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Hardware

How does the scanner work?
What makes up the image on the screen?
How accurate are the measurements?
How are the scans colored?
Can you only view the picture?
How do you create a 3D image?
How do you establish the coordinate system?
Are scan measurements as good as regular survey points?
How big are the files?
How close are the scan points?
Does that mean that you have a point every quarter of an inch?
What products can you get from one scan?
What type of software can you export into?
What type of files can you export from a scan?
How does a cad tech turn millions of points into a normal .dwg file or .dxf file?
Is it possible for you to do the scans and register them and remove the noise and deliver them to me and let me put the points in the cad file that I want?


Software

How big are the files?
How close are the scan points?
Does that mean that you have a point every quarter of an inch?
What products can you get from one scan?
What type of software can you export into?
What type of files can you export from a scan?
How does a cad tech turn millions of points into a normal .dwg file or .dxf file?
Is it possible for you to do the scans and register them and remove the noise and deliver them to me and let me put the points in the cad file that I want?


Architect Specific

What is noise?
How are the scans registered to each other?
How far away can you scan?
If we just want to check existing plans and identify any new additions do we have to have a detailed scan?
Why would I want a scan of a Historical structure?
What if I want to scan one area very detailed like a particular interesting architectural feature and the rest at a normal resolution?
What does a scanner do that no other surveying instrument can do?
How do you draw walls and ceilings and straight lines?


Cost

How long does it take to scan an area?
What is change detection?
Can you scan golf courses?
Can you scan cars and boats and planes?
What does a scan cost?
Does it cost more to scan then to produce a regular survey?
Do you have to go back to do additional surveying if we need to add and area that was scan?
Can you tie scan data to other data?
How far can you travel?
Is a scanner dangerous to the operators or the eyes of the public?


Hardware

How does the scanner work?

3D laser scanning is a process involving the use of high speed lasers that fire at incredibly high rates of speed. There are two different types of scanners that are commonly used in 3D laser scanning in the context that I am writing about. Phase Based and Time of Flight. Phased base means that a constant beam of laser energy is emitted from the scanner and the change of phase of the laser light is measure to allow the scanner to calculate a distance. The advantage of this is higher point capture. Currently up to 2,000,000 points per second. The down side of this is much shorter range, currently about 30 meters.
In a time of flight scanner a pulse of light is emitted from the scanner. The time it takes for the pulse to travel from the scanner to the object and back is measured allowing the scanner to calculate the distance. The key benefit to this type of scanner is longer range scanning. The down side of this type is that they do not collect as many points. Currently they collect about up to 50,000 points per second. For the reasons above the phase based technology is used inside more often and the time of flight is use outside more often. However best practice is that you used both inside and outside as necessary to get a very precise and accurate scan.

What makes up the image on the screen?

It is called a point cloud which contains millions of points that can be measure precisely and the distances and elevations between the points can also be measured precisely.

How accurate are the measurements?

The fast answer is between 4mm – 7mm. Real answer is that the closer and more scans we take the more accurate the scan becomes.

How are the scans colored?

A high resolution digital camera on the scanner takes a 360 horizontal by 270 degree vertical color photo and the each point in the scan point is colored according to that photo?

Can you only view the picture?

Yes in a Free Software product that is called “True View” you can view and manipulate the color photos on top of the scan and make basic measurements.

How do you create a 3D image?

You scan an object from multiple sides? So for a building with four sides you would set up maybe 6 times

How do you establish the coordinate system?

We run control with GPS units or tie into and existing local datum if that is preferable. Inside plants we usually use a local system that is referenced off the client drawings.

Are scan measurements as good as regular survey points?

They are the same but the scan has the advantage of the point cloud and photo. The biggest advantage is the number of points you collect scanning. They become survey notes.


Software

How big are the files?

A raw scan file can be as big as several gigabytes but these points are processed and the scans are registered together and then a senior cad technician collects the points in the scan that represent the environment being surveyed and converts it to an Auto Cad drawing and the file size will go down greatly. Normally 10 to 15 megabyte.

How close are the scan points?

From ¼ inch apart to as much as you want. For a highly detailed scans like piping you would scan at ¼” density. For a 2 mile road project you would scan at about 6”.
Does that mean that you have a point every quarter of an inch?
Yes. That is necessary in plant process work with mechanical fixtures and pipes and electrical lines? However on a transportation project that is many more points than are normally collected.

What products can you get from one scan?

Point clouds, Digital Color photos, survey quality files, computer models of objects roads bridges and buildings. You also can produce video’s from the scans from multiples views and insert animation or virtual buildings roads and people etc to show proposed areas. You can also insert design drawings from BIM and check the design for Clash or interference.

What type of software can you export into?

Autocad, Microstation and just about all types of common point register cad file program.Also into Maya and 3D Studio Max modeling and animation software.

What type of files can you export from a scan?

LAS files and PTS file formats are becoming the most common way to transfer scan data

How does a cad tech turn millions of points into a normal .dwg file or .dxf file?

He looks at all the points in special software called virtual surveyor which allows him to pick specific points to draw a specific object. Then he follows the points until the object is complete. There are now many types of software that turn scan data in to drawing. However none of them are automatic.

Is it possible for you to do the scans and register them and remove the noise and deliver them to me and let me put the points in the cad file that I want?

Yes. We provide data to lots of different companies. Some want cad files and some want scan data.


Architect Specific

What is noise?

That is when a moving object like a car or persons walks through a scan. We can go through a process to remove all those points which are not relevant. Noise is also created when using high speed data from phase base scanners that has to be removed.

How are the scans registered to each other?

We have a minimum of three targets in some scans and three targets from the previous scan. Another way to register scans is called cloud to cloud so you use objects in the scan that appear in several scans and these objects like a ceiling light can be used like a target. This is not as accurate but it is much faster so it is a trade off.

How do you draw walls and ceilings and straight lines?

For rough projects like a baseball field or fence you just trace the dots.
For higher precision project like architectural projects we create surfaces out of the walls and intersect the surface planes and the line they form is the absolute best representation of the wall limits. Consider that most walls when measure at this intensity are not really flat or square. So some cad programs have a problem with the demensions.

If we just want to check existing plans and identify any new additions do we have to have a detailed scan?

No we have expert crews that can measure just about any man made object.

Why would I want a scan of a Historical structure?

You will have the most exact measurements that you can have and see extreme detail and you have an almost perfect 3D representation? These files can actually be printed into a 3D replica.

What if I want to scan one area very detailed like a particular interesting architectural feature and the rest at a normal resolution?

That is as easy as a Click and drag window around that area and then you input the density you wish and that will stand out.
What does a scanner do that no other surveying instrument can do?
You can make extremely detailed scans of areas you can’t touch. For example you can survey and get an exact ceiling plan of an auditorium or the molding work around the dome that is 50 feet in the air?

How far away can you scan?

About 1 meter to approximately 300 meters with some of the new long range scanners depending on the accuracy you want? For a detailed scan you may go to 1inch accuracy at 100 meters but that is great for a road project.


Cost

How long does it take to scan an area?

Depending on the scanner normally 30 minutes for a good Phase Base scan to 1 hour to a high resolution time of flight scanner.

What is change detection?

You can scan something that you are trying to determine if it is moving or settling and come back and scan it a week or month or year later and you can create a color drawing showing the amount of movement register to a certain color.

Can you scan golf courses?

Yes and reproduce them with in a inch.

Can you scan cars and boats and planes?

Yes You can scan almost anything except water and other highly reflective surfaces.

What does a scan cost?

The answer is it depends on the size shape and locations. We can give detail quotes and ball park numbers depending on your project?

Does it cost more to scan then to produce a regular survey?

That depends on the complexity. On very simple projects a regular survey will be cheaper. On very intensive projects like a major intersection crossing in high commercial area the scan is cheaper.

Do you have to go back to do additional surveying if we need to add and area that was scan?

No we usually have the data and just pull back up the data and add the area from the original data. This greatly reduces go backs and saves lots of time on remobilization.

Can you tie scan data to other data?

Yes we regularly tie scan data to aerial data to field surveyed data to photographic data.

How far can you travel?

Because we don’t have to have survey crews on the ground for weeks we can send scan crews to sites collect the data tie it to GPS coordinates and come back and finish the project in our offices. That cuts down on travel cost and project time. A four week project can be scanned in a week and the rest of the surveying is done inside our computers in the office.

Is a scanner dangerous to the operators or the eyes of the public?

No it is a very safe laser.

 

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