If you are talking about a surface model from Civil 3D, I would suggest exporting the surface out of Civil into XML format and importing the XML into your Trimble software. (This is just a guess but XML is a common language that most programs can use to exchange data between each other) If you can get your Trimble software to bring in the XML file then you can export it in Trimble's format to your Grader or survey instrument.
I use the workflow that you are describing for our Trimble clients. I don't have the Topcon software and I am trying to avoid buying it just to convert the file type. I am trying to find either an autodesk product, (like Trimble has) or a third party deal that will work. Thanks.
The Topcon 3D Office program won't read an AutoCad dwg file above 2007 format, so you will have to convert your 2010 format down. I have found the simplest way for me is to create a blank dwg and copy linework and feature lines that I want into it, then explode the feature lines which turns them into 3D polylines. I have a dwg templat file I use that has no styles, very few layers, and and all C3D 11 stuff removed that I could find to make the conversion process easier. Also the fewer layers you have in your file for the machine guys, the less nasty phone calls you get. Also change all lines and arcs to polylines and join them where possible (like connect all ep lines so you have one polyline going all the way thru the project tangs and curves) (long polylines are easier for the machine operators and get you fussed at less if they can pick the ep once and go a long way without having to pick every time the hit a curve or straighaway), and 3D Office ignores lines and arcs, reading only polylines. Go into the style editor for the surface and turn everything off except for the tin. Change the layer that the tin is on to some bs layer. Then pick the tin which will bring up the surface editor ribbon. Choose "Extract Objects" from the ribbon. If you turned off the points, contours, etc in the previous step, then triangles should be your only choice. Leave it checked and make sure "select all" is chosen. Hit ok and it will extract 3D triangles to the layer the tin is on (that is why you want to change your tin layer). Go back to your styles and change your tin back to the original layer and turn it off. Pick one of the triangles and right click and pick select similar. Hit Ctrl C. Go to the new dwg that you created earlier. Go to edit end pick paste to original coords. Now you have a dwg with hopefully only objects that can be converted down to 2007 format with the Dwg True View program. Once you have converted it open your Office 3D and go to file menu and pick open AutoCad drawing file and pick your converted dwg. The software will create a surface from the 3D triangles and will keep the triangles as they are. It may add a triangle or 3 (like on the inside of radii or across a gap) that you do not want, but they are easily removed. I have found that bringing them in via xml doesn't always keep the triangle integrity exactly as you have it (some edges get swapped, triangles added across gaps, etc). It's kind of a process, but it works until Topcon catches up. Trimble has a much friendlier conversion process, but they have their own issues, too. By the by, if you go back and edit your original surface, you will need to erase the 3D triangles you created (pick one, then right click and choose select similar, hit "e" and enter) then lather, rinse, repeat. Another tip is once you get it into the Office 3D, go to Linework and pick "drape linework onto tin. If you have newer AutoCad, the 2d polylines won't have many vertexes (curves will only have one on either end), and the machine guys will have a hard time picking on a curve (and you will get nasty phone calls). If you drape your 2d poly's, it will add vertices, and they are easier to pick. If you make 3D polylines for your linework (or feature lines from your corridor that you explode), they will be easily pickable, but if you make them too long with too many vertices, the file size will be too large, and then won't load into the machine, so watch that one too(more nasty phone calls). You can bring your alignments into the 3D office with an xml with no problems.
Topcon will give you a copy of the 3D office for free. All you need is your (or the contractor you are making the files for) data collector serial number.
Edited by: email@example.com on May 22, 2010 8:46 AM
HOLY CRAP!!! I'm glad we didn't get TopCon! Trimble is the way to go for many reasons. I sure don't have to go through anything like that to get it to a machine. You can also have a design as big as you want with Trimble as long as it fits on a CF card. It doesn't have to load the entire design into the display. It just reads the area around the machine so it doesn't matter how big it is.
You are rigt, but if it was magic and a monkey with a stick could do it, they wouldn't need us, right? Since this is AutoCad forum, I didn't mention that if you have Carlson, you can export the tin and linework files directly. Also if you do have AutoCad pre 2010, you can open your files directly in 3D Office as long as you have 3D triangles and polylines in it. I can't argue with you about the Trimble vs Topcon. (might as well argue Ford vs Chevy, right?). Trimble SVO does have a much better machine simulator to check out the surface with, but good luck to you getting a new activation code if you do a reformat or need to reinstall the software more than once. Similar to getting launch codes from the DOD.
Oh so true about SVO. I've had that issue more than once. My contention is the basic SVO should be free when all you really do with it is maybe run the simulator and load cards with it, then pay for unlock codes if you need it to do more. The people I've talked to at Trimble agree with me, but nothing has changed with it. You can now create machine cards with the free version of TBC-HCE though. It's not as streamlined of a process, but it gets it done. I have Win7 and refuse to pay $500 to get the latest version of SVO that will work with Vista or 7, so I do it with TBC now. But that's getting away from the C3D topic.
I think Trimble and "free" are 2 words that aren't destined to be used together. I'm not familiar with TBC-HCE, but I have Win 7 x64 and had SVO V7.01 installed and working with no problems. Trimble support told me they were having some problems with it when I installed on my new PC and went thru the hoop dance to get secret codes, but I never had any issues. My contractor that I did Trimble files for has a man that builds Topcon surface files for a different division, and they wanted him to take over the Trimble stuff so I had to certify that I uninstalled my copy and turn over all disks to them, so I no longer have it, but when I did it worked just fine on my machine.
TBC is Trimble Business Center. There is a survey version and a Heavy Construction Edition (HCE). It will be the replacement for Terramodel before long and it sounds like it will incorporate the functionality of SVO. For now at least, it's a free download. It is just starting to have some corridor modeling capabilities. There are features you have to pay for to unlock, but you can do quite a bit for free still. It has impressive 3d viewing capabilities but not a simulator-yet anyway.
I could upgrade my SVO and keep using it, but it's not worth paying $500 for something I don't have to use anymore, although it would be nice to use the simulator at times. We shouldn't have had to pay $2000 for it to begin with just to be able to load cards. At least there's a way to do it for free now.