Category Archives: Feature Spotlight

Showing Conductor Wires in VentusAR Grid projects

Easily the most eye catching part of a grid development are the conductor wires that join the towers together. As the lines are long and linear, they draw the eye in and therefore appear more noticeable.

Power lines by the Allt Phocaichain. © Copyright Craig Wallace

Power lines by the Allt Phocaichain. © Copyright Craig Wallace

 

The ability to view conductor wires on new development visualisations is something our clients have asked about a few times as it helps them to communicate the effect of transmission lines better.

IMG_0172

A few weeks ago we added support for showing these conductors on wirelines and photomontages (including the SNH compliant PDFs) created through VentusAR. Conductors are shown as a thin grey line joining the connection points on the tower or wood pole model.

To Enable Conductors on Grid project

If you would like to enable conductors on your organisation setup, please contact us at hello@linknode.co.uk.

Once support for wireline is added, it will show on all photomontages or wirelines produced using VentusAR.

Conductor wires are available for all grid 3D models we have produced and made available in VentusAR (read more about them in our post from earlier this year).

The order the models should be joined is defined in the portal using the sort order column on the layout version page, changing the order using the up and down arrows. The conductor lines will be drawn to join each tower in order.

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 14.29.52

Results

We think the results look really good – the thin grey lines make the conductors look good in the landscape. This approach is what some of our customers are already doing on the visualisations they create.

20160905_015419_4_6e19c75f-3dbf-4e76-8438-295537ffe439_render

Photomontage with the conductor lines shown

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Wireline shown with conductor lines shown

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 14.13.47

53.5° wireline (produced to SNH specifications) – Full file: Bogbain_Dumrossie_B9177

 

 

Visualising Anaerobic Digestion Plants

As well as the usual renewables models we can help visualise – wind, solar etc.,  we have started looking at other types and shapes of models – including Anaerobic Digestion and storage plants.

The larger scale on-farm AD plants will of course have a impact on the landscape, and we can help design and visualise what they will look like to reduce visual impact. VentusAR can help aid visibility and assessment of AD plants, and we are working on adding colours and textures to create a more realistic visualisation.

The following images are an a example project and there are no planned projects in this area.

IMG_0058

Anaerobic Digestion plant in Fly Through mode

Continue reading

I’ve Run Out of Space: Storage Management in VentusAR App

We’ve heard this one a few times in the last couple of months:

“Help, I’ve run out space and I can’t take any more photos with VentusAR.

One of the new features we released recently help you manage the space the gallery takes up on the device. Some of our customers were reporting that their devices were starting to fill up. Not everyone uses the iPad pro with its 128GB storage space. Some users are on the iPad Air 2 with 16GB or the Samsung tab pro with 32GB. Continue reading

The answer is blowing in the wind

How many times have you gone out to a site visit  – where more than likely – it’s pretty windy!

You have your ring-binder full of wirelines, constraint maps etc. – you’re breaking your back trying to carry it, and your papers are flying about all over the place! Sound familiar? Well, we can help!

With VentusAR, you can download all the PDF’s you need from the portal, and have everything in one place, on your tablet.

It’s pretty simple to do and can save you a a lot of hassle.

How to:

  • From the Portal (portal.ventusar.com)
  • Choose your Project
  • Scroll down to Reference PDF Files
  • Choose the relevant pdf you need and Begin Upload

image 1

 

  • Open VentusAR on your tablet
  • Open the relevant project
  • Click View More Info

Capture

  • The list of all PDFs will be shown

image 2

  • Choose the PDF you want to be able to access and a window will be shown giving you options of how to store the file. Here we Copy to iBooks

image 4And that’s it.

All your files in one handy, small, lightweight and windproof place.

If you would like to learn more about features within VentusAR, please get in touch at hello@ventusar.com or give us a call on 0141 559 6170

Viewing and Purchasing Cumulative Datasets

In our previous blog we introduced the VentusAR cumulative data service and described just how big the dataset is. Now I guess you’re now wondering how you get access to it?

It’s simple, and can save you time, effort and money in your everyday work.

As a VentusAR customer, you already have the tools to allow you to view a summary of the cumulative projects within the National Dataset. Full access to the details and a snapshot update are available at a small cost.

Now, non-VentusAR app customers can also access the data by signing up as a Cumulative Data User (portal-only, no app), please contact us for more information.


So, where to start? At the Portal login as usual, select the project you want to assess the cumulative impact on, and navigate to the ‘Cumulative’ tab.

Here you can:

  • View any ‘Organisational’ Cumulative Projects you have set up within the portal
  • View the Free Summary from the National Dataset
  • Request a Snapshot of the Project Area (remember, a Snapshot is a time-stamped update of the cumulative projects following our search and refresh process)
  • View your Snapshot Data

Free Summary

The free summary shows the number of cumulative projects found within the range set by the user (i.e. 30km), they are organised by project stage.

free_summary

You can change the search range by navigating to Edit Project page and entering the specific radius you require in the Cumulative Search Radius field. This enables different searches to be quickly and easily previewed for summary counts before ordering a Snapshot. The National Database is refreshed every two months.

Requesting a Snapshot

To ensure the data is up-to-date for a particular project, each Snapshot delivery is validated and refreshed individually for all the Cumulative Data within your project radius.

The charges for this service are worked out by the number of projects found within your search area. The Portal will show you how much you will be charged, and youcan review before committing. You must agree to our data usage and pricing terms.

To request the Snapshot, click the Request Snapshot button.

request

Once you have agreed to terms and ordered a Snapshot, instant access is provided to full details within the National Dataset for the project area.  This includes project name and location, turbine information (locations, sizes and models) and planning application number.

(Remember, the national dataset extract may be up to two-months out of date so should not be used for planning submissions).

An up-to-date Snapshot refresh will be provided within 5 – 7 working days of order.  This includes project name and location, turbine information (locations, sizes and models) and planning application number. The snapshot will be delivered directly to your project within the Portal, and will replace the extract from the National Dataset. The Snapshot provides up to date details of nearby projects, so may be used for planning submissions.

Additional metadata is included in the snapshot to show the source source and date retrieved to provide an auditable trail of cumulative data.

Viewing the Cumulative Data within the App

You can view the Free Summary in the app too, The details will be locked however, and will only show the project locations on the map summary.

pin_locked

After you have requested a Snapshot, the Cumulative Data will be available in the app, on the map summary, the Fly Through and on My View. Until the Snapshot is delivered, this will be the latest National Dataset details available.

myview

Exporting Cumulative Data

As well as being viewable in the app, the Snapshot Cumulative Dataset you purchase can also be downloaded for your own use as a .CSV (comma separated, plain text) file.

Upon purchasing the dataset, you agree to only use your data for provision of the VentusAR system and services, or in relation to your use for that project only and not for data resale.

If you have any questions regarding access to our Cumulative Data, please feel free to call us on 0141 559 6170 or email hello@ventusar.com

VentusAR Feature Spotlight: Terrain Masking

Another useful feature, that is often overlooked, is the ability to switch on and off terrain masking when in the wireline view. Terrain masking causes objects that are behind hills or other terrain features not to be shown (as they would not be visible!). This makes sense as, if you are at a viewpoint, you would not naturally be able to see the obscured turbines.

However, you may find yourself in the situation where you know that there are turbines behind a ridge-line, but you’re not sure where exactly they are. How much bigger could I make the turbines before they would skyline above this ridge – i.e protrude above the horizon.

Wirelines showing the ridge line

Wirelines showing the ridge line

If you disable masking from the calibration panel, non-visible terrain can be seen through the terrain features. (The calibration panel is the left hand panel with the red background available in My View or Gallery).  There is a switch to enable or disable masking behind the terrain. When masking is turned off, the view shows all the terrain grid lines and features, including those that are hidden behind the other side of the hill. Typically, this creates a more confused view as a lot of the wirelines will merge together into one thick coloured line, however you should be able to get an idea of the location of objects.

Masking disabled, turbines visible behind ridgeline


Masking disabled, turbines visible behind ridge line

Real World Use

There are a few real-world uses for being able to enable and disable this terrain masking feature:

  • Seeing where turbines are when they would not be visible – we can’t see them from this viewpoint, but we know they are behind that bit of the hill
  • Assessing how much of a bigger turbine you could place without it becoming visible
  • Understanding which turbine you can see the tip of and how it fits into the rest of the scheme

Feature Spotlight: Custom Terrain Services

DTMAs part of a license for VentusAR, users have access to our national coverage terrain services. The Ordnance Survey provides the DTM data for terrain services in the UK under the Open Data license. Currently these include OS Terrain 50 and Panorama.

However, when assessing a wind project, you may want to use a more detailed DTM to provide a better surface model. VentusAR customers have always been able to utilise a pre-loaded custom terrain data.  With VentusAR v2.1 we have added self-service functionality to the portal to allow user to import and manage their own a custom terrain services. As part of this additions, we have revised the pricing model for hosting custom terrain services.

This post explains the process of importing a custom terrain service in the VentusAR portal and the new billing model.

Creating a Terrain Service

The custom terrain service importing works as follows:

  • Use the portal to create and import custom terrain data
  • The following information will need to be provided:
  • Table name – a unique name for this terrain service. We suggest using a combination of company name, project name and DTM name (e.g. LN_TestProject_Terrain5). Validation will warn you if the table name is not valid
  • Data file – We support ‘asc’ or ‘xyz’ files. These can be compressed into a zip archive to reduce transfer time to the portal
  • Grid size – the distance between each point in the DTM. (e.g. Terrain 50 has data points ever 50m, so has a grid size of 50).
  • MinX, MinY, MaxX, MaxY – the minimum X and Y values covered by this DTM
  • X Offset, Y Offset – any offset from 0 this DTM uses. If the data is 0 aligned leave as 0, if the data is specified at mid-tile positions add the offset (e.g. Terrain 50 uses 25m offsets)
  • Coordinate system – the coordinate system the DTM should be loaded in (default is OSGB)
  • Creating and importing the terrain service can take up to an hour depending on load through the VentusAR portal at the time

Notes:

  • The size of the custom DTM is measured in data points. Users can import a total of 1,000,000 datapoints arranged in a 1000×1000 point square. For a 50m DTM this allows you to import an area of 50km by 50km

Using a Terrain Service

To use a custom terrain service in a project:

  • Expand the Custom Terrain Services section on the Edit Project page
  • Select the custom terrain service to use

Please note that a custom terrain service can only be used on one project. Once it has been used, it will no longer be available to be added to any other project.

Billing

Billing for custom terrain data will be done on the first of the month for the previous month, i.e. billing in arrears. You will be charged a flat fee for each calendar month (or part of) that you have custom terrain data hosted in the VentusAR portal. A billing report can be found from the Terrain Services section of the portal. This shows the months that the terrain service has been active on the portal and the price.

Cancellation

Terrain services can be cancelled at any time (though they are billed by calendar month). They can be cancelled from the list of terrain services in the portal.

Feature Spotlight: Renders and PDFs

One of the new features we introduced in VentusAR 2.0 was the ability to produce a PDF file to download. The creation of a document makes it easier to share and save the visualisations created by VentusAR. As I have just been out to a viewpoint with VentusAR, I thought I would share the process to setup the project, create the visualisations in VentusAR, upload the results to the portal and create a PDF.

1. Project Setup

Within the portal, set up the project as required. In this example I am going to be assessing what adding a single turbine to Spottiswood Farm would look like.

portal - setup

Portal Setup for Spottiswoode Farm Project

On the device, run the bulk download process to ensure that all data is downloaded. Then head out to the viewpoint and take a few captures.

Gallery For Spottisewood Farm

Gallery For Spottisewood Farm

2. Publish the Captures

This will ensure we can publish all the metadata about the images. Steps:

  • Click Select in top right corner of the gallery grid screen
  • Select (click) the captures you want to publish
  • Click Publish (top right of gallery grid screen)

This will take a few seconds to complete. An ‘OK’ box will display once the images and data have been successfully published (uploaded). You will then be able to see it in the ‘Published’ images tab in the gallery.

The Published section of the gallery

The Published section of the gallery

3. Generate Renders

From the My Images tab, choose the image you want to view and generate as many renders as you require. Renders are full-screen images generated from the current view (camera view, turbine and wirelines) but not VentusAR controls. This is the difference between a VentusAR image render and a device hardware screen-grab.

Renders are generated using the Generate Render button in the options tab in the right panel.  have generated 2 renders: photo + turbine and wireline + turbine. All the renders will be stored in the renders tab in the gallery.

Pro Tip: The wireline + turbine render can be generated by: setting the overlay to wireline  and turning off the camera feed.

Renders in the Gallery

Renders in the Gallery

Pro Tip: make sure you use the red / white colour scheme in the settings tab as this will be printable.

4. Upload the Renders

PDF generation is done on the portal, so the renders you want to include in your PDF must be uploaded to the portal. This is done by:

  • Choose Select in the top right of the renders tab
  • Select (click) the renders to upload
  • Click Publish (in the top right of renders tab)

It will take a few seconds to upload the renders to the portal. Once they are all uploaded a message will popup saying “Publish Renders Process Complete”

5. View the project in the portal

The renders that have been uploaded to the portal will be shown in a FilmStrip view in the Renders section on the View Project page in the portal. To get to the film strip view:

  • From the main projects list, click View of the project you are interested in
View project link on project details page

View project link on project details page

  • Scroll down to see the FilmStrip view (from the top, the sections are: Layout versions, Viewpoints, Overlays, Reference Structures, Renders, Nearby Cumulative Projects)

6. Publish Images to PDF

Publish Images to PDF button on Project details page

Publish Images to PDF button on Project details page

  • Click on the Publish Images to PDF button to start the PDF production process.
  • On this page, you must choose two images to be included in the pdf (a Wireline and a Visualisation) and the source image with the metadata in it. Choices are made by selecting the highlighted radio buttons. One Visualisaiton image, one wireline image and one metadata image are required.
Choose which Images to use

Choose which Images to use

  • Choose Publish to PDF to produce the PDF. A two-page PDF file will be generated that can be saved or shared as required.
  • An example PDF file can be seen at Clyde_-_Spottieswood_Farm

Future Enhancements

This export to PDF process is an early look at the documentation and output capabilities that we are working on and thinking about. It is by no means final and we are working on simplifying and streamlining this with coming releases. If you have thoughts, suggestions or feedback on how this works, please get in touch as we would love to hear from you.

Feature Spotlight: Handling objects in the way – in a Photo Wireline

VentusAR, like many visualisations systems, uses a bare earth terrain model. This gives some advantages (compliance with SNH guidelines being a big one), but provides a few challenges too. One of the biggest challenges is that you can end up producing visualisations that don’t look right because there are trees between you and the turbine.

Dumglass project with trees in the foreground

Superimposed photo wirelines of Dumglass project. Click for full version.

In this example, the turbine is in the correct location in the respect to the landscape (i.e the turbine is on the hillside behind the trees).  This makes visualisation look invalid because the turbine should be behind the trees where as it is shown in front.

There are several approaches to how to deal with this kind of problem. You could try using a detailed Digital Surface Model (DSM) for the area. This would require someone to survey the tree top heights then load that into VentusAR as a Custom Terrain Service.

However within VentusAR there is a much simpler way. We call this feature using a trace.

Creating a Trace

The video below shows how a trace can be created for a capture stored in the gallery.  To add a trace:

  • Choose Start Trace from the right-hand panel
  • Draw around the area using your finger or stylus
  • Choose Use Trace from the right-hand panel

VentusAR Trace from Linknode Ltd on Vimeo. Note this video has no sound.

Pro Tip: Use a stylus – A finger has an approx pixel size of 60px, where as a stylus (such as the Adonit Jot Pro we supply in the Field Kit) has a size of approx 10px making it much more accurate.

Adonit Jot Pro in action

The Adonit Jot Pro Stylus in action

Feature Spotlight: Static Renders

Continuing in our posts about the new and important features of VentusAR, the next feature we would like to cover is static renders and their uses.

A render is a single shareable image of the visualisation you are seeing on screen.

Full sized view of the Dumglass Project

Full sized photo view of the Dumglass Project

A Better Screenshot tool

Pre VentusAR 1.8, we recommended that users took screenshots of the app running, to produce a shareable image file containing the visualisation. There were a few downsides to this: it included the panels (which ever was open and the status bar across the top) and it was not within VentusAR on the device. Now we recommend that you use the renders feature to produce a sharable image file.

Renders are part of the gallery tools. The Add Render button is in the top title bar. When the button is tapped, a single image file is created from the background image and 3D objects. This is what we call a render. The 3D objects (turbines, turbine outline, wirelines and traces) are included, while the panels (calibration, right, bottom, info etc. ) are not.

Creating a render from a Captured Gallery Image

  1. First open the gallery and find the view from the My Images (or published) section. Open the image up in the full screen viewer. This will show the usual gallery view of the background image with the animated turbines shown on top.

    Tap the Add Render button (top right) to create a render

    Tap the Add Render button (top right) to create a render

  2. Click the Add Render button to save the current view into a render. This will include: background image, turbines, wireline (if shown), traces (if used).
  3. Exit the full screen gallery view to go back to the gallery grid. Change to the Renders tab.

    Renders Tab on the gallery grid

    Renders Tab on the gallery grid

  4. Tap on the render that you are interested in to see the full screen view.

    Share button (top right) allows the picture to be shared on the iPad.

    Share button (top right) allows the render to be shared.

  5. Share the render using any method enabled on your iPad (AirDrop, Messaging, Email, Acrobat reader or other apps, save, copy or print).

If you are working on a android device, the process is very similar, but provides different sharing options at the end of the process.

Pro tip: When viewing a full screen render, tap on the image to hide the title bar.

Real World Use

One of the questions when are most asked is how can we get a visualisation out of VentusAR and share it with other interested parties. Well the Renders tools provide as part of VentusAR v1.8 is the first of a few tools we are building into VentusAR to make it easier to export and share visualisations.

Pro tip: Create a wireline view and photo view for quick comparison.

Full sized photo view of the Dumglass Project


Full sized Wireline View of Dumglass Project
Wireline & Photo view of Dumglass project