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Managing data and planning for projects is complemented using the Google Earth viewing options available in TBC.  The first option is using the Google Earth command.  This  feature allows you to transfer survey data through a KML file into Google Earth.  

The offset fields allows you to apply necessary translations to the data to better match imagery in Google Earth as they may initially line up to a certain accuracy.  Offsets vary depending on the accuracy of the imagery in Google Earth. Rectifying and combining images taken from differing orientations and altitudes will cause the superimposed survey data to appear to be located incorrectly.

The Altitude mode allows you to export the data with two methods:

  • Clamp to Ground ensures all points are located at ground level.
  • Absolute ensures all points are displayed at their correct elevation based on the offset value you enter in the Elevation box.

The Google Earth command supports viewing these data types from TBC: HALs, baselines, contours, line and point features, observations (displayed as lines), photos, trajectories, and event markers.



Another option for visualizing data in Google Earth is using the KML/KMZ exporter.  How do you choose which export option to use for Google Earth?

  • Output kml file creates a KML (.kml) file that contains 3D geographic coordinates only. It does not include photo images.
  • Output kmz file creates a ZIP file that contains a KML file and all referenced photographic image files. The images can be viewed by selecting the image icons in the browser used to open the KML file.

The same offset and altitude options exist in the KML/KMZ exporter.


Now you can view your data in Google Earth for project planning and management and an added deliverable for clients.




Note: The difference between KML and KMZ files is that the KMZ file is a compressed version of the KML.  


Don’t forget to send us a message if you would like to see a certain feature highlighted in next week’s tip.

Have fun this week using TBC and as always, Happy Surveying!




TBC Team

This tip of the week is brought to you by one of our Application Engineers, Arnaud Lezennec.  Thanks for another great tip Arnaud! 
Application Engineer, Arnaud Lezennec. Thanks Arnaud

One of the many deliverables you can create in TBC using scan data is orthophotos.  Cleaning your scan data is necessary to produce orthophotos, but can be time consuming depending on the density and size of the point cloud.  This tip demonstrates a workflow to clean up your scene in seconds.

  1. Open the “Create Orthophoto” command and define the projection plane on the facade of the building.

  2. Next, clean up the data from within the Cutting Plane View
    1. Open the cutting plane view for the same plane

    2. In the cutting plane view side panel, check the box “Apply cutting plane” and set a thickness (2.0m here). This will filter out the data further than 2m from the plane

To refine the scan points used to create the orthophoto, you can:

  • Adjust the thickness in the cutting plane view. This will take more of less points around the plane
  • Use the standard “Keep In” and “Keep Out” workflow to clean up you scene further with a polygonal selection, now that the view is much easier to understand

Your scans are now clean to create an orthophoto for drafting, export, or final deliverable. 

This concludes another TBC tip of the week.  Happy Surveying!



TBC Team



This week’s tip of the week is inspired from a comment on a previous tip (Thanks Barney Brotherhood !).  Selection Sets are used to create groups of object(s) allowing for efficient segmentation and selection for future calculations, drafting, and modeling.  The Selection Explorer in TBC enables users to create, modify, and remove Selection Sets.

In this data set, there are several types of data such as post-processed baselines, total station observations, leveling lines, control coordinates, and network-adjusted points.  We will create a group (Selection Set) of all observations going to and from point 1011.

Follow these steps to create a Selection Set:

  1. Select all data going to and from point 1011 by clicking and holding the left mouse button and dragging to the left across all data surrounding point 1011

  2. Once the data is selected, navigate to the Data tab in the TBC ribbon, select the Selection Set dropdown list, and select Selection Explorer.  The Selection Explorer is used to manage and view Selection Sets in the TBC project.

  3. In the Selection Explorer, use the top toolbar buttons or right click on the selected data list to save the selection as a new set

  4. Name the selection and press OK

  5. Once created, the newly created set is displayed in the Selection Explorer.  TBC automatically creates Selection Sets for any data imported into TBC as well.

  6. To turn Selection Sets on/off, tab to the View Filter Manager and select the second drop down list to choose the desired selection set(s)


Another tip - You can access the Selection Explorer from the right-click menu



Enjoy utilizing the Selection Explorer and Sets to efficiently segment and manage your survey data!

Please comment on this post or send the TBC team a message on Trimble Community if you would like to a see a certain topic in a future tip of the week.

Happy Surveying,




TBC Team

Joe Blecha

TBC Tips of the Week Vault

Posted by Joe Blecha Jun 23, 2017

Tip #15 - Using Best-Fit Line to Draft Catenary Lines


Did you know you can use the Best-Fit Line to draft catenary power lines in TBC?  This accurate and time-saving tool creates a 3D linestring that can then be used to compute and document minimum clearances, in a Plan Set, or exported in a third-party data format.


Here’s a typical situation:



Station View in TBC - Panorama and Point Cloud data


Powerline and tower data has been collected by a Trimble VISION instrument.  Included in the data are points along the powerline, either through scans and/or Direct Reflex (DR) topo in the field, or Virtual DR in TBC.  


In this example, the powerline data is a part of some SX10 station setup scans.  After refinement with the Classify Regions and Keep In/Keep Out commands to extract the power lines you wish to draft, view the powerlines in 3D View:


Point Cloud only view in 3D


Point Cloud Data after Region Classification, Turning Regions off in View Filter, and using Keep Out to Remove Points


Using the Polygon Select tool, create a selection polygon around one powerline at a time to select each point on the powerline.  Open the Best-Fit Line command in the CAD tab (licensed by the Advanced Drafting module) and match these settings:


Best-fit Line Command and settings


Click OK and repeat for the other two power lines.


Finished 3D Linestrings


Once completed, you’ll have three 3D linestrings for use in your TBC deliverable!


Station View with Power Lines Drafted


Special thanks to Chad Lewis for the data set and workflow suggestion this week!

Customized Keyboard Shortcuts, Ribbons, and the Quick Access Toolbar - Tip of the Week #14


Did you know that you can launch commands using customized keyboard shortcuts and customize ribbons in TBC?


In the Support tab, click the Define Command Shortcuts command.


In the Define Command Shortcuts window, select the TBC command in the left drop-down box and match to a pre-defined keyboard shortcut in the right drop-down box.  The command can also generate an Excel spreadsheet to report on all defined keyboard shortcuts with the Excel Report button.



Link as many TBC commands as you want, your changes are automatically saved to TBC’s active layout.  The active layout, which includes the keyboard shortcuts and the Ribbon and Quick Access Toolbar layouts, can be saved to a *.bin or *.xml file and exported to other TBC workstations or for retention when updating to the latest TBC release.


Right click to the right of the commands in any TBC tab and select either of the Customize... options.



In this window, you can drag-and-drop commands to the existing or user-created Ribbons or to the Quick Access Toolbar.  To export your changes, use the Export button at the bottom of the menu and save a *.bin or *.xml file.




To import a *.bin file on another workstation or to reload after a new TBC install, use the same approach, except click the Import button.  Navigate to where the *.bin or *.xml file is saved, select it in the Import window, and your custom Keyboard Shortcuts, Ribbons, and Quick Access Toolbars will load in TBC.


Make TBC fit your drafting and workflow needs with Define Command Shortcuts and Customize Ribbons and Quick Access Toolbar and work more efficiently today!

Using the Explore Objects Command - Tip of the Week #13


There are many data review tools in TBC, from Properties, Spreadsheets, and the Project Explorer.  But, did you know about the Explore Objects command?


When you explore objects, such as linestrings, alignments, or stored cross-sections, you can see geometric values from specific locations or stations, selectable in a graphic view.


For this tip, let’s look into the Explore Objects command for horizontal alignments.


With a roadway half defined with templates, as shown below, launch the Explore Objects command (available in the Corridor tab) and click a horizontal alignment.  Move the cursor along the alignment and notice the magnet snap which displays the station and elevation along the horizontal alignment.



Click when you’ve gotten the desired station or enter the station value into the Station text box.


Horizontal Alignment Coordinate, Horizontal Segment, and Vertical components are listed at the station and offset along the alignment selected.  In this example, the station is 3+83.25 and offset is -41.384 (negative offset is to the left of the alignment).



An additional application is to use the Reference Line to view information about an element, like a polyline in this example, relative to another, like a horizontal alignment, as shown.



Click when you’ve gotten the desired station or enter the station value into the Station text box, as before.



The Coordinate On Line, Horizontal Segment, and Reference Geometry information can be used for planning a cross-slope tie line, as in this example.


Give the Explore Objects command a try for linework (polylines, linestrings, polygons, breaklines, CAD lines, and sloping lines), horizontal and vertical alignments, and stored cross-sections.

Do you projects require facade or vertical wall reconstruction or modeling or vertical surface (e.g. facades)? If so, then you might find this tip being useful to you.

In some projects, it’s impossible to find THE one setup where you can see the whole object without masks (between the instrument and the object you might collect in your photo: people, cars, trees, lightpoles etc…)or because the object is very long (building in a narrow street etc…)so you need to make multiple setups in order to always be in front of it with a good angle.

One way, could be to create several “rectified images” but you might create several planes and so the assembly of these several created rectified images will not be optimal.

In the example below we can see that station 6 provide a good view at the object but some of the areas on the right and left are obscured by trees.

On the other hand, station 4 present a clean bottom left area but a light pole on the right area (which is not good for our purpose).

Images from Station 3 also presents a nice perspective but contains a light pole in the middle.


What we suggest now is to use Station 6 as the base of the rectified image (perfectly in front of the building) to create the “Plane” and then use the 2 other stations to fill the missing parts by simply  picking in the Plane the areas that couldn’t be selected previously. We will then obtain 3 rectified images in the same plane that we can then export to a 3rd party Software (AutoCAD, Sketchup  etc…) or in order to generate drawings or directly in TBC.


Note: if you know your goal is to create accurate orthorectified images, it’s very important that you do a very good traverse (use correct prisms etc…): this will minimize the overlapping difference between stations. As well, use the same image resolution and try to have your stations as equidistant as possible to the object

In Point Clouds tab > Imagery: Open the “Create Orthorectified Image” ” tool and define a “New Plane Definition”


We would like to suggest that you use the “Vertical Plane” method in a similar projects as shown in the image (also make sure that you have points displayed in order to pick the position of the plane). Note also that it could be a good idea to name your plane (useful if you do an area that requires multiple planes creation as well as the Image).


Now Pick the 2 corners for the creation of the image (do not select area with masks….) and Define the resolution and select Create.


Note: you can check the results in 3D View by hiding everything except the Georeferenced Image (as shown in the view of the newly created Rectified Image below.

Now Back in Station View, select the next station you want to use to complete the building façade.
CAUTION: Be careful that despite you changed the Station view from Station 6  to Station 4, the active station in the “Created Orthorectified Image tool” is still Station 6 (as we didn’t close the tool) so please make sure to change the Station there to Station 4 to avoid issues.

Very important that you use the same Plane Definition than before and simply pick 2 new points to define a new area (select area that wasn’t covered in the previous step) and select Create.

Repeat the Steps for the next Station that will help you to fill the blanks. Check the result of your 3 rectified Images together as shown in the image below. Note that it could be good to equalize the photo in TBC or in the field.

We hope this tip will be useful and make you successful when creating orthophotos within TBC.

Creadit this week goes to our Application Engineer, Arnaud Lezennec. Thanks Arnaud!


Happy Surveying,

TBC Team

TBC 3.90 Overview and New Feature Videos Available on YouTube!

Check out TBC Survey's TBC 3.90 YouTube Playlist for two overviews and eight new feature videos that highlight new point cloud processing and extraction tools, the Legal Description Writer, new CAD commands, and more!

TBC 3.90 - YouTube 

Surface creation in TBC is definitely one of the software gems. TBC offers a lot of flexibility with appearance and creation of your surfaces. This week’s tip helps understand some of the controls you have over how your breaklines are triangulated. Here is how you might resolve the number of nodes/chords along the surface breaklines.

In Project Settings –Computations à Surface à Breakline Approximation Parameters there is a setting for Hz and Vt tolerance.



Here is a surface created using our Processing Feature Code Tutorial.


Now, let’s change the project settings and put e.g. 10m for the Hz tolerance.

And the result is a less sampled breakline with fewer nodes/triangles along the breakline.

Internally, what is happening is that there is a concept of mid-ordinate point to compute the distance of the node between the chord and the arc along the curve as illustrated by the graphics below.


We hope you find this tip useful regardless if you are going to be exporting surface or breaklines to other products doing contouring for your base map creation within TBC.



Happy Surveying,

TBC Team

Joe Blecha

TBC 3.90 Overview Videos

Posted by Joe Blecha May 22, 2017

New to TBC?  Want to learn more about what's new in TBC 3.90?  The TBC 3.90 short (5 minutes) and full (36 minutes) overview videos are here to help!


TBC 3.90 Short Overview:



TBC 3.90 Full Overview:


Wayne Boatright

Area Takeoff

Posted by Wayne Boatright May 20, 2017

In takeoff mode of HCE and using pdf files only(no cad files are available), is there a method for tracing an area, having curb islands, continuously and include curb islands and at the close of the area, the calculated area excludes the curb islands?  I have use procontractor and the calculated area of curb islands is eliminated if you keep the trace line continuous and back-trace  entry line to island.  I can't duplicate that with HCE. I have attached a screen shot for clarification.

This week’s topic is a very specific workflow but often required for many topographic and as-built surveys near power infrastructure.  Whether it is to design future utilities and structures near power lines or checking clearance for traffic beneath and above, the everyday surveyor needs efficient tools to measure and extract this information.


There are several ways of doing this.  To simply measure distances and angles for clearances, you can use the Measure Distance command.  Pick two points and view information such as the slope/vertical/horizontal distance values as well as coordinates of the measured location.  This command works with point cloud data as well making for a useful QA/QC tool.  These measurements can be stored using the Save button.




You can also perform similar measurements in the Station View using a combination of imagery and point clouds from the Trimble SX10 with the Virtual DR tool.



The next method is using the point to surface command.  This requires the user to have field or office measured points on the power line as well as a surface generated for the ground surface.


First, select the data you would like to use to create a surface.  Use the Create Surface command to generate a TIN model.


Next, Select Reports -> Report Options and double click Point to Surface Results.  Select your created surface and any points on the structure you would like to check the clearance on.  In this case there are four points (6 - 9) that are located on four different power line wires.



Press Apply in the Point to Surface command to view the results in the command.  You can also generate a report of the point to surface comparison and utilize as a project deliverable.



That's all for now folks.  Have fun using the many tools TBC has to offer.


Happy Surveying,



TBC Team