Wednesday, December 24, 2008

On the 12th day of CAD...

On the 11th Day of CAD I give to you..... Free Autodesk Inventor 2009 (LT).

So far most of my 12 days of CAD have been on AutoCAD and AutoCAD based vertical products such as AutoCAD Electrical. Today I give to you the world of 3D. How can I do that, well I can't take credit for giving you 3D, or giving you Autodesk Inventor either. However I can guide you in the right direction. A while back Autodesk introduced Inventor LT Technology Preview. (I think it was Release 2008). What this means for us is we can download Autodesk Inventor LT for FREE and use it. Here is a brief list of what it does not contain compared to Inventor Suite 2009:

  • 3D Assembly Modeling
  • Sheet Metal Design
  • Content Center
  • AutoCAD Mechanical
  • Autodesk Vault
  • Customization and Third Party Add In Compatibility
  • Click Here to see Product Comparison (Autodesk Inventor LT Preview, Autodesk Inventor Suite, Autodesk Inventor Professional)

Some might say that the 3D assembly design and Sheet metal might be a show stopper for them. My thought is, come on guys it's a free product "preview". There has to be some limitations. The nice thing is you can get a feel for the part modeling before purchasing the product.

Here is information about the preview:

There is so much more information available on Autodesk Labs including System req's, links to forums etc..

Note: On the Autodesk Labs page, it states that "Once activated, Autodesk Inventor LT Technology Preview 2009 will run until May 1, 2009. Which still gives us just over 5 months to play with the software for free.

One other thing to note is that in the FAQ it states that Autodesk Inventor LT is not available for purchase. However it does state in there about "Should it become available for purchase".

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

On the 11th day of CAD...

On the 11th Day of CAD I give to you..... Free Visual Basic and some information on connecting to AutoCAD.

Well Santa Bill (Bill Gates and Microsoft) gives us free programming tools. This is great news considering I remember back in the day when I first started doing VB stuff it was roughly $900 or more which stopped me from buying my own version. This meant I only had VBA tools, or the version at the office. Well with Santa giving us the Express Version of VB, C++, C# we can now do some coding at home and learn some really cool things. There are some limitations with this however for most of our needs I think it will work. Enough talk about how cool this is, lets give you some links to where you can get it.

One of the main things I noticed with the express editions is that you can't set an application to run when debugging. What this means to us for AutoCAD programming is one of two things, You either have to write the code to start up AutoCAD in your VStudio project to allow you to debug, or not be able to step through your code. Not a huge deal but I like to be able to step through my code when coding for AutoCAD. Now keep in mind, this doesn't mean you can't debug for projects that aren't being written to connect to AutoCAD or any other application for that matter.

One other note, is that you can get a discounted price on Visual Studio with this promotion. I found out about this at Kean Walmsley's blog. ( This is a great resource for AutoCAD programming using Visual Studio.

It is probably also worth mentioning that you can get some templates that help you connect to AutoCAD and pre-build some of the information you need into your VS project. See this post from Kean for more information.

I hope this helps.

Monday, December 22, 2008

On the 10th day of CAD...

On the 10th Day of CAD I give to you..... an easy way to create scripts for a specific list of drawings.

In AutoCAD There are so many times you can save yourself quite a bit of time by cutting out the repetative tasks. For example when completing a project and preparing to send your final documentation one might want to zoom extents on all of the drawings. Possibly even do more things to the drawings before sending them to your customers. In the video below I outline this on a few drawings. I hope this helps.

Note: You will probably want to turn your SDI to 1 in AutoCAD. This will automatically close each drawing after it is processed.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

On the 9th day of CAD...

On the 9th day of CAD I give to you... AutoCAD Electrical Language Conversion.

In this global industry with machines being designed here, shipped there and vice versa there is a strong need to provide documentation in different languages. AutoCAD Electrical comes with a language conversion tool and some typical terms already pre-defined. You can completely modify this to accomidate your terms and your language needs. Check out the video below.

In the video I point out the ability to add languages, delete languages, add, copy and delete phrases as well as how to run the tool on a drawing. Keep in mind you can do this project wide.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

On the 8th day of CAD

On the 8th day of CAD I give to you...  The gift of Ribbons.

Alright, now that AutoCAD 2009 has been out for quite some time we have probably formed either a good opinion or a bad one about the ribbons. I personally like them and plan to continue to use them. I think the main reason I adapted quickly is I had been using Microsoft Office 2007 for quite some time. I think the most common reason people tell me they don't like ribbons is because it takes up too much screen space. Well in the video below I show a couple of different ways you can modify the ribbons to save screen space but still benefit from the task based ribbon design. Enjoy.

Also notice that I used the pre-defined workspaces to change between different environments.

I hope this helps.

Friday, December 19, 2008

On the 7th day of CAD

On the 7th day of CAD I give to you...  Web View for components in AutoCAD Electrical.

As we already know, AutoCAD Electrical is a very powerful tool with many hidden features that it could take years to learn most of them because there are so many. In default_CAT.mdb there are many catalog entries that already have a web view already associated with them. When choosing your part number to assign to a device you can select web view and if you have an internet connection it will take you to the web site associated with it. You can also modify these to be your own internal standards site potentially, maybe telling you your own information about the device and how your organization uses it.

Note: You can also make this open a pdf file stored on your network drive, I don't show this in the video as I believe it could quickly become out of date information if it is a manufaturer pdf that you downloaded.

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Stay tuned for more days of CAD

Thursday, December 18, 2008

On the 6th day of CAD

On the 6th day of CAD I give to you...  the ability to trace wires in AutoCAD Electrical.

I had a friend ask me about some issue he was having in AutoCAD Electrical where the wire numbers and source destinations were not working properly. It was as if the main device on the page, a light curtain relay, had internal jumpers setup in it so that the wire was actually connecting through the terminals of the device. So I took a look at it and the problem was the block name but anyway I figured it out by using the check/trace wire in AutoCAD Electrical.

You can find the Check / Trace Wire command under the wires pull down menu in AutoCAD Electrical. After selecting this you then are asked to select a wire. By selecting the wire you tell AutoCAD Electrical that you want to follow that wire network from start to finish. So what happens is, ACE puts a temporary highlight onto the wires that are part of the wire network. When components are set up to have "internal jumpers" the wire network goes through the device. The nice thing is that you press the space bar to see each segment at a time.

Check it out, and I hope it helps.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

On the 5th day of CAD

On the 5th day of CAD I give to you...  an Autodesk Inventor Tip.

Many of you probably already know this tip however it is such an important tip it is worth mentioning again. Project your Origin, then Constrain to it.

In Autodesk Inventor when modeling parts you start with a sketch, that is the foundation for the 3D component you are modeling. In my example I will use a simple block as the example. In our design we have a symetrical part that we will want to cut out the same notch on both sides. Having said that I want to say it is not only important to Project your Origin and Constrain to it, it is just as important to think about the intent of your design. For example, we have a symetrical part we are modeling, why would I want to have to create a workplane in the center of my part to use as a mirror plane for the notch when I could just use some of the Origin work features. Here are the basic steps in a Video.

Monday, December 15, 2008

On the 3rd day of CAD...

On the 3rd Day of CAD I give to you...

When you have multiple documents open in AutoCAD, AutoCAD Electrical, AutoCAD Mechanical, Inventor or any MDI CAD application use the Control + Tab key to cycle through the open documents.

More tomorrow.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

On the 2nd day of CAD..

On the second day of CAD I give to you...

QNEW - QNEW is the setting in the AutoCAD options dialog that allows us to set a default template that will be used any time we click the new drawing button in AutoCAD. Find this under the files tab in the options dialog, then expand Template Settings.

More to come.