Import Google Earth’s image and 3D model

clip_image001Microstation, from version 8.9 (XM), brings a number of features for interacting with Google Earth. In this case I mean the import of three-dimensional model and its image, something like is done by AutoCAD Civil 3D.

clip_image002These functions are activated by:

Tools > geographic

or in case Microstation is in Spanish, which in practice is hard to adapt:

Herramientas > geografica

This is a feature of any platform running on Microstation such as PowerCivil, Bentley Map, Bentley Coax, etc. The sixth and seventh icons serve one to synchronize Google Earth view based on what we have in Microstation and the other to do the reverse. The fourth icon is to bring Google image to a map.

1. The dgn archive

To begin with, this feature requires 3D dgn file, in case we have one built with a 2D seed what to dowe can do is:

File > export > 3D

Then open the file we exported. The other feature that must have is a geographic reference system. This changed shortly after Microstation 8.5, but usually recognizes an assigned system with those versions though sometimes only mentions that it is an UTM system but does not define the area. In case you have not, this is done using the first icon of the bar showed at the beginning of the post and selecting within library the system that interests us. In this case we must assign a projected system (northing, easting …) and choose the World option (UTM) with WGS84 as datum, because the system used is Google Earth.

In order to not be struggling so much, the system can be assigned to the Favorites and so it doesn’t look for it every time we require.

In Google Earth case, it is convenient to hide compass, state toolbar, grid or any other element that do not interest us. It is also possible, with historical images option that came since Google Earth 5, turn off coverage of years that do not interest us, often most recent ones are less visible. Once ready, we must choose area of interest, and do synchronization between Google Earth and Microstation.


There is a panel that gives us some configurations, but in practice they are not useful as the vertical reference system used by Google Earth is quite simplified, with some exceptions in some areas of United States and Puerto Rico. So it makes little sense to choose altitude deviation, what does really matter here is define if it will come whether with mesh or a triangular grid; it must always be checked the “view field”.


2. Import Image

To import the image you just have to choose the bar’s fourth button and click on screen. As a result it will be reached a captured grid.


To see the image, do: Tools> render> View, and this lifts us a panel in which we decide some configurations of rendering type, lines visibility and image brightness.


To view the isometric model, we use the tool placed on the View, and put correctly an isometric and rotate it freely. See that it is possible even to render a fence enclosed area or an area based on an object. And if we choose the stereo option, we can see work with stereoscopic glasses– those we forget to return while leaving the movie. The panel shown below is slightly different depending on the application, since in this case I am using PowerCivil that has more rendering options.


The image comes with gray scale and its quality is nothing short than appalling because it is only a print screen, this improves by using Google Pro version and keeping Google Earth Pro in DirectX mode. In digital model case, it can not be improved more than that offered by Google, but this seems a rather practical output for Stitchmaps’ complementary work, with which you can download higher quality image and with this, it can be georeferenced.

We must clarify a few questions: It can not bring 3D buildings, as they are not part of the digital model and model precision can be improved by making smaller catches. See San Sebastian’s example, where information quality is a luxury; on the right is the same catch made with different zoom levels.


So far, PlexEarth gets the credit as the best tool for integration between Google Earth and CAD platform.

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