Using a digitalizer with Rhino, weird lines

So I have a Polhemus Patriot pen that I use to trace 3D objects. But what I trace looks like a bunch of squiggly lines all over that is not what I traced. How do I fix this? I am not sure how to show you what I mean. I don’t know where I can add pictures.


The Polhemus plugin for Rhino is developed by Polyhemus, so the question should be directed to them.
Use the support page on Polhemus website.

I do see the info indicates there is no download for a Rhino 6 or 7 compatible plugin and it indicates to contact Polhemus support if you are using a newer Rhino

I have already contacted them and got the plug in. They said they don’t have any or little knowledge of Rhino. They sent me the Rhino’s website for help. Thats why I am here.

Its unfortunate that you purchased a product that the manufacturer does not support.
It unlikely that you will get any support here because the hardware and the plugin is developed by Polhemus.
I suggest you ask for your money back, it appears they have poor customer service.

I know people here will try to help you but Mcneel simply may not have the information about the plugin to address your problem because they did not create it.

I was just hoping that someone here would have an idea.


Maybe someone can respond with something constructive.
Can you copy and paste images into your post that show the problem?

I didn’t know I could add photos here! I drew two lines that I traced of a cushion I had laying around. But three to four lines showed up. They are all messed up. Let me take a photo of the cushion I drew so you know what it is suppose to look like. Not to mention the scale seems way off. I had to zoom so far in as it was so small. I had to search of the line as they looked like a single small dot.

Of course I traced the red lines much smoother than what I drew in Microsoft Paint.

Hi @NewtoRhino, i do not have experience with this particular device but the description sounds familiar. Please try two things:

  1. Open new document, choose the Template: Small Objects - Millimeters
  2. Maximize the perspective viewport
  3. Now start to digitize

Any better ?


I will try this tonight when I get home. Thank you

Just tried that, no change. Same two issues. Very small, and multipole crazy lines.

About 15 years ago, I used to use a Faro arm in Rhino, so I’ve done a bit of this, but a long time ago. What command are you using to get these lines from the digitizer?

2021-08-24 19_57_54-Untitled - Rhino 7 Evaluation (22 Days Remaining)

This one. I LMB click. It is just called Sketch. RMB is Sketch on Surface which I don’t choose. That nice curve I drew was with my mouse. Mouse drawing works fine.

So I’ll give you a bunch of advice, hopefully this will steer you in a good direction.

First - if you’re going to use a device like that, then you’re likely better off capturing points instead of directly creating lines. Think about like an evenly distributed grid over your object, and picking each one. Trying to directly create curves with any hardware like this (pens, arms etc) creates the issues you have right now. If you want clean surfaces, picking points manually, and then making curves from those points is a much better approach.

Second - and the bigger point - looking at your object, checking out the mfg’s website and seeing roughly what your goals are here, I cannot stress this enough - this is the absolute worst tool for this type of job. These types of digitizers are fine for doing fairly simple geometry - for instance that unit you have would be great for templating a countertop or something like that. But to do something freeform like you want to do, it’s never going to yield the result you want. Doing jobs like this are why laser scanners exist, and even if you can’t afford to buy a laser scanner, for whatever that things costs you can hire lots of laser scanning. For me, I got lucky and stumbled into that Faro arm really cheap, and once I wised up I was able to offload it for basically the same amount. If this thing was bought solely for this type of work, I’d highly suggest seeing if you can offload it and simply hire someone to laser scan.

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I will try the points tomorrow. I will see how it turns out and then move on to scanners. Scanners was my first idea but I went with this to save money. Actually I have it on loan so I didn’t actually buy it yet. Only cost me $100 in shipping. I paid a guy $5,000 before to laser scan all the cushions on my client’s boat and he promised me complete CAD in return. I got the Mesh but he didn’t touch it. I don’t really trust those services anymore. I don’t know enough and I keep getting ripped off.

Thank you for your help.

Here’s the last project I did with Faro arm:

You can see how I setup the digitizing with the straight edges, and even put bondo into the leading edge area. Had to fixture everything and make sure nothing moved, and then methodically picked points. This was hours of work to get just two cross sections of the wing so I could create the wing loft to build the wingtip off of. This would be a ~10 minute scan with a laser scanner.

That sucks to hear about the past vendor! I’ve run into some bad vendors as well, there’s definitely people out there who don’t know what they’re doing. If you’re anywhere in CA (or your parts can be shipped) I have an excellent vendor I’ve used to scan ~12 full aircraft and highly recommend.

Nice! You have your PPL? I got mine a few years ago but I am no longer current.

Used to be current but then I started paragliding and flying SEL just kinda became…dull lol.

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Hi @NewtoRhino, as Sky, i would advice not to use the _Sketch command and use single _Point method instead. If you can see your mouse pointer moving on screen while you move the digitizing device, make sure to move your mouse to one of the viewport corners so it does not influence the digitizing process.

Also turn off all object snaps which can cause strange behaviour. I’ve used a MicroScribe and a MicroScan laser scanner attached to the digitizing arm during the last decade. Of course, laser scanning is way more efficient since you can work touchless and get +10K points per second.


I would try Meshroom and your phone camera, I think the textures even come across and you can save the 3dscans into a format Rhino can read. It’s free and looks like it will work on your objects/pillows.
Here’s a link to youtube videos about it.
3D Scanning For Free With Meshroom - YouTube

I tried the points and it looked much better. But when I move to a different spot of the cushion like the backside it started in a weird incorrect position. The mfg said I have too much metal around so I will get an all wood set up and try again.

I first looked at scanners but seen the price tags and had a heart attack. The scanners in the $10-20k range require dots to be placed everywhere, a huge pain in the ass and very time consuming. They also require me in post to manually draw the lines on the solid to try and achieve what I am doing much quicker with the digitizer (if it worked.)