Author Topic: Whats the best survey Software??  (Read 2169 times)

Offline Mr Mike

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Whats the best survey Software??
« on: August 18, 2010, 09:35:13 am »
Hi All,

I've just joined UKcaving, and was wondering who uses what in terms of cave survey software. I am a mine explorer and have done a fair bit of surveying. I also have many plans of the mines we explore (Nenthead), which I would like to convert into a 3D Mega Survey.....

Never having used survey software before (I've made 2D plans using Photoshop and ACAD) - yes its hard work, so there must be an easier way.

What do people use, and what is the best and easiest package to use - can one package cover all these?

Thanks.


Offline footleg

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Re: Whats the best survey Software??
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2010, 10:01:13 am »
Two main options you can take a look at (all free software):

1) Process the raw numbers of your survey data using Survex. This will create a 3D model and includes a viewer. Then use Tunnel to draw the 2D plan.

2) Process the raw data and draw the plan and elevations using Therion.

You will find a lot of expertise on these two alternatives in the UK caving community. Personally I am a fan of option 1. But each set of software does a great job. I think survex and tunnel are easier to learn and get started with. But Therion has more features overall.

Offline graham

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Re: Whats the best survey Software??
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2010, 10:03:00 am »
The answer to this really depends on how confident you are at computing. I've seen some brilliant results produced from both Survex+Tunnel and Therion, but both can be rather technical to use. Compass has also recently improved significantly, however the first two are, I believe, what most UK based surveyors are using these days and so there will be lots of people around to give advice and assistance. The Therion user group has proved very useful to us.
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Offline Mr Mike

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Re: Whats the best survey Software??
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2010, 11:12:40 am »
Thanks, I have downloaded Survex, but not used it yet, just had a breif look. Also looked at Walls - anyone used that.

From your answers, I take there is nothing that does it all?

Offline graham

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Re: Whats the best survey Software??
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2010, 12:27:35 pm »
From your answers, I take there is nothing that does it all?

What do you mean by all? Can't think of much that Therion doesn't do.
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Offline Mr Mike

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Re: Whats the best survey Software??
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2010, 12:56:36 pm »
By all, I mean everything in one program, the first solution, uses survex and then tunnel to get the different views, and I misread the second. So it looks like Therion is the one then.

Offline footleg

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Re: Whats the best survey Software??
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2010, 01:29:27 pm »
I think the 'all in one' distinction is a bit arbitary here. If you put the Tunnel and Survex programs into the same zip file you could say that does it all too!

Survex is the best program for managing cave centreline data in my opinion. That is all it does and consequently it does it very well. Error distribution in loops, interactive viewing and measuring of distances in the 3D model.

Tunnel reads Survex files as the input for drawing a detailed sketch. In fact it uses Survex under the hood to plot the centreline (you need to install survex of course). In my opinion this is the easiest program to learn for drawing surveys.

Therion does 'do it all', but you need to learn some text language to edit and produce the finished result. With Tunnel it is much more visual. You can view and edit your entire survey sketch on screen. My understanding (limited I admit) of Therion is that you only work on bits of the survey at once, and then have to render the output to see the complete results.

As I said before, either will do a damn good job. Take a look at both and see which one you get on with best.

Offline graham

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Re: Whats the best survey Software??
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2010, 02:49:33 pm »
Footleg is right that Tunnel and Survex can be treated as one tool, in that managing centreline data is the basic survey task from which all else flows. Having said that, I believe that Therion uses the same approach as Survex to this task, can input Survex data and can export 3d files that can be viewed with the Survex viewer, much of the two is interchangeable in that regard.

The working processes are also different & I believe that Tunnel has been made much easier to use in recent years, though I have no direct knowledge of that myself.

What I do not know is what outputs you get from Tunnel, From Therion you can generate pdf plan drawings, 3d centreline plots (as per Survex) 3d volume plots, for viewing in the Therion viewer, and to which surface detail can be added (as it can to Survex 3d plots, though not with as many features) and kml files for using with Google Earth.

For comparable outputs in Survex 3d and Therion 3d take a look at the two files for the Cheddar catchment to be found on this page:

http://www.ubss.org.uk/cave_survey_archive.php

You will need to have the programs installed to open them, but that is worth doing anyway.

Therion  from http://therion.speleo.sk/downloads/therion-full-5.3.exe

Survex from http://survex.com/software/1.1.14/survex-win32-1.1.14.exe

Have a play.

 
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Offline Mr Mike

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Re: Whats the best survey Software??
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2010, 02:59:27 pm »
Thanks, will have a look and play

Offline footleg

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Re: Whats the best survey Software??
« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2010, 09:50:11 am »
Further to Graham's comments, I should add that the Therion viewer does produce superb 3D models which allow surface overlays with transparent photos to be rendered over them. The latest builds of Therion allow you to load a landscape model created in Therion, and then import a cave model generated using Survex to view with that landscape. This is one aspect of Therion which I do use.

So to conclude, I would say use the best tool for the job, which is all of them! ;)

Offline wookey

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Re: Whats the best survey Software??
« Reply #10 on: September 29, 2010, 02:25:23 pm »
And just to muddy the waters on the 'all in one' issue:  you can put data directly into Tunnel without using Survex if you like so that's 'all in one' too. Or, perhaps a little more clearly both Tunnel and Therion can use their own centreline data or Survex centreline data, as you see fit. With Therion it's rather easier if you use the native format than if you import from Survex. With Tunnel the format is identical so the distinction is fairly arbitrary. Most people use Survex+Tunnel together rather than Tunnel alone.

And yes there are loads of other choices (Walls, Compass, Winkarst, Karto, Toporobot, Visuel topo, and erm, that other eastern european one I always forget). They all have pros and cons, but as the replies so far evidence (andthus included in Debian and Ubuntu).