Last week we launched VentusAR 4.0. One of the key features of VentusAR 4.0 is that it can now be used to produce solar array visualisations. In this blog, we’re going to to talk through the process of creating a Solar Project and visualising the results (screen shots are from an iPad, but we also support Android of course).
We set up an array of 100 solar frames on Glasgow Green (because it is near the office) using the VentusAR portal. We chose a rather nice day to go out to to the park and take some photos for the site work (there have been a few nice days this summer). The flow chart below shows the simple steps for this project.
1. Setup Project in the Portal
- From the VentusAR portal, create a project. Ours is called Glasgow Green. Choose the project type of Solar from the list of available project types and fill out the other details of your project.
- From the Layout tab, create a New Layout Version. Fill out the details as required.
- Import Solar panels either from CSV file (in the Import Solar Panel section) or individually by entering the coordinates and clicking Add Solar Panel. All existing users of VentusAR will have a new solar panel type called Standard Solar Panel 9m which is our standard solar model. It is possible to customise this model – please contact us or wait for a further blog post for details.
2. Bulk Download on the iPad
Projects in the app have an icon to distinguish what type they are. Solar projects have a solar sunshine icon next to them. Choose a project and click Begin to start the bulk download process running. This process will download all the data needed (terrain, mapping and 3D model data) to produce a visualisation. Once the bulk download process has completed, you’re ready to go. You no longer need to be connected to the internet to produce a visualisation.
3. Go on Site – Take some Captures
The device knows where it is and it knows which direction it is looking. Take it out and stand at places where you might be able to see your solar array and have a go.
In our case we went to Glasgow Green, mounted the iPad on a tripod using our field kit and had a look at My View. My View provides a live preview of the camera feed with the solar panels overlaid at the correct height and size.
Once you’re happy with the view, Take a Photo. This will store the image along with the metadata of where the device was and which direction it was looking. We recommend taking a few captures to allow you to choose between several options later.
4. Generate a Render
All images are stored in the gallery part of VentusAR. Launch one of the captures (tap on it) to re-create the view you were seeing on site. This shows the photograph plus the solar panels. Ensure that the calibration is correct using the left-hand calibration panel.
To generate a photomontage (camera + solar panel with no wireline), take the following steps:
- In the right-hand panel on the details tab, at the bottom tap on Wireline and change it to No Terrain
- Change to the Options Tab and ensure Camera Feed switch is on
- Then tap Generate Render to create the render
To generate a wireline (no camera, solar panel with wireline):
- In the right-hand panel on the details tab, at the bottom tap on No Terrain and change it to Wireline.
- Change to the Options Tab and ensure Camera Feed switch is off
- Then tap Generate Render to create the render
Renders produced on an iPad are large – file size approx 10Mb of pixel size 4096px by 3059px. These are large enough for printing on A3 pages and submitting as part of a planning application.
5. Sync back to the portal
Once everything is created in the project gallery, choose Options (in top right of the gallery window) then Sync All. This is a really easy way of copying all the captures and renders from the gallery to the portal. It can take a few minutes to complete and requires you to be connected to the internet.
6. Create PDFs for Sharing
Once the media has been uploaded to the portal, it is all stored under the media tab.
At the bottom of the page, under Other Actions there s a button to Publish Renders to PDF. This is used to wrap the individual renders into a single PDF with the viewpoint information on each page. This provides an easy file that can be shared with stakeholders or submitted as part of a planning application.
On the next page, select the renders you want to include in the PDF. In this case I have two renders on this project, so I’ve selected both of them to be included. The renders don’t have to be from the same viewpoint , if you want to produce one PDF of visuals for the entire site, that is possible from this PDF Publisher too. Once you are happy with your selection of render, choose Publish to PDF (top / bottom of the page).
Once the PDF has been created, it will be store in the Published PDF tab on the portal. Here you can download, rename, view and delete the file as required. An example of the PDF produced is available below.
The addition of the tools to visualise solar projects in VentusAR 4.0 makes it really quick to assess and communicate what a solar farm will look like before it is built. Get in touch to hear how VentusAR help you communicate what your solar array would look like rapidly, effectively and economically.