« October 2008 | Main | December 2008 »

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Viva Las Vegas (Autodesk University)

I am sitting here in the Speaker Ready room in Las Vegas getting ready for my 3 classes I am presenting this year. I am doing well with them. Making some final adjustments to the classes then time to practice, practice and practice some more.

For the time being, I took a short break now that I have two of the 3 exactly how I want them. If I don't draw the line somewhere I will keep adding more stuff. Not a bad thing, but when you have three classes on similar subjects you can easily get them confused.

Well off to grab some dinner and maybe hit the roulette table.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Friends from India are safe...

I am not sure who may have heard about the terrorist attacks in Mumbai India this past week. This kind of hits home for me as I have friends in India, some who recently moved to Mumbai and I have also visited India this past May. When I visited India I laned in Mumbai then traveled 4 hours to Pune India. Also after I came back some of my friends from INCAT went to India and stayed in Mumbai for an event they were presenting in.

While I was over there I managed to make some close friends, Mihir, Keyur, Sankar, Supriya, Rupali, Mandar and Alex, to mention a few. When I heard about the attacks in Mumbai I was very worried for the safety of my freinds and their families.

This morning I had my computer on, logged into my Google Talk account while I was working on getting upgraded to first class for my trip to Vegas tomorrow when I heard the computer make some noise. That noise was Mihir sending me a message on Google Talk. This was great, I was very happy to hear that he was ok. He also informed me that everyone over there is safe. He also informed me that he is back in the USA for a while so I will get to meet up with him when I get back from Vegas and we will get to hang out again. The last time he was here, I took him to the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield village.

I am not sure what we will do this time, but we will surely find something to do. I really enjoy when Mihir and I get to talk because I learn so much from him about his country and I feel he learns a lot from me also.

Well it is time to finish packing and spending time with my family so I am ready to leave for Las Vegas first thing tomorrow morning.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day Parade

I just got back from the Thanksgiving Day Parade in the Detroit. I started a tradition with my son (only 1 of them wanted to go) by going to the parade. My dad also came with us which was fun. My only complaint (of course I have to have a complaint) is that we found a perfect spot. Right on the corner of Mack and Woodward. It was perfect literally right on the corner. We got there about 1.5 hours before the Parade started which was nice also. The problem came in with all of the people that came at the last minute, and of course they decided to stand in the street in front of us. Then the police was telling everyone to back up and of course those people did not remember they pushed there way through us to the front. So my son, dad and msyelf ended up getting pushed to the back. Oh well, I am just thankful that I got time to spend with my son and dad which was great.

I hope everyone has a great thanksgiving with their families and for today forget about all the bad things going on in the world and just enjoy the time with family and friends.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

How it's Made Part 2

So tonight I got to see part of another one of the How It's Made show on Discovery. The only part I saw was how they make canned corn. You know, the Delmonte or Meijer brand of whole kernal corn. Anyway, it was a very cool process.

It starts off with a machine to remove the husks and other things from the outside of the corn ear. Then it goes on to a machine that strips off the kernals, then moves on to a machine to put it in the can with some liquid mix (of course top secret.) Then it get's sealed, and shipped out.

Fix Me....

Alright, I have been babbling a lot about non CAD things for a little while. Now it's time to talk about some AutoCAD Electrical stuff I used in the past. Basically the concept is to have a block named fix_me that you insert this symbol into your drawing where you know you need to do some rework. This symbol could have the intelligence that trims out your wires, has descriptions etc... Then when you use the next / previous drawing tools it automatically finds this block, then zooms in on it. Here is the information from the help file on how to do it.

You can set up to have an AutoLisp utility run each time you open a project drawing from the project manager or the "next/previous" toolbar button picks.


  • Create and test the AutoLisp utility that you want to execute as each drawing opens.
    Open the "wd.env" file with a text editor, find the "WD_OPEN_DWG" line and un-comment it (remove the leading (*) character and insert a call to your self-starting AutoLisp routine.
    Save the wd.env file and restart AutoCAD Electrical.
    Make sure your utility loads (either automatically or through an explicit load included in the command string.
  • A simple example: you want to be able to insert a special "fix me" block on a drawing as a reminder that something needs further attention. If this block exists on a drawing when it is opened from the project manager window or from the next/previous toolbar buttons, then the drawing will zoom up on the block before anything else happens. Here's the AutoLisp utility you might create to do this (saved as file name "fix_me.lsp" and saved to a folder in the AutoCAD search path):

(defun c:fix_me ( / ss en ed xy)
  ; Look for any block insert on the drawing with a block name of "FIX_ME"
  (setq ss (ssget "_X" '((-4 . "<AND")(0 . "INSERT")(2 . "FIX_ME")(-4 . "AND>"))))
  (if (/= ss nil)
    (progn ; one or more found. Zoom up on the first one found
      (setq en (ssname ss 0)) ; entity name of first or only block
      (setq ss nil) ; release the selection set
      (setq ed (entget en))
      (setq xy (cdr (assoc 10 ed))) ; block insertion point
      (command "_.ZOOM" "_CENTER" xy 1.0)
      (princ "\nThis needs attention!!!\n")
  ) )   

Here's the uncommented line in the wd.env file (includes an explicit load of the above utility each time):

WD_OPEN_DWG,(if(not c:fix_me)(if(setq x(findfile "fix_me.lsp"))(load x)))(if c:fix_me (c:fix_me))

Let me know how it helps.


Monday, November 24, 2008

T minus 1 Week...

Well we are down to the wire now. There is 1 week left before Autodesk University. 1 week left to make any last minute changes to the 3 presentations I have to give. Less than 1 week until I get on a plane and fly four hours to Vegas. I am really looking forward to it and so far all 3 of my classes have around 50 to 60 people signed up. I also have pretty good time slots, all of my classes are before lunch. I think that is the best thing, before lunch and not the first class either.

Once again for anyone who is interested, I am teaching the following classes and you can still sign up I believe.

Wednesday December 03, 2008 ~ 10:15 am
  • (EC205-1) AutoCAD Electrical Power Tools for Power Users 
"Are you an AutoCAD Electrical power user looking for commands you are certain exist but can't seem to find? During this session, we'll discuss several of the lesser-known AutoCAD Electrical features, including wiring information for panel drawings and using the power of Excel to update and manipulate your drawings. We'll take a look at setting up Pin Lists to automatically assign pins to your components based on catalog information."

Thursday December 04, 2008 ~ 8:15 am
  • (EC301-1L) Become a Circuit Ninja with AutoCAD Electrical 2009 Circuit Builder  
"Do you want to be a Ninja? I did, that's why I submitted this course. After taking this course, you will be able to take the AutoCAD Electrical standard circuits / templates and create your own. This will allow you to take it back to your company and provide digital prototyping to your electrical department. I will show you how to create custom UI, and custom configurable circuits. This will help automate your engineering designs for similar circuits, such as start / stop circuits."

Thursday December 04, 2008 ~ 10:15 am
  • (EC305-1) Using the AutoCAD Electrical Circuit Builder for Other Stuff  
"This new tool made its debut in AutoCAD Electrical 2009. It is designed in such a way it begs to be twisted, bent, and customized to do other neat and cool things."

I hope to see you all at the event. Now back to practicing my presentations. 

Interview with Rich

I had the opportunity to discuss AutoCAD with one of my colleagues the other day while trying to help him with some problems. His name is Rich Hogan and has been using AutoCAD since the early days of AutoCAD. At our company we use a customized version of AutoCAD Mechanical 2005. After I helped him with his immediate problem I started to ask a few more questions to become more educated about some of the AutoCAD users I would be working with. Here are some of our Q & A.

Q) Rich, what is your favorite version of AutoCAD?

A) AutoCAD R14 

Q) Why do you prefer AutoCAD 14?

A) AutoCAD 14 included the most innovations in a single release (I never really used AutoCAD 13). There were many new commands, the interface changes (Toolbars and Icons) seemed logical and fairly intuitive. 

Q) Would you lose any functionality from our current version if we were to move back to version 14?

A) Yes. I am currently using a heavily customized version of AutoCAD 2005. I'm sure that there are a number of commands and scripts that I use, that would not be supported by the earlier version. The greatest impact would be the loss of the ability to Scroll, Pan, and Zoom using the middle mouse button. I currently use a 5 button MS optical mouse, and I'm not sure that AutoCAD 14 could support the customization. 

Q) What type of designs do you use AutoCAD for?

A) The company I work for is a Systems Integrator for the assembly of Automotive Power Train components. We design and build assembly lines that make cylinder heads, engines, transmissions and axles for the automotive and related industries. My particular area of responsibility is as a transport designer responsible for the layout, design, release and support of the transport (conveyor system) that moves the part(s) through the various automatic and manual assembly stations. This also includes the development, and maintenance of the plant layout showing the assembly line, including the conveyor stations, dunnage, aisles, and all surrounding plant features, columns, team rooms, storage areas, etc... 

Q) On average, how many hours a day do you use AutoCAD?

A) I probably use AutoCAD about 5 plus hours a day, it depends on what phase a project is at, more at the start in the concept and design phase, less in the build and support phase, and then the most at the final documentation phase. 

Q) Do you feel you could complete these designs in 3D? and if so, do you think there would be value to the 3D models and visualization that comes along with 3D Design?

A) Many designs could be done in 3D, particularly the design of the individual components, conveyor sections, elevators, rotates and diverts. Our parent company in Germany uses 3D for these designs. But the overall plant, and system layouts are more like an architectural plan view (floor plan) of the assembly line. Unless there were some very lean models, a 3D plant layout would be too large for practical use.

Q) I have talked to you briefly in the past about a new product I have seen that allows a 3D rules based design. What are your thoughts on that tool?

A) I am very interested in learning more about this tool. I believe that with the proper planning, implementation, and support it may be a very powerful tool that could help to automate the design and layout of the conveyor system. 

Q) In closing, what is your favorite AutoCAD 14 command and why?

A) My favorite AutoCAD 14 command is the Properties dialog box. This command brought up only the specific properties that could be edited for the object type selected. With this command I was able to very easily edit and object my drawing and get the desired results the first time. The current properties side bar menu in AutoCAD is a complete nightmare. You have to wade through chevron after chevron to find specifically the property you are looking for. This is particularly true for the editing of dimensions. My employer uses dimension overrides for all dimensions (no dimension styles). This makes for some very interesting situations when combining drawings from different vendors and or different CAD standards.

There you have it,  AutoCAD 14 is still everyone’s favorite version of AutoCAD. Thanks for your thoughts Rich, we will be talking again in the future.

Get Mechanically Thinking...

Check out this way to get Mechanically Thinking delivered to your email or use an RSS feed. On the right hand page of the Mechanically Thinking blog you should see a "Subscribe to this blogs feed" link. Click on that.

After clicking the link it will take you to the feedburner site. Feedburner is what I am using to send out the RSS feeds and email. After it brings you to the page, you have a choice of some web based news readers, other readers or getting it delivered via email.

That's it, then you will get any new posts delivered once a day to you. I use it to get my own posts emailed to me as well as others.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The New Macbook...

Last year around Christmas time I purchased my first Apple computer, a Macbook, then about a month later, I purchased my second Apple computer, a 20 inch iMac. Needless to say, I love the Apple computers and I am using my iMac as I type. Let's get one thing straight, I still use Windows Software and probably always will as I need them for work, and I truly believe that there is a purpose for Windows and a purpose for MAC OS. 

Over the past few weeks Apple announced yet another great line of Apple computers. The new Macbook and Macbook Pro's were announced and they are amazing. I think one of the coolest things is the new Aluminum Unibody enclosure. This was one of the biggest things I noticed about the new macbook. With the Unibody design the enclosure it is now made from one solid piece of Aluminum instead of multiple pieces that add size, weight, complexity and more chances for failure. This single aluminum body is beautiful. 

A new LED backlight display was also another new feature in the new laptop. This allows for the same amount of light being produced for the display in much thinner space.

The new Macbook Pro has a new trackpad, that is a trackpad with no button. Why do we need a button, when we can use the trackpad as a button. The trackpad also has multi-touch which is great for using gestures to accomplish things without a mouse.

The new GeForce 9600M GT processor is extremely powerful. The great thing about this new technology is that you get both an integrated graphics processor and the graphics card mentioned above. This allows you to use the power when you need it, then when you are doing normal tasks you can switch it over to the integrated to save power.

With Apple designing both the hardware and the software, they can improve anything they want. They have total control and I think we will see many more great innovations in the years to come from Apple.

You can read more about this innovative new laptop design at Apple.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Interesting article....

Here is an interesting article I read today at lunch about Detroit and the auto industry. It is by Seth Godin.

Click Here

Seths Main Site