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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Little known issue.....

The scenario is this. I put in a bunch of terminals into my drawing then when I use the terminal strip editor to place the graphical representation I don't get item numbers. This will be true in all cases. The trick here would normally be to use the "Resequence Item Numbers" command located under the Panel Layout menu, then the Miscellaneous Panel Tools sub menu. This command is typically used to re-order the existing item numbers or assign new ones. The problem comes in here. If there is a panel symbol that doesn't have the P_Item attribute on it, the command can't add anything new. As we know when creating panel symbols we don't have to put that attribute in, and if we don't it will typically get added as XData on our symbol when we use the insert or edit footprint commands. Since the P_Item attribute isn't there I will explain how to add it to the Terminals that would be placed using the Terminal Strip Editor.

First we will need to know the part number of the terminal we want to add the P_Item attribute to. for example let's say it is a DN-T1/0 from Automation Direct. We will now go to the Footprint Database File Editor located under the Panel Layout Menu, then under the Database File Editor sub menu. Now we will need to select Edit Existing Table which gives us a look into the database table structure. Now we select Automation Direct from the list and click Ok. Once in this new dialog users will see a list of part numbers. The slight catch / confusion area here is the wild cards that are used.

  • * - Match any characters from that character position to the end of the part number.
  • ? - Matches any single character position.
  • # - Match any single numeric digit.
  • @ - Match any single alphabetic character.

For example I can have ten part number that is physically represented with the same block, and without the wild cards I would need to type in all ten entries into the database. Moving on now find the part number that follows the correct wild card usage and matches the number you are looking for. The next column is the block name information, along with the directory structure from the Panel Library and below, plus the block name. in AutoCAD Electrical the user will now go to this directory and find this block. Once you find it open it and use the Attdef command (this command is used to create attribute definitions). Be sure to select the "Invisible" option at the left side of the dialog box. near the right side top of the dialog you will see the "Tag" field type in "P_Item". You will now click Ok, then pick a point on the screen to place it. (The location doesn't matter much since we have chosen Invisible which means it will not show up on our drawings.)

Now when you insert this block next time, using the Resequence Item Numbers will assign item numbers to this block. Works great. The next little thing is if you have already placed this block and you are now going back and updating the block you will need to update all instances of this block on your project.

Located under the Components Menu then Component Miscellaneous select Swap/Update Block. This command gives you two (2) main options on swapping and updating blocks. the one we will use is the Option B: Update a Block. this allows a user to select a block on the drawing, then go to the new definition (the one we just edited in the Panel folder) select this block. You will then be able to make some settings changes, then choose project wide. The project wide option will run the block update across the entire project for that block name.

I hope this helps.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

A Right click a day will keep the headaches away.....

As I have trained 100+ students on AutoCAD Electrical and even more on other Autodesk products I see one very common theme that is probably one of the best tips I can give. I am just surprised it has taken me this long to think of posting on it. In Autodesk Inventor you right click and have a bunch of options. Those options change depending on what you right clicked on, or what command you are in. Vault and Productstream are very similar in that way. Well surprise, AutoCAD Electrical is not any different. Over the past couple of releases the right click availability has improved quite a bit. For example if I want to insert a component, I could go to the toolbar, tool palette or even the pulldown menu to activate the command, then pick the sub menus to get to my component or I could right click on a wire and click insert component. the benefit here is wherever I right clicked on that wire is the insertion point for symbol. So it saves me several steps.

Here is another example, if I need to trim a wire between two jumpers in a circuit. I could go to the command through one of the many methods that exist on a toolbar, tool palette or menu, or I could just right click on the wire and select trim wire. Throughout a day this could save a few minutes or more just by making this simple habit change. Another thing this right click is good for is when you forget where to access a command.

I hope this saves us all a little time in our designs and let's us focus more on the things that matter, which is creating better designs by focusing on the designs not the tools to document the designs.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Breakfast with a friend.

I had the opportunity to have breakfast this morning with a long time friend and former client.  Our topic of discussion was Promis-E vs. AutoCAD Electrical. He used to work for a company using Promis-E, then the company I work for came in and switched him over to AutoCAD Electrical 2006. All was great in his life, then he got a new job, closer to home, better advancement opportunity for him but there was one catch.... This catch was, he had to move back to Promis-E, and all of the problems he had so recently left behind.  Our discussion Tuesday morning was an opportunity for my friend to ask me some questions about 2007 since he had never worked on it, and vent some issues that he faces every day with that brand X software. After discussing a few problems that he encounters I think we came up with a plan to get AutoCAD Electrical into the company. The plan will take a while to roll out since it involves some work of gathering information on my friends part, but I think in the end AutoCAD Electrical will win yet another account.

Talk to you soon.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Internal Jumpers

I am coming off of the tail end of quite a few weeks of travel, not to mention quite a few weeks of slacking on my blog postings. So today I am going to post on a real topic, not related to a user group, or anything like that. I am going to discuss Internal Jumpers in AutoCAD Electrical. There are two methods that I am aware of to create internal jumpers within an AutoCAD Electrical block. Here they are.....

At Symbol Creation:

When you utilize the Symbol Builder you can add the WD_Jumpers attribute to the symbol which will allow you to use a specific syntax to define the jumpers. For example if Pins 01, 02 and 04 are internally connected the value of the WD_Jumpers attribute would read (("01""02""04")) or the next example. Pins 12 and 14 are jumpered and pins 25 and 30 are jumpered separately. the WD_Jumpers attribute value would read (("12""14")("25""30")).

Adding to an existing symbol:

Located under the components pulldown menu, then on the Components Misc flyout you will find the Add/Edit Internal Jumpers command. This is more of a graphical interface to allow you to do somewhat of the same thing. The main difference is that this is per symbol instance and the other method is always on that symbol. So back to this method. after you start the command the user will select the component (symbol) they would like to add or edit jumpers on. A nice little interface is displayed that shows on one side, the available terminal pins and on the other side the assigned jumper list. There are tools to Add, Update, Delete as well as pick and show jumpers. Lets talk about each button for a minute.

  • The Pick button allows users to select near the connection point on a device that they want to include in the jumper list. Note: This can also be selected from the terminal pin list at the top.
  • The Add Button will actually assign the Jumpers, and display the results in the right hand side of the dialog box.
  • The Update button will change an existing jumper assignment.
  • The Show Jumpers button will graphically show you on the screen where the jumpers start and end.

Once the user clicks Ok. the data for this transaction is stored as Xdata on the symbol.

Thanks for being patient with my travel and lack of posting. Hope you enjoy this one.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Yes I am a CAD Geek.....

The past few days I have had the opportunity to answer quite a few more questions from the Ask the CAD Geek site that INCAT started. You too can ask the CAD Geeks of INCAT at www.cadgeekgiveaway.com. Anyway there was a really good question regarding AutoCAD Electrical and some of the capabilities of the software that I wanted to share with everyone who reads my site. 

The question was "Does AutoCAD Electrical have any capabilities of checking power loads within the design?" The answer is yes.  AutoCAD Electrical provides some tools to assign load information to the components in the design. AutoCAD Electrical can then report this information back to you in a report format. In the near future I will be writing up a much more detailed blog post on this topic. I just figured that I could let everyone know about it now, and put the details up later.

Good luck to that user on the cadgeekgiveaway prize of  $50,000.

Talk to everyone soon at the next user group....

Rob Stein

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Hello from Chicago.....

Hello to all from just outside of Chicago..... I am still traveling so my blog posting has been quite limited  but I thought I would post this here looking for some feedback from any companies that have had success in this. I would like to get a feel for how many people have interest in this topic.

I am currently at a client's site where they would like to point AutoCAD Electrical's Catalog Lookup to an SQL database. The only way I am aware of this today is to write a "Bridging" application that does the work for you. I was wondering if anyone has succesfully completed this task. I am also curious as to how many other companies are interested in this type of task.  The basic need to connect to an SQL database I would think is pretty high considering a lot of companies have their ERP / part information already in that format.

If you would like to respond please respond to rstein@incat.com. I am looking forward to hearing everyones feedback on this.



Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Great Tips from Nate on Autolisp

Man, time flies when you are on the road. I just realized it has been a while since  I have posted anything. Unfortunatley I have been very swamped this past couple weeks with travel and a pretty big implementation project so my time has been limited. I did happen to notice that Nate Holt has put a couple Autolisp lessons on his blog site. You can view lesson 1 here. Lesson 1 goes over some basics on picking stuff and retrieving information from what you have selected. You can view lesson 2 here. Lesson 2 covers inserting blocks from the basic level. I hope that you all find this useful. I think Nate has done a great job of breaking it down to something easy to understand. Also look through nates blog he has posted Autlisp code for download on his site.

Question of the day.....

  • Has anyone used autolisp in the past as a way to automate some of the tasks they do every day.

Have a good day.