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Hello. New to the board. I've read a lot of the posts and really like the advise, help, etc. that you all have provided.

I'm hoping to get some advice, recommendations, help, etc. myself now.

I work for a medium sized excavation company here in Washington. We mainly dig holes for building garages and do a little commercial site development too. We have been running Paydirt-Siteworks (for way to long). Great program, but it's time (past time) to upgrade and get into the CAD-PDF world too.

I've been looking into new programs and think I see what I need (being the only estimator here), but still could use some recommendations as far as what brand/system.

I've looked at Roctek. Going to be looking at Agtek, Maxwell and Tally.

Any advice, recommendations???
 

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Hey DiggerEst,

I'm in the same boat but in Canada. I've been trying to find a cut/fill program on the cheaper side due to budget contraints but the cheap ones look terrible!!! Basically worse than windows 95.

I've demo'd Vertigraph ($1500) and Winex ($5000). Not really too happy with either.

So far the drawbacks to the winex were:
-Not very user friendly interface and if you make a mistake on certain things it can be very hard to go back and edit.
-Poor information about stratas/boring logs. You enter in the info for the bore logs but it was very hard to get it to spit out how much volume per strata for an excavation, etc
-the renderings looked horrible and difficult to fly through

Then today I just saw a program from Australia. It looks incredible its called Mudshark. I downloaded a demo and it seems in a class all its own. Its about $3000CND. The interface, graphics and features look outstanding. This version will do demo, cut/fill, new structures but not pipe/trenches but that is slotted for their next update in first quarter 2015.

Here is the website...check it out
http://brightboxsoftware.com/

As a disclaimer I receive no commission for the positive review and have no axes to grind by the negative ones. Roctek and Vertigraph seemed very nice and helpful on the phone but I don't like their product.
 

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How much was the Agtek and how much per year?

Also I use Revu Bluebeam as well which will let you do the takeoffs on PDF's but you can also program more advanced functions into it sort of like excel. And example being trenching. I set it up so I can trace a line on the page then simple enter the width of that line (as a trench) and the depth. Then it keeps a running total of the pipe lengths and also the excavated volumes.
 

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Just a follow up about Mudshark cut and fill software. I am not in any way connected to the company nor do I receive any benefit from this review.

We are a relatively small excavation/site works company. Our projects range from $500k-$1.2mil. I have been doing takeoffs in a few different ways but the last year or so I settled into using Bluebeam Revu for all of the basic takeoffs (areas for grading, volumes for detailed exc, trenching, demo, etc). Bluebeam is a great cheap program for that. I think it was under $200 but its incredibly flexible. It lets you create your own calculations sort of like excel's functions and its a great pdf reader.

The area that it didn't work well at all was for cut and fill. I tried to make it work but it was useless at it. Then I started using Vertigraph. This was very entry level and it didn't seem to be too accurate on certain jobs. Very non-user friendly.

I demo'd Roctek Winex Grade but found it was only marginally better and cost $5k.

I then demo'd Mudshark from Brghtbox in Australia.
http://brightboxsoftware.com/
Its about $3k with minimal annual fees for free upgrades. They released it in 2012 and are now on version 4. The next version comes out first quarter of 2015 and has some significant upgrades on it.

This program is incredible! Very user friendly with an interface much like windows or ms word. It took me an evening to get the feel for almost the whole program. The rendering it does in 3d is like a video game. You can walk through your jobsite from all different angles and immediately see if any elevations look off or whatever. The different reports it spits out can be exported to excel and have all relevant info neatly articulated. I would go for Insite if I had $10k and wanted the high annual commitment but this is a very robust program at an entry level price.

THE BENEFITS:
-Reasonable startup and annual fees
-Quick up and running time
-exports and breaks down reports in a good way
-fast and incredible 3d rendering
-excellent interface
-lets you overlay numerous drawings, easily rescale each one separately, move them around and rotate so they overlay properly, then hide different drawings or layers on a drawing from view
-free 14 day trial
-you can import much of the info from your pdf and just quickly assign an elevation value to it (much less tracing)


THE DRAWBACKS:
-currently it doesn't work too well for trenching (but is coming in the next realease in a few months and I am happy to use Revu for that)
-it only exports the proposed surface (in dwg format) to certain softwares
-it does not calculate center of mass (although you can get a feel of that from the 3d view)
-it does not create a staking report
-the support is from phone/email from Australia so there is a lag as they are 17 hours ahead of my timezone but very helpful and friendly
-it leaves you with too much money left in your pocket ;-)

As you can likely tell I am very happy with their product. I am also very happy to be done searching for the upgrade after a year plus of research. Hope that helps someone else out too. Some screenshots of a recent project below.











 
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