AutoCAD Level Curves - From Total Station Data

How to generate contour lines already we have done With other programs. In this case, I want to do it with a program that one of my best technicians showed me in a training session; of which he had known but to which he had taken little interest in recent times. I am going to summarize the initial part because a while ago I explained how the Data from a total station, and are converted to a dxf format. In this case, I want to make a variant, passing it a list of points in txt format and importing it from CivilCAD, so I will explain it in a simple way so that the exercise works completely for those who want to download data from the station to the digital model; following the query of a Colombian reader whom I will leave waiting for a next post of the profiling.

1. Convert the .sdr format to a point list .txt

I am going to use what we show in the Surveying course Recent, so that there is no knowledge in the head of those who just went for a walk or worse, those who attended with great interest forget professionalism and prefer not to share it with others.

In that article we explained, and now I am not going to repeat, how to configure the sending of data from the total station. in this case, I am only going to focus on what is done from the Prolink.

  • We opened a new project, using File> New Project Prolink sokkia. Then we choose File> Import To bring the .sdr file generated by the total station.

Once this process is done, we will export it to a txt format.

  • From the same menu, we choose File> Export, And in the window we choose the option Reduced Coordinates, Configuring the format PENZ reduced coordinated (* .txt). Thus, what we export would be data separated by commas in the order Point, Coordinate X (Easting), Coordinate Y (Northing) and elevation (Coordinate Z).
  • The file is saved in an address of our project in interest.

2. About CivilCAD

For many, this program may not be known, however it has been around for a long time; version 6.5 already ran on AutoCAD 14 (in 1994 !!!) did a lot of this with floating windows, when SoftDesk 8 did it in an unintuitive way in text commands, and I mention SoftDesk because it was the predecessor of the two applications that now has AutoDesk (Land and Civil 3D).

The advantage that CivilCAD has, is that for a fairly accessible price it does what it takes from our Hispanic focus, just as it does Eagle Point for the Anglo-Saxon context; If we add that it can be executed on Bricscad, we conclude that the economic issue is one of its best potentials. The same does not happen when doing it on AutoCAD because it occupies a full version, since AutoCAD LT does not support developments on runtime, That yes, it supports from AutoCAD 2012 towards several versions back.

CivilCAD is an application developed by the Mexican company ArqCOM, doing in a practical way for the area of ​​Engineering and topography routines such as the parcelling of lots, digital models, profiles, geometric design of roads and hydro-sanitary networks. It does what we would need to do with Civil3D but in a practical way (it does not do everything, but it does what we need), it even does some additional things that it cannot in a simple way, such as the generation of a grid both in UTM and in geographical coordinates, printing layout based on wizzard, batch auto numbering and a variety of reports from our Spanish-speaking context.

Once CivilCAD is installed, a direct access is created in the desktop or program menu that opens AutoCAD with an additional menu called CivilCAD, from where all the functionalities developed can be accessed; although each also have a text command for those who like to go to Belgium for a Belgian. The following graphic shows what the CivilCAD menu should look like, although on a maximized screen it is the same horizontal line.

Prolink sokkia

3 Import txt data from CivilCAD

To generate the contours, first, create a new file and save it; That is done with File> Save.

Prolink sokkia

To import the points we generated in the previous step, we do with CivilCAD> Points> Terrain> Import.

Check out how many point import options CivilCAD has. Several of these are routines out of the way that Hispanics do with conventional instruments, unlike programs made for Americans who only know how to say COGO and with collector.

We chose the option N XYZ, And we mark that you enter as annotation the point number and the description.

Be careful, before doing this, it is convenient to check the txt file, to make sure it has this structure. And that's it, now it only remains to do a Zoom Extent, to see where the points fell or the text size settings.

Generate the digital model

This is done with CivilCAD> Altimetry> Triangulation> Terrain. You have to see the options that appear below, in the command line of the archaic style of AutoCAD:

Points / Contour lines :

That means, we can do it from existing contour lines or points. If the C is chosen between the brackets, you have to put P, ​​then enter; if the P is already chosen as shown in my example then just enter.

Then ask us from which points, we choose them all and we enter.

Then ask us the maximum distance between points; That is, so that it does not generate triangulation between points at the ends of the traced path.

Maximum distance <1000.000>:

By default comes 1000, but that will depend on our lifting condition; we can accept it by entering or placing another. If it is a survey along a road, it should not be more than twice the approximate distance we use to change our view.

Minimum Angle <1>:

This is another option, which is handy to simplify triangulation. Generally we do not take it into account but we should if it is about surveys for irrigation design, where too dense points are taken.

Prolink sokkia

4. Create contour lines

For this, we select CivilCAD> Altimetry> Contour lines> TerrainProlink sokkiaIn the panel that appears we configure every few meters we want the main and secondary level curves; See how interesting the feedback that should have had the boys of ArqCOM, when people suggested that they were called Thin Curves and Thick Curves.

Here you also define the layer name, color, and a curve smoothing factor. Remember that the contour line is not a smart line, but a spline with nodes and radii of curvature, so we can define parameters such as the ones below: Number of subdivisions or minimum length of the curve, practical for the system not to generate contour lines that look like polygons or hair from a Curaçao girl - and not exactly from the head 🙂 -

When you select Ok, the option to choose the triangulated model appears on the command line.

Curves with autocad civilcad

To label them we choose: CivilCAD> Altimetry> Contour lines> Annotate. We set or accept by default what comes next, regarding the scale we will use for printing, text height, units, decimals and if we just want label In the main contours.Prolink sokkia

Print scale 1 to <1000.00>:
Text height in mm <2.5mm>:
Meters / Feet :
Number of Decimals <0>:
Annotate thin curves? S / N:

Then we click on the two end points that cut the contours where we are interested in the labeling.


It is clear that Civil 3D has evolved to an impressive level by doing this, especially since it exploits the embedding of xml nodes in the left panel, where different model objects can have templates, also because the model exists inside a container, as well as its points and contour lines or slope maps are only visual representations of what is stored.

Unlike what CivilCAD does, which generates objects that lose much of this dynamism. But those who used Softdesk will know that getting to this step took some intuition, faith in the invisible, and a bit of luck. There is a great advantage of using CivilCAD, the steps are fewer, although I have extended myself in my prose for the sake of redundancy and with the risk of making new gray hairs to the sweet translator who from Peru has towed this in

11 Replies to “Contour lines with AutoCAD - From Total Station data”

  1. Hi, I'm Rodrigo Hernández L. from Chile
    and I really appreciate what they do, I am self-taught of the topography more than 20 ago.
    And it is very difficult for someone with studies in the subject to teach the neophyte so that he really learns.
    Thank you

  2. I need to get the height from the natural terrain to an elevated element, how can I do it ... I already have the topography

  3. Well I am a topographer for many years, I have been managing the theodolite for some 22 years, but with total station I do not have much experience in terms of level curves what is the procedure, to raise level curves with total station

  4. Hello G! And Hello Alice:
    «They gave me a plan with level cuvas printed on paper. I need to pass it to the autocad to work it. Is it possible to do this?
    Could you tell me how?
    1) Take a picture of the plane
    2) Converts the image to JPG
    3) With AutoCad Raster Design captures it
    4) Identify the ends of each curve of primary level (thick line) with its elevation. The program will ask you. Also, look at the number of secondary level curves (thinner lines) between the primary level curves because the program will ask you for the amount in the image.
    Save the file and then open it with AutoCad.
    That's all I remember I did a few years ago
    Greetings from Mexico

  5. I got a plane with level cuvas printed on paper I need to pass it to autocad to work it. Is it possible to do this?
    Could you tell me how?


  7. Good afternoon, I ask the civil cad 2008, apply in civil autocad 3d 2011 ,,,,,,,,,,,,, thanks


  9. Excellent, I am currently using Civilcad for my topographic survey work and I can assure you that it is a very important tool that shortens the time of office work and easy to use.

Leave an answer

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.