PLS-CADD Google Earth Integration Tips
This page has been updated to reflect changes in PLS-CADD Version 15.30.
Starting with version 8 of PLS-CADD, you can now visualize your models in Google Earth using the
File/Export KMZ (Google Earth) command. Here are the step by step instructions and some tips
for making best use of this feature:
- Use Version 5 or newer of Google Earth
You can download Google Earth here. Everything demonstrated below
uses Version 15.30 of PLS-CADD and Version 5 of Google Earth.
- Begin in PLS-CADD - Make sure you have the 3D view open!
- Select your project's coordinate system - This feature can be found under Terrain/Coordinate System/Define
If you do not know what coordinate system to use then contact the supplier of your survey data.
Please do not ask us because we can only guess what coordinate system was used on your project.
- Export a KMZ - The Google Earth model is called a "KMZ" file and can be exported from PLS-CADD using the File/Export /KMZ (Google Earth)... command.
- Name your KMZ - Enter a name for your KMZ and select a folder to save it in.
- Select KMZ Export Options
- The Structure Location Settings have inputs for Range to view structure from and the Tilt. We suggest you leave these values at the default settings. These settings control how Google Earth views a structure when you jump to it from the Structure Locations list.
- You can choose the offset distance for the left and right structure tours (which you will see later in Google Earth). We recommend that you set this slightly larger than your maximum conductor offset (to simulate a helicopter flying as close to the line as possible).
- In some cases, the vertical datum used on your project may not be the same as used by Google Earth. The Elevation shift between PLS-CADD model and Google Earth input allows you to account for this. If your structures are "floating" when you go to Google Earth, you can put a negative number in here to lower the entire line. Of course the opposite is true if your line is buried. There is also an option to save the elevation shift with the project and apply it to reports exported to KML as well. If selected the elevation shift will be saved with the model and used for KML exports of reports and exports of the geometry.
- There is an option that allows you to define the Z coordinates in PLS-CADD are relative to mean sea level, not datum ellipsoid. If selected the elevations in the KML will be equal to the Z value in PLS-CADD plus and elevation shift entered above.
- There is an option to Draw lattice towers as line, wire frame or line structures. Rendered structures can slow down Google Earth loading and we recommend wireframe or line if there are lattice towers within the KMZ.
- If selected the option Include insulator sheds in export will show the insulator sheds within the KMZ. It will also increase the size of the KMZ. If this option is not selected the insulators will be shown as a cylinder.
- The option to Draw cables with actual thickness (small cables will effectively be invisible) that when selected will use the actual cable width and cables may be difficult to see in PLS-CADD.
- There is an option to Color structures by usage when possible. This option will show the structures by % usage instead of the material. To activate this option you will first need to run a structure usage report and then select this option when exporting the KMZ.
- You can opt to Include any raster attachments displayed in the plan view in the export you may have attached to your PLS-CADD project for use in Google Earth. Unfortunately, Google Earth does not handle detailed imagery as well as PLS-CADD does, so you may need to uncheck this option if navigating your model in Google Earth is slow.
- You can select to Include vector (DXF/SHP) attachments displayed in the 3d view in the export.
- You can also Automatically open in Google Earth after export and zoom directly to your line by leaving the last option checked.
- Finally, Google Earth! - Once you click the OK button above (assuming you have left the automatically open Google Earth option selected), you will be taken directly to your line in Google Earth.
Make sure that Terrain is checked in the layers tree control in the lower left corner of Google Earth so that you have 3D terrain to view your line on.
- Prepare to Tour - Double-click on one of the "tours" on the left hand side of the screen under the line you want to tour (more later on multiple lines).
You will be taken to the first structure on your line, hovering and ready to fly.
- Tour! - Click the "Play" button to start the tour. (Alternatively, you can use Tools / Play Tour from the menu or select Cntl-Alt-P on your keyboard.
- Set touring options in Google Earth - You may want to set various options in Google Earth for your tour. Under Tools / Options, under the Touring tab, you can set the distance, tilt, and speed as well as other options.
(75 to 80 degree tilts appear to work best for most lines, with the distance being a variable depending on the size of your structures and their spacing, and you may want to up the "Play Tour Times" to something besides the default "1" so that the tour will loop back to the beginning when it is finished.
To make Google Earth's terrain model a better match for your PLS-CADD model increase the Terrain Quality setting under the 3D tab to the highest possible setting.
There are other options that you may want to investigate, such as the cache settings.
You can cache the imagery from a whole project for demonstrations later where you may not have Internet access.
In addition to these options you will also want to:
- Set the Terrain Quality to the Highest setting in the 3D View tab.
- Check Allow access to local files and personal data and Show web results in external browser in the General tab if you want to be able to click on a project name to load that project in PLS-CADD.
- Enjoy the ride! - Your tour should look something like this:
- Export Multiple Lines! - You can load (File / Open) multiple KMZ files into Google Earth so that you can see multiple models at one time.
Note that each project will now appear on the directory tree on the left, and you can expand the Structure Locations tree under a particular project,
click on a specific structure, and be taken right to that structure.
Imagine having your entire system modeled in Google Earth (and PLS-CADD)!
- Have Fun!
- Remember that in order to see rendered structures in Google Earth, you must have used PLS-POLE and/or TOWER to model your structures in PLS-CADD first.
Otherwise, you will just see "stick structures" and wires.
- If you don't have a project handy and want to immediately try this feature out, download this sample KMZ file.
- If you purchase the "Pro" version of Google Earth, you can make a movie of your tour as well (Click for an example movie).
However, note that the quality isn't anywhere near as good as it is "live" in Google Earth.
We recommend that you investigate the cache setting described above for offline tours at public meetings or other places where Internet access may not be readily available.
- Feel free to give us feedback on your use of this new feature and to send us any impressive KMZs!
PLS-CADD also has Google Earth integration features to allow you to quickly navigate to specific structures when in Google Earth,
see information about those structures and their attributes, open the original PLS-CADD project,
and many reports can now be exported to KML including:
- P.I. Report
- Structure Coordinates Report
- Construction Staking Report
- Leg and Guy Extension Report
- Terrain Clearances by Span Report
- Thermal Rating Report
- Danger Tree Locator Report
- Structure Navigation and Attributes - First find the Project KML in the Places menu in Google Earth.
- Next, expand the Structure Locations tree by clicking on the "+" in front of that line.
- Now simply find the structure number in the expanded tree and click on it in the tree and Google Earth will automatically navigate to that structure.
- To obtain the attributes of the structure, simply click on the hyperlinked structure number (red arrow below) and all attributes that are noted in
PLS-CADD under Drafting/Structure and Section Labeling/Sheet Profile View... will be listed. Note that the Bill of Materials is one of those options.
- When viewing any of the reports that support KML in PLS-CADD, you can simply right click the mouse and choose the option to "KML Export".
This is demonstrated for Lines/Reports/Construction Staking Report... below.
- Save the KMZ (a zipped KML) to your desired location and then in Google Earth do a File / Open and select the KMZ you saved.
Once loaded, you can click on any of the markers and see the attributes associated with the Construction Staking Report listed.
Notice below that not only are the geographical coordinates of the staking location given, but the pole class, pole length, base diameter, and structure
weight are listed as well.
- Below is an example of the KML created by right clicking from the Lines/Reports/Thermal Rating Report.... Note that if markers are displayed in the 3D view in PLS-CADD,
they will be exported with the PLS-CADD model KML export as well (File/Export/KMZ (Google Earth)...).
- By clicking on the thermometer symbol in Google Earth, the attributes of the thermal rating limit in each span are given.
- Another KML example that is quite informational in Google Earth is the Lines/Reports/Danger Tree Locator... report. This method is an excellent way to share
this sometimes critical information with those that do not use PLS-CADD, but need to have access to this information. Note that Google Earth even has an option to get
directions "To here" by simply clicking on the link.
* Note 1 - This example shows violations under both a maximum operating temperature (red conductor) as well as a moderate 6 PSF wind blowing both ways (green conductors) with
radial clearance checks performed. It should also be observed that the wind violations are considered under a "sweeping" of the conductors under a varying wind pressure
and not under the full wind pressure condition alone. There are some violations at lower wind pressures than 6 PSF being found.
* Note 2 - Falling Tree violations were not considered in this example.
- The possibilities are unlimited! - By using these Google Earth functions in PLS-CADD information from your PLS-CADD model can be shared
with others for informational, construction, and vegetative purposes quickly and easily.