3D Route Builder User Guide


3D Route Builder User Guide - For Version 1.3.3

Installation - Windows XP / Vista / 2000

Download latest version from the download page. Once the download is complete, double click the installer to begin installation. If the default settings were used then to start 3D Route Builder, go to the Start menu, then Hybrid GeoTools, then to the 3D Route Builder folder or double click the icon on the desktop. 

IMPORTANT: If you are running a pre-Vista Windows operating system then the Microsoft .NET 2.0 Framework must be installed before running the application. If it is not installed then you will see an error message on starting 3D Route Builder. .NET is a Microsoft component and is a free download. Note that Microsoft do not guarantee compatibility of .NET 2.0 with Windows XP SP1.

Google Earth is recommended to take full advantage of 3D Route Builder.


Upgrading to Plus Version

The Plus Version offers the same features as the Free Version plus:

  • Editing and saving of existing files without modifying non-path related features such as waypoints and placemarks etc.
  • Viewing of altitude profile against time.
  • Hiding of advertising during drive / playback
  • Off-line driving / playback
  • Supports further 3D Route Builder development
  • Download directly from Garmin USB device*
  • Upload waypoints as a navigation route to Garmin USB device*

To upgrade go to the Help menu and then click Upgrade (V1.2 and later else ‘Purchase’ in earlier versions). Price is currently EUR 15.

To import your license file that you got with your purchase go to Help -> Upgrade... and follow the instructions. You’ll then need to restart 3D Route Builder. Do not put the license file in the application directory. 

* See GPSBabel website for supported devices.

The License permits you to install the software on multiple machines that are used by ONE person. If you wish to install on a second machine but have lost your license then you can find it on the first machine you installed it at: <DRIVE LETTER>:\Documents and Settings\<ACCOUNT>\Application Data\Hybrid GeoTools\Active GPX Route Player where DRIVE LETTER is typically C and the ACCOUNT is what you logged on to Windows with. If the software is to be used by more than one person then additional licenses must be purchased.



All items in the main Route menu can also be accessed by right clicking on the grid. You’ll see a pop-up menu.




File: New; Open; Save; Export; Print, Help 

Geo Tool / GUI: Show profile on/off; Embed Google Earth; Stop Showing Path and Vehicle in Geo Tool; Show Path and Vehicle in Geo Tool; Toggle Mars mode; Show crosshair on/off; Highlight closed point to current Geo Tool location; Fly to selected point; Clamp to ground on/off; Profile Zoom Out and In

Playback / Driving: Helicopter Tracking on/off; Absolute Tracking on/off; Playback in Google Earth (Must first click ‘Show Path and Vehicle in Geo Tool’ button - see above).

Editing: Edit mode on/off; Location shift interval (metres); Shift location left, forward, backward, right; Replace with Point in Geo Tool; Altitude shift interval (metres); Shift altitude up, down; Shift altitude up, down with drift (time based); Shift altitude up, down with drift (distance based); Update altitude from Geo Tool.

Getting Started - Importing Data from Google Earth, GPS, some Garmin GPS devices or Garmin Training Center

There are a number methods of getting existing data sets into 3D Route Builder. Google Earth KML/KMZ, GPX and Garmin TCX are supported.  If more than one path is found in a file then the Select Course dialog will appear. An maplet of the course is shown on the right as well as the name, distance, date, duration and bounds. If you select only one course from the file it is possible to save that file after editing without changing the rest of the file - perfect for editing altitudes, timestamps, removing or adding sections, etc. If you select more than one course then saving the file will be disabled and only exporting will be available - non-path related data may be lost e.g. placemarks, way points, etc. Never overwrite a valuable file after editing!

Note: Only TCX Course files are supported! The default from a Garmin Edge 705 for example, or from Garmin Training Center is TCX History files. The latest version (1.3) supports opening of TCX History but not saving. 

Note: Regarding KML / KMZ files - the file must have a Document node containing one or more Placemark nodes containing a LineString or LinearRing with the coordinates. See the Google documentation for more information. Version 1.2 of our software has issues with KML from Google Earth 5.0.

Concatenate All combines all the courses into one route. It is possible to shuffle the sequence of courses.


1. Opening an existing KML or KMZ file containing one or more paths (KMZ is simply a zipped KML)

Click File : Open Route... and select a KML or KMZ file that you know contains one or more paths. 

This method will clear any existing data. To add or insert data from file use Route : Import : Insert... or Route : Import : Add... Add always puts the new points at the end of the current route, while Insert puts the data before the first currently selected point (the row in the grid with the arrow at the left).

For information on creating KML files from routes in Google Earth see here.

2. Opening an existing GPS Exchange format file (GPX) containing one or more paths

Click File : Open Route... and select a GPX file containing either a route <rte> or a track <trk>.

The grid will fill with the available points. As with opening a KML file it is also possible to insert or add to a current route by using of Route : Import : Insert... or Route : Import : Add...

If present, time-stamp information will also be imported and automatically matched to any existing time-stamps on the route.

3. Opening an existing Garmin Training Center file (TCX) containing one or more courses.

Click File : Open Route... and select a TCX file containing courses (history files are not suitable for version 1.2 and not savable in 1.3).

The grid will fill with the available points. As with opening a KML file it is also possible to insert or add to a current route by using of Route : Import : Insert... or Route : Import : Add...

Time-stamp information will also be imported and automatically matched to any existing time-stamps on the route.

4. Add or Insert Point from Geo Tool

To add the current location in Google Earth to the grid click Route : Insert Point from Geo Tool (Shift-Ins) or Route : Add Point from Geo Tool (Ins)

5. Add or Insert Manually

Points can also be added without Google Earth. Use Insert Interpolated Point, Insert N Interpolated Points (set N in Options) or Add Point Manually.

6. Download from GPS Device

The Plus version (V1.2 and later) allows you to download directly from a Garmin USB device such as the Edge 305 (but not for example 405, 605 or 705). Check your GPS is compatible here beforehand. This feature makes use of a free program called gpsbabel which is conveniently also used by Google Earth. So if Google Earth is installed in the default Program Files location on your machine then it will work out of the box. If not then get hold of gpsbabel.exe and libexpat dll file and copy and paste them into the directory where you installed 3D Route Builder.

To use simply connect your GPS device and go to File : Download Course from GPS Device : Garmin USB

7. Open Url

If you have a url for a supported file then you can enter this directly and 3D Route Builder will open it for you. This is very useful for importing routes from Google Maps. Go to File : Open Url... and paste or type in the url. e.g. Paste in:



Activating Google Earth from 3D Route Builder

Any operation in 3D Route Builder that explicitly requires the use of Google Earth will automatically start it if it is not already started. Starting Google Earth can take some time therefore it is possible to modify the time-out settings in the options. Once started, logging in takes place. If you have a Plus or higher account then watch out for a log-in screen that may be hidden by 3D Route Builder. If Google Earth cannot log in then 3D Route Builder can continue for some functionality such as driving in off-line mode. Updating altitudes and editing routes is not possible off-line.

3D Route Builder will create three features in the Temporary Places folder of Google Earth:

  • Route Builder Crosshair : a crosshair in the middle of the Google Earth view
  • Route Builder Driver : a network link that will control a car icon that will move when driving a route
  • Route Builder Path Viewer : a network link that will show the current route

If for any reason these items are not appearing in Google Earth places panel then go to Tools : Options, then the Google Earth tab and click Force Google Earth Feature Refresh or press the Refresh Route in Geo Tool. Next time you perform anything that requires Google Earth the features will reappear.

On closing 3D Route Builder these items will be removed. You can also remove the items using Stop Showing Route and Vehicle in Geo Tool button or menu item.

It can happen that Google Earth occasionally does not refresh the Route Builder Driver and Route Builder Path Viewer network links. The target no longer moves when driving and the route is no longer updates when changes have been made. The normally green circle on the network links in Google Earth becomes orange and moves. To reestablish a network link right click on it in the Google Earth Place panel and click Refresh

It is also possible to modify the refresh interval in the options. This is useful when there are many points and Google Earth performance is becoming an issue.


Mars Mode

Google Earth 5 brought the option of flying around Mars in much the same way as Earth. 3D Route Builder 1.3.1 brings the option to build and edit routes on Mars. Just use the Mars toggle button to switch between planets. In Google Earth you’ll need to unembed first then change planet. Make sure 3D Route Builder network icons are not active in Google Earth before doing this! Disconnect the links using the ‘Stop showing route and vehicle in Google Earth’ button or the Mars toggle button.

Viewing and Moving

To see the route and all selected points in Google Earth, click Route : Refresh Route in Geo Tool (Ctrl+R). To move to a specific point either double click at the left of the row, or hit F8 or click Route : Points : Fly to Point in Geo Tool

To find the point in the 3D Route Builder grid that is closest to the current location in Google Earth, hit F6 or click Route : Points : Highlight Closest Point to Current Geo Tool Location. It is also possible to highlight a point via the Profile. Right click near the desired point and select Highlight Closest Point. Or clicking Highlight Points in View will select in the grid all points currently visible in the profile. Points selected in the dat grid are highlights in blue on the profile.

Various other options are available by right clicking the profile for example for controlling zooming, printing, and enabling showing point values: (distance in metres, altitude in metres).

Plus Version Only: The Altitude Profile can also be shown against time.


Moving through Google Earth is done as normal, though you may find for editing many points and accurate work that the use of a 3DConnexion SpaceNavigator simplifies life dramatically. Using this in your left hand and then using the keyboard shortcuts for editing with your right becomes natural.







Google Earth features a built-in pseudo driving mode for paths. 3D Route Builder takes it a step further by handling tunnels and aircraft and improving tracking and allowing real-time (scalable) driving based either on GPS time-stamps, manually entered time-stamps (do not need to be complete) or a default speed. The target is updated via a NetworkLink in Google Earth with a refresh rate of once per second. The target is followed by a “helicopter” from which the view is seen. It is possible to set a minimum and maximum range and tilt for the helicopter (the distance and angle between the helicopter and the target). If the imagery is good and the terrain not too mountainous then set these values lower, else it is generally best to set them higher.


Driving begins at the currently selected point in the grid. The main user interface will disappear to be replaced by a small progress dialog. Available info includes:

  • Time (and scale factor if not set to 1)
  • Distance Traveled (represented also by progress bar)
  • Speed
  • Altitude
  • Section Grade

Stopping driving will return you to the main interface and select the point closest to where driving was stopped.

Set the starting range, tilt, scale, default speed and whether to use absolute or clamped to ground driving in options.  While driving it is possible to modify these within the scope of the starting values by adjusting the tilt offset, range offset and speed scale in the control section. Helicopter and absolute tracking can be switched on and off here, too. Note: Absolute tracking is only activated if helicopter tracking is first enabled.

If you enjoy the driving feature then you will most likely love our Active GPX Route Player where you can drive up to 50 routes at the same time.


Updating Altitudes (Elevations)

Altitudes can be fixed by checking the Fix check box for a particular point. Fixing a point prevents the altitude from being accidentally updated and also forms the basis of altitude smoothing (i.e. you fix the points you are confident about). 

Updating from Google Earth

Paths in KML files saved from Google Earth and many downloaded from popular trail / path sharing website do not contain altitudes. Loading a KML file saved from Google Earth or one of these other files into 3D Route Builder will show all altitudes to be zero (0). To update these, select one or more points in the grid (use Ctrl-A to select all) and then click Route : Altitude : Update from Geo Tool (or hit F12).

Updating based on Interpolation

Selecting one point in the grid then clicking Route : Altitude : Update based on Interpolation will calculate the altitude based on the point before and after the selected point. It is not possible to select the first or last point of a route. Selecting more than one point will interpolate between the first and last selected point.

Nudging Points Up and Down

It is possible to enter a new altitude directly into the grid. It is also possible to select multiple points and “nudge” the altitude up and down using Route : Altitude : Increase (F10) and Route : Altitude : Decrease (F9). By altering the tilt of Google Earth you immediately see the effect. In the options it is possible to alter the interval of altitude change. IMPORTANT: Unless the Clamped to ground option is unchecked you will not see any changes to the altitude. For clarity it is also best to have the Extend to ground option checked to give a curtain effect below the route. Also be aware that if the Clamped to ground option is unchecked that the altitudes are absolute and if the absolute altitude is underground then the route and any highlighted points will not be visible. 


Altitude - Barometric Drift Correction

The most accurate form of measuring altitude is with barometric pressure. Differences of one metre can be easily observed. There are only a couple of caveats: you need to know your starting altitude and if the weather changes then it will cause the altitude to artificially increase or decrease. This last issue is termed barometric drift. The profile below shows a circular route starting and ending at the same location.


3D Route Builder can fix this:

  1. Fix points by checking the Fix check boxes - they become pivot points. In this example that would be the last point (no need to do anything)
  2. Select the first point
  3. Select desired altitude adjust interval in options or tool bar.
  4. Click Route : Altitude : Increase Drift Against Time or the tool button - this will pivot the profile around the last point relative to time (typically the most useful since air pressure changes against time, but against distance is also possible)

More details here.


Smoothing altitudes removes irregular spikes and glitches from an altitude profile. Select multiple points and then click Route : Altitude : Smooth... The Altitude Smoothing tool will appear. 

Smoothing can be done by Point Averaging or Interpolation. Interpolation basically will produce a straight line between fixed points. If no fixed points have been specified (see here for info on fixing points). The first and last selected point are always regarded as fixed. Point Averaging also works around fixed points but produces more natural results. Some options are available when using Point Averaging:

  • Interval - the gap in metres between points used in averaging
  • Distance - the distance before and after the point with which to base the averaging

To preview the results click Preview. The original and new profile will be displayed. It is possible to zoom into the graph by either drawing a box around the desired region or using the scroll wheel. Holding the Ctrl key while moving the mouse enables panning. The right mouse button brings up a menu with a variety of options including displaying point information and printing.

3D Route Builder - Altitude Smoothing


By checking View : Profile the altitude profile appears on the main form. Right click to bring up a pop-up menu with various options. It is not possible to edit the profile or perform vertical zooming on this profile. 


Editing Points

Points with a column heading in bold can be edited directly in the data grid. Note that longitude, latitude and gradient editing are only available in the Plus Version.

Distances are in meters and the distance between points is measured using the small angle formula (i.e. it does not take altitude differences into account, so sections that are of steep gradient (> 20%) will have increasingly unrealistic distances).

Deleting Points

Points can be deleted by selecting the relevant rows and then pressing Del key or clicking Route : Delete Point(s)... or Route : Points : Delete All Points...

Adding and Inserting Points from Geo Tool

To add the current location in Google Earth to the grid click Route : Insert Point from Geo Tool (or press Shift-Ins) or Route : Add Point from Geo Tool (or press Ins). Add always puts the new points at the end of the current route, while Insert puts the data before the first currently selected point (the row in the grid with the arrow at the left). An alternative to the first is Route : Insert Interpolated Altitude Point from Geo Tool which does exactly the same in terms of location but instead of using the altitude from Google Earth, it interpolates the altitude between the previous and next points. This is very useful when working on routes with tunnels and bridges or flight paths. Finally one can use Route : Add Point Manually which adds a point near to the last point in the route.

Replacing (Moving) a Point

Select a single point in the grid to replace with the current location in Google Earth. Click Route : Replace Point from Geo Tool (or press F7)

Nudging Points Forward, Backward, Left and Right

If selected in the options you can move a point by a user definable distance to the left, right, backward or forward. If Google Earth is started then this direction is relative to the current view (azimuth) else it corresponds to west, east, south and north.

Reversing a Route

A complete route can be reversed by clicking Route : Points : Reverse Complete Route

Redundant Points

A redundant point is defined as a point that is within a user defined distance of the previous point. This distance is termed the threshold. The threshold can be altered in the options. All redundant points can be deleted with Route : Points : Delete All Redundant Points and it is possible to step through redundant points with Route : Points : Find Next Redundant Point (or hit Shift-F3)



3D Route Builder - Advanced Time Stamp Editing

Time-stamps can either be imported from GPX files or added and edited manually. This powerful feature means that it is easy to add time information to routes either created manually (e.g. KML or directly from Route Builder) or to GPX files that do not have them. Perhaps you wish to sync to a helmet cam video you made? It is not necessary to enter all the time-stamps. At a minimum only one time-stamp is required (so long as it is not at the first point). All other time-stamps are calculated from this.

Time-stamps can be entered and edited directly in the Time column. Route : Time : Update based on Interpolation will fill in time-stamps based on available time-stamps. Time-stamps can be cleared with Route : Time : Clear... (or press Shift-Del).

One or more points can be shifted by use of Route : Time : Nudge.... This permits the selected (continuous) points to be moved within their current time window frame. 

3D Route Builder - Nudging / Shifting Time

Two or more points can be scaled by use of Route : Time : Scale.... This permits the time frame or span (the time between the first and last selected points) of the selected (continuous) points to be increased or decreased by specifying either a new time span or a percentage of the original.

3D Route Builder - Scaling Time

The start date can be seen and edited in the Route Properties. All times are relative to this date.


Route Properties

Basic properties of a route can be accessed by Route : Properties...


The name, description and start time / date can be edited.

More information about specific sections of a route can be seen by selecting two or more points. At the bottom of the screen the status bar will look like:


For the section between the first and last selected point we see:

  • Gradient in %
  • The distance along the route in metres
  • Altitude difference between first and last point in metres
  • Up is the total metres climbed - the threshold for this can be set in the options
  • Down is the total metres descended - the threshold for this can be set in the options
  • Direct is the direct line (“as the crow flies”) distance between the first and last point in metres
  • Time taken for that section according to timestamps, interpolated timestamps or from default speed depending on data available
  • Speed in kilometres per hour calculated based on above Route distance and Time values


3D Route Builder 1.3 introduces the option to print the data grid. Simply select the columns and font size in the options and resize and reorder the columns by dragging and dropping. Then click on File : Print Data Grid... or Print Preview Data Grid...

Exporting a Route

3D Route Builder can export routes in a number of different formats. Click File : Export as... and select the required format. For most formats a Export Options dialog will appear. Select the correct settings and hit OK. The options for KML/KMZ are shown below:


KML and KMZ are generally used with Google Earth; KMZ being simply a compressed KML file. Note that if you began by loading a KML file into 3D Route Builder that all information in this file other than the paths (LineStrings) will be lost when saving. 3D Route Builder creates a new KML / KMZ file with a single path representing the route. Any selected points in the grid will be saved as individual placemarks. If these selected points do not contain descriptions then a description will be automatically generated of format:

D: 91.45m A: 1634.39m G: -3.44%

where D = Distance to next point, A = altitude, and G = gradient to next point

GPX is GPS Exchange format and is compatible with the majority of GPS devices. As per KML files, if you imported or started with a GPS file then all information will be lost and 3D Route Builder will generate a new GPS file based on the route. When exporting as GPX, the data is stored as route points (rtept). If one (not first point) or more time-stamps are present then time-stamps will be created for all points.

CRS is a Garmin GPS device course such as from the Forerunner and Edge 305 models. An exported CRS can be uploaded to these devices or viewed in Garmin Training Center software.

TCX is a Garmin GPS device course wrapped in a Garmin Training Center format such as from the Forerunner and Edge 305 models. An exported TCX can be uploaded to these devices or viewed in Garmin Training Center software.

CSV (Comma Separated Values) saves each point as a line. This data can be imported into software such as Microsoft Excel. Columns can be selected via the export options. 

XML: Pro Cycling Manager format (BETA). A simple XML file that can be used as a basis for building routes in the popular computer game Pro Cycling Manager. 

SAL is the file format used by the Salitaker tool for producing mountain pass profiles found on many cycling websites. Points at user specific intervals are saved, therefore it is not possible to recreate the full data from such a file and short climbs are not well represented. The interval can be specified in the export options.

3D Route Builder - Export to Salitaker


Saving a Route

Plus Version Only: 3D Route Builder is a very powerful GPX, TCX, KML/KMZ file editor.  It can save routes when a GPX, TCX (course files only, not history) or KML/KMZ was opened to begin with and only one course from within that route selected for editing. Click File : Save as.... to save the original file in the same format. No options are available as per export because the formatting and settings of the original file are preserved.


Uploading a Route to GPS Device

Plus Version Only: Garmin USB devices are supported for uploading simple routes created from all points in your route that are indicated as being way points (Way Point check box is checked). Please see your device user manual for details as the number of points is often limited.

  1. Attach your GPS device
  2. Identify all points of interest in your route by marking them as Way Points in the data grid. You can give them a short name.
  3. Click File : Upload Route from Waypoints to GPS Device : Garmin USB



Via the Tools menu are the Options.... The options are split into four tabs.

Editor Tab

By checking and unchecking the columns it is possible to control which columns in the main grid are visible. The index column is not configurable. Checking Keep this program on top will keep 3D Route Builder above all other applications - convenient when working with Google Earth. Show markers in profile controls the visibility of point markers in the altitude profile on the main window. Enabling Ask for confirmation on closing could save you accidentally losing work. Fit columns to window controls whether the columns of the point grid automatically resize or not. Font Size changes the size of the font in the data grid view. This also changes the font size for the print-outs.


3DRB_Editor_1_3 (Custom)

Geo Tool Configuration Tab

The Google Earth related options are split into four sections:

3DRB_GeoToolConfig1_3 (Custom)


3D Route Builder will start Google Earth when necessary. First time around this takes time. How long to wait can be controlled by setting the Initialize delay and Log-on delay in seconds. 3D Route Builder also creates three Features in Google Earth: Crosshair, target icon and Route path. If these for any reason do not appear or have disappeared then click Force Google Earth Feature Refresh. Next time a Google Earth related function is used the features will reappear. Adjust the Refresh Interval of the path and vehicle (for driving) between 1 and 10 seconds. This is useful when you have a large number of points in your route and performance is becoming poor.

Point Updating:

When updating point altitudes 3D Route Builder will fly between locations in Google Earth. There is a potential delay in this dependent on machine speed, internet connection and responsiveness of the Google Earth server. To ensure that accurate data is obtained it is possible to set a Timeout for streaming (milliseconds) for Google Earth to reach a certain percentage of streaming (Wait for streaming % to reach). Timeout fo fly to (milliseconds) sets the maximum time Google Earth is allowed to take between points. NOTE: When updating altitudes, the Google Earth flying speed is set to “Teleport” (speed = 5.0). Max. Distance (metres) governs how close Google Earth must get to the point being updated before performing the update.


This corresponds to the Google Earth flying speed settings and governs the time taken to fly from one point to the next when double clicking a point in the grid (or clicking Route : Fly to Point in GeoTool). If set to 1.0 then it will take approximately one second to get to the desired point, no matter how far away it is. If set to 0.1 it will take 10 seconds (1 / 0.1). If set to 5.0, the mode is said to be “Teleport” and travel time is almost instant.


The route being worked on can be shown live in Google Earth. The Width of the path can be set in pixels. Extend to ground draws a curtain effect beneath a path that is at an absolute altitude higher than the Google Earth terrain under it - (adjust the Opacity to allow you to see through the curtain). In order for Extend to Ground to have effect absolute altitudes must be used. To do this uncheck Clamped to ground - note that when this is unchecked there is a good chance that the path is either above or below the ground. If it is below then you will not see the path and this is especially a problem when data without altitude is input.

Refresh Automatically on Point Select controls whether the selected points in the grid are automatically shown in Google Earth. If Show Point Names Instead of Indexes is unchecked then the point number is shown alongside selected points instead of the point name. Do Not Highlight Selected Points controls whether points highlighted in the point grid are also shown in Google Earth - in the case of very large data sets and older PCs this may be advisable when editing multiple points at once.


Geo Tools - General

Altitude Options include Skip Fixed Points in Update: this means that any selected points in a mass altitude update that are set to Fixed will be missed out of the update. If unchecked an error would be given before the update began warning that fixed points have been included. The Adjust Interval is the distance in meters the altitude is altered each time by Increase and Decrease nudgingThreshold is the number of metres of climbing or descending in one go that must be reached to be added to the total metres up and down of the status bar on the main form. This allows minor variations in altitude that most likely caused by errors to be ignored.

Location Options: Redundant Point Threshold is the distance threshold in meters at which a point could be considered redundant if it is less than. Default Range is the maximum distance in meters between the camera and the focus point that the updating and fly to will use. If the current range is less than the default range then the current range will remain unchanged. Adjust Interval is the distance in meters the location nudge will move a point when the arrow keys are enabled. Enable the arrow keys by checking Enable Arrow Keys for AdjustSkip Fixed Points in Update: this means that any selected points in location move that are set to Fixed will be missed out of the update. Skip Fixed Redundant Points does the same for redundant point deletion.



Driving (Playback)


The target follows the route and is seen from a ‘helicopter’ viewpoint. You can set the driving Default Speed in kilometers per hour - this will be used when no time-stamps are available. A Speed Scaling Factor can be applied that will increase or decrease the playback speed. Selecting Force Default Speed will override any time-stamps and use the Default Speed. 

Icon Url: The target icon can be set to custom by entering a valid url to the new icon.

If the path is clamped to ground as per the setting in the Geo Tool Configuration tab then the target will also be clamped to ground.

The minimum and maximum distance (more than 1 metre) and tilt (0 - 80 degrees) with which the helicopter tracks the target can be set with Tracking Range and Tracking Tilt. 0 degrees tilt is looking down vertically, 90 would be horizontal. Depending on the terrain quality and shape it is worth experimenting with these settings. The helicopter tries to fly as low as possible but will rise when the target passes through bends. The sharper the bend the steeper the angle above the target. This is to avoid potential collisions with landscape and avoid delays while swinging around. These settings can be further adjusted on the fly during driving / playback.


Disable Helicopter Tracking allows you to manually follow the target. Absolute Altitude Tracking means that the helicopter tracks the target’s altitude instead of the Google Earth surface. Select this option if your route has tunnels, bridges or flight paths and you wish to follow these. Again these settings can be adjusted while driving.

Keyboard Shortcuts





File Menu

Alt + F

Opens the File menu.

View Menu

Alt + V

Opens the View menu.

Route Menu

Alt + R

Opens the Route menu.

Tools Menu

Alt + T

Opens the Tools menu.

Help Menu

Alt + H

Opens the Help menu.

Open File

Ctrl + O

Opens the file open dialog box, allowing you to open all supported 3D Route Builder file types.

Insert Point from Geo Tool

Shift + Ins

Inserts a point into the route from Google Earth.

Insert Interpolated Altitude Point from Geo Tool

Ctrl + Ins

Inserts a point into the route from Google Earth with altitude interpolated between previous and next point.

Add Point from Geo Tool


Adds a point at the end of the route from Google Earth.

Delete Point(s)


Deletes all selected points after asking for confirmation.

Refresh Route in Geo Tool

Ctrl + R

Shows the route in Google Earth. (Can be performed automatically if selected in options)

Drive Route in Geo Tool

Shift + F5

Drives the route in real-time in Google Earth beginning at the first selected point.

Update Altitude from Geo Tool


Updates the altitude of the selected points from Google Earth.

Increase Altitude


Increases the altitude of the selected point(s) by an amount defined in the options.

Decrease Altitude


Decreases the altitude of the selected point(s) by an amount defined in the options.

Nudge Point Location

Arrow Keys

Moves the location of the selected point(s) by an amount defined in the options. (NOTE: The arrow keys must also be enabled in options)

Highlight Closest Point to Current Geo Tool Location


Highlights the point in the grid view that is closest to the location pointed to by Google Earth.

Replace Point from Geo Tool


Moves the currently selected point to the location pointed to by Google Earth.

Fly to Point


Flies to the location pointed to by Google Earth at the default flying speed as set in the options.

Find Next Redundant Point


Finds the next point that has is under the redundant point threshold.

Clear Times

Shift + Del

Clears the time from the selected points after asking for confirmation.

Select All Points

Ctrl + A

Highlights all points. Use Ctrl key and left mouse button to select multiple individual points, or Shift key and left mouse button (or up down buttons) to select blocks of points.




















How to make KML files using Google Earth

Instead of starting a route from scratch it is often easier to use Google Earth itself to produce the first version of a route. Simply right click on any existing location or on a placemark you dropped on or near a road. Then select either Directions from here or Directions to here. The route details will be shown in the Search panel. Open the tree if necessary and scroll down to the Route. Right click and select Save as... Choose KML as the file type. This file can then be loaded into 3D Route Builder.

Click here to go to the Google Earth documentation on this subject.


Known Issues

Updating lots of altitudes goes slow after a few thousand points: There are reports that the updating of lots of altitudes can slow down considerably after a few thousand points when using the free version of Google Earth. This does not seem to be in all cases. Upgrading to the Plus version of Google Earth appears to resolve the problem for some.

Google Earth 4.3 Issues: There can be issues regarding the path appearance and embedding GE. A path width of 1 will give slanted lines when extract to ground is enabled - workaround this by using a width of 2 or more. Embedding GE in 3D Route Builder can result in unpredictable behaviour ranging from no issues to the GE windows not resizing to the new navigation controls not responding. Workaround is to reinstall 4.2 until we get feedback from Google. If you didn’t keep your installer for 4.2 then you can always visit File Hippo. Google Earth 5.0 actually works better with 3D Route Builder than 4.3, but 4.2 remains preferable for serious editing.

GPX/KML format errors with ASCII files: Some files available from the various download websites contain invalid formats. Version 0.2.1 does not handle this gracefully. Basically these files do not explicitly say that the format is ASCII while the software regards it as UTF-8. Then characters such as umlauts and accents found in French and German that have an ASCII value greater than 127 cause an issue. To workaround this issue until before the next release, open the GPX or KML file in a text editor and add encoding="ASCII" to the first line. Therefore <?xml version="1.0"?> becomes <?xml version="1.0" encoding="ASCII"?>

Network links lost on certain machines: When many points are selected and also shown in Google Earth the network link has been observed as being unstable on one dual core machine. Try adjusting the refresh interval in the options.

Crossing the Prime Meridian: If your route goes over the prime meridian (i.e. longitude zero) then you may well experience a bumpy ride for a short time. Google Earth does not enjoy this but does recover after a few moments. It’s been reported and hopefully Google will fix this.

Garmin TCX History Files: 3D Route Builder 1.2 supported TCX course files only. 3D Route Builder 1.3 now allows the loading of history files. However you cannot save history files, only export. To save TCX in original format after editing you must convert to a TCX course file using the Garmin Training Center software. Right click on an activity in the history and select ‘Create Course from Activity’. Then you can click File :: Export... :: Courses... to create a TCX course file.

License File Location: Please do not put your license file in the same directory as the application. Doing so can result in an ECException upon start-up.

Please report your findings here!





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