3DX Viewer


The Carlson 3DX Viewer is a simple, free program for viewing 3D models created in Carlson Civil, Construction or Survey. The Carlson 3DX Viewer runs standalone and provides an easy way to show 3D models to others who don’t have or know CAD. That’s right, no CAD knowledge is needed!

This program allows you to view a 3D surface in a simulated drive- or fly-over mode. There are options for different types of surface shading, direction of travel, viewpoints, vehicles, light position, color schemes, vertical exaggeration and more.

The 3D model to view is stored in a 3DX file. The program starts by prompting for the 3DX file to view. After selecting the 3DX file, the 3D graphics window is opened to display the various controls for the drive simulation. 3DX files are created in the Surface 3D Flyover command in the Carlson Civil and Carlson Construction programs.

The smaller window to the upper right shows the overall plan view and the location of the vehicle of the surface. The middle right window displays the current station (when 3d poly is used for direction control), elevation, slope (in relation to the direction of travel) and azimuth. The 3rd window at lower right indicates amount of roll or cross slope (in relation to the direction of travel) at your current position.

View Direction: This determines the direction that you look “out of” the vehicle based on the direction of travel. This setting does not change the direction of travel. There are four different view directions: Front, Back, Left and Right.

View Position: This determines the relative position of the viewpoint in relation to the vehicle. There are three different view positions:

Driver – The Driver position puts you inside of the simulated vehicle. NOTE: The Vehicle Icon option is not available when Driver is used.
Pedestrian – The Pedestrian position puts you behind and above the vehicle when view direction is set to front, above and to the left when the view direction is right, and so on.
Bird – The Bird position puts you further behind and higher above the selected vehicle.

Vehicle Icon: Determines the type of vehicle to be used in the display. There are many options available, including dozers, sport-utility vehicles, emergency vehicles and others. You also have the option to not display a vehicle (None).

Shading: Determines the type of shading to be applied to the surface when the surface source is from a file. This option is not active when the surface is defined by screen entities. There are several shading options, including:

None – Does not produce shading.
Flat – Uses one color per 3D Face.
Smooth – Blends colors together.
Elevation – Generates colors based on the vertical position of the surface entities.
Cut/Fill – Generates colors based on depth of cut or height of fill between two surfaces. This option is only available when the Surface Source is defined by a File and a Reference Surface has been specified.
Cut is denoted by hues of red.
Fill is denoted by hues of blue.

Surface Color: This setting will determine the color of surface entities when the shading mode is set to either flat or smooth. The color functions are only available when the Surface Source is defined by a File. If the Surface Source is defined by screen entities, color is determined by the properties of the screen entities.

High Color: When using the “Elevation” mode of shading, this sets the color of surface entities that are in the higher elevation ranges of the surface.

Low Color: When using the “Elevation” mode of shading, this sets the color for the surface entities in the lower elevation ranges of the surface.

Set View/Target Points: Provides a dialog box interface that permits the precise location of the viewer vantage point and the precise location of the target view. These coordinate locations are helpful for “view-shed” studies.

Reference Centerline: When a reference centerline has been selected, the current view position is reported beneath the main viewer window indicating the station/offset relative to the centerline.

Elevation: This determines the height of the viewer vantage point above the surface. Clicking the up arrow will elevate further from the surface; clicking the down arrow will take you closer to the surface. The Left/Right arrow keys on the keyboard will also control the elevation.

Distance: This determines the horizontal distance from the viewers vantage point (behind) to the actual focal point on the surface. Clicking the Up arrow beside the control will increase the distance from the focal point; clicking the Down arrow will decrease the distance.

Speed: This determines the rate of travel across the surface in miles per hour. Clicking the Up arrow beside the control will increase speed; clicking the Down arrow will decrease speed.

Vertical Scale: This option allows the user to specify a vertical exaggeration factor to aid in viewing flat surfaces with little relief.

Ignore Zero Elevation: Ignores zero elevation entities in the scene.

Display Trail: Displays the traveled route on the surface as a line.

Display Cut/Fill: This displays real-time the amount of cut or fill at the location of the vehicle. This option is only available when a Reference TIN is used in the first setup dialog.

Dynamic Trace: When enabled, a position marker of the current view point is also displayed in the CAD/DWG window.

Apply Texture: When enabled, a material (e.g. grass) can be applied to the view simulation.

Surface Opacity: Use the horizontal slider control to indicate the desired level of opaqueness that should be applied to a surface. A lower opacity results in increased surface transparency and is helpful for viewing sub-surface utilities such as Storm Sewer pipes and manholes.

Display Sky: Creates a sky dome of 3D faces around the site that is colored blue with some clouds. In order to see the sky, your view point must be below the sky dome. This feature is only available when Use Software Rendering mode is turned off.