TPAS® 2017 is Here! Join Our Webinar on October 11

The TPAS® 2017 release is here! Join us for a free live, interactive webinar on October 11 at 1pm EDT to learn about brand-new TPAS® features. If you’re new to TPAS®, we’ll also cover some of the basics about how surveying with TPAS® in the field can save you time in the office while producing a more powerful deliverable.

Register now!

Using TPAS® to Document, Share, Analyze and Report Conditions Data

Learn how TPAS® (the Tablet PC Annotation System) software enables project teams to collect data, analyze findings, share online and create reports.

TPAS® facilitates the direct-to-digital collection of survey data in the field using AutoCAD, streamlining the preparation of reports, cost estimates, and design documents. Users can choose from a standard library of condition annotations, or create custom data capture fields that can easily be applied to the documentation of buildings, infrastructure, and cultural resources. TPAS® is ideal for existing conditions documentation, but its applications are as limitless as your reporting needs.

This webinar will demonstrate the capabilities and newest features of TPAS® 2017, including a download that allows clients to interact with deliverable AutoCAD drawings produced with TPAS®, without needing a full TPAS license. We’ll also showcase the cloud-based web portal for interactive viewing and analysis of project data, drawings, and photographs, and collaboration among multiple project team members.

Click here to register for the webinar!

Questions? Contact


TPAS Case Study: First National Bank, Youngstown, OH

By James V. Banta, Technical Preservation Specialist/Project Manager
Chambers, Murphy & Burge Historical Architecture

First National Bank, Youngstown, OH

First National Bank, Youngstown, OH

Last year, Chambers, Murphy & Burge (CMB) performed a Conditions Assessment of the First National Bank building in Youngstown, Ohio. The 1929 building is among a group of seven early 20th-century office buildings in downtown Youngstown listed in the National Register of Historic Places. First National Bank was designed by Youngstown Architect Morris W. Scheibel and was originally known as the Metropolitan Savings and Loan Co. Building or Central Tower. This 18-story, art deco skyscraper has a high degree of historic integrity and typical of its time, was constructed with structural steel framing that supports its exterior masonry.

West facade showing returns at center window bays

West facade showing returns at center window bays

The west elevation includes four major exterior corners due to the north- and south-facing return walls at the center window bays. CMB utilized TPAS® to identify corners with serious vertical crack systems caused by corrosion of underlying steel columns and cyclical thermal expansion and contraction. During the course of the investigation, CMB noted that brick cracks previously treated superficially with sealant have failed because the underlying conditions and mechanisms of deterioration had not been addressed. Using TPAS CMB was able to clearly illustrate to the owner the extent of such deterioration and make recommendations for long-term repairs.

Annotated elevation drawing showing location and extent of conditions

Annotated elevation drawing showing location and extent of conditions

TPAS Case Study: John Brown House, Akron, OH

By James V. Banta, Technical Preservation Specialist/Project Manager
Chambers, Murphy & Burge Historical Architecture

John Brown House in Akron, Ohio

John Brown House in Akron, Ohio

For this recent Conditions Assessment and Preservation Master Plan project at the John Brown House in Akron, Ohio, Chambers, Murphy & Burge (CMB) used TPAS® to identify exterior conditions for the purpose of evaluating the building envelope and generating a prioritized list of repair items. After preparing photo elevations, our TPAS assessment was conducted efficiently in the course of one day. The John Brown House in Akron was originally a 1.5-story Greek Revival Cottage that has undergone significant additions and modifications altering its appearance and creating challenges for cyclical maintenance as well as interpretation and presentation. With TPAS CMB documented observed conditions based on severity, extent, location, and priority.

Photo elevation with TPAS annotations

Photo elevation with TPAS annotations

John Brown was born on May 9, 1800 in Torrington, Connecticut. In 1805, he moved with his family to Hudson, Ohio. In 1844, Brown moved his family to Akron where they lived in a two room cottage that came to be known as the John Brown House. Brown rented the House from Colonel Simon Perkins with whom he was in business at the time. John Brown infamously went on to lead attacks against pro-slavery forces in Kansas in 1856 and to stage a raid on the federal arsenal in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia in 1859. For his actions, Brown and some of his followers were hanged for treason. The John Brown House remained in the Perkins family until 1942 when it was bequeathed to The Summit County Historical Society who remains its steward today.

TPAS University: Block customization options

Options for block customization in TPAS are virtually endless. Recent TPAS projects have involved adding custom parameters to an existing condition survey block library, creating custom blocks in order to hyperlink non-jpeg data file types to the drawing, and building complex custom blocks for an in-depth survey and characterization of windows and doors. Let’s take a look at each case in more detail.

101-164 ArchMetal_Corrosion Pitted 2015-1

Steel trusses comprising a dam flood gate – the subject of a recent inspection using TPAS

The client for a dam floodgate investigation required data on the condition of individual steel truss members. An existing block library for surveying the condition of structural metals included blocks to record corrosion, deformation, cracking and other conditions. Building on this existing library, additional data inputs were added to each block so that surveyors could record the member type, additional notes, and percentage of section loss or failed fasteners, where applicable. In addition, a new block was created to record instances of leaking seals at the sides of the floodgates.

flood gate dwg

Annotated TPAS drawing of a flood gate truss

flood gate block

Information captured in custom TPAS blocks included percentage of corroded fasteners, section loss due to corrosion, and member type

Adding or removing fields and changing text display options can all be done in the source .dwg file of the blocks, as demonstrated in this video clip. This is a great option for quickly creating customized blocks based on an existing block library.

Sometimes, entirely new blocks are called for. For example, during a building investigation involving the use of ground-penetrating radar (GPR), custom blocks were created to record surveryors’ observations and to hyperlink the GPR data files. Simple blocks such as these can be built quickly within AutoCAD, as in the above example.

For creating complex blocks, or making batch changes to a library of blocks, AutoLISP (a simple list-processor programming language) can be a time-saving tool. For a survey of a large group of historic buildings, custom blocks were built from scratch using LISP routines, in order to capture highly detailed information on windows and doors. This approach essentially transforms a paper-and-pen survey form into a digital record complete with photographs keyed to an exact location on the drawing.

Custom block for surveying door hardware throughout a complex of historic buildings

Custom block for surveying door hardware throughout a complex of historic buildings

These examples are just the beginning of the endless options for customization in TPAS. Please post in the comments below or contact Kelly if you have questions about block customization.

Register for Free Webinar and Demonstration of TPAS

TPAS capabilities are always evolving in response to the unique needs of our clients and to embrace advances in technology.  Register here for a real-time demonstration and Q +A featuring the cloud-based Web Portal that allows teams to share data, analyze, generate reports, and export online.

Date: Wed, September 30, 2015
Time: 12:00pm Eastern
Cost: Free

TPAS University: Setting custom photo names with the photo name dialog box

Today at TPAS University, Kelly Streeter shows how to create custom photo names using the TPAS Photo Name dialog box.

The dialog box appears whenever TPAS is re-loaded, or whenever a TPAS drawing is opened in AutoCAD. You can also access the dialog box directly from the drop-down TPAS menu.

Photos named in TPAS always include the X-Y coordinates of the accompanying text note. The X-Y precision can be adjusted, depending on the scale of the structure or site being surveyed. In most cases, a precision of “1” – yielding X-Y coordinates in whole numbers – is desirable.

TPAS photo names usually include the block name, condition code, and year. These options can be turned on and off using the checkboxes in the TPAS Photo Name dialog box.

The Prefix and Suffix fields allow powerful customization of photo names. You can enter any numerals or text that you want to be included in each photo name – for example, the name of the project or the surveyor’s initials. The Prefix and Suffix fields can also contain block attribute data about the condition photographed, such as the priority, severity or amount. Since block attributes themselves are customizable, the options for photo naming are endless.

Please post in the comments below or contact Kelly if you have questions about this feature.