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.

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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.

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.

TPAS University: Data extraction commands in AutoCAD

In this installment of TPAS University, Kelly Streeter demonstrates two methods for extracting survey data from a TPAS drawing in AutoCAD.

The first method, which uses the DATAEXTRACTION command, is available in all versions of AutoCAD and allows the user to fine-tune a selection of data to export from the drawing, including x-y coordinates.

The second method, the ATTOUT command, is available in later versions of AutoCAD. It is much faster than the DATAEXTRACTION command, but does not allow the export of x-y coordinates, since it only exports block attributes. It is a great tool for quickly exporting raw survey data for analysis.

Please post in the comments below if you have questions about these features.

TPAS University: Fixing data in AutoCAD drawings using the ATTOUT and ATTIN commands

In this installment of TPAS University, Kelly demonstrates how to easily correct individual annotations or large batches of data using AutoCAD’s ATTOUT and ATTIN commands.

The ATTOUT command exports a selected set of data to a tab-delimited file, which is easily edited in Excel. The data is then imported back into the AutoCAD drawing using the ATTIN command.

This is a great tool for making batch changes to data, for example changing the priority designation for an entire group of conditions. It also works well for correcting smaller issues, such as typographical errors.

Please post in the comments below if you have questions about these features.