.

ManuallyCreated Point

A manually created point is created using a number of different pointcreation tools. Manually created points can be edited directly and

appear with a symbol in the point list.

Reduced

Coordinates

Reduced coordinates are created from survey observation data.

Reduced coordinates indicate northing, easting, and elevation.

LiDAR Data LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) data collection is a method of

optical scanning that results in the collection of dense point data that

can be used for surface modeling.

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Exercise 1: Import Points

From a Text File

In this exercise, you import points from an

external text file to the drawing. The point data

used in this module was collected by survey

crews, and reduced to coordinates using

software on their survey data collectors.

For this exercise open \I_CreatePoints-

EX1.dwg (M_CreatePoints-EX1.dwg).

1. Using Windows Explorer, browse to the

\Create Pointsfolder.

2. Open I_topopoints.txt

(M_topopoints.txt) using a text editor.

Note the format of the data in the text file.

The values represent point number,

northing, easting, elevation, and

description separated by commas.

3. Close the text editor.

Next, you import the points to the

drawing.

4. On the ribbon, Home tab, click Points >

Point Creation Tools.

The Create Points toolbar opens. This

toolbar contains commands that enable

you to create points using a number of

different methods.

5. On the Create Points toolbar:

Click each down arrow to review the

commands available for creating

points.

6. Click Import Points.

7. In the Import Points dialog box:

Click and browse to the \CreatePointsfolder.

In the Select Source File dialog box,

change Files of Type to *.txt.

Select I_topopoints.txt

(M_topopoints.txt).

Click Open.

You can create a point group during the

import process. Point groups are used to

organize related points in a drawing. Inthis case, you create a point group to

correlate the points in the drawing with

the source point file.

8. In the Import Points dialog box, check

9. Click to create a new point group.

10.In the Point File Formats - Create Group

dialog box, for name, enter Reduced

Topo Data - Feb 1 2009.

11.Click OK twice to close the dialog boxes.

Point objects are created in the drawing.

12.

Close the Create Points toolbar.

13.In Toolspace, Prospector tab, click

Points:

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Notice the point data displayed in the item

view area.

14.In the item view area, right-click any

point. Click Zoom To.

Civil 3D zooms to the selected point(s) in

the drawing area.

15.

In Prospector, right-click Point Groups.

Click Update.

The Point Group definitions are updated.

16.Click any point group. Notice the points

in the point group are displayed in the

item view area.

17.

Close the drawing. Do not save the

changes.

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Exercise 2: Create

Description Keys

Description keys are used to automate the

base plan creation process. Description

keys are lookup tables that reference

the point field descriptions (Raw

Description) to do the following:

Assign an alternative description

(Full Description) to the point.

Assign a point style to each point.

Assign a point label style to each

point.

Assign points to a layer

Scale and rotate points based on

For this exercise, open \I_CreatePoints-

EX2.dwg (M_CreatePoints-EX2.dwg)

1. In Toolspace, Settings tab, click to

expand Point and Description Key Sets.

Notice the existing description key set

named City of Vancouver.

2. Right-click City of Vancouver. Click Edit

Keys.

3. The Panorama window shows the

DescKey Editor with the existing

description keys.

4. Right-click any column header. Clear

every column except Code, Style, Point

Label Style, Format, and Layer.

It is helpful to show just the information

you need to work with.

Next, you optimize the width of the

columns.

5. Double-click the headers at the column

lines to expand the columns for better

viewing.

6. Right-click any description key. Click

New.

7. A new description key entry, called New

Desckey, appears in Panorama, and is

located alphabetically.

Note: New DescKey may be located at the

bottom of the list.

8. Enter the following parameters for the

new description key:

For Code, enter CB. Use uppercase.(Note: The description keys may re-

sort their order).

Select Style to enable the option.

Click in the Style cell to the right. In

the Point Style dialog box, select

STM CB from the list. Click OK.

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In the Point Label Style cell, select

the check box. Click in the Point

Label Style cell to pick the Point

Label Style. In the Point Label Style

dialog box, select Description Only

from the list. Click OK.

For Format, enter CATCH BASIN.

This is the full description that is

assigned to the point.

Press ENTER.

9. Click the green check mark to close the

Panorama window and save the

changes.

A description key has been created that

references the raw description CB. When

points are created with this description,

the STM CB point style and Description

Only label style are assigned to the points.

10.Close the drawing. Do not save the

changes.

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Exercise 3: Create Points

Manually

In this exercise, you add catch basin points

on the curb returns of an existing

intersection.

You may need to add points manually if

survey data is incomplete. The location ofmanually created points is often identified

by a position relative to two other points,

or a position relative to an intersection

curb return.

For this exercise open \I_CreatePoints-

EX3.dwg (M_CreatePoints-EX3.dwg).

1. In Toolspace, Prospector tab, click

Points.

2.

In the item view area, click the PointNumber column header a few times to

sort the points by point number, in

ascending order.

Now navigate the drawing to the area in

question.

3. In the item view area, at the bottom of

Prospector, scroll down to point 732.

This is a point near the middle of the

intersection.

4. In the item view area, right-click 732.

Click Zoom To.

Notice points 741and 742 on the left side

of the intersection. Also notice points 606

and 607 on the right side of the

intersection.

Catch basin points are required on the

curb returns midway between these

points.

You create these points next, using the

midpoint object snap.

5. On the ribbon, Home tab, click Points >

Point Creation Tools.

6.

On the Create Points toolbar, clickManual.

7. With your cursor in the drawing area,

press SHIFT+right-click. Click Midpoint.

8.

To create the first catch basin:

Hold the mouse over the polyline

running between points 741 and

742, and click.

When prompted for a point

description, enter CB.

Press ENTER.

When prompted to specify a point

elevation, enter 275.83(84.07 m)

Press ENTER.

9. Repeat the steps above to add a catch

basin between points 606 and 607. Use

275.9(84.05 m) for the elevation.

10.Press ENTER to end the command.

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Two catch basin points are created. Notice

that the point style shows the catch basin

symbol, and the point label style shows

just the description.

The CB description key assigns the CatchBasin point style, the Description Only

point label style and CATCH BASIN as the

full description.

You now remove the label.

11.In the drawing area, click the two catch

basin points to select them.

12.Right-click. Click Edit Points.

The two points are displayed in the

Panorama window.

13.To edit the point label style:

In Panorama, using the SHIFT key,

select the two points.

Scroll to the right.

Right-click the Point Label Style

Click Edit.

In the Select Label Style dialog box,

select _No Display.

Click OK.

Notice that the point label is no longer

displayed.

Next, you adjust the rotation of the catch

basins to align them with the pavement

edges.

14.In the drawing area, click a catch basin

point.

15.Click the green circular grip.

16.Rotate the point so the symbol aligns

with the pavement edge.

17.Click again to release the point.

18.Experiment with the drag label, and

toggle subitem grips to control the

position of the point labels.

19.Close the drawing. Do not save the

changes.

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Exercise 4: Create Point

Groups

Site development projects usually involve

thousands of points. These points are used

for a number of civil engineering tasks

including survey data reduction, base plan

creation, design, and construction. Point

data management becomes a task itself.

Point groups are used to organize points

based on common properties. You can

create point groups using a number of

different criteria including description,

point number, graphical selection, and

elevation ranges.

You can even create point groups from

other point groups.

One of the more common uses for point

groups is for surface definition. In this

exercise, you organize point data by

creating point groups.

For this exercise open \I_CreatePoints-

EX4.dwg (M_CreatePoints-EX4.dwg).

1. In Toolspace, Prospector tab, click to

expand Point Groups.

Notice the _All Points point group. Thispoint group always exists, is not editable,

and contains all of the points in the

drawing.

There are also other point groups defined in

the drawing. These originated in the

drawing template used to create this

drawing.

2.

In the item view area, adjust thecolumns so that you see Point Number,

Northing, Easting, Raw Description, and

Full Description.

3. Click the Raw Description column

header to sort the list by Raw

Description.

4. Scroll down to the edge of pavement

shots.

The edge of pavement shots have a rawdescription of EPL and EPR.

Next, you create a point group for the

existing pavement edges that includespoints with the EPR and EPL descriptions.

5. Right-click Point Groups. Click New.

6. In the Point Group Properties dialog

box, Information tab:

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For Name, enter Existing Pavement

Edges.

Click Apply.

Click the Raw Desc Matching tab.

7.

On the Raw Desc Matching tab, for

Code, select EP*. A check mark is

displayed next to the option.

The Raw Desc Matching tab shows entries

in the description key set. It is easier to

create point groups when a description

key set exists.

8. On the Include tab, notice that With

Raw Descriptions Matching is toggled on

and that there is an EP* entry.

Alternatively, you could go directly to the

Include tab. Select With Raw Descriptions

Matching. Enter EP*.

The asterisk (*) is a wild card indicating

that all descriptions with an EP prefix are

included. Alternatively, you could enter

EPR, EPL.

9. Click the Point List tab.

Note that the points with

descriptions EPL and EPR are

included in the point group.

Click OK.

In Prospector, a new point group is

created and appears under Point Groups.

10.Right-click Existing Pavement Edges.

Click Properties.

11.Explore the Point Group Properties

dialog box. Click Cancel.

12.Right-click Existing Pavement Edges.

Note the other menu options.There are many functions that you can

perform on a collection of related points.

Next, you create a point group for surface

modeling. For this point group, an

exclusion criterion is used to exclude

certain points from the surface model.

These points are the monuments, lead

plugs, and fire hydrants. The elevations of

these points are not suitable for surfacemodeling because they do not adequately

represent the existing terrain elevation.

13.In Prospector, right-click Point Groups.

Click New.

14.In the Point Group Properties dialog

box, Information tab, for Name, enter

EG Surface.

15.On the Exclude tab:

Select the With Raw DescriptionsMatching option.

Enter MON*, LP, FH*.

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16.On the Point List tab, note that these

points are not in the list. Click OK.

17.Close the drawing. Do not save the

changes.

Assessment

Challenge Exercise

Instructors provide a master or challenge exercise for students to do based on this lesson.

Questions

1. Name three methods for creating points in AutoCAD Civil 3D.

2.

What controls the display of the point node?

3. What controls the display of the point label?

4. Why would an engineer use point groups on a civil engineering project?

5. What is a common use for point groups?

6. Name three criteria you can use to create a point group.

7. Explain the difference between raw and full point descriptions.

8. Name three specific functions of description keys.

9. Explain why an engineer would want to use description keys.

10.When you select a point graphically, a square grip and circular grip appear. Explain the

significance of these grips.

1. To create points in Civil 3D, you can manually create points, import points from an external

text file, or you can create points from a survey database.

2. The point style controls the display of the point node.

3. The point label style controls the display of the point annotation.

4.

A civil engineering project typically involves thousands of points. Point groups enableengineers to organize points with similar characteristics.

5. A common use for point groups is surface modeling.

6. You can create a point group using point number ranges, descriptions, and elevation ranges.

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7. Surveyors use a raw description to assign descriptions to points. The raw description is

usually an abbreviated or numeric description. The full description is used in the office and

expands on an abbreviated raw description.

8. Description keys assign point styles, point label styles, and alternate or full descriptions to

points.

9. Description keys assist with the automatic creation of the pre-engineering base plan.

10.The square grip is the Drag Label grip. This grip enables you to drag the entire label away

from the point. The circular grip is the Toggle Subitem grip. This grip enables individual grips

for the point attributes. The individual grips enable you to drag individual attributes away

from a point. The second circular grip is the Rotate Point grip, which is useful for rotating

the point marker symbol.

Lesson Summary

In this lesson, you learned how to work with points in AutoCAD Civil 3D. At the beginning ofthe lesson, you imported points from an external text file.

You then created description keys to automatically assign a point style, assign a point label

style, and assign an alternate description. The final steps involved manually creating points,

adjusting the point orientation, and creating point groups.

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