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Design software (non-US)  RSS feed

 
Robin Hones
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Need advice on software I can use in a non-US context. I say non-US because that means no USGS topo, and Google Earth is too fuzzy where I am working. I say software because I have pencil and paper and know how to use them, but I need something I can manipulate in 3D, and with different layers of data. In other words, a different question than the one answered here http://www.permies.com/t/12405/permaculture/Site-design-free-software

I have access to topographic and survey data. Certainly hard copy is available, electronic maybe. I have a reasonably accurate GPS which I can use to map specific points (eg springs, significant trees, or whatever.)

My ideal would be to take the topo/survey and the GPS data and firstly map "as is". Then change the landscape (topo) to reflect access roads, swales, dams, etc. Add buildings, plants, water features, etc. Each class of items (buildings, canopy trees, etc) would ideally be able to have their own "tag" so that lists could be generated, and maybe even so that they could be turned on or off for viewing.

I THINK this might be achieved using Sketchup (but I am not clear if I would need Pro), however, before I invest the time in becoming proficient in any software application (only to find it doesn't meet my needs) I'd like to ask for help from anyone out there with experience of these, or other tools that would achieve the same thing.

Thanks for any suggestions or pointers
 
Rose Pinder
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Location: Otago, New Zealand
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It'd also be worth asking at the PRI Australia forum and the UK permaculture forum.
 
Taylor Maxson
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Location: Asheville, NC
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I use Sketchup a lot for my permaculture design work. You can take maps from Google Earth, generate a contour map from them in Sketchup, fill in the contours with landforms, and then lay out your own structures and objects on top of them. It is relatively easy to learn, especially with youtube videos abounding. I used the survey for our 2 acre property to lay out the boundary lines in Sketchup for our base map. I think it's a great tool.
 
Robin Hones
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@Taylor
Thanks for the input. One of the differences between SU and SU Pro (other than the cost lol) is the availability of dynamic components. I think they may be useful - do you use Pro or the regular version?
Using Google Earth is not practical for me right now as noted above because the granularity of the photo is not to normal US standards.
 
Taylor Maxson
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Location: Asheville, NC
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Howdy Robin,

I hear you about the photo resolution issue, but my point is that with Sketchup (I only have the free version) you can generate your own 3D map from a Google Earth photo, and the resolution of the photo doesn't matter (unless you want the images it contains). In other words, a Google Earth photo contains the contour information you need to generate your own base map. You "grab" this information and make your own contour map. It takes time to construct the elements that you want on that map, but what you end up with is a fully 3-dimensional map of your property.
 
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