Thursday, December 23, 2010

Revit Families for the bridgemodeler: Piers

When you use the bridgemodeler in Revit you will most likely think that the design of the piers (and all the other stuff) could deal with a little update.

Select a pier and notice the contextual ribbon with the button edit family.

Go to the family categories and parameters and notice that this is a generic model.  
You can substitute piers in your project for other generic model families but, you will loose the instance parameter values. That means you will no longer have the height information and so. (unless you have saved that somewhere)

You can edit an existing pier that came with the extension. Be sure to save it under a new name. If you save it in the same folder, as the other piers that came with the extension, you will be able to select your pier from the drop down list in the extension window.
What is important to know is that the intersection of the reference planes: center (front/back) and center (left/right) and the Ref.level is the point lies on the alignment from Civil 3D. (alignment might not be the correct name here, ofcourse I mean the 3D line that is a result of the horizontal alignment and the vertical Profile)

next time more on parameters used in the bridgemodeler.
In the meantime take a look here, that's where you find al the bridgemodel families on a windows 7 machine. C:\Users\Public\Autodesk\REX\2011.0\Revit\Bridges\Families

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Revit Families for the bridgemodeler

At the AU2010 in Las Vegas I attended a nice hands on lab from Steven Costa, Bridging the Gap Between AutoCAD® Civil 3D® and Autodesk® Revit® Structure.

There were quiet some questions about family customization. I will soon post some examples and how it's done. So please subscribe if you are interested. I will update this blog sometimes in the coming 2 weeks.

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Navisworks Avatars

Recently Autodesk released the subscription advantage pack. One of the things that was added were new avatars. Anyone who knows a bit of Navisworks knew that the old avatars are quite boring. The new ones are an improvement but it could be better.

So I looked into making it a bit bolder. It is relatively easy to get your own avatar in Navisworks. After installing the subscription advantage pack you can use the new avatars as you would before.
Office female 
How to get your own avatar in Navisworks?

  1. Get a model of what you want to use from your favorite 3D software into Navisworks. 
  2. Save this file as an nwd
  3. Close Navisworks
  4. open the explorer and go to the Navisworks installation folder. Default path is: C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Navisworks Manage 2011\avatars
  5. Create a sub folder with the name of your avatar. Mine is called Lara.
  6. put the nwd you just saved into this folder.
  7. Start Navisworks and you can use this avatar
Online I found a free download of Lara Croft...
This was a model with materials. I had some trouble getting those materials into Navisworks. So I opened the file into 3D max and created a dwf from it. I choose for dwf because I got the materials the way I wanted them. (there are many more ways to accomplish this but this worked for me.)

This is how I got Lara into Navisworks first time.

I choosed to use Lara because of the contributions she has made to the gaming industry and video card development She inspired videocard builders to push the technology forward and make it possible to start using high count polygon models.

As you can see Lara is carring quiet a lot of weaponry. You might not want that  when you are showing this to your clients. Luckily this model was build quiet nicely and things are separate objects. So I set all those things to hidden.

You can also override the color or change the material of her dress quiet easily. It's possible to hide the dress as well...

But I guess I should have found my self a paid model of Lara. (the arrows point to missing tissue) 

When you get a model of a person into Navisworks to be used as an avatar you have to do a little manipulating with it.

Most models of person have their feet on the xy plane and their spline is parallel to the positive z axis. Several times this turned out not to work in Navisworks. I ended up rotating the model before it propperly appeared in Navisworks.
I rotated Lara in such a way that she would look you in the face as a hostess would normally do. I think it's good manners. (there were no other motives... :)
In order to get the rotation right you have to go into the following settings.

  1. Select the entire model
  2. Right click the model in the selection tree
  3. go to file units and transform
  4. Play around with the rotation settings to get it right
  5. Be sure to use the rotation fields under the degrees as well as they influence the axis of rotation. Use 1 as starting values for the axis and 90 for the angle. That gives you the best idea what the effects are.
What I haven't quiet figured out is how I can get the materials to show on the model when used as an avatar. I tried publishing and have the materials embedded but that didn't seem to want to work. So feel free to add comment and tips.

Did anyone else notice yet that in heavy scene's the skirt of the office female, that came with the subscription advantage pack, disappears when moving around? 

Monday, June 21, 2010

Navisworks is fun

When I am working with Revit and Civil I frequently use Navisworks to view the data from both. The civil object viewer isn't to great on my machine and Revit is not always to great with viewing civil data.

I recently ran into something that said you can set your own avatar in Navisworks.I looked into it a bit and it wasn't that difficult. Lately I have been very busy with bridges in Revit and Civil. Most of the time I view them in Navisworks.

Ofcourse you want to fly under your bridge in style. Being a Star trek fan I had to pick something from the show. So I found a sketchup model of a Bird of Prey. 

See how it flies!

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Friday, May 28, 2010


This is part 4

(part one is somewhere at the bottom)

I spend a lot of time trying to get something to work in Civil yesterday. I tried to get the bridge to show up in a section view. It worked a couple of times but not the way I wanted. Projecting solids on a section view has some mysteries left for me to solve. In the end I got a bit frustrated with the tool. It suddenly dawned upon me that the bridge is made of solids so the regular sectionplane tool in from Autocad can be used....

How about I manually put the section it creates under the sectionview from civil.

Rather empty sectionview of a pier. 
Sectionview with an Autocad section underneath.There is trouble in paradise. But that might have to do with my knowledge of civil.

But this might be fixable if I set the frequency to a smaller distance or it has to do with my tinkering in revit with the super elevation
At the moment it is of by:
Distance = 0.0061,  Angle in XY Plane = 299g,  Angle from XY Plane = 0g
Delta X = -0.0001,  Delta Y = -0.0061,   Delta Z = 0.0000

I''ll leave it for the moment. I am going to check on that snappoint I assumed earlier. Because I have this nagging feeling I made a wrong assumption.are some more things wrong. I took both files to navisworks and I saw the following. The piers are correctly lined out but the height is off. The odd thing is that it is a round number. That makes me curious.

Next image you see Revit and Civil next to each other. Notice that the shape of the piers are of.
It's not good that the measurements are off but the fact that the piers are in the exact same position makes me happy for the moment. What doesn't make me happy is the fact I spend a lot of time trying to get the parameters to match to find out now there is still an error. 

here you see the bridgemodel open in both applications they have both read the same rxd file and it's not good yet. More later my laptop is tired and I need a beer. That's it for today.

even more bridges

This is part 3

Since I had some problems running some of the extensions I decided to have a clean go.
Starting from civil
I pushed the bridge to a new Revit file. In Revit I started the extensions again. made some very small changes in the superelevation.
 I added a pier. I also substituted a couple of piers for a selfmade family.

 Which gave me this

I ran the documentation extension hoping to get it to work while I hadn't made many changes yet. That does seem to help. Notice the amount of levels it creates. This is customizable but I left it to it's default suggestions. I had some trouble with the custom families so I switched them back for the moment to the default piers.

Notice all the grids and views it creates

I decided to first push the data back to civil again before I would make any further changes. The extension ended up deleting the bridge in civil. Re-running the bridge extension in Civil gave me a different bridge. But there is a way to synchronise this with rxd files. I assume it stands for something like Revit eXtension Data, but I could be wrong here.

After getting the two bridges back in sync I am interested to see dimensioning  in both programs. As we all know Revit is very good a dimensioning things you are not interested in. (sorry Autodesk but this bug should have been fixed a long time ago!!!) 

On the other hand we have civil dimensioning / labeling and good old Autocad dimensioning tools.

(about Autocad, I sometimes here people say that there is no place for autocad in a BIM workflow. I always comment that BIM isn't a software program but a way of working and communicating with eachother.)

First I need to get some good sections so I need sample lines. At this moment you have put the sample lines manually. I t would have been nice if the brigdemodeler would have put in sample lines at the locations of the piers. To get the sample lines in place I snapped to the middle of the piers.

Since I had to place the sample lines manually it's worth checking to see if the position of the stations matches with the places of the piers. I snapped properly except for one abutment. That'll do for now.

Next blog will be about dimensioning

This was part 3

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

More bridge editing

More bridge editing,

This is part 2

I continued where I left before the weekend. I started editing and I ran into some problems. A lot of these problems could be solved by simply reading the screens better.

As I wrote in my previous blog I had to manually copy paste parameter info... that is not necessary at all.

It was that simple. So it seems to accept my modified family. But I must have done something odd because later when I reran the extension I got this.

For some reason it seems to keep going wrong so I'll try and see whether the revit file has become a mess and start a new one.

For my own reference I brought the water from civil to revit as well. Notice that it ignores boundaries edits that have been made in civil. The right arrow is point at triangles that should not be there.

Something is still wrong with my pier family. I ran the extension twice one time with mine and once with the standard.

After many tries I thing I figured out why my piers got so messed up. The extension saves the information to another file. Most likely an rxd file. So there is no point in starting a new Revit file because it will reread the rxd file and create the same problem again. I got the piers right again by simply clearing the bridgelayout. But the abutments won't let me do that.

It took a while but I managed to reset the bridge Luckily the edits weren't that extreme. 

Let's rework them. Not everything goes well. Trying to re edit the bridge gives me suddenly less piers...
It's not really happy with my edits. It seems to keep wanting to place my abutments somewhere random.
Rerunning and simply moving the abutment a bit seems to help. I got piers switched now automatically.

I continued with editing. I decided to edit the masses I got. I added some extra subcategories to the masses in order to have some more control over them. I also added some materialization parameters to some masses.
After doing that I wanted to have a whole bunch of section. Basically 1 for every pier and abutment. I completely overlooked the documentation generation for bridges extensions...Funny how sometimes tools can stare you in the face and you overlook them.I will certainly give this extension a go soon.
So I did it all manually. I first placed the grid lines with a pick lines tool and an offset. The grid line are very handy to draw the section over, they don't snap to geometry but they do to grid lines.

section 1 (at the beginning)
If you take a look at the sections you can see the super elevations I added earlier. Super elevation, shortly explained is tilting the road to the inside of a bend. It should help you not skid of a road.
Section 4 (pier 4 in the bend)
When looking at my sections I noticed the my level 0 (sealevel or NAP in Holland) is going through my model. This made me curious what the integration extension had done with project base point

I normally use the exact same technique as the extension uses except that for most places in The Netherlands I don't have to change the Z coordinates. I went back to a section and I wanted to see height of levels locally and see the height of levels according to sea level.I ended up adding three non-story levels and set those levels to use the shared elevation. (excuse me for the names of the levels)

Doing this I now got very interested in what did the integration extension use as project base point in civil.Also notice the missing hatch that seems to be a bug. If I add a surface pattern to the concrete material the pylons show that pattern. I checked the section and it's really cutting through the pylons.

Let's find the project base point in Civil. I have a very 'advanced' trick for that...I copy paste the Revit values to notepad, edit the point positions 3 digits to the left (mm to m) add comma's, draw a line in civil and copy paste the notepad values to civil as the end coordinates of that line. As anticipated nothing is there. More on this later

This was part 2

Friday, May 21, 2010



This is part 1

This blog is about the integration of Revit and Civil using the bridgemodeler.

First time the bridgemodeler came out in was in the middle of 2009 (revit 2010). It only allowed for single bended bridges. This wasn't all that usefull since I could do that already in Revit. After finding that out I simply ignored it... sorry Autodesk.

At the end of 2009 a new one came out that allowed for more bending. At that time I just installed win 7 64 bit on my laptop. For some reason I didn't get it to work. When I took an winxp 32 bit machine it worked.

First exploring started. until march 15 2010..... was this timebomb really nessecary? At that time I was supporting a client doing a project in Revit and Civil. (ofcourse somewhere it was probably written that there was a time limit)

So when 2011 came out I started again. My first experience was that the bridgemodeler extension behaved like nitroglycerine. Don't touch it or it goes boem immediately. It turns out there was a dll naming error for the 64 bit installations. I got some very nice help from Autodesk. (thanks again)

So I started prepping for a big presentation. I took the dataset from Shrewsberry and created a bridge and a tunnel that no one needed or asked for. Here a navisworks image just to get you oriented a bit.

Van Bridgemodeler
What you should probably know of me first is that I am a Revit consultant and have a background in Architecture and building and construction. I always stayed away from civil because it reminds me a lot of Autocad Architecture. I am not really a fan of Autocad Architecture. But because of market development it was required of me to have an understanding of civil 3D ( I got trained by an expert but I don’t do consultancy for civil 3D)

So I started designing a horizontal alignment and a vertical profile, next I create a basic assembly and build a corridor with 3 regions. I generally do that so region two becomes the bridge part. I am not saying that it is the right way but it sort of does the trick for me right now.Next I run the bridge extension (the most simple one) play around with parameters and go.
I started up Revit and use the integration with Civil 3D extension. I must say I very much like this extension it let me pick exactly what I want from civil and what not. It is probably better though not to bring the terrain.

When you run the bridgemodeler extension you get a very simple bridge. I selected one of the piers and noticed that I can bring this pier to the family editor. So the next thing I tried, let’s see what I can modify before I break it.
To be on the save side I saved that family under a different name and I the reimported into the project. You can substitute existing piers for your new family. If you rerun the extension in either civil or revit it will ignore your piers and replace them for it’s own. It’s easy to substitute those piers again but you will lose the height information. I ended up simply copy pasting this information from one pier to another. This is okay for 5 piers.
Later I found out if you really look at the extension screens by the piers you can select which pier family you want... I should have noticed this earlier.

Van Bridgemodeler
I ended up switching the data a couple of times back and forth between Civil and Revit and I was quiet pleased with the functionality.

When you import a civil bridge into Revit you get masses. Which is great I thought because I can edit those… So I opened the mass into the family editor. But to my disappointment you can’t edit anything whatever I select everything remains greyout. I can’t even move things.

So I thought let’s create a new inplace mass and see if I can sweep something past an edge of this mass. Yes it will let me select the edge but it will project it self onto a workplane. 

Van Bridgemodeler

That doesn’t help me.

I also explored the idea of creating a roof onto that mass and tell a wall to attach to that roof. No luck there either. (Normally you can but not this shape of wall)

What did work was attaching a curtainsystem to the barrier mass and setup the curtain system to behave/look like a railing. This gave me a very nice result for the railing.

Van Bridgemodeler

In civil I also created another bridge that is going to act like a tunnel. As you can tell my modeling techniques can be described as schizophrenic. As I am now only interested in modeling I’ll ignore the discussion about abusing tools.
For the tunnel I needed some walls on the side. I had some trouble with targeting which has nothing to do with civil but mainly with me. I took the civil tunnel to revit. I re-ran the bridgemodeler extension and I created big barriers (I oversized them). These barriers have the same height all along the alignment. I don’t want that. I tried several tricks getting some walls that would follow the alignment at the bottom and would stop at a level with their top.

I described before that you can’t do a whole lot with the masses the bridgemodeler makes, but you can subtract something from it. This enabled me to build a barrier with a varying height.

Van Bridgemodeler

The two other voids were build by the bridge modeler extension

Van Bridgemodeler
I applied a curtain system to this barrier mass because the lines it generates explains more of the shape. Notice the horizontal lines by the right barrier and the form following lines on the left one.

Van Bridgemodeler

So far my exploration of possibilities with the bridgemodeler. Please share your own experiences. There were many more findings but it's getting rather lengthy already.

Please share your own experience

This was part 1