Monday, December 1, 2014

Catalog of Posts

I haven’t been that happy with the search feature on this blog lately. Several times in the past few weeks I have been asked for something that I knew I had already wrote about. After several searches, I finally had to resort to looking through ALL the posts until I found it.
Click the read more link to see the entire list.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Adding a Category (Family Table) to the Catalog Database

This command is a little hidden. It’s under the Other Tools drop down off of the Project tab. image

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In this post I’ll add a category named AT for my “test.” First we confirm that AT is missing from the category drop down. (Image on left)

 

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The command first asks what database you wish to modify. Choose your current default_cat.mdb.

Type in the new Category code and its description. This will create the table as well as modify the _FAMILY_DESCRIPTION table.

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And of course we need to verify that the new category is actually there…
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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Linking the Schematic to the Drawing’s Sheet Number

Wouldn’t it be nice if changing the order of the sheets in the project didn’t screw up the ladders, components, and wire numbers? If your drawings follow a numbering scheme that is directly tied to the sheet number, it is time to update a few property settings.

What things are tied to sheet number in this type of numbering scheme? Well there’s the ladder rung numbers for one. Then we have the components tag finally the wire numbers.

Lets start out creating a new project. I’ll go over modifying an existing project at the end of this post.

The Ladder

imageBefore the ladder is placed, the style needs to be selected from the drawing’s properties.

From the Drawing Format tab, select Setup. This new dialog allows us to set ‘Sheet and numbers’. After choosing this setting, place the ladder, or ladders, on the sheet. Remember that the sheets number will be in front of each rung. So the starting rung number will be 00 or 01.
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If no sheet number has been placed on the current sheet, the rung numbers will start with question makes. Add a sheet number to the drawing and watch the ladder update. Pretty sweet right? Wait until the components and wire numbers updates as well.

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We can’t stop here. Because the rungs are actually named 00, 01, ect. So components and wire numbers will be missing the sheet numbers and that would lead to duplicates.

Note: If the drawing had a sheet number and it is blanked out, the rung numbers are given two zeros in place of the question marks.

The Components

To update this numbering style on the components, it’s back to the Drawing Properties. This time we are adding a %S between the %F (family) and %N (reference number). So the number is %F%S%N or Family, Sheet, Reference Number. All with no spaces or extra characters. Make sure these letters not in lowercase.
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While we are here we can take care of the cross-reference style as well. Here we do not need the family but do need to add the sheet number (%S).
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If the sheet number is blank, the component will have question marks in place of sheet numbers just like the ladder did. However unlike the ladder, the component tags do not automatically update after a sheet number change. To update the components tag, simply run the ‘Retag Components’ command.

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If there are existing cross-references that should be updated as well, be sure to run the Component Cross-Reference command to update these cross-references to match the new style.
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The Wire Numbers

And finally we have the Wire numbers. By now you should know where we are headed. Back to the Drawing Properties again. This time the Wire Numbers tab. Simply add the %S to the front of the Wire Number Format cell and we’re done.

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Wire numbers are easy. If they are already placed, simply rerun the Wire Numbers imagecommand again and they update. Either way, run the Wire Numbers command.

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With these settings the drawings can be placed in any order at any time. Simply update the sheet numbers manually, using the Title Block Update, or the Project Wide Update/Retag commands. Then rerun the ‘Retag Component’, ‘Component Cross-Reference’ and ‘Wire Number’ commands Project Wide to refresh the sheets to match the new numbers.


Updating an Existing Project to Reference Sheet Number

The component tags and wire numbers are easy. Simply follow the instructions above and then run the ‘Retag Component’, ‘Component Cross-imageReference’ and ‘Wire Number’ commands Project Wide to refresh existing components.

All of these can be run at the same time using the Project Wide Update/Retag command. But that’s a blog post for another day.

 

The big problem with changing an existing project to this new numbering style is the ladders. The %S%N is actually a different MLR (Master Ladder Reference) block that the ladders use. So changing the ladder style in the drawing properties will not update the existing ladders. I wrote a post on swapping MLR blocks here… Changing a Ladder Reference Style Project Wide

AutoCAD Electrical IdeaStation Is Here!

http://forums.autodesk.com/t5/ideas/v2/ideaexchangepage/blog-id/37/tab/most-recent 
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Ever wished for a much needed feature inside of AutoCAD Electrical? Or maybe you have an idea for some added functionality to an existing feature… Now you have a direct link to the team working on future releases. Use the link above to access the Electrical IdeaStation and start posting your requests. Or review the existing requests, add your feedback, or simply give some ‘Kudos’ to add some weight to a topic.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Hiding Location (LOC) and Installation (INST) Codes Project Wide

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There is a check box in the Project Properties that will hide any LOC or INST code that matches the Drawing Properties codes. When first checking this you will be informed of the following alert…
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If the Drawing Properties codes ever change, a Component Cross-Reference is all that is needed to update the LOC/INST visibility again.
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But I want them ALL hidden!

So the build in tool only turns off the visibility if the values match the drawings same code. What if all location and installation codes need to be hidden? Well the easiest way would be to simply turn off their layer. It’s LOC by default. The layer names are set on the last tab of the drawing and project properties. imageimage

Checking the Freeze check box here will freeze the layer on the drawing. For some reason these boxes are not available on the Project Properties side.

This is really no different then using the standard AutoCAD Layers tools. It simply freezes the layer.

However this doesn’t help someone with a 60 page project who was just told to hide all location codes project wide. This would require manually opening 60 pages and then involve several additional clicks on each page.

This is still an easy fix but requires making a simple script file. Open Notepad and create the following. Note the two extra enter presses. The first is to get out of the layer selection part of the command. The second is to end the command.
I would normally post a link to an uploaded copy of any script… but I think you can handle this one.
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Now to run the script project wide. Make sure the project is the active project and then load the Project-Wide Utilities from the Project tab.
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Friday, May 16, 2014

Show Me Again–Turning Hidden Messages Back On


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I actually taught an Electrical class again! After being buried under a huge project since last August, it was good to get back into AutoCAD Electrical again. If you follow this blog even the slightest bit, you noticed my lack of posts over the past few months.  From my class, I kept a list of things that I thought would make good blog posts. Here is the first one from the list.

When first entering the catalog lookup dialog, the data is filtered by some defaults. Mark Flayler tells us how that default filter works here…
http://blogs.rand.com/manufacturing/2010/10/autocad-electrical-change-default-catalog-lookup-filters.html

imageClear these filters from the dialog by simply pressing the clear filters button. However after pressing it, a pop up asks if you are sure you want to clear the filters.

In class this week I suggested an engineer check the “Do not show me this again” box. He was hesitant and I suddenly realized I haven't a clue how to get that dialog back once the box is checked.
Lucky for me he didn’t ask. Winking smile


However, later I dug though the AutoCAD Options and just couldn’t find it. I finally discovered, the option to turn it back on is only present if you have checked the “Do not show me this again” box. I would guess there are a number of others that would appear here as well.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Mass Migration of DWG Files Using AutoCAD Electrical

imageOver the weekend I ran into a case where I had several thousand DWG files that were older than AutoCAD Release 14. Vault would not rename them because of this. Inventor’s Task Scheduler wouldn’t migrate them for some reason either. After a few other attempts to migrate, I was running out of options. Then I noticed AutoCAD Electrical on one of the workstations! I checked all of the files out to that workstation, and then used the Modify Symbol Library utility to basically do nothing more than save each DWG.

 


 

The Start button remains greyed out even after checking the “Do a SAVE even if no change” box. The dialog wants some actual work. So I had it Zoom Extents on each drawing and that satisfied the dialog. This ran extremely fast! Much faster that Inventor’s Task Scheduler would have. We ran through several thousand DWG’s in under 30 minutes! Of course this workstation is running on SSD’s but still…

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Consistent Reporting in AutoCAD Electrical Using (.set) Settings Files

It can be a real pain setting up reports because the reported fields and formatting resets to default with each new report. I have seen users save a report as a template, and then insert the sheet into the project, as a way of controlling the reports format. However the following can be saved as a .set file and referenced on future reports.

  • The various include/exclude report options depending on report type
  • Display and grouping options
  • Predefined filters in the Location/Installation fields
  • Special break and header information
  • Predefine the output type
  • What fields are displayed and their order
  • The “Put on Drawing” options like column width, text color, layer to be used ,ect.

Like most other external files in AutoCAD Electrical, these are simply text files and as such could be edited using a simple text editor. However their format can be quite confusing. The Electrical dialogs for creating/editing these files is defiantly the way to go when creating or modifying saved report formats.

Saving Report Formats

Create these .set files using the Report Format Setup dialog. Its button is on the Reports tab. image The dialog is quite busy. Here is a quick breakdown of its features.
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  1. Start here. Choose the type of report and all options on the right update.
  2. Review and select any report options. This area is mostly include/exclude and grouping type options.
  3. This section allows filtering by Installation and Location codes.
    1. For more information on the power of these codes see this post. INST & LOC Codes Honor Wildcards When Searching
  4. Options for type of report export, what fields are reported and in what order. To give an idea what what options are hidden behind the four buttons I have included screen shots of each.
    • Save Report to File
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    • Put on Drawing
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      also note the Column Width “Define” option…
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    • Change Report Format
      Of course the fields available are determined by the type of report chosen. Also note the field name and justification can be modified here for each selected field.
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    • Sort Fields
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  5. Each report type can be broken into separate tables based on various fields such as location code, manufacture name, block filename, ect.
  6. This is where the options selected are finally saved into a settings file. Pressing Save Format File will prompt for imagea filename if not yet named. Open Format File will load all selected options after opening an existing .set file. And finally Save As Format File will prompt for a new name and not overwrite the loaded .set file. The loaded .set files name is displayed in the top right corner of the Report Format File Setup dialog.

    When opening settings files, only .set files for the currently selected report type are displayed. However when saving, all .set files are displayed to keep from overwriting any other setting files.

.SET File Default Location

The default location for the settings (.set) files is buried in a hidden folder under each users name.
C:\Users\swile\AppData\Roaming\Autodesk\AutoCAD Electrical 2014\R19.1\enu\Support\User\…

However this location can changed in the wd.env file on line (*WD_SET_FILES,x:/some path/,folder for report ".set" files) Remove the asterisk (*) from the front of the line and then replace the path with your own shared network path.

Referencing the Saved Report Settings

Now that a .set file has been created lets use it. Both the Schematic and Panel Reports dialogs have a Format button that allows selection of any .set file for the currently selected report type. If you are not seeing the .set file desired, double check that the correct report type is selected.
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These settings files are also used with the Automatic Report Selection tool. I’ll try to cover that in a future post.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

My Working Vacation

I took a week and a half off this month. My vacation goal was to build an office desk/work bench. I had this idea in my head but really nothing on paper. I started on the Inventor model on Saturday last week and today finished the desk. I had no idea this project would involve so many people and I’m deeply grateful to all that helped. Technically this desk is not 100% complete. I have a good bit of sanding and painting on the routered grooves left to do. However I was so excited by the final results I had to share them.

My original conceptual drawings. The little end table picture was from the letters section of an American Woodworker magazine. Sorry I can’t find the magazine it came from anymore, so I can’t give credits for the picture.
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Final Inventor Print..
Office Work Bench

Finished design (before paint) The plan is to have the grooves the same color green as the walls.
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Before more pictures, I would like to give a huge thank you to my parents for helping transfer and the pieces from OH to SC and for all the help assembling once it was home. Also a huge huge shout out to Dean and Wayne at Wengerd Wood for all the routing and CNC programing time.

Production Photos

Three sheets of 3/4 inch cherry veneer MDF coming home from the finishers. We bought the wood from Kiem Lumber but I can’t remember the name of the finisher.
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First sheet on the router. I must say, I was a bit nervous as the bit first cut into it.
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Tabletop and middle front just about finished.
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The grooves vary from 1/8th to nearly 3/4 inch deep.
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All the parts finished ready to be wrapped up to head to SC.
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3/27/14 Update
I have 99% of the sanding and smoothing complete now. Just about ready to paint.
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5-16-14 Update
On all of the front edges, we extended the cuts an extra inch and then cut a 90 deg. V from the back side all the way through. The little triangle that was left we folded over and glued and nailed into place. I spent a good bit of time manually recreating a few of the knobs that broke off when creating the folds for the front edges.
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That extra work is what makes the transitions look so seamless.
I started priming the grooves yesterday. This first drawer took about an hour. Sad smile I know, I said the grooves will be a very light green… But, man does that white pop! I have a feeling a final coat of high gloss white will be the finishing touch to this desk. The good thing is I will be able to see what white will look like once the primer coat is completed. It may end up being too much white for the room?
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5-26-14 Update
I spent a large part of Saturday and a few hours Sunday night painting again. You can’t see it in the pictures below but I painted behind the drawers as well.
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6-1-14 Update
I updated/finished the 3D model
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Office Work Bench Exploded

6-13-14 Update
I have finished sanding the primer and will start painting this weekend. The white will stay!. I am going with a high gloss white.
I posted the model to GrabCAD… https://grabcad.com/library/my-hobby-work-bench-1 
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