Beginners AutoCAD Civil 3D Setup for Land Surveyors: Setup Drawing Settings

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Premium Members Only

This Premium Members Post is part of a the Beginners AutoCAD Civil 3D Setup for Land Surveyors series.

Today, let's look at a few of the basic AutoCAD Civil 3D Drawing Settings to setup. There are five important settings that every land surveyor and designer must know how to set.

These instructional articles are for Premium Members Only. You can register here »Premium Signup.

1. Setting Units and Zone

AutoCAD Civil 3D Drawing Units and Zone Settings

AutoCAD Civil 3D Drawing Units and Zone Settings

The first of the five AutoCAD Civil 3D settings Professional Land Surveyors need to know is, "Units and Zone AutoCAD Civil 3D Drawing Settings".

Please note that the images represent the Units and Zone appropriate for my work area and project requirements. You will, of course, select the appropriate Units and Zone for your circumstances.

Also, if you are not using and/or selecting a Zone, then you should at least select the correct Imperial to Metric conversion.

1. Switch to the Settings Tab of the Toolspace and right click on your AutoCAD Civil 3D drawing name. This will bring up a drop-down list of menu items. Select the first option, "Edit Drawing Settings ...".

Select Edit Drawing Settings

Select Edit Drawing Settings

2. With the Drawing Settings screen now open, switch to the "Units and Zone" tab.

Select Drawing Settings Units and Zone Tab

Select Drawing Settings Units and Zone Tab

3. Now, depending on your needs, select the correct "Imperial to Metric conversion" and/or "Zone", scrolling down the list of available zones to find the proper Zone for your project. In my case, I selected "USA, Rhode Island". You will select the correct zone for your land surveying project.

AutoCAD Civil 3D Drawing Units and Zone Settings

AutoCAD Civil 3D Drawing Units and Zone Settings

4. Then, once you've selected your Zone, you must select from one of the "Available Coordinate Systems" (see image above). In my case, I chose "NAD83 Rhode island State Plane, US Foot". It is important to select the appropriate coordinate system and distance format (foot vs. meter) for the Zone you have selected.

Watch this AutoCAD Civil 3D 2010 Video for Land Surveyors: Coordinate Systems, which also shows you how to set the Units and Zone In AutoCAD Civil 3D Drawings, and more! I've also posted the video at the bottom of this post.

2. Survey Database Units and Zone Settings

Select Edit Survey Database Settings

Select Edit Survey Database Settings

The second of the five AutoCAD Civil 3D settings Professional Land Surveyors need to know is, "Survey Database Units and Zone Settings.

Please note that the images in this article represent the Units and Zone appropriate for my work area and project requirements. You will, of course, select the appropriate Units and Zone for your circumstances.

Also, like above, if you are not using and/or selecting a Zone for your Survey Database, then you should at least select the correct distance format for proper Imperial to Metric conversion.

1. Edit Survey Database Settings. Right click on your AutoCAD Civil 3D Survey Database. This will bring up a drop-down list of menu items. Select the second option, "Edit survey database settings ...".

Select Edit Survey Database Settings

Select Edit Survey Database Settings

2. With the Survey Database Settings screen now open, select the correct "Coordinate Zone" and/or "Distance" format: International Foot, US Foot, or Meter.

Select Coordinate Zone and Distance Format

Select Coordinate Zone and Distance Format

3. If you've selected Coordinate Zone, the Select Coordinate Zone dialog opens, where you first choose your area from the available "Categories". Then select from one of the "Available Coordinate Systems". In my case, I chose "NAD83 Rhode island State Plane, US Foot". It is important to select the appropriate coordinate system, datum, and distance format (foot vs. meter) for the Zoneyou have selected.

Select Coordinate Zone and Datum

Select Coordinate Zone and Datum

3. LandXML Data Imperial Units Settings

Select Edit LandXML Settings

Select Edit LandXML Settings

The third of the five AutoCAD Civil 3D settings Professional Land Surveyors need to know is, "LandXML Data Imperial Units Settings".

Also, in the following example I'm setting the LandXML Export Settings for Imperial Units to Survey Foot. The issue is if you export using LandXML set to International Foot and then insert that object into your drawing which has the Imperial to Metric Conversion drawing settings set at US Survey Foot, then the imported object using Land XML will be shifted geographically by the proportional amount that the US Survey Foot is different than the International Foot. If your projects are based in International Foot, however, then do choose that.

For assumed coordinate systems with small values (say N 1000, E 1000 for example) the magnitude of error is small (-0.002') but when your project is using larger coordinate values, like in State Plane Coordinate Systems (N 300,000, E 300,000 for example), then the error is proportionally larger and significant (-0.60'). The larger the coordinates, the larger the error.

1. Switch to the Settings Tab of the Toolspace and right click on your AutoCAD Civil 3D drawing name. This will bring up a drop-down list of menu items. Select the third option, "Edit LandXML Settings ...".

Select Edit LandXML Settings

Select Edit LandXML Settings

2. With the LandXML Settings screen now open, switch to the "Export" tab.

Switch To LandXML Export Tab

Switch To LandXML Export Tab

3. Now, depending on your needs, select the correct "Imperial Units" of either "International Foot" or "Survey Foot". Note: Along with a lot of other settings you can change in this dialog box, you might also want to switch to the "Import" tab where you can set Surface Import Settings to Convert Survey Foot to International Foot to "On" or "Off".

Select Imperial Units

Select Imperial Units

4. Finally, click on the Apply button to save your settings and you're done.

4. Angle Format Settings

AutoCAD Civil 3D Angle Format Settings

AutoCAD Civil 3D Angle Format Settings

The fourth of the five AutoCAD Civil 3D settings Professional Land Surveyors need to know is, "Angle Format Settings".

Please note that the images in this article represent the Units appropriate for my work area and project requirements. You will, of course, select the appropriate Units for your circumstances.

1. Switch to the Settings Tab of the Toolspace and right click on your AutoCAD Civil 3D drawing name. This will bring up a drop-down list of menu items. Select the first option, "Edit Drawing Settings ...".

Select Edit Drawing Settings

2. With the Drawing Settings screen now open, switch to the "Ambient Settings" tab and expand "Angle", which is the twelfth property setting down from the top.

AutoCAD Civil 3D Angle Format Settings

AutoCAD Civil 3D Angle Format Settings

3. Now, select in the "Value" section opposite "Format" to choose your Angle Format of either "DD.MMSSSS (decimal dms)" , "decimal", "DD°MM'SS.SS", "DD° MM' SS.SS (spaced)", or "DD°MM'SS.SS (decimal dms)". I chose the last option, of "DD°MM'SS.SS (decimal dms)". Please note that along with setting the Angle "Unit", "Rounding", "Sign", "Drop Decimal for Whole Numbers", and "Drop Leading Zeros for Degrees" to your liking, it is very important to set the Angle "Precision" to match your desired output. For example, with the "Precision" set to "4", as shown, the angle will be output to the nearest second with my chosen "DD°MM'SS.SS (decimal dms)" angle setting (45°22'07" for example).

Angle Format Settings

Angle Format Settings, Including Precision

5. Drawing Scale Settings

AutoCAD Civil 3D Drawing Scale Settings

AutoCAD Civil 3D Drawing Scale Settings

The fifth and final of the five AutoCAD Civil 3D settings Professional Land Surveyors need to know is, "Drawing Scale Settings".

I'll show you two simple ways to set the Model Space Drawing Scale. Of course, you need to set the scale in Paper Space, too, but we'll leave that for another day.

Please note that the images in this article represent the Units appropriate for my work area and project requirements. You will, of course, select the appropriate Units for your circumstances.

1. Switch to the Settings Tab of the Toolspace and right click on your AutoCAD Civil 3D drawing name. This will bring up a drop-down list of menu items. Select the first option, "Edit Drawing Settings ...".

Select Edit Drawing Settings

2. With the Drawing Settings screen now open, switch to the "Units and Zone" tab.

Select Drawing Settings Units and Zone Tab

Select Drawing Settings Units and Zone Tab

4. Now, select the Model Space Drawing Scale you want your drawing model space to be. This does not make your Model Space larger or smaller, but rather, this setting tells AutoCAD Civil 3D how to scale inserted objects, like the blocks representing your Points and Point Labels,for example.

AutoCAD Civil 3D Drawing Scale Settings

AutoCAD Civil 3D Drawing Scale Settings

Here's an easier way to set your AutoCAD Civil 3D Drawing Scale:

At the bottom of your AutoCAD Civil 3D Interface is the Drawing Status Bar where, along with many other drawing specific settings, you can easily set the Drawing Scale. As shown in the image below, click on the "Annotation Scale' button and you should be presented with a list of common scales to select from.

AutoCAD Civil 3D Drawing Annotation Scale Settings

AutoCAD Civil 3D Drawing Annotation Scale Settings

Related Video

Summary

Even a little planning goes a long way towards a smooth AutoCAD Civil 3D implementation and setup. When using any software package, you often need to do things in a way that the software requires, and not by what "makes sense" or by how you're used to working. AutoCAD Civil 3D is no different in this regard.

However, the structure and data oriented AutoCAD Civil 3D approach lends itself to being structured and organized. And, implementing all this into a repeatedly used template creates uniform and consisting results while saving time!

Having  a plan is great. Having a written plan is better! So, write a plan and document your process. Make it a plan that grows with your AutoCAD Civil 3D implementation. The more you learn, the more you might tweak your setup. Document changes and review often.

And, when your initial setup is complete, turn this planning document into a learning tool. This way, at the end of the day, your plan becomes your training manual.

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Eric D. Colburn, PLS, "The Geo-Business Innovator", helps geo-professionals improve through innovative solutions, mastery of marketing and business growth strategies, and coaching/training. Eric is a successful, serial entrepreneur, podcaster, industry writer, product development consultant, and RI licensed professional land surveyor.

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