Picks and Clicks: Assorted Carlson Tips and Tricks

Because my last column focused on tips and tricks for those who use AutoCAD or IntelliCAD, for this issue I put together a few of my favorite tips for working in Carlson Software.

Non-Surface Points and Entities

Like other survey/civil software programs, Carlson gives you several ways to specify the data that’s to be included or excluded from a surface model. For instance, you can select entities in a drawing, specify points stored in an external text file, or specify a point group to which the surface points have already been added. And, you may use exclusion area polylines (including Shrink-Wrap polylines), point groups, or the “Ignore Zero Elevations” option to ensure that particular points or entities are  part of the surface.

One of the handiest (but least-used) methods of excluding surface data in Carlson is “tagging” points or entities in a drawing as Non-Surface. This is useful for features like fire hydrants, property corners, or inverts of manholes where the point elevation is accurate, just not good to include in a surface model.

Once points or entities are tagged as Non-Surface, they will be ignored when building a surface even if they are part of the drawing selection or point group. In Carlson Survey 2014, non-surface points and entities are managed from the menu bar: Surface > Triangulation Setup Utilities > Non-Surface Points/Entities. The commands available under this menu are shown in Figure 1.

Tagging Non-Surface Points or Entities can be done manually by selecting entities in the drawing or, in the case of points, by point number range, point group, or point description. However, the easiest way to set points as Non-Surface is to do so through field-to-finish processing in the Field Code definition dialog box. Setting this option in the Field Code definition ensures that all points with that particular description will be excluded from surface models. See Figure 2 for an example of a Non-Surface Field Code.

Shrink-Wrap Entities

Carlson’s Shrink-Wrap Entities command is found under the Draw menu in all Carlson programs and is commonly used to create a boundary for a surface model. A surface model boundary is needed so that irregularly-shaped areas don’t create stray surface TIN lines. In Figures 3 and 4, you can see the difference in the surface and contours with and without a surface boundary.

The Shrink-Wrap Entities command has many options, such as Layer Name and a choice between creating a 2D or 3D polyline. It also has a Perimeter Reduction setting that allows users to determine how “tight” the polyline should wrap the selected entities.

Also, because Non-Surface Points and Entities were mentioned earlier it’s important to note that the Shrink-Wrap Entities command will ignore Non-Surface entities. So, if you have Non-Surface points for boundary corners at the perimeter of your project area, Shrink-Wrap will ignore them when creating the polyline.

In earlier versions of Carlson, you had to run the Shrink-Wrap Entities command before creating the surface with the Triangulate and Contour command. However, in the most recent versions, the Shrink-Wrap Entities command is incorporated into the Triangulate and Contour dialog box, and the boundary is applied behind the scenes (Figure 5).

Create Points from Entities

The Create Points From Entities command can be used to quickly set points at the endpoints, insertion points, or vertices of lines, arcs, blocks, text, or many other types of CAD entities. The command is only in Carlson Survey and can be found under the COGO Menu. 

The main dialog box gives the user a lot of control over the point number, elevation, and description for new points, including the ability to include the radius of curves in the point description. Then, when selecting the types of entities to process, the user can also specify whether or not to avoid creating duplicate points and the order in which points are to be created. In Figures 6 and 7 you can see the points that were created by selecting the lines, arcs, and polylines of the property lines. 

Draw Building Envelope Polyline

The Draw Building Envelope Polyline can save a lot of time when creating stakeout points for irregularly-shaped buildings. This command is also available only in Carlson Survey, under the COGO menu. This is a pretty simple command with only a few options such as setting the layer for the new polyline. The command allows you to apply a single offset distance for all sides or be prompted for the offset distance for each side separately.

In Figures 8 and 9, you can see the original building footprint and, in red dashed lines, the newly created building envelope polyline placed at a 0 offset.

Building Offset Extensions

Whether you need to create offset points for the building footprint itself or from its envelope, the Building Offset Extensions command can create up to two offset points, per corner, very quickly. This command, again, is in the COGO menu of Carlson Survey.

The settings shown in Figure 10 were used to create Figure 11: 10’ and 20’ offset points, perpendicularly, from each corner of the building envelope polyline by simply selecting the polyline created in the previous steps.

As always, I hope you enjoyed this article and found some information to be helpful. Feel free to follow up with me if needed.


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