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.

Point Clouds in BricsCAD

BricsCAD point cloud punktwolken plugin


Point clouds in BricsCAD? Easy as can be with our new 4Brics plugin.

BricsCAD point cloud punktwolken plugin

PointCab 4Brics - Why a BricsCAD point cloud plugin?

As you may know, we already developed point cloud plugins for Revit and Archicad. Now, we are happy to announce that we have also developed a plugin that will simplify the modeling of point clouds in BricsCAD. The decision to develop a BricsCAD plugin was an easy one. For months, more and more customers approached us and asked for us to develop a BricsCAD solution. Those who know our team know that we always try to implement customer requests as quickly as possible and try to respond to all requests. So it’s not surprising that we got to work right after the first requests came in.


How was the plugin developed?

We are developers and point cloud professionals. We are not BricsCAD experts and we openly admit to that. This is the reason why, when developing our BricsCAD plugin, we did what we always do in such cases – consult the expertise of our customers. Therefore we spent months studying the BricsCAD software and the workflow of our BricsCAD users. Special mention must be made here of Sebastian Zell, who has been massively involved in all stages of development, from conception to beta testing. The result is a plugin that perfectly matches the workflow of our BricsCAD customers and the architecture of the BricsCAD software.

What can the plugin do and how are point clouds modeled in BricsCAD with it?

Our 4Brics plugin helps you to transfer 3D information from Origins to BricsCAD in the correct position and in real-time. This way you don’t have to export the entire point cloud or individual orthophotos first and then import them into BricsCAD. As already mentioned, we have adapted our plugin to the architecture and structure of the BricsCAD software. That is why there is the function to fix axes. In principle, single or multiple axes can be fixed, depending on what is needed at the moment.  For example, the x and y-axis can be fixed if heights are to be determined. Measurements are generally made with the 3D point tool in Origins. No matter whether lines, surfaces, or individual objects from your own templates are to be transferred – simply click on the desired element in Origins and it will be transferred to BricsCAD in the correct position. As usual, the 3D point tool can be used in the standard views, layouts & sections, or panoramic views. No matter which view you use, the information from the point cloud is always transferred correctly to BricsCAD. In addition to the transfer of 3D point cloud data, we have also implemented other functions that make your work in BricsCAD easier. For example, our multilines tool allows you to create several individual lines one after the other without interruption. Preparing your data for other CAD software is also done with just a few clicks. For example, you can transfer the data from your user coordinate system to the world coordinate system or flatten the heights. This way the data can also be read into CAD software like Revit or ArchiCAD. 

If you want to learn more, take a look at our overview video or visit our online shop.