Tech Tips

Google Earth Grid

This Tech Tip explains how to create a Google Earth Grid and then import the grid into Civil Designer.


Note - New version of Google Earth and Errors

The latest version of Google Earth breaks the functionality of this tool - if you receive the error below when running the Google Earth Grid Tool you can follow these steps to fix this error (Otherwise proceed from the 'Introduction' heading).

Run the Command Prompt in Windows with Administrative Rights (as a normal user you might need your IT department to assist with this).

With the command prompt open, go to the default Google Earth installation folder

For earlier versions of Windows:

Once in the default install folder, type in googleearth.exe /regserver and press enter (see the above screenshot for steps). The error should no longer appear.


This function extracts a grid of elevations from the current view in Google Earth. You may specify a grid density (up to a maximum of 100 x 100) as well as the projection parameters. Note also that the elevation data is not of a very high quality.

Creating the Elevation Grid

CAD Mode > Tools Menu > External Utilities

On the Tool Selection dialog, select Google Earth Grid.

The Google Earth (GE) Elevation Grid dialog will open and Google Earth.

The first step is to specify a name for the DAT file (this is the point grid file which will be imported into Civil Designer). You then specify the grid size that must be generated (you can also preview the grid by clicking on the Show button).

The next settings, are the settings you will use when creating your project in Civil Designer, so make sure these match your project.

The second step is to click on the Google Earth window and zoom into the place where your site is and where you want the elevation grid generated.

Note Google Earth will not automatically zoom into the correct area. Once zoomed in, click on the GE Elevation Grid dialog, and click OK.

The following error might appear.

If this happens, click OK. Then in Google Earth, click on the View Menu > Reset > Tilt and Compass. Then go back to the GE Elevation Tool dialog, and click OK. The grid will now be created

The third step is to import the elevation grid into Civil Designer. This can be imported into an existing project or a new project. In this example, we will import the grid into a new project. Note the project settings have to match the grid generation settings. If your existing project has different setting to the grid settings, then the grid cannot be imported.

Importing the Elevation Grid

Survey Mode > File Menu > Project Settings

We create a new terrain file with the same settings we used when generating the grid.

Once the terrain file has been created, we import the Google Earth Grid

File Mode > Import > ASCII > Single File

The data will then be imported.

Select the dat file and click Open

Program should determine the correct file type, click Next to continue.

Click on each column header and select the correct name for the column. Click Finish to import the file.

The confirmation dialog will appear showing the ranges read from the ASCII file, this helps as a check to see if there is any odd data in the file. Click Yes to continue.

Select the surface for the new points.

The imported grid.

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