Files saved internally in the Caveatron can be accessed on a PC with the CAVEATRON CONNECT application. When connected, this program provides a list of files on Caveatron along with the current unit firmware version and serial number. When selected, the files can either be downloaded or deleted.
Although the onboard processor handles some basic filtering of the incoming LIDAR and position data during scanning, it doesn't have the capacity to generate the point cloud. That is performed using the CAVEATRON PROCESS application. The first step is to generate an X, Y, Z coordinate file from the station survey file. The file can be loaded directly into CAVEATRON PROCESS and the line plot can be viewed and reference stations and global coordinates set. If the survey contains loop closures or more sophisticated manipulation of the survey file is desired, it is highly recommended to use Walls Cave Mapping Software. The survey file can be directly loaded into Walls for processing and a function in Walls generates the necessary X, Y, Z coordinate file to load back into CAVEATRON PROCESS.
The LIDAR data file from the Caveatron is then loaded into the Caveatron Process bringing up a list of the traverses and room scans. Failed and redo scan are also listed (but in a different color) and can be processed if necessary. If the reference station was entered incorrectly, it can be adjusted as well. To begin processing, the user selects one of the scans and can either review it or immediately process it. Selecting review opens the LIDAR review window to manually step through the scan to view each single cross-section along with a plan and profile view. Another window shows the rangefinder distance measurements during the scan so that bad data that slipped through the filtering can be selected for removal.
During processing, the software automatically applies additional filtering to remove bad LIDAR data and noise, interpolate the Caveatron position between valid measurements, remove excessive motion, compute the directional normal for each point, and then stitch all the traverses together into a single file with the absolute X, Y, Z coordinate computed for each point. The program saves the output as a delimited text file that can then be easily loaded into one of several freely available point-cloud viewing programs such as Cloudcompare or Meshlab. To take the data processing one step further, Meshlab has a function to turn the point cloud into a rendered mesh through a surface reconstruction algorithm. That creates a 3D file that shows the walls of the cave as a solid surface allowing you to fly around or through the cave on your computer. As a final step, Meshlab can export a file suitable for 3D printing so you can make your own physical cave models!