Coordinate Transformations – Part 1 – Translating Point Files Using Civil 3D

Ever wish you could be in one place one minute, and another the next?  Your own personal Star Trek transporter.  While not quite as glamorous as the Star Trek version, Civil 3D’s coordinate transformation tools perform a similar function, taking an object in one location in space and moving it to another.  Today we’ll take a look at translating an ASCII point file from one coordinate system to another.

We start by setting the coordinate system of the drawing where the points will be imported.  In the Settings tab of Toolspace, right click on the drawing name and click Edit Drawings Settings.  In the Units and Zone tab, set the coordinate system to your destination coordinate system (where the points need to end up).

Next we import the points, and setup an import format for our source coordinate system.

  1. On the Insert tab of the Ribbon, on the Import panel, click Points from File (alternatively use IMPORTPOINTS at the command line).
  2. Click the Format Manager button .
  3. Choose a point file format similar to the format of your ASCII point file and click Copy.
  4. Mine is a PNEZD, comma delimited file (Point Number, Northing, Easting, Elevation, Description with commas separating each column).
  5. Give the new point file format a name, something that includes the source coordinate system is appropriate.
  6. Turn on Coordinate Zone Transform , and click the globe  to specify the source file coordinate system.
  7. Click the globe to specify the source file coordinate system.
  8. Click on the column header for Northing to choose a new column category, select Grid Northing from the list, and click OK.
  9. Click on the column header for Easting, select Grid Easting, and click OK.
  10. Specify any other changes desired for the point file format, click OK, and click Close.
  11. Choose the new point file format for the import
  12. Click the plus sign to add the point file.
  13. Select Do elevation adjustment if possible (required when changing between imperial and metric).
  14. Select Do Coordinate Transformation if Possible, click OK.

Voila! Your points have been transported from one 3 dimensional space, into an entirely different 3 dimensional space.

If you find yourself doing the same type of coordinate transformation over and over again, add the point file format to your Civil 3D template.

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