July 2012 | Mining University

Opening Chronos in Microsoft Excel

Maptek Chronos scheduler uses Microsoft Excel as a platform to perform scheduling operations. This should make it easy to open the schedule on any computer that has Excel 2007 and above. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. The instructions below are one method to open a Chronos workbook on any computer with Microsoft Excel 2007 and above.

To open the .chronos_xls file in excel 2007 and above you may need to assign the default program with which this file type opens on your computer.

When you double click on a file type with which your computer is unfamiliar you get the ‘Windows can’t open this file:’ error.

Click the radio button ‘Select a program from a list of installed programs’ to specify Excel as your default program for .chronos_xls files.

This will bring up the ‘Open with’ panel. Alternately, you can right click on the file and select ‘Open with’ from the context menu that pops up. This will also bring you to the 'Open with' panel.

If Microsoft Excel is listed as one of your default programs select it and click ‘OK.’ If Excel is not an option you will have to browse to the location where Excel is installed on your computer. In either case be sure to check the box ‘Always use the selected program to open this kind of file’ so that you don’t have to repeat this procedure next time.

To browse to the location where Excel is installed click on the ‘Browse’ button. This will open the browse explorer panel in your ‘Program Files’ folder.

This seems like the right location until you realize that only 64-bit programs are installed into this folder and that Microsoft Excel is a 32-bit program. Navigate to the ‘Program Files (x86)’ folder (the place where 32-bit programs are installed) by clicking on your C: drive on the left of the panel and then double clicking ‘Program Files (x86).’ Now we are in the correct starting location.

From here we want to navigate to the ‘Microsoft Office’ folder and then to the ‘Office14’ folder. Next select ‘EXCEL.EXE’ and click the ‘Open’ button.

Microsoft Excel should now appear in your list of programs. Select it and click ‘OK’ not forgetting to click the checkbox ‘Always use the selected program to open this kind of file.’

Excel will now open but it will warn you that the file contents are different from the format specified by the file extension and ask you if you are sure you want to open it. Go ahead and click the ‘Yes’ button.

According to Microsoft support there are methods you can use to avoid all warning messages when opening a *.chronos_xls file in Excel (see this link: Microsoft Support). These methods include setting group policy or  making registry edits. This is more in depth than I care to go even if you could convince your IT guy to give you privileges to make it happen. Just click the 'Yes' button when opening *.chronos_xls files in Excel.

That’s it. Chronos workbooks will now open in Microsoft Excel every time. With the exception of the file type warning, the entire process will now be automated.

Give this a try and let me know how it works for you.

For more information on Maptek Vulcan training and tools see: Vulcan Training

Hycroft Field Trip

Did you ever wonder what 500 ounces of gold and silver looked like?

On Saturday, July 21st a group of staff from the Allied Nevada corporate office in Reno took a field trip to the Hycroft mine. I've been to the mine many times but what I found really interesting was the refinery. This picture shows me holding a dorĂ© (gold and silver) bar. The bar isn't very big but it does weigh 500 troy ounces, that's nearly 35 pounds.

True Type Fonts and 3D Text

In Vulcan Land there are three types of text: Screen, 2D and 3D. The 3D text will display on any section at any angle and will always look like what is sent to the plotter. For these reasons, I think 3D text should be the only font offered with Maptek Vulcan.

There is a text related function called 'True Type Font.' This tool will apply any font on your computer to  Vulcan text. Instead of being stuck with a screen font (small, medium, large, etc...) or a Vulcan font (Times+, Futura Light+, etc...) you can use any real font from your computer (Arial, Calibri, Times New Roman, etc...). This is great! Now I can follow corporate standards and use Arial font on drawings like I am supposed to.

There's only one problem. 3D Text doesn't support 'True Type Fonts.' This means that if I want text in section view, my only option is to use the crappy Vulcan fonts. 'True Type Fonts' only work with 2D text which only works in the X-Y plane.

I can't believe that there is another tool that is ALMOST helpful in Maptek Vulcan which doesn't quite get around to being useful.

On a positive note, this has been logged in the Maptek upgrade system. The reference number is QAM-1070. Next time you are looking for a better font in section view, call up your local Maptek office and ask about this bug.

Cross Section with Different Widths for Different Data - Block_Load Dynamic Model

It's important to take the time to find out what the client's pain points really are before giving a final answer to their support question. A co-worker recently had Maptek tell him 'No' in answer to his question about creating cross sections in Vulcan.

The original question was "Can Vulcan set different section widths for different objects." Based on just this statement, Maptek support gave the same stock answer that I would have given. They told him "No."

The 'Create Section View' tool in Vulcan works by displaying a 3 dimensional plane along with a certain width to either side of this plane. All CAD data displays this same way. Triangulations, points, lines, drillholes and composites are all cut to the same front and back distances. I can totally understand why support responded negatively to the inquiry, but there is more that could have been done.

A simple, follow up question allowed me to give a much more satisfactory answer.  "What do you want to display differently?" I asked.  It turns out that he wanted to display drillholes and triangulations on a wide section but display the block model only on the actual section plane specified by the 'Create Section View' tool.

The one exception to the Section View rule is the Block > Load Dynamic Model option.

When using the 'Display Slices' checkbox in the Block > Load Dynamic Model option the only thing that gets displayed is the actual block model plane in section view (nothing to either side of the plane). Be sure not to check the 'Display Individual Blocks' checkbox and remember that nothing will be displayed unless you are in section view.

By asking the right questions a Maptek Vulcan user was able to use the software exactly as he had intended. Hopefully this post can find other people who want to display a block model section along with a wider section of triangulations and CAD data even if they can't find someone to ask the right follow up question.

Installing Maptek Vulcan

was recently assigned a new computer at work. It’s a nice machine but I’m frustrated about moving all my settings and programs from the old computer to the new one. I will, inevitably, forget something important and be upset that I did not notice the omission until after the old machine has been reformatted.

As I was installing programs on the new machine, I realized that I haven’t posted anything about the installation procedures for Vulcan. This was on my original list of important posts. I don’t know how it has gone overlooked for so long.

There are installation instructions included with the Vulcan CD but if you can interpret those instructions you probably didn’t need them in the first place. For the rest of the Vulcan users please find this list of installation steps, complete with screen shots to help you along the way.

Open the disc drive and double click ‘autorun.exe.’ There is a file that is supposed to automatically start the installation process, but most corporate networks have enough security measures in place that this doesn’t usually work.

If you get the ‘Open File – Security Warning’ panel to pop up just select ‘Run.’ This is a Windows panel, warning you about the dangers of installing software of unknown origin.

Security Warning

The next panel is the ‘autorun’ panel from Maptek Vulcan with its fly-in option list. The list of options are as follows:

  • Install Vulcan 32-bit: this is the traditional version of Vulcan. Use this method if you have a 32-bit operating system or are scared to use the newest 64-bit version of Maptek Vulcan
  • Install Vulcan 64-bit: this version will give you access to more than 4 GB of RAM and represents the cutting edge of Vulcan development. I use this version because it allows me to load large triangulations and block model data at the same time.
  • Install HASP USB Driver: the drivers for your Vulcan dongle should install automatically when you plug it into your machine for the first time. If this doesn't happen you can install the drivers using this option. Dongle drivers can also be found on Maptek’s download site: http://www.maptek.com/support/downloads.html
  • Install Vulcan FlexLM Server: this is for installing a server license for Vulcan. Unless you are the IT guy you don’t want to do this (or be responsible for it).
  • Documents: includes release notes and installation documents. If you don’t like my notes on installation, try reading the ones included here, they’re only 28 pages long.
  • Browse disc: opens Windows explorer so you can browse the files included in the installation CD, something you could have done without this button.
  • Exit: cancels the installation process.

To continue installation, click on ‘install Vulcan 64-bit’ (if you don’t have a 64-bit operating system, remind your IT guy that it is the 21st century and you need a better operating system if he wants to keep his job in technology).

Now, you will get another popup from Microsoft. Click ‘Yes’ to continue installation of Maptek Vulcan mine modeling software.

User Account Control

The next panel asks you to select the language for installation. It’s a short list of languages (Maptek seems to think that the global mining industry only speaks English, Spanish or Portuguese) but at least it defaults to English. Select English (I can’t help you in Spanish) and click ‘OK.’

Installation Language

Maptek Vulcan requires two installations of Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributable to be installed prior to installing the rest of Vulcan. I think it only really requires one, either the 64 or 32-bit version, but I let it install both anyway. Why take chances? Click ‘Install.’

Microsoft Redistributable

A 'Preparing to Install...' panel pops up for a few seconds so you won’t think that Vulcan has forgotten about the installation process. Be patient and DO NOT click the ‘Cancel’ button.

Preparing to Install...

OK, back to the InstallShield Wizard. Unless you want to cancel the installation process now, after all the work you've done so far, click ‘Next.’

InstallShield Wizard

The next panel shares the End User License Agreement with you. Read it (or not), select the ‘I accept the terms of the license agreement (or else) and click ‘Next.’

End User License Agreement

In the 'Environment Variables' panel you are asked to set certain Environment Variables. Your computer uses Environment Variables (not EnvironMENTAL Variables) to tell it where to look for certain files. Temporary directories are often declared as Environment Variables. One of these variables is the Corporate Standards. This setting will allow you to use the same color schemes as everyone else in your company. It is a small increase in corporate consistency that comes at huge personal sacrifice. Do NOT use corporate standards unless there is actually someone holding a gun to your head.
The other two Environment Variables are the HOME and TEMP/TMP variables. These come with suggested locations for the folders. Go ahead and accept the default locations. Any necessary folders will be created automatically. Click ‘Next.’

Environment Variables

You will now be asked where you would like to install Vulcan. I have never had cause to install software anywhere other than the default location. Don’t change anything. Click ‘Next.’

Choose Destination Location

A 'Setup Status' panel will pop up while Vulcan is installing. This process may take a few minutes.

Setup Status

When Vulcan has finished installing you will get the ‘InstallShield Wizard Complete’ panel. Since you can’t do anything else, click ‘Finish.’

InstallShield Wizard Complete

Now that Vulcan is successfully installed on your computer you may want look at these posts about getting started becoming familiar with the Vulcan layout and begin digitizing.