Disto X4 and Smartplan

I have just upgraded my Laser measuring device to a Leica Disto X4. I have started learning how to use the Leica software which includes Smartplan, that allows you to capture room sizes, heights, openings, etc. All very impressive. Almost too impressive…

The Disto understands orientation and angles. So that means that walls that are not at perfect right angles to one another will be brought in off axis. Of course, this means great accuracy, but as we all know, accuracy isn’t everything. Ease of working often wins out. And it is much easier to work in CAD with planes that are parallel to one another.

I can check which lines are off axis in SU very easily but it is quite a bore to go round each one adjusting them slightly to bring them on axis. Has anyone a faster way than one by one manually?

Nope – manual all the time Simon…

Do you mean the Smart Room app Simon?

I tried to use my d510 with Smart Room and it was too much bother.

Hi Simon,

I think a solution to investigate is bringing the .dwg into SketchUp, selecting a style to easily show edges color by axis, determining which lines you want to align and quickly running Thom Thom’s Edge Tools on the selected lines to make the edges colinear.

YouTube link

Most likely some manual clean up to do, but it might be faster than trying to do it line by line.

Love to hear anyone else’s input. Always fun to see different solutions from creative problem solvers.

Good luck!

Sorry, yes, Smart Room. And yes, it might not work as well as the Leica videos make it look. Apart from anything else, whilst it is no doubt useful to survey room by room, you still need to know how each space relates to the next one. Plus, although it can accommodate door and window openings, I am not sure it is much good with steps in floors or downstands to ceilings. Maybe there is other software that can capture data from the Disto more effectively and comprehensively?

I have just tried using Edge Tools as you suggest. I may be doing it wrong though. I will upload my file. I use Colour By Axis to see which lines are on and off axis. You can then see the black ones that are off axis. But pairs of lines are co-linear already, which is different from being axial.

The Smart Room DWG output comes in as a wire line drawing without faces. But drawing over any line will close the face, proving that opposite lines are co-linear.

Maybe @PaulMcAlenan is right?

Room.skp (197.1 KB)

Hmm. Let me dink around a bit with some potential solutions, but I think Paul may be correct by just doing it manually.

My most recent project was originally three low ceiling cottages now a single dwelling with a number of ad-hoc rear extensions over the decades.

Apart from a circa 1970s kitchen extension every thing else was not orthogonal.

I had considered getting someone in to undertake a laser survey but aside from the jaw dropping cost I decided that I’d do my usual manual measured survey with the trusty d510.

That and the resulting DWG from a laser survey would require so much clean up and dimension rounding to be useable.

In my opinion nothing beats a manual survey and photos in understanding and imprinting to memory the complexity of older buildings.

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I keep coming to the same conclusion as well, despite wishing that some technology is going to magically do the work for me. No matter how data is collected, be it measurements, photos or point clouds, it still requires a human to think about, comprehend and turn it into something that’s reasonably usable. There seems to be no getting around that pinch point.

I agree with your last paragraph wholeheartedly. If you have the luxury of a two person survey with one doing the measuring and the other doing the recording, you have the ideal set up. The irritation when doing it solo is juggling the tape/Disto and the notepad and pencil. Anything that helps solve that conundrum has to be worth investigating!

Pockets :wink:

I hear you Simon.

I’ve been thinking about a clipboard between A4 and A3 and using velcro to keep pens in place – maybe the tape as well.

I’ve also been thinking of some form of table arrangement on a tripod for outside.

I use my Patagonia Sleath Sling to keep things with me.

You all really nailed it. To make complex information understandable, we need to break it down into manageable chunks. Turning a 3D building into useful instructions for yourself, clients, contractors, and reviewers means knowing what to show and where to show it.

I’m still figuring this out myself, but I’ve found that using pictures, hand-sketched plans, and laser measurements is the fastest and most reliable method so far. Canvas has been somewhat helpful, but there’s still a long way to go. When I’m in the field alone, I also record short videos (no more than a minute each) while taking measurements. These videos automatically upload to Google Photos, so I can review them back at my workstation and build as I go. Although, I do get tired of hearing my own voice after a while! :smile:

Does anyone else have tips for surveying and documenting existing conditions that work well for them? Sorry for hijacking the thread, Simon! Let me know if you want me to delete this part to keep the focus on your original question.


I used to use a GoPro mounted on a tripod. I would survey a wall (solo, sometimes with a helper) and read out the dimensions. Make a few quick sketches of the room footprint for orientation and then point the camera at another wall.

When I was back in the office I’d have the video on second monitor and would model as it ran, pausing and repeating as needed.

If I was doing it today I’d get an Insta360 camera and put it in the center of the room and use a similar approach.

I guess one possibility is to use an iPad with SU loaded and draw as you measure. You can get shoulder harnesses for tablets that leave your hands free to use a tape/Disto. All you need then is for SU for iPad to link up to the Disto and you’re away (a bit like you can with MagicPlan).

Now someone will tell me this is already possible no doubt!

As much as like the idea of modelling as you go about a survey – I did attempt it once a long time ago with a laptop – there’s detail that you need to record that could really bog down the modelling.

At best is it just going to be basic – how far do you go grouping, are you going to model building components such as rafters? And then you’d still need to record some data on paper?

You could end up spending as much time messing about modelling that would have been spent sketching and jotting down measurements – especially with a tablet!

For me, what’s really enjoyable is when I back in the office in front of my monitors – photos and SketchUp open and notepad on the desk and I start modelling in comfort.

Here’s Mike Brightman checking out iPad with Canvas to SketchUp and Layout – he also showcases his Condoc system.

Looks so simple!

Well, y’all can come to 3D Basecamp, and come to my talk on Match Photo. It’s too much to pack a 50 minute talk into a forum post. (Ok, shameless 3D Basecamp promo over)

For decades, my standard was to measure and draw 2D in PowerCADD on site with a laptop and polish up later. Match Photo grew and grew to do more in the polishing process over time.

That’s what I tried experimenting with in this post - first time using SU instead of PC, and an iPad instead of a laptop. In the end what I measured and drew on site in SU iPad looked like this:

Not a lot of info, but all the overall dimensions are dead accurate (thought idealized) from Leica Disto measurements.

Back in desktop with Match Photo to fill in the details, and the end product looked like this:

One of the talking points I make is: “Interpolate, Don’t Extrapolate”

  • Don’t figure out the total length of a wall based on the dimensions of one brick within it. (extapolating)
  • Do measure the whole wall length and then figure out the size and location of the brick within it. (interpolating between two established data points)

I had a few measurement notes on beam lines, and maybe a couple windows, but mostly window and door size and location was all pulled from photos instead of taking the time to measure each one.


The Canvas + SU iPad combo does look appealing, not least because you pay as you go.

My house is about 3,000 sq.ft. so it looks as if it would cost $420 to get DWG floor plans once the survey was done. That is of course $420 on top of my own costs, were I doing it for a client, but that represents about a morning’s work so it may be worth it. But as you say, “Looks so simple!” Is it though in practice?

I hope someone is recording your presentation and putting it online, would love to see it but unfortunately can’t make it to Base Camp.

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I start every project by doing a mm accurate 3D laser scan (I use a Faro Focus 3D which was horrendously expensive to purchase but in hindsight worth every penny) and I work purely in SketchUp & Layout directly from the resulting point cloud. I can confirm that it’s not a quick or easy process but with practice it definitely gets better and to start with you can always hire a scanner to see how you get on.

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