Leica BLK360 - Have We Wasted Our Money With It?

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THSConcepts
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Leica BLK360 - Have We Wasted Our Money With It?

Post by THSConcepts » Fri Aug 10, 2018 9:52 pm

Just wanted to hear some thoughts from others on the Leica BLK360 unit.

We undertake measured building surveys on behalf of Architects, typically producing plans, elevations and sections etc. The BLK360 seemed like the perfect addition to a company such as ours. Easy to transport, quick setups, easy scanning etc.

We traditionally use a combination of total stations, tapes and lasers. Purchasing the BLK360 has been our first advancement into the exciting workld of 3D scanning. We thought it would really help us crack on and take things to the next level...

Having had the unit for 6 or so months now we are beginning to think the decision to purchase the unit wasn't the best.

Here's why:

1 - The tie up with Autodesk Recap and using the Ipad can be very un reliable and very frustrating. Often our scanning is interrupted with various error codes and issues with the connection from the IPAD to the unit.

2 - The RECAP software is clunky at best, the desktop version is improving but still very frustrating with the workflow to get everything to a point where it can be manipulated in our CAD program.

3 - The biggest issue we are finding is the accuracy and alignment. On big jobs we often survey the building with our Leica TS15 total station. Comparing angles and measurements with the BLK360 we often find some drastic mis alignments between the data sets.

On some jobs we find the data totally un usable as we simply can't trust the BLK showing us a true reflection of the area we are surveying.

We have had Leica demonstrate the Register 360 software which seemed pretty tidy. I like that you can use the unit on single button mode and then stitch together in the office.

I don't think this would improve accuracy on job as I'd imagine Recap has the ability to do the same type of thing live whilst on site.

We are at a point now where we aren't sure what direction to take with the unit.

Sell it and take the loss? Possibly purchase something else?
Bat on and potentially continue to waste more time and energy with it?

If anyone has any advice or recommendations it would be gladly appreciated!

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Re: Leica BLK360 - Have We Wasted Our Money With It?

Post by SCCS HDS » Sat Aug 11, 2018 4:31 pm

SCCS Will take this as a trade-in for a Leica RTC360 or any other Leica scanner if you'd like to upgrade?
SCCS Survey Equipment Limited l Sales, Hire & Support
T: 01480 404888 l M: 07540 201383 l E: phil.marsh@sccssurvey.co.uk
W: www.sccsurvey.co.uk/hds l T: @SCCSHDS
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Re: Leica BLK360 - Have We Wasted Our Money With It?

Post by steves01x » Sat Aug 11, 2018 6:25 pm

I like the BLK but as a gap filler as it can go places the P40 cant but thats it - i reckon if i was to invest in one single scanner / software it would have to be the new RTC360 with Cyclone. The speed you could scan through a building with almost all of it registered before tweaking in Cyclone appears outstanding - probably 3 to 6 scans on RTC against 1 set up with the BLK depending on resolution/images.

The BLK was so close to being even better - slightly longer range (20m ish), slightly better quality and if it scanned a lot quicker when you switched the images! And finally a cable to download the data. Maybe BLK360 v2 might be all that and more!

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Re: Leica BLK360 - Have We Wasted Our Money With It?

Post by gabrio » Sun Aug 12, 2018 2:41 am

first question: if you had to pay 48k euro to jump in the 3d scanning world, would you have done it? so, your BLK360 permit you to do a step that i hope you are now happy to have done it.

second: accuracies is in the workflow. you have learned the most important lesson. you always need a total station, a good traverse and a planned control grid.

now you can upgrade your tools, but your blk360 was your first “second hand car” that your parents gave you to learn driving minimizing the damages.

i don’t have a blk360 but i think it allows more people to start scanning by their own. and this is the “game changer” they talk about. not the piece of hardware itself but the market’s boost.

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Re: Leica BLK360 - Have We Wasted Our Money With It?

Post by Joon » Sun Aug 12, 2018 4:23 am

We have a BLK360 set and are like to test a potential use case.

We have been testing various hardware on the market and been improving the functionalities of our FindSurface SDK in combination. Mainly 3-D cameras, e.g., Intel RealSense, Microsoft HoloLens, Google Tango, etc.
https://www.youtube.com/CurvSurf

Now, we will be testing the advantages of BLK360 compared with 3-D cameras: accuracy, distance, and view angle.

We will be developing a small iOS application running on iPad and demonstrating the instant measurement on site:
1. A single scan
2. Data onto iPad
3. Touch the screen
4. Information on screen.

In minutes on site, we can measure the size, radius, length, angle, position, distance, etc. of the objects of interest.

The iOS application will be not going onto the market in short term.

FindSurface SDK is available for software developer of Windows and Linux, at the moment.

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Re: Leica BLK360 - Have We Wasted Our Money With It?

Post by Felix_the_Cat » Sun Aug 12, 2018 4:17 pm

gabrio wrote:first question: if you had to pay 48k euro to jump in the 3d scanning world, would you have done it? so, your BLK360 permit you to do a step that i hope you are now happy to have done it.

second: accuracies is in the workflow. you have learned the most important lesson. you always need a total station, a good traverse and a planned control grid.

now you can upgrade your tools, but your blk360 was your first “second hand car”
You don't even have one- do you have experience, are you speaking from firsthand knowledge?

My problem with the BLK is that its unreliable. Inconsistent.

I think what the good gentleman learned was that he got taken advantage of by a large company making a senseless money grab because he trusted their marketing and now he has no money AND a very bad scanning experience as well. Nobody wins. Well, the salesman who sold him the thing wins a little I guess.

Now what, exactly, would a total station do for him in this situation? Make a bad piece of equipment scan better? And I think if someone offered you a used car that would drop all of your cargo on the highway or take you to the wrong place at random intervals you might question the value of what you spent your hard earned money on.

You will notice the distinct absence of anyone actually directly affiliated with Leica commenting on these threads as they pop up. THAT bit of silence should speak volumes to anyone who is listening carefully.

We have two of them (bought without my input) and I wish every day I could click the heels of my ruby slippers and squish them together, wave my magic wand and poof them into a Faro, but I can't. They are toys, junk, but that's not how they are being marketed. It is being sold hard as an entry level professional unit. It ain't that.

I look forward to Joon's research, and Brother, I hope you throw in a decent terrestrial scanner in there too for comparison and validation.

If I were you and the offer were better than 50% on the dollar I would take the salesdudes offer in a heartbeat and get something with proven value, even used. We have no mechanism for doing that, we just throw it in the disposition heap if it doesn't work so I am stuck trying to wring some value out of them. So far I am at a loss.



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Re: Leica BLK360 - Have We Wasted Our Money With It?

Post by Matt Young » Mon Aug 13, 2018 7:27 am

I waited a long time to see the little BLK scanner and what it could do. I was far from being impressed with it when I finally did get a go. And vowed never to use one again.

I had a demo of the RTC360 recently and fell in love with it. I honestly think it's the best thing that the terrestrial scanning market has to offer right now. And I don't work for Leica. (I have always been a Leica user though) I must admit that the Faro scanners with slightly noisier data (I know... flame me if you want) than the P40 or RTC are streets ahead of anything the BLK could ever do.

Regarding total stations and laser scanning. You can buy a scanner, and scan whatever you like. If you want to do it as a professional then you must have a way to control the data you acquire. I think a lot of non surveyors bought into the BLK. And they seem to have lost some confidence to put it lightly.

It's rather ironic that Leica put out a terrible scanner like the BLK. And then something as brilliant as the RTC. I'm worried the BLK's problems will make people overlook the RTC.

Just remember that the first people on the hype train are the first to feel it when it crashes.

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Re: Leica BLK360 - Have We Wasted Our Money With It?

Post by Jamesrye » Mon Aug 13, 2018 8:55 am

If you just use it for measured building surveys, you may as well buy a second hand Faro, especially if the images aren't so important to you. It'll be more than good enough for the job. You could even get a second hand C10 - 3 min scans with an istar - the only downside is that it's heavy.
It's rather ironic that Leica put out a terrible scanner like the BLK. And then something as brilliant as the RTC. I'm worried the BLK's problems will make people overlook the RTC.
Had a demo of this the other day and I'm processing the data now. It is pretty incredible, by the time I had booted up our old C10, the RTC360 had done 3 scans. I'm very interested to compare the data sets. It was also pretty amazing to walk around a corner and scan with no overlap and then see the data appear in the "right place" when auto-aligned with the vis.

My thoughts are that people need to understand that this scanner is not a replacement for the P40. I'm no concerned that people will overlook it, but that they will use it on projects where it cannot meet the accuracy requirements.

1. The tilt sensor in the RTC360 is IMU based with an accuracy of 3 minutes for any tilt. 3 minutes over 20 meters equates to 17mm. The P40 has a dual axis compensator and is setup using a calibrated tribrach.

2. Angular accuracy is 18" compared to 8" for the P40.

3. 3D measurement accuracy is lower - the RTC360 achieves approx 6mm at 50m, compared to 3mm at 50m with the P40.

4. No ability to fine scan targets - so targets must be located close to the instrument in order for the vertex to be accurately extracted. I know people rely on cloud to cloud these days, but I'm old school and like to have confidence in my results.

If we were to use the RTC360, we would use a total station to shoot in a lot targets so as to ensure the data is correctly levelled. Maybe also use a P40 in a limited number of setups to confirm the RTC360 data to be accurately registered.

To achieve the best accuracy, the P40 is the better scanner to use, but the fieldwork will be slower.

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Re: Leica BLK360 - Have We Wasted Our Money With It?

Post by jamesworrell » Mon Aug 13, 2018 9:05 am

Matt Young wrote:
Mon Aug 13, 2018 7:27 am
It's rather ironic that Leica put out a terrible scanner like the BLK. And then something as brilliant as the RTC. I'm worried the BLK's problems will make people overlook the RTC.
Once bitten here .. I've had a few big replies to this post and even name dropped Felix - but deleted them all .. but figured he'd show up ;-p

The RTC is a problem for me too - I need a compensator. We use the BLK in conjunction with the C10's quite successfully, so look at picking one up second hand - throw in black and white targets (check out TargetMill) - scan in with the C10 - fill in rooms etc with the BLK - min 3 targets. C10 is a great bit of kit - a real all rounder - almost the same price second hand as the BLK. The UEC will even sell it with 6 months warranty for a bit of comfort.

The RTC is a whole other thread - but I struggle immensely with how it fits into our traditional survey workflow sans compensator.

But as they say .. right tools for the job .. Just need to understand the capabilities of the tool. But when I see people doing structural steel surveys with the BLK on insta I just shudder.

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Re: Leica BLK360 - Have We Wasted Our Money With It?

Post by Matt Young » Mon Aug 13, 2018 11:02 am

As I say - it's hard to come back after the BLK...

I can understand the concern about the lack of compensator on the RTC. There is a version of it that has one called a P40. I would not dream of doing any scanning without a total station (even though I am quite capable of doing that :) ) The RTC workflow supports the use of one, but if you are used to traversing with a C10 then it's a big change.

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