Point Cab




Tutorial units

  • Start: Import a point cloud

    In this way you import your point cloud project to PointCab. Attention: We start here with a registered terrestrial Laserscanning point cloud.

    In the following dialog box select your project:

    In this dialog box choose the appropriate project data : e.g. FARO Workspace, Trimble Workspace, Z+F, Riegl, etc.

    Tick the checkbox, if a registered point cloud is used. In case you work with PointCab Register, here you can get some instructions. After a short analysis of the point cloud, choose a storage location for your project:

    A default name “Project.pcp” is proposed:

    After clicking “Save” import of the point cloud will start:

    As soon as import terminates, a following succes message will pop-up:

    Three standard views (Top-View, Front-View, Left-View) are calculated immediately after import. As a result you get an Overview of your project straightaway. By pressing “P button” you can edit scan positions:

    You can continue to use standard views directly in your CAD solution. Just open the results folder by right-clicking the selected task in the Job List and then clicking “Show in Folder”:

    In Windows Explorer you will see the three standard views. Double-click to open them in your CAD Software :

    Here in freeware Autodesk DWG-True-View: You can now start using other PointCab tools.

  • Default settings of a project

    At the beggining of new imports all scan data are processed with a use of preset default settings. You can customise them for every project , before data import:

    Menu File -> Preferences gives an access to project settings :

    You wish to add your company logo to your results ? Under the tab General you can select your logo and personalise your results :

    You wish to have everything in colour ? Under the tab Layouts/Sections you can set the default views in colour.

    After customising your own results , you may wish to restore default settings to avoid erasing your co-worker’s settings :

  • Align a project

    The alignment function allows you to transform the point clouds into a new coordinate system.
    Activate the Align scan project function

    Now, the first point of the line has to be determined as origin of the new coordinate system. Set this new origin by clicking the left mouse button directly in Top-View.

    In PointCab, the x axis appears which shows the direction visually. By defining a further point, the direction is aligned. The alignment is created by a defined direction of the arrow and uses the initially defined point as a basis.

    Of course, you can enter the coordinates manually in the Job Editor.

    If you select Apply to user coordinate system (UCS) in Job Editor, the point clouds are only visually transformed into the user coordinate system. The original coordinates remain. If you close the PointCab project and reopen it, the transformation has disappeared.

    If you select Apply to project, a coordinate transformation is performed on the point cloud. The original coordinates are transformed in full into the new coordinate system. All three standard views have to be recalculated. After the calculation, your project is aligned to the previously defined line.

  • Create results: Job list

    What was our batch list in former times, is now replaced by the Job List – but with new content! In the Job List, each running process is created, no matter what result you want to create. Once you activate the respective PointCab tool and begin editing, the data is stored in the job. The main advantage for you is that a project-related history is created in the Job List. Thus, you can close your project anytime and edit it later on again.

    Of course, you can also adjust an already created job or just copy its settings for another job. For this purpose, you simply open the functions by selecting the context menu (right mouse click) of the listed job.

    You have the following options:
    Edit: If you want to change a previously created job, please use this command. The old job will be overwritten according to your changes.
    Duplicate: If you want to change a previously created job but not to overwrite it, you can use the Duplicate function. For this purpose, you enter 0.00 m for parallel translation and the quantity # 1. Using the Duplicate function, you can also create one or more parallel copies.
    Delete: The job is deleted from the Job List and no longer exists in your history. If you have deleted a job by mistake, the job is not deleted from the hard drive!
    Show in Folder: Displays the result in the directory where it has been saved.
    Start processing: Starts the processing of teh job.
    Open: Opens the result in PointCab.

  • Job Editor

    Every process started in PointCab is added as a job to Job List. Each job can be edited separately in our Job Editor:


    As soon as a layout is laid out, it is visible in overview and under coordinates parameter in Job Editor. In case the finished floor level height is known, it can be defined as a coordinate value under Parameters:

    You find X, Y and Z coordinates of the projection plane in the tab Layout Parameter.
    The intersection area defines the width of the selected area – All points, that are part of the yellow highlighted intersection area, are processed by PointCab.
    The angle defines the measured angle between the horizontal basis (e. g. X axis) and the created intersection line.
    Due to the parameter Direction, you can determine how you look at your object and how it is projected. You can determine, for instance, if you want to look from the bottom up in order to create a ceiling plan.
    Use the parameter Align in order to adjust your straight line to the X axis or Y axis.
    The function Stretch allows you to extend your straight line at a defined angle.


    In menu item Processing you can set up scan positions and resolution of layout :

    Image resolution:

    Each ortho photo created with PointCab consists of single image points that represent each scanned point in your point cloud. Change the image resolution to define the quality of the ortho photo. The higher the resolution, the more detailed is the picture of the point cloud. Ortho photos with a high resolution need more disk space and they often cannot be imported in the same resolution into other systems!
    Thus, it is important to find the perfect balance for the analysis. It is usually a better idea to get an overview of the project – at a lower resolution – and then to choose only areas in detail that have to be analyzed.


    Apart from X, Y and Z coordinates, a laser scanner determines the reflection properties of a real object. Different materials have different reflection values. By defining the reflectivity, you either get very distinct edges (0%) or you can localize and distinguish differnet materials better (100%).


    PointCab allows the use of color information that have been captured by the laser scanner. You can use all color information (100%) or no color information (0%).

    Scan radius:

    For processing, PointCab only uses points within the defined radius around the center of each scanner position (point cloud). This radius is defined in the parameter scan radius. The scan radius should be adjusted to the respective laser scanning project. When the scan radius is too small, “empty” areas are the consequence. Distortion and blurry areas can result from a too large scan radius.

    Scan positions:

    Single scanner positions can be activated or de-activated. If a scanner position is de-activated, the points scanned from that scanner position are not included for processing. PointCab only uses activated scanner positions of the point cloud for processing.


    How exact the interface is in respect to chosen CAD system (e.g. if black background is required) can be set up under menu item CAD:

    In the tab CAD in the Job Editor, you can adjust the CAD parameters that you have chosen in your CAD system. For instance, you can change the background color or change the export unit from meter into millimeter.

    The following image file formats are available in PointCab: PNG – JPG – BMP – TIFF.

    The projection defines which coordinates will be saved in the export file. Use the setting “Planar” if you work with 2D systems or 2D CAD software. In this setting, the ortho photo is just created in the XY plane. You find further information about this setting in our tutorial CAD projecton.


    The last menu item handles data output settings. For example, a different storage location can be selected or data can be renamed:

    In the tab File, you can adjust the file path and the name of your plan.
    The exports indicate the format in which your results will be saved. You can create DWG, DXF and DAE files with PointCab.

  • Result files and directories

    Example: Transfer of sections to another computer

    If you have created a layout in *.dwg format and want to use this *.dwg file on another computer, you have to copy the folder _Results/Orthophotos with subfolder and *.dwg file to the other system.

    If you want to use the results in the CAD system on the same computer, you just have to open the corresponding file _Results/Orthophotos/*.dwg.

    The folders in detail

    When you import your point cloud, PointCab creates a project file and two folders: Project_PointCloud and Project_Results:

    The project file *.pcp contains all jobs you have performed in the respective project. With a double click on this file, the project opens in PointCab.

    The folder Project_PointCloud contains the point clouds. Based on this data, PointCab performs every calculation, analysis or documentation. In this folder, you find a LSDX file, where the processing history of your project is saved, as well as a LSD file for each point cloud.

    The folder Project_Results contains the results created by PointCab. According to our tools, they are divided into 3D, Documentation and Orthophotos:

    In the folder 3D, you find the results of the following tools:

    ・ Mesh: 3D meshes of terrains, floors, facades etc.
    ・ HeightPoints: 3D surface points and profile lines extracted from the point cloud
    ・ Vectorizer: Digitalized layouts, edges of a building, window reveals etc.

    In the folder Documentation, you find the results of the following tools:

    ・ WebExport: Project documentations in HTML and PDF format
    ・ Merger: Documentation of special areas

    In the folder Orthophotos, you find the results of the following tools:

    ・ Layout and section: Sections through the point cloud. E.g. floor plans, position plans, etc.

  • Window overview

    This section includes a general overview of the programm layout, windows and their content. All windows can be arranged according to the users preferences. When working on multiple screens, windows can moved between screens.

    In the menu Views particular windows can be activated and desactivated. Important functions of this menu are accessed by right-click top window border.

    Main icons are located in upper area:

    The left menu contains our modul toolbar:

    On the right side up there is Job Editor:

    and below Job List:

  • View Settings

    Change the language

    In order to change the language settings, please select the menu File > Change language and restart PointCab.

    View Settings

    In this Tutorial we wish to show you few settings , which can make your work easier. In case of bigger projects the overview of details is already quite extensive , as shown below :

    You can now right-click top menu to activate main toolbar :

    Here you can switch easily between tabbed view and tiled view :

    Individual windows can be freely arranged or moved to a second Desktop:

    If you need more view space , the module toolbar can be switched off :

    You can still access all Tools by pressing an appropriate keyboard shortcut. If you want to create a new layout press the key 2 :

    We prepared even more Shortcuts for you. You can find more information about pre-installed shortcuts under menu Help:

    The layer’s visibility settings are activated by the following button :

    In this way further layouts and sections can be created :

  • Keyboard Shortcuts

    PointCab submit it’s user a large selection of keyboard shortcuts. An overview you can find under the menu Help:

    View P Hide scan positions
    F12 Create a screenshot of the current view
    F4 Change between the tabular view and window view of the results
    F11 Full-screen display of the activated window
    - / + Maximize or minimize the view (Zoom in /out)
    H Adjust the view size to the activated window (Zoom all)
    Edit Shift Marking snaps in at 0° / 45° / 90°
    Pfeiltasten Shifting in the window
    Strg Activate shifting with mouse
  • CAD projection: 3D, Planar, Origin

    What do these settings have in common and what exactly makes a planar setting?

    These questions will be answered in this tutorial. In the first draft, you see a floor plan that is not parallel to the axis of the XYZ axes. We want to define a section in this plan. With the 3D setting, this section is displayed in the correct position and thus imported into a 3D space in a CAD system:

    However, there are CAD applications that don’t work directly in a 3D space, but extrude the heights by using the correctly positioned XY structure in order to receive a 3D model. For these applications, it is important that the results are output axially parallel to the respective coordinate axes. This is accomplished by the Planar setting:

    With the setting Planar & Origin, the XY structure may be shifted to the zero point defined in CAD now.