As-built documentation of a planetarium


Using LIDAR technology for as-built documentation of a planetarium


Thanks to the use of laser scanning and PointCab Origins Pro, placing new projectors is no longer a problem

The precise placement of projectors in specially designed theatre rooms within planetariums is no easy task. Just measuring these rooms, which have sloping floors and domes, is a challenge. In addition, the measurement results and the design proposals derived from them must be communicated clearly and concisely to all project participants.

In the USA, the professionals from Seiler Instrument, more precisely Seiler’s Planetarium Division, are often called in for such jobs. Seiler employee Howard George used to use a combination of manual measurements and a total station for this task- a very time-consuming process. To speed up and simplify the process, laser scanning and PointCab’s point cloud software were therefore used for the first time.

The first step was to employ a handheld GeoSLAM ZEB Revo RT LiDAR scanner that creates 3D point clouds literally in minutes. Then the challenge was to efficiently extract the geometry and features to create BIM models of the spaces and better communicate the design intent to project stakeholders. To achieve this, Howard was provided with a trial version of PointCab 3D Pro (now Origins Pro). This is an easy-to-use point cloud editing and sharing software that was recommended by the Design Solutions team at Seiler. Howard comments, “In non-orthogonal areas like planetariums, PointCab allows me to freely tilt, rotate and magnify data points and orient perspectives. ” Thanks to the PointCab and Revit support, as well as online resources, Howard was able to start modelling from the point cloud within a few days, even as a novice, thanks to PointCab`s 4Revit plugin. This allowed him to simulate the placement of the projectors as-is and quickly create vectorised CAD schematics of the space and installation details. He was thrilled: “PointCab’s software exports 2D images of 3D spaces, but screen sharing the software via Zoom or simply forwarding my results with PointCab Share allows me to walk anyone through my process and show them whatever they want to see.” 

Verschiedene Evaluationen in Origins Pro


The powerful combination of LiDAR scanning technology and PointCab Origins Pro has had a profound impact on the schedule and customer experience for these complex projector installations. Howard says: “I’m given metric spherical coordinates from ZEISS  to place projectors in relation to the dome. In PointCab, I export Cartesian imperial coordinates to place the projector stands on the floor.  Then the PointCab software exports 2D images of 3D spaces to me. Sharing data via PointCab Share (freeware) or screen sharing via Zoom allows me to share each step of the process with everyone and show in detail what is of interest.” In just one week, essential but very time-consuming tasks were thus radically reduced and changed for the better for everyone involved in the project. Once tested, the Seiler Planetarium Division would like to continue to rely on the combination of laser scanning and the PointCab software in the future.