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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

How would you like to......

How would you like to be part of an AutoCAD Electrical User Group.

This afternoon I had a brainstorming meeting with some guys at the office and we are interesting in your feedback regarding a Web Based AutoCAD Electrical User Group.  The details of the user group at this point are still in brainstorming. What we need your help on is interest feedback. I have created a survey at the following link with 2 questions to find out the interest level.  http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=249442207739

Or if you have any suggestions / ideas please email me at rstein@incat.com

Thanks and I hope to hear alot of feedback on this topic.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Comparison Videos.....

I know that most of you who are reading this site probably already own AutoCAD Electrical but I still think this is worth mentioning.  I worked with one of the guys on our Pre-Sales team at INCAT to create some comparison videos for AutoCAD Electrical vs Vanilla AutoCAD a while back. They have proved to be useful with some companies and justifying getting AutoCAD Electrical instead of standard AutoCAD.  On the link below you will find the comparison videos mentioned as well as some feature updates for some of the other products.


Monday, May 29, 2006

A Time to Remember

Today is a day to remember our fallen hero's and what they have done for us.   Without the brave men and women that stand up for our rights every day past and present we wouldn't be able to continue to enjoy the freedom's we value so much.  As today comes to a close I sit back watching cable with my twin sons thinking about what freedom's I can use every day because of what hero's past and present do for us.  As this war in Iraq continues and we continue to lose family, friends and strangers just remember without those brave souls we couldn't be doing half of the things we do every day.  I hope you have all enjoyed your three day weekend as much as I have. 

Until next time....

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Best Practice Series 2

I hope you have been following this series; I have got some good feedback from it.  If you haven’t been following the series please look back through the posts for the title “Best Practices Series 1”.  If you have been following, thanks for the support and feedback.

Welcome to Best Practices Series 2, in this session I will continue with the topic of Components. I hope that you will find these four Best Practices very useful in your every day designs.

Delete Components Not Blocks

One of the most difficult habits I find users fighting to overcome on a daily basis is deleting blocks.  From our first issue in the series we discussed thinking of Electrical symbols as Components. By thinking of symbols more as components it will help us to remember to use the tools provided to manipulate these components.  For example I would want to Delete Components instead of Erasing Blocks. What I mean by this is use the AutoCAD Electrical “Delete Component” command instead of reverting back to the AutoCAD Erase command. This is a very difficult habit to break because of most of our background in AutoCAD. Let’s face it we have been using AutoCAD Erase for years; it will be a hard habit to break. Listed below are a couple of benefits of Deleting Components instead of wires.

Delete Component Benefits:

  • Automatically Heals Wires
  • Updates the Scratch Database
  • Updates any required cross references
  • Automatically re-locates existing wire numbers

Move Components Not Blocks

Classically in AutoCAD a designer would use the “Move” command then select the block to move, and then select a base point, then a new location point.  In AutoCAD Electrical a user can simply right click over a component and choose “Move Component” then select the new location for the component. This takes out a couple of the steps to say the least. Listed below are a few more of the benefits of moving components.

Move Components Benefits:

  • Automatically Heals Wires
  • Automatically Trims New Wire
  • Automatically Prompts for Retag
  • Automatically Re-Locates Existing Wire Numbers

Multiple Insert Component Not Array

Back in the day, the array command was one of the best tools when having to create a set of duplicated blocks or geometry in AutoCAD and it still is today. However AutoCAD Electrical has a “Multiple Insert Component” command that will allow you to create a crossing selection across wires that you want to insert a component onto.

Multiple Insert Component Benefits:

  • Insert multiple intelligent symbols at once
  • Have the ability to show edit dialog after each insert (allows user to give different information for each component)
  • Have the ability to skip components on rungs in the selection set (can’t be done with an array)
  • Automatically Tags each component properly.
  • Automatically trims wires accordingly.

Aligning Components

This is truly one of my favorite commands in AutoCAD Electrical. I remember taking old designs and copying them forward only to end up removing quite a bit of content. This would typically leave the components staggered from rung to rung.  Man was it a pain to align them back up so everything looked nice and neat again. AutoCAD Electrical has an Align Wire command that makes this task painless.

AutoCAD Workflow:

  • Create a construction line through the insertion point of the first component.
  • Move or stretch each remaining component from insertion point perpendicular to the construction line.
  • Repeat for each component to be aligned.

AutoCAD Electrical Workflow:

  • Right Click on component and select Align.
  • Select components to follow that alignment.

In the next issue of Best Practices I will discuss Ladder Tools, their not just for climbing any more……

Friday, May 26, 2006

Are you an American Idol fan????

You might have heard of American Idol, but have you heard of Electrical Idol????? Check out what could become the most interesting contest I have seen in a while.  Check it out at http://mfgcommunity.autodesk.com/blog/nate/

Thursday, May 25, 2006

AutoCAD Electircal Best Practices Series 1...

I am back from my South / North Carolina trip, and I have to say I had a productive trip and flight back. I had the opportunity to sit in first class where I actually have the room to use my laptop on the plane. It was great, so anyway below you will see my work from the flight back.

As with many software packages and design tools, there are many ways to accomplish the same task.  This can add a load of confusion to novice and veteran users alike.  In addition to the countless ways to accomplish the same tasks, there are similarities between AutoCAD and AutoCAD Electrical that can add confusion.  Along with these hurdles, AutoCAD might provide a manual process to accomplish the task, where AutoCAD Electrical, being an electrical design tool, may provide an automated process for the same task.

Over the past three years working for INCAT I have had the opportunity to work with numerous customers with several CAD design tools and engineering issues.  During my time at INCAT I have found several best practices when using AutoCAD Electrical and I want to share some of that content with users like you. Over the next few weeks I will be adding to this series different “Best Practices” that I have found over time as well as any new ones that I find in the coming weeks.  Read on and enjoy. 

We will start this series with some of the items that users need to think differently about when using AutoCAD Electrical, such as components.  AutoCAD Electrical uses core AutoCAD technology with scripts/programs built on top to automate daily even hourly tasks. Components are nothing more than AutoCAD Blocks with attributes. The reason we need to think differently is because the tools within AutoCAD Electrical views these blocks as an intelligent object, so why shouldn't’t we think of them this way, having said that I will get started with a few of the specifics that we need to think about.

Insert Components Not Blocks

As a former designer for both Mechanical and Electrical engineering in the Automated Machinery Industry I have been using Autodesk products since the mid ninety’s including AutoCAD, AutoCAD Mechanical and Autodesk Inventor.  Back in the day when I worked on AutoCAD doing electrical schematics I wish I had a tool to automate some of the daily tasks such as inserting, tagging, annotating and trimming the wires. It used to be a tedious task to get the block symbol in even for the most advanced users.  By changing our thinking from inserting AutoCAD blocks to inserting Electrical Components it will help us old school AutoCAD users to remember to use the tools designed for AutoCAD Electrical.  I have listed several of the benefits of inserting a component below.

Insert Component Benefits:

  • Automatically Trim Wires
  • Automatically Assign Device ID/Component Tag
  • Automatically Prompt Users for Annotation
  • Automatically Re-locates Existing Wire Numbers

Check back often for more in this series. I hope you will find this series useful to yourself and co-workers.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Purging your Blocks.... Project Wide

This is my last night in South Carolina and I have really enjoyed my time here.  It was very warm compared to what I am used to in Michigan.  I have to get to bed early tonight I have to drive to North Carolina in the morning to catch my flight back home, so I figured I would post a quick tip tonight.  So read on and hopefully you can put this tip to use.

As with any drawings in AutoCAD you end up with many unused block definitions in your drawings, AutoCAD Electrical isn't much different in that aspect, the only main difference is that you could have many drawings you are working with.  I have one customer that has about 300 sheets on average in their projects, that is quite a few drawings to go through and purge the blocks out before shipping or archiving the job. In AutoCAD Electrical a user can purge blocks project wide along with many other project wide utilities.

Project-Wide Utilities

Make sure that the active is saved or a drawing from the project.  From the Projects pull down menu select Project Wide Utilities.


  • Click Ok
  • Select Project from the next dialog box.
  • Click Ok
  • Select the drawings to process.
  • Click Ok

As you can see from the Project-Wide Utilities dialog box there are many tasks that can be done project wide.

Well, I am going to try to go to sleep a little early to get some sleep.

More to come.....

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Trimming Multiple Wires

Today I was at a client and we were discussing the benifits of AutoCAD Electrical tools and what they do for us over AutoCAD commands.  For example AutoCAD Electrical trim wire, over the AutoCAD trim command. The AutoCAD Electrical Trim Wire command thinks about the electrical intelligents in the drawing where the AutoCAD Trim command only works off of your input and selections.  During this discussion the client mentioned "With the AutoCAD Trim command I can trim multiple lines at once. Can I do that with the Trim Wire command?" That is a great question that I am asked quite often.  The short and simple answer is Yes.  I want to use this post as a reminder to look at our command prompt, something I often forget to do.

Trim Wire command options:

  • Fence = Draw a "Fence" to trim multiple wires.
  • Crossing = Draw a crossing window to trim multiple wires. (New to 2007)
  • Zext = Zoom Extents while staying in the command.

I hope you have found this tip useful.

Stay Tuned


Monday, May 22, 2006

Good Morning from South Carolina

I don't have a lot of time for a lengthy topic this morning since I am headed to a client's in South Carolina but I figured I would mention a topic and ask for some feedback.  I have recently been doing some testing with Vault 5.0 and Productstream 5.0 with AutoCAD Electrical 2007 and I think it is great. I Iwas wondering if anyone else out there has been using it. I plan to make a couple posts over the next few weeks with respect to the three products to both educate on the topic and give some tips and tricks.

Until then, have a great day and I will post something later this evening after I leave the client's.

Rob Stein

Friday, May 19, 2006

Insert Spreadsheet Data to Table.... ACE Rocks

I remember back in the day when I did real work I was always creating spreadsheets to display servo data, motor data and anything else the Engineers wanted to display in the drawings. The problem would come in when I wanted to get the Spreadsheet into the drawings. You could import it as an OLE object but then it looked horrible.

I recently was going through some of the toolbars and menu's just to see what I have forgotten or have never found, and I found a tool to help out with the scenario mentioned above. That Nate guy thoght of everything.

If you go to the Projects pull down menu, then the Reports fly out menu click on "Insert Spreadsheet Data to Table". This will allow you to select a spreadsheet and bring it into the standard Report Generator we are used to seeing in AutoCAD Electrical reports.  This dialog gives us the ability to add information such as line labels, time and date, page breaks and even edit specific line entries within the Report Generator.  Great tool that many may have overlooked. Once you select Put on Drawing it will give you the standard Table Generation Setup dialog just like when we run BOM reports or any other reports. After you click OK you place the newly created "Table" into your drawing.

If you have any ideas or topics you would like me to cover in an upcoming blog please feel free to Email me at rstein@incat.com with your topic ideas.


Rob Stein