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Creating a User Coordinate System (UCS)

To control the viewing of a site, our software requires that either the World Coordinate System (WCS) or a User Coordinate System (UCS) be active.

DO NOT use DVIEW. This AutoCAD command essentially creates a camera view, which prevents objects such as callouts from orienting correctly. These items only orient to the currently active WCS or UCS.

See ourUCS tools in action! Check out our Design F/X Overview webinar. The UCS demonstration starts at 17:28 in the video.

UCS Overview

AutoCAD essentially allows three methods to orient the view of a site:

  • WCS: Most surveys and civil engineering drawings are based upon this system. The origin point (0,0) is usually some survey point that the site layout is based upon, and north is generally straight up, along the Y axis.


  • A DVIEW twist, which turns the viewing of the site to fit the needs of the drawing, but with a camera view.


  • UCS: This system allows you to orient the view of the site to fit your needs for the drawing, while still allowing for some form of coordinate system.


For further information on these three viewing options – and on why UCS is your best choice – see our article on UCS, DVIEW, and WCS.

Defining a New UCS

Open our New UCS tool:


F/X Admin ribbon, New UCS button



F/X Site ribbon, New UCS button



F/X Planting ribbon, New UCS button



F/X Irrigation ribbon, New UCS button

F/X Admin pull-down menu




Admin Data toolbar




F/X Admin toolbar



or type FX_UCS in the Command line




The Command line will prompt you to: Specify new origin point <0,0,0>.


Click a point in your drawing to set the origin point. (The exact location where you click is not particularly critical.)

If you need your new viewing angle to match a curb or building angle, you may want to snap to the end of a line on one of these objects to establish the origin point. You can also right-click to leave the origin at 0,0 – the same as the WCS origin.


The cursor will change into a pickbox, and you'll be prompted to Specify X axis direction.


Use the pickbox to define the direction of the X axis – the horizontal viewing axis of the new view you're creating.


You can define the X axis in several possible ways:



Option 1: Define the X axis manually


This option is the most commonly used method of setting a UCS.


To define your UCS manually, just click two points to define the orientation of the X axis.




Option 2: Match your UCS to an existing object


To set your UCS based on the the angle of an object in your drawing, such as a polyline, click that object.


As you move the cursor up or down, you'll see a line extending 90 degrees from the object you selected. Click again to set your UCS to that angle.







Option 3: Type an angle for your UCS


You can also set your UCS to a specific angle by typing that angle in degrees (example: 45 for 45 degrees). Press Enter to set the UCS.



The X axis will be placed at that angle from the current X axis.




    If your Drawing DOES NOT Contain Work Areas

    You'll be prompted to enter a name for the UCS.


    Enter a name for the UCS, then click OK. The UCS will be created, and the viewing of the site will relate to this new UCS.




    If your Drawing DOES Contain Work Areas

    The Command line will prompt you to: Select Work Area, <none>.

    • If you want to apply this new UCS to a specific Work Area, click within it. The UCS will be automatically applied to the Work Area you selected.
    • If you want to apply the new UCS to the entire drawing, click anywhere in your drawing outside of a Work Area. Enter a name for the UCS in the UCS Name dialog box, then click OK. The UCS will be created, and the viewing of the site will relate to this new UCS.

    Restoring a UCS

    Many projects will have several UCS views established. To restore a previously selected one, use our Restore UCS tool.






    Open Restore UCS:




    F/X Admin ribbon, Restore UCS button



    F/X Site ribbon, Restore UCS button



    F/X Planting ribbon, Restore UCS button



    F/X Irrigation ribbon, Restore UCS button

    F/X Admin pull-down menu



    Admin Data toolbar



    F/X Admin toolbar



    or type FX_UCSRestore in the Command line




    If Your Drawing DOES NOT Contain Work Areas



    The UCS to Restore dialog box will open.


    Here, you'll see a list of all UCSs you have defined in your drawing, as well as a <World> entry for the WCS.


    UCSs not in a Work Area will appear at the top. UCSs in an attached Xref will be listed at the bottom with the Xref's name first.




    Importing a UCS from an Xref

    Choose one of the Xref UCSs from the list. It will import and apply. In the future, the UCS will be listed as one in this drawing rather than in the Xref.




    If your Drawing DOES Contain Work Areas

    You can now simply select a Work Area from an Xref that has a UCS applied within that Xref.




    Click the border of the Work Area to select it.




    The UCS will import into the current drawing and apply, still zooming in to that Work Area.




    Restoring the WCS

    You can also use our Restore UCS tool to restore the WCS in your drawing.




    Once you've opened Restore UCS, select the <World> option from the UCS to Restore dialog box. Then click OK. (You can also simply right-click at this point to enable the WCS.)



    The drawing will revert to the WCS.

    Restoring a UCS in a Viewport

    Newly created viewports will take on and retain the UCS that is currently set in Model Space. You can change the UCS in an existing viewport at any time. Here's how:


    1. Ensure the viewport is unlocked.


    2. Double-click inside the viewport to activate it. Do not double-click on the edge of the viewport.


    3. Restore the UCS. Select either the UCS itself or a Work Area assigned to the UCS you want to restore.


    The UCS will update, either zooming extents or zooming to the edge of a work area assigned to the chosen UCS.


    4. Use our Scale tool to correct the scale.


    5. Pan to the center of your drawing.


    6. Double-click outside the viewport to deactivate it, or type PS to go back to Paper Space.


    7. Lock the viewport.

    Deleting a Saved UCS

    Want to delete a UCS you've saved? Complete these steps:


    1. Write down the exact name of the UCS you want to delete.



    2. Type UCSMAN in the Command line and press Enter. The UCS Manager will open.



    3. Right-click the UCS you want to delete, and select Delete from the menu that opens.



    4. The UCS will disappear from the list and will be deleted. You can now click OK to close the UCS Manager.

    UCS and External References (Xrefs)

    Need to attach an external reference (Xref) to your drawing? Keep in mind that if you have a UCS active, any Xref you attach will use that UCS as the origin (0,0) for its insertion point and won't recognize the World Y axis. As a result, the Xref will come in skewed.


    Before attaching one or more Xrefs, follow our steps to restore the WCS. You can then restore your UCS once you've attached all necessary Xrefs.

    Removing a DVIEW Twist

    You might notice that your view of your drawing is rotated to a strange angle, and you may not be able to place objects. This angle is caused by what's known as a DVIEW twist – a result of the AutoCAD DVIEW command. Please see our instructions on removing a DVIEW twist.

    The Nuke Tool and DVIEW Twists

    Did you know that cleaning your drawing with our Nuke tool will remove a DVIEW twist automatically? It's just one of many reasons you should always practice proper drawing cleanup. For further information, please see our documentation pages on:

    UCS, WCS, and Northing/Easting Points (The USERR3 Command)

    Does your drawing include Northing/Easting Points (or do you plan to include them in your drawing)? If so, keep in mind that Northing Easting Points recognize WCS values. If you need them to recognize UCS values, you'll need to change the USERR3 system variable:


    Type USERR3 in the Command line. When prompted to set a value, you can:

    • Type 1 to use UCS values, or
    • Type 0 to use WCS values

    Note: The USERR3 command only toggles between your UCS and the WCS as they relate to specific items such as Northing/Easting Points. If you need your entire drawing to reference one or the other, please follow our instructions to restore a UCS or restore the WCS.

    UCS and Work Areas

    Our Work Area and UCS tools go hand in hand – especially on larger projects. If you create one or more Work Areas in your drawing, you'll have the option to apply any new UCS specifically to a certain Work Area. When you restore the UCS, you'll also zoom extents to that particular Work Area.




    Here's an example of a streetscape that has several Work Areas defined:





    We'll create a UCS in two of those Work Areas.




    Select New UCS, then click to select an origin point.




    In this example, we'll click the origin in the street of Work Area 1, then define the X axis parallel with the street.





    Because you have one or more Work Areas in the drawing, you won't be asked for the name of the new UCS. The cursor will simply turn into a pickbox, allowing you to select a Work Area. The UCS will then be applied to the Work Area you selected. (In our example, we'll select Work Area 1.)





    AutoCAD will now set this UCS as active and zoom extents to just this Work Area.




    Now establish a New UCS in the next Work Area using the same process.





    To restore the UCS from the first Work Area, select Restore UCS. The cursor will turn into a pickbox, and the Command Line will prompt you to: Select Work Area, <WCS>.



    Use the pickbox to select the first Work Area, or right-click to establish the WCS.



    When you select the first Work Area, you'll zoom extents to it, and its UCS will be set as current and active.





    Now when you add objects or linework to one Work Area, the orientation of the objects will automatically reflect the UCS that's set for that Work Area.


    If you label plants in a specific Work Area, the orientation of the callouts will automatically reflect the UCS in that Work Area. The same is true for irrigation pipe size callouts. For example, you might have a long length of pipe in your drawing that extends from one Work Area to another. Within each Work Area, the pipe sizes will orient to the angle of the UCS of that Work Area, even though the pipe is all part of the same system.

    UCS and Irrigation Equipment

    You may find yourself in a situation where you've already laid out your irrigation system – including placing heads, valves, and/or auxiliary equipment – and you now want to rotate that equipment to a new orientation by setting a new UCS.


    Unfortunately, there is no way to rotate placed irrigation head symbols without adversely affecting the spray arc. In this case, you'll need to either:

    • Place the symbols again after setting your preferred UCS, or
    • Accept the rotated symbol look for this project

    UCS and SketchUp

    Do you plan on exporting your design from CAD to SketchUp for 3D rendering? Our SketchUp Connection tool will support a UCS you create in CAD. You can use our UCS tool to create a realistic origin, snapping to a point that correlates with the desired (or actual) SketchUp origin. This in turn will prevent SketchUp from becoming unresponsive or crashing when you attempt to import.

    Related Webinars

    • Common Land F/X Questions: This webinar covers some of our lesser-known tools, including Work Areas, User Coordinate System (UCS), and REDEFINEBLOCK and other hidden commands. (1 hr)


    Issue: Error: The current UCS has a Z elevation value – unable to place objects

    If you receive this message, you'll simply need to create a new UCS without a Z elevation. Follow the steps above for Defining a New UCS.


    Issue: Your UCS zooms to extents each time you open or unlock it


    Issue: Your drawing is rotated to a strange angle – otherwise known as a DVIEW twist


    Issue: You placed a leader with text in a drawing where you've created a UCS, and the text is not lining up correctly with the leader


Issue: Objects are appearing backward in your drawing


Issue: You placed a callout or plant label inside a Work Area with a UCS assigned to it, and the callout aligned to that UCS rather than to the WCS

Last modified on Monday, 25 January 2021 13:19

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