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laser measurers


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Magic Plan with Leica Disto E7500i

Has anyone has a lot of success with these laser measuring devices that input directly into you Ipad?

Are any of them compatible with VW. Be great if you could import the measured drawing from the Ipad directly to VW.

Interested in getting one for office.

Similar the the on in this video.

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Hey I like this too. I often have situations where I'm dealing with existing spaces that we don't have plans for, but need to be generated for various purposes. If this product is able to export out with an extension type compatible with VW it would make this a great tool to have.

Was just checking out the laser measuring device and it is pricey at $599 US. And this setup is for Apple devices only. You have to go with a different model from Leica to use on Android devices because of Bluetooth requirements.

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

This will absolutely become a common tool for measuring and planning out existing conditions. Especially combined with the more expensive point cloud scanners, and even Google's Project Tango they just detailed at CES last week which will make it significantly less expensive and more widely available.


In the future, it could eventually go all the way to full scans of 3D environments being directly imported into CAD software with walls, floors, doors and windows being generated automatically from them. How far off that is I couldn't even guess, but things seem to be progressing rapidly.

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  • 2 months later...

I still use a tape measure for about half of my site measurements, a Leica Disto D810 for the other half. I looked at Magic Plan for iPad but it wasn't a good fit for me.

The Disto D810 does at a lot of value for long distances, inaccessible objects, plan-distance (i.e. horizontal distance with slope already subtracted out,) object heights, etc.

In the long run I am *certain* that 3D point clouding, either with laser scanners or with Project-Tango-type camera-based solutions, will replace most or all hand measuring, even down into residential-level architecture & landscape design. It's just a question of time until the equipment cost drops.

With laser point scanners most of the cost is in the extremely high precision rotating-part machinery, both the laser mirror(s) and even more so the survey-station 3-axis mount. Perhaps the cost will come down if they can figure out how to move the scanning process into the solid-state realm, i.e. with MEMS mirrors, something along the lines of how they've made DLP projectors better with fewer moving parts.

More likely however is Project-Tango style 3D capturing based on multiple cameras & parallax, maybe with a simple laser distance meter built in to augment or cross-check measurements at key points.

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I've had discussions with these guys -http://paperless.bheeb.ch/- who supply plans DistoX to add third axis to a disto, then you apparently run the unit from a ball head on a tripod and just aim and click your way round a space.

It is quite a complex thing to do to your Disto and will certainly void any waranties!

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Leica now sells the Disto S910, which is basically a miniature total-station with alt/azimuth + distance measuring.

It's what I had hoped I could turn my D810 into; I wish I had waited 6 months or a year for the release of the S910 but you can never tell with product releases, so.

However -- on careful consideration, actually a tape measure is still a lot faster than a Disto for accessible areas & dimensions under 15 feet or so. For example I would not want to use a Disto S910 to shoot points to capture a) a house wall b) 2 different windows and 1 door in that wall, c) the eave height & foundation height for that wall d) electrical outlets & hose bibs in that wall, and e) perhaps a small set of wood or concrete stairs on that wall.

That would be a lot of complex pointing & shooting along with notes to link the points to actual features. I think much faster to just drag a tape measure.

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Jim, real estate appraisers have little apps that take measurements directly from a bluetooth-connected Disto EDM, and even turn 90 at each measurement to draw a crude plan. Seems like it would be both relatively easy and a huge selling point for VW to come up with a more sophisticated version of this capability. As it is, I now export measurements realtime via bluetooth to Excel, then post-collection manually translate measurements and notes to VW geometry. Even with that level of crudity, the system is about twice as productive as the old sketch / measuring tape / hand notes system, and a lot more error-free. I also take measurements with a total station, then export NEZ files to Excel -> survey stakes. Seems like that could be looked into as well, surveyors have small hand-held computers with software that translates total station measurements on the fly into CAD.

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I spent (too) much time looking at drawing with a Disto and (for residential work and sites <1Ha) have eventually gone back to manual methods,: tape, a camera with a voice recorder, knowing my shoes are exactly 340mm, the usual body dimension stuff, I've taught myself to be good at accurately guessing heights, I always take pics of siding etc with a tape in the pic.

Then back at my desk it's pretty quick to cad it all up. And when its drawn up it's accurate enough - I'm not making coffins so there's some leeway.

For larger stuff there's usually a surveyor to get some points for me (and larger stuff is usually legal territory and it makes sense legally to get a surveyor to do it).

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