The Leica BLK360 was one of the most exciting announcements at Autodesk University 2016. With units now expected to ship soon, the question now becomes, “Why haven’t you reserved your BLK360 yet?”
There has been a ton of press around the BLK360’s launch and preorder, but many AEC professionals are still unsure of how the scanner fits into their existing line of scanning hardware—or their business. While it’s easy to get excited about this new scanner, it’s crucial to understand how the BLK360 can be used by companies of different sizes, in different industries, and with different levels of scanning experience.
That’s why you need to start getting your Leica BLK360 facts straight.
Watch our exclusive 30-minute BLK360 introduction video, presented by scanning expert Bruce White, to get the important facts about the BLK360. The video will provide an overview of the BLK360 and you’ll learn about uses cases for architects, engineers, designers, and more. Watch the video here.
This video was originally part of a webinar presentation, and Bruce hosted a short Q&A. Here are some of the questions your peers were most curious about and the answers to those burning questions.
Getting to Know the BLK360 in 30 Minutes: Answers to Live Webinar Questions
Are there any issues with working outside the recommended temperature range? If so, what?
This one is difficult to answer because we don’t have a lot of field experience with this unit yet. What I can tell you is normally Leica is very conservative in all their specs, like the P40s go beyond their specs. So, I don’t know on the BLK360 what it does beyond those operating temperatures. I know there’s certain things that people have done in the past, like if it’s cold outside, they’ll bring it into a truck to warm up for a while and then they can bring it out and get a couple of scans. But I don’t know on the BLK, so right now I have to say that you probably need to stick to the operating temperatures.
Could I measure a light gage purlin thickness? Or does “6mm @ 10m” mean the most precise thickness it can measure is 6mm?
So, I must admit that I’m not sure of exactly what the thickness of the purlin is, but if we’re talking about thicknesses on things and the accuracy, that is the accuracy on an individual point. A lot of times, what we’ll do is we’ll use some region growing features where we select a point and create a plane or cylinder with all the points that make sense to be a plane or a cylinder. At that point we use a Least Squares, Best Fit algorithm and then our accuracies are greatly improved on that.
What is the cost of Autodesk ReCap Pro after the first year?
An annual subscription for Autodesk ReCap Pro for a single user is $300.
Could the BLK360 be used by an MEP firm to capture existing conditions in the ceiling space?
Absolutely. It’s a really good application for that.
So you cannot place data from the BLK360 on existing site control, correct? You need a P40 to do that?
So there’s some subtleties in that answer. You can absolutely put it on control. So when I talk about control, one of the really important things is you never use a short foresight with a long backsight—meaning your control should always be outside the distance that you’re measuring. So in the case of the Leica higher-end scanners, I can collect a target 150-200 ft. away easily, so that puts the control generally outside of the majority of whatever I’m trying to measure. The BLK360 does not have the field collection ability to collect a target. I can absolutely put a target over a known survey control point to georeference. The point is because I can’t field collect it and can’t collect it 200 ft. away, I have to be close enough that I get enough data on the target (which is generally about 15 lines of data) to identify that as a target in the software. You can absolutely put it on georeference, but it would be hard to properly set up large control on a large site.
If we pay for BLK360 today, does ReCap Pro license time start today or once we receive the BLK360?
In general, most customers don’t want to pay for it early. Typically what would happen is you would put your hand up to put yourself in line to order, and then everything like payment and receipt would be processed at the time when the device is available. If you need access to ReCap Pro early, probably what I would do is help you out with a quarterly subscription until your BLK360 is ready.
Do you need a surveyor license to use it indoors or outdoors?
No. There’s no licence requirement from the standpoint of using it. Certainly, any project that you may do might require an engineering license or a surveyoring license. But no, not to run the BLK360 itself.
How often does the BLK need to be calibrated? What is the cost of the customer care package for that?
Some of that information is Leica still working it out. Over the last 10 years, Leica scanners are so tough that they continue to be in calibration much longer. Many projects require scanners to have a calibration certificate once per year. So, that’s probably going to be the recommendation for the BLK360. They just announced the cost the other day, and I believe extended warranties beyond the first year are $900.
Can the unit spit out a different file format than .rcp? If not, can AutoCAD spit out a different file format other than .rcp, such as .pts?
Yes. When you take it into ReCap, you can export it as a .PTS, .PTX, E57, all the standard export file formats.
What is the workflow for creating a Civil 3D surface from a point cloud?
So, there are many workflows and that’s where I think we stand out in our ability to help you define workflows for your company. The civil side of life is a little more challenging in scanning because, when you look at buildings typically walls are kind of straight and kind of 90. When we’re in the field, we really don’t have that going on—you’ve got terrain going up and down all over. So there’s a number of different ways to do that and it depends if you’re using the ReCap workflow or the Leica Cyclone and Cloudworx workflow. With ReCap, typically, you’re going to trace over your breaklines and then extract points off that point cloud. To try to completely clean up a survey point cloud is really, really difficult to make sure that every point is perfect. There’s a lot of simple things we can do to get rid of noise and things like that, but when it’s got to be perfect, that gets a little challenging. For instance, the most robust solution on that, I think, is using Leica Cyclone and Cloudworx. Cloudworx introduces things that are essentially AutoCAD extensions of snaps so you can look at site in Plan View and look at a highest point or lowest point and you can pick right through crowns of trees and things like that going through your sight. Then you can set a grid and say I want to extract elevations on a 10’ x 10’ grid, so by the time you trace the breaklines and use those points that is a pretty efficient way to do it. There are some other workflows that we can discuss on a one-on-one basis.
Are the BLK Units available to rent? At what rate?
For right now and for the foreseeable future, they are in extremely high demand, and everybody that will get them will have them very busy. Eventually I think they will be. We will probably make them available to rent like we do for the higher-end unit, but for now, everything that is being produced is very busy.
What is the minimum distance the BLK360 can scan?
It’s relatively short. It’s a fraction of a foot, about 6 inches.
How can you configure the BLK360 to take more or less shots?
You would set that up in the resolution. It has 3 modes: low, medium, and high.