In this Tutorial, we are about to present to you the most efficient way to use Plex-Earth and Virto.CAD in order to install photovoltaic power plants.
Virto.CAD is a solar PV design Add-On application for AutoCAD/BricsCAD, that focuses on utility-scale ground-mount and commercial rooftop Solar PV systems.
Our intention with the Virto.CAD collaboration is to help solar park designers make their calculations and analysis with the right terrain model in a few clicks.
The steps in order to successfully combine both of the software are the following:
|TIP: Before starting any of the steps make sure the units of Virto.CAD correspond with Plex-Earth's units!
So, let's start with Plex-Earth!
Step 1. Georeference your Drawing
To begin with, in order to import terrain with Plex-Earth you will need to firstly georeference your drawing.
To accomplish that, you will need to use Plex-Earth's georeferencing features or if you have already georeferenced your drawing via AutoCAD's Geolocation, Plex-Earth will automatically recognize and adapt the applied georeference settings.
Click here for a step-by-step tutorial on how to georeference your project.
Step 2. Import a Plex-Earth Terrain
After georeferencing our drawing you can move on to the next step which is Importing Terrain.
This part is considered extremely essential, as you will need our Plex-Earth's Terrain in order to be able to place your Solar Panels on the correct coordinates and successfully export them to the real-life environment of Google Earth, afterward.
To do so, click on the Import Terrain button, located in the Terrain panel of Plex-Earth's ribbon tab.
Click on the following link to find the process on how to import terrain models.
Step 3. Insert an AutoCAD object for the dynamic terrain
After Importing the Terrain, you will then need to generate a drawing object from your terrain by converting it to a Tin Mesh, so that Virto.CAD will recognize Plex-Earth's Terrain.
To achieve that, first click on Show Terrain Manager, located in the Terrain panel of Plex-Earth's ribbon tab, and then click on Edit, in order to open the Terrain Editor of your Terrain.
On the Terrain Editor, click on the Insert button, and choose Tin Mesh.
You have now created a new layer on your AutoCAD's workspace.
Your terrain is now ready to be used by Virto.CAD!
Moving on to Virto.CAD!
Step 1. Set Layout Boundary
The first step when switching to Virto.CAD, will be to set your layout boundary. This way Virto.CAD will determine the exact boundary where the solar panels need to be settled as well as, exclude the non-wanted areas, if needed.
The aforementioned features can be found on the LayoutBoundary panel of Virto.CAD's ribbon tab.
So, in order to set a boundary, click on either Create New in order to create a new Polyline or directly convert your existing polylines, into a layout boundary, by clicking on Convert Polyline.
If you would like to exclude any areas, where you will not need solar panels located, click on the Exclusion zone of the LayoutBoundary panel, and select Exclusion zone or Convert to exclusion.
Additional information on how to Set the Layout Boundary can be found here.
Step 2. Set your solar rack settings
After finishing with setting your boundary, you can move forward to the next segments, which will get you one step closer to your goal, filling your area with racks and modules.
To succeed that, firsthand, you need to choose which solar rack you will use, by clicking on the Solar Rack Settings, of your GroundMount panel of Virto.CAD.
If you would like to create a rack similar to an existing one, just click on Add a clone of rack, on the Common section of the pop-up window of Solar rack settings.
In case you will need to specify a new rack, click on Add rack command, in the pop-up window.
Moreover, on the Rack section of Solar rack settings, you will be able to choose the Module of your choice, as well as change the settings of your rack, so that it can correspond to your needs.
More information on how to Set solar rack Settings can be found in this tutorial.
Step 3. Fill your area with racks and modules using Build Ground Layout
Finally, the time has come to bring our solar panels to life!
To achieve this final step, click on the Build Ground Layout command, of GroundMount panel of Virto.CAD.
Following a pop-up window will open again, and you will be prompted to select, your Racks, Boundaries, Positioning, as well as Build parameters.
Virto.CAD will automatically recognize the 3D Terrain Mesh you imported and created with Plex-Earth.
So, lastly, the only thing remaining is clicking on Build and your Virto.CAD panels will be perfectly located on top of your imported terrain.
Find more information regarding Build Ground Layout, by clicking here.
Furthermore, if you have any concerns/questions related to Virto.CAD, please contact their Technical Support Team.
Additional Step. Export your 3D solar panels on Google Earth
This extra final step is totally optional, but really important if you need an enhanced overall look at your project, by visualizing it in the real-life environment of Google Earth. The Export 3D KMZ command will help you elevate your presentation, as well as the outcome it will have on your audience.
Now, all solar park designers can have the privilege of installing their photovoltaic power plants in real-life terrain, in just a few clicks, and most importantly from the comfort of their offices, simply by using these two cutting-edge software programs, Plex-Earth and Virto.CAD.
We hope that you have found this tutorial on how to Import Terrain and set up your Solar Panels with Plex-Earth & Virto.CAD helpful. Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions you may still have.
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