Terrasolid FAQs

Terrasolid FAQs are some of the frequently asked questions about Terrasolid products and workflows. See also, Frequently asked questions about installation and licensing, or Frequently asked questions about Terra License Server and Pool Licenses,.

1. Is there a guide for synchronizing Google Earth view with MicroStation?

Google Earth synchronization is a MicroStation function independent of Terrasolid. Many Terrasolid users have asked for workflow information regarding this. For more information, please visit this USDOT website.
For adding base maps directly in the Bentley application, see Adding WMS or Background Maps to MicroStation CE.

2. Why are the points in my vertical section view showing offset and thicker? I used the synchronize view option to match view 3 and view 4 and then drew a vertical section and displayed it in view 3. My view 4 is now showing the points offset and much thicker then what is being displayed in view 3. Why is this happening and how can I fix it?


This is likely occurring due to the clip settings that were defined for the view in question.
There are two ways to turn on the clip settings.
Draw a profile into the view in question. This will activate Clip Back and Clip Front.
Open the view attributes for the view in question and turn on Clip Back and Clip Front.

3. Why am I getting a warning about coordinate range?

The following alert is seen when reading data into TerraScan:
“First point is outside the coordinate range. Change master units of the design file or apply a transformation to points.”
This has to do with the design cube that is being used within TerraScan. For more in-depth information into the problem please review the information in the Coordinates, Coordinate Systems and LIDAR Data (Part 1) article.

4. Can you create building footprints in TerraScan?

To generate building footprints within TerraScan one would want to use the  Draw Polygons tool. The tool is currently only available on the main TerraScan window under Tools. The tool is designed to create 3D shapes or line strings around groups of points within one or more point classes. The resulting elements are written into the DGN file. Elevation values of the vertices are computed using the elevation values of the specified LIDAR class.

5. Is there a way to convert the RGB values in LAS files from 8-bit to 16-bit?

This can be accomplished in TerraScan.
Prior to opening a LAS file go to TerraScan –> Settings –> File Formats and LAS Format. Select the desired RGB Bit Depth value. The option for Correct 16 bits is what one should use if the RGB values of your LAS files are currently stored correctly as 16-bit. If not, it is necessary to specify how the values are currently stored so that TerraScan can properly correct and store the color values according to the LAS specification.
Once the settings have been defined either open the LAS file and do a direct save or create a macro with the save step. This will update the intensity bit values within the file.

6. Can you classify inside of polygons within TerraScan?

TerraScan has an option for classifying inside shapes, however it is only available as a macro step.
The inside shapes routine classifies points that are located inside a shape on a specified level in the active design file or in a reference design file. Optionally, the shape can be further defined by color, weight or style settings. The shapes have to be drawn before the routine can be used.

7. What does “TSCAN is not signed” mean?

This error message happens when TerraScan is trying to be loaded into the High Security version of MicroStation. Open the normal version of MicroStation to resolve the issue.

8. What is the TerraScan trajectory file naming convention?

Terrasolid names the trajectory file based on the time format of the trajectory data.
If the trajectory is in GPS Weeks-Seconds then the trajectory is named upon import into the Terrasolid software using the seconds values of the first and last position located within the trajectory file.
Example: 489242_502772.trj
If the trajectory is in GPS Standard Time then the trajectory file is named upon import into the Terrasolid software using the Survey date followed by the time of day.
Example (using May 4th, 2014 at 3:10:03 pm) : 20140504_151003.trj

9. What does the change of the major version for Terrasolid software mean?

Each year Terrasolid releases a major version change. Note that this isn’t a major release in the traditional sense as Terrasolid releases incremental releases of the software packages on a continual basis which add new features, fix bugs, and makes modifications to existing features. The major version change corresponds with the end of the calendar year based maintenance cycle, ending on December 31 each year. All of the Terrasolid version licenses for the preceding year expire on March 31 of the following year. The three month overlap is in place to allow ample time for the new version to be released, licenses generated, and customers to test and move production to the new version. Prior to March 31st everyone will be required to move to the new major version of the products and licenses. Terrasolid generally plans to release the current year major version (i.e. v021 corresponds to 2021 maintenance) products by mid February following final testing during their European User Event.

10. Why does TerraScan only read and not write LAS v1.3?

TerraScan reads LAS v1.3 files, but does not allow one to save points in that format. The reasoning behind this is that it doesn’t make sense when processing LIDAR data to duplicate the waveform information as it never changes, so the process only references the waveform data from the original files. This is accomplished through the linking of LAS files to the waveform information through the trajectories as part of the waveform processing workflow. In addition, the LAS v1.3 format, apart from the waveform aspects, is not significantly different from the LAS v1.2 format. For further information review the two versions of the LAS specification.

11. Bentley MicroStation or other supported Bentley products and Terrasolid modules crash frequently.

Terrasolid software, like all software on a Windows 7 era and later operating system, must always be installed using the right-click and “Run as Administrator” option or the software will not be installed correctly. This often results in a high number of random crashes of the Terrasolid software. Installing using right-click and “Run as Administrator” is most important for software using a setup.exe, whereas an msi should have that pre-configured.
Administrative rights on the drive or Terra installation folder is not a requirement, however, all users of the software on the machine must have full read/write and execute permissions for the Terra installation folder as user preferences, settings and various other pieces pertaining to the software are saved and modified in that folder. As such, it is important that the Terra Installation folder NEVER be put in “Program Files” which the Windows OS has gradually locked down with each subsequent release.

12. Using the Classify by Brush tool seems to cause frequent crashes of TerraScan.

There is a known issue with the brush classification tool causing crashes in MicroStation. The current remedy for this issue is to cancel out of the tool and then return to the tool. This seems to happen randomly and this is currently the best solution.

13. Is there a way to change the default color schemes when building a shaded surface in TerraModeler?

Try to set the color table in your seed design file (MicroStation -> Settings -> Color Table) to use the color table that you would like to use. Otherwise, send us the desired scheme and we’ll see if Terrasolid will add it as an option.

14. Is it possible to have TerraPhoto generate ortho images using only the LIDAR data and exterior orientation (EO) parameters?

Yes, in TerraPhoto, the direct use of an EO is possible. Simply use the EO file to generate the Image List. You will need to ensure there is a suitable file format for your EO file setup in TerraPhoto -> Settings -> Exterior Orientations Formats. TerraPhoto will skip a few header lines, but not many.

15. What can cause the wrong positions to be assigned to images when using an image timing file and trajectory to create the image list? For example, about a 22 second mismatch.

There are systems out there where the time on the camera system is not the same as that of the laser or SBET. By definition an SBET has time in GPS Weekseconds and an LAS file has the time format as either GPS weekseconds or adjusted GPS Standard Time. These other systems can be found to have times in some sort of day or week UTC time. Hence, they’d currently have an 18 second time difference between the UTC and GPS time. Correcting the time offset during the Compute List command for Trimble and Riegl systems can fix the assignment of the image positions. In other cases, the trajectory itself when not originating from an SBET, SOL or POF, may have the wrong timestamp format that needs to be fixed first using TerraPhoto -> Manage Photo Trajectories -> Tools -> Convert Time Stamps.

16. How to solve flight lines laser data mismatch using TerraMatch?

Review the Terrasolid Tutorials, specifically the Basic Training 2, found on this searchable support knowledge base.

17. I’m a VBA developer and wish to develop automation tools in MicroStation to programmatically customize tools for LIDAR using TerraScan. Is there any reference material?

You may wish to start by reading the Programming Interface in the TerraScan User Guide. That section describes the public functions and DLL addon tools that one may use to take advantage of TerraScan programmatically. An example addon tool, View Histogram, and its source code is provided with the TerraScan installation.

18. What is the best method to match two point clouds of the same area? Examples:
Point Cloud 1 : Has a known Spatial Reference System (SRS)
Point Cloud 2 : Has an unknown Spatial Reference System

If you have trajectories for both point clouds then use TerraMatch to match using Objects, such as poles, or Cloud-to-Cloud Matching if you have planar surfaces such as ground (horizontal planes) and building walls (vertical planes).
If the datasets are not in the same Spatial Reference System (SRS), you may need to transform one to the other using TerraScan’s Derive Transformation tool first.
If one or more of the datasets are lacking the trajectories, or when it isn’t possible to identify specific point features to derive a transformation between a known SRS and an unknown SRS, then you may try using TerraScan’s Fit to Reference tool.
For datasets, such as backpack or handheld systems generated in relative coordinates, use TerraScan’s Fit Using Targets tool.

19. For mobile mapping, can TerraMatch find vertical control points (for example on walls or poles)? Can the signal marker be black on a white background?

As of TerraMatch v017.007 for the CONNECT Edition products, the ability to search for signal markers on vertical surfaces was added.
i) Set Placement as Vertical surface in signal marker definition.
ii) Compute normal vectors for the point cloud.
iii)Use Import points / From text file or Import points / From selected vectors to run the search.
By definition Signal markers are bright paintings on dark surfaces. For more information see Signal Markers in the TerraMatch User Guide.

20. How does one export directly from TerraScan to PLS xyz format as follows:1,2486178.52,1171756.22,1522.05,30,0.00,”,” ?

TerraScan v012.017, introduced a Code field to point classes, which can be alphanumeric. The code field can then be written out to user defined file formats.
You could probably also use the fixed field option when creating an output format that would allow you to accomplish what you desire. Just be sure you setup the fix fields to be large enough for the expected numbers in the fields.

21. Is it possible to drape features with a macro?

The best you could do is to read a subset of points that only cover the linework you are looking to drape.

22. I am trying to reproject a tiling scheme and LiDAR points that are in UTM NAD 83 Zone 11 (meters) to State Plane California V (us-survey feet). I was able to find the SPCS projections under “US State Planes” option but the only projection that I could find for UTM was WGS84. How can I create or where I can find the UTM NAD83 Zone 11 (meters) projection?

Reprojections in TerraScan are presumed to be based upon the WGS84 datum, however, TerraScan refers to the datum only in labeling unless you specify a datum shift.

23. What is the depth map option used for in the Extract Color from Images tool?

The depth map option is useful when extracting color from images where the images are oblique, either airborne or mobile.

24. Is it possible to merge/fuse aerial and mobile LIDAR data in TerraScan?

You can merge any point cloud data sets in TerraScan regardless of source type as long as they are in the same coordinate reference system, or can be transformed/reprojected upon import. Simply import the information from both sensors into a single TerraScan project. Note that you may wish to apply a buffer between the two datasets in order to allow for a more seamless transition due to the differences in accuracies.
If you want to later separate out the two different sources or be able to see what is from mobile, what is from airborne, be sure you have a unique identifier set on each data set, for example use different scanner numbers or a unique group of line numbers (e.g. airborne lines are 1-10, mobile are 100-105). Depending on the time of collection and the timestamp format (GPS Week Seconds or Adjusted Standard GPS) you can also use the timestamps to separate them if you need to. You can also use classes to identify them but that may not be that useful if you want to do a combined classification down the road.

25. I have performed classification in TerraScan, now I wish to automatically extract geometry of object (shape)?

For buildings, use Vectorize Buildings.
For poles and similar features, use Find Poles.
For polygonal objects, such as cars, try using Draw Polygons.
For linear objects, such as fences and pipes, try to use the Find Paint Lines tool as it is designed to find linear chains of a given width from points.

26. Using the Output Catenary Tool, would it be possible to output one text file with all catenary spans of a tower string included?

Not that we know. From the TerraScan User Guide, the “Output Catenary tool creates a report for the catenaries that belong to an active tower string element. It creates a list of all catenary strings, from which you can store a text file for one selected catenary string at a time.”
It is our understanding that the Output Catenary reporting tool works one wire at a time to assist the user in ensuring the wire is properly followed through all the spans, dead-ends, crossovers, etc. that may be encountered along the length of a tower string.

27. I have LIDAR data in LAS and trajectory data in SOL. I want to analyze the waveform of the LIDAR data using tool “View Waveform” tool in TerraScan, but there were no points in the “View Waveform” window, and I couldn’t ‘Link the waveform file’ in the “Trajectories” tool.

You must first link the waveform data to the trajectories and then also have your point data linked to your trajectories via the line number. Please read the waveform post on this knowledge base for some tips and hints on linking your waveform and using the waveform data in TerraScan. The waveform workflow can be found in the TerraScan User Guide.

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