Friday, April 19, 2019

The Old Draftsman

Once Upon a Time, a young engineer went for a walk in the forest.
He came upon an old man, sitting on a tree stump, staring into space.

"Hello," he said, "What are you doing here?"
"Ah," said the old man, "I used to be a draftsman, but then I went mad, so they sent me here."
"Oh? Why did you go mad?" said the young engineer.
"It does not matter now, " the old draftsman replied, "but it was something about drawings that had to be changed,
 and then they wanted me to draw a diagram of the Hazardous Areas in the plant, anyway, I see you are an engineer."

"How did you pick that?"
"Well, it's easy. You have in your hand a bunch of drawings that are printed out with grey lines instead of black."
"Oh that....Well I just get into Autocad and hit the Print button and that's what I get."

A glimmer of hope entered the old draftsman's eye and he said:
"You know, you don't have to do that. It is very simple not to, can I explain how to do it?"
"Noooooo!" wailed the young engineer, "I'm an engineer, I don't have to know that stuff!"

"Please!" entreated the old draftsman, falling to his knees and tugging on the young engineer's sleeve,"you can do it!
 After all, you must be reasonably clever just to do those Engineer's Exams?"

"Well...I suppose so." he answered.

"OK," said the old draftsman "it goes like this: Once upon a time in a land far away and long ago,two elves were designing Autocad."
One turned to the other and said: "How are we going to get thick and thin lines to come out?"
To which the other replied "I know, let's make it one colour for thin lines and another for thick lines."
Then the other said: "How can we make the computer remember which colours are related to which fat or thin lines?"
"That's easy," replied the other, "we can store the values in a separate file,let's call the file extension .ctb,
which stands for colour table....hmm dunno what the b stands for but we have to have 3 letters so there you go."

The old draftsman, sighed, and said:
"Well that's all there is to it: Just hit the print button and in the top right hand corner of the dialog box
there is a selection of ctb files to choose from. I'd suggest you choose the one your draftsman seems to use-
you can spot it right away usually,because it is right at the bottom of the list, called something like 'Freds.ctb'."

The young engineer lived happily ever after.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Hardware and Software for CAD

I must be nuts! Writing on 3 CAD blogs?

Not such an easy question to answer, mine at the moment is swinging towards using Autocad 3D solids to model houses.   This after a brief foray into the land of Sketchup.  Revit I find wonderful and maddening in equal measure, and will probably end up going down that rabbit hole.

Common to all of these is you have to have a suitable computer to run any of them.

My computer is getting on a bit now (like me) and just lately has started freeze up crashes that are only fixed by disconnecting the power.

So my options are:

1. Replace the hard drive in my existing Z230 with a new SSD for around NZ$150. My wife would certainly see that one as a no-brainer. The Z230 has had it's original K2000 graphics card replaced with a P2000 Quadro, which gives life to the old girl. Using Enscape on it is a delight. but paying for Enscape, not quite so much fun.

2.Buy a new computer. Immediately there is  a choice: Workstation or PC?  A man who started work with me, suggested the following PC:
CPU - Intel i7-8700k                                                                                                         $659.00
Arctic Silver 5 High-Density Silver AS5-3.5G Thermal Compound 3.5          $20.00  
Cooler Master Hyper H411R CPU Cooler with 92mm White LED PWM Fan$44.00
Motherboard - Gigabyte Z390 I AORUS PRO WIFI ITX                                       $401.00
"Hard drive - Samsung 970 Evo M.2 (2280),NVMe SSD R/W(Max)
3,400MB/s/2,300MB/s"                                                                                                 $228.00
Memory - G.SKILL Trident Z Series 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR4 3200Mhz CL16                $616.00
Power Supply Unit - Cooler Master MWE Gold 650W 80Plus Gold Full
 Modular Power Supply                                                                                                 $162.00
Case - Cooler Master Elite 130 Ultra Compact Mini-ITX USB3.0                     $79.35
"Monitor - Philips BDM4350UC/75 43"" 4K"                                                          $885.00
Mouse - LG Wired                                                                                                           $109.00
Mouse mat                                                                                                                         $26.00
Keyboard - Mechanical (cherry brown) (PB Tech G413
Mechanical Backlit gaming-carbon)                                                                          $148.00
CD/DVD Writer  (PB Tech LG gs40N)                                                                        $54.00
Windows 10 home                                                                                                          $182.00

Apologies for the above blank space- it seems importing stuff from Excel is tricky!

2. The other option is a high spec HP Workstation, which has a supposedly better graphics card in the P4000, namely a HP Z6 G4 3FF57PA

Processor model: Intel Xeon Silver 4116RAM size: 32 GB Graphics processor: Quadro P4000 Type of chassis: MiditowerFlash/SSD
One of these is around NZ$7000, so unless you had huge amounts of highly paid work in front of you, is probably a bit on the high side. 

A friend has pointed me in the direction of some articles, which can be found on the Cadalyst site:

Just to make things even more painful, I am still running with Autocad 2016, which may or may not run 4K nicely, should I go completely mad and get a 43" 4K monitor.  It may run, but with a bit of tweaking.

Friday, March 9, 2018

An Architectural Detail Inserter

Over the years, I have noticed that as a contractor arriving at a new workplace which has other Autocad draftsmen, I would enthusiastically inform them that they could use a lisp routine or button to improve their workflow.

After several rebuffs, I got the message: "We don't want to know."

Sadly, I found this solitary fact about humans: They do not want to know about doing things more efficiently.

It is almost as if they have learnt for themselves some stupid technique, and because they have done this, they own it. That means any other way must be rejected.

I myself am not immune to this process, but if the correct way and reasons for it are placed in front of me, I have on occasion changed my method.

My latest project is a case in point. As an architectural draftsman, one of the more annoying parts of drawing a house is the assembling of the details.  For an ordinary house, this might come to around twenty A3 sheets, with as much as four details per sheet.

Drafting drudgery!  Surely it would be quick an easy to whip up a program to do this?

What were my options?

Using Autolisp was not an option as we are using Autocad LT.  in the past I have used Microsoft Visual Basic to serve as a means to generate an Autocad script, so I decided to go down this rabbit hole.

Three months of weekends and nights slaving over something a real programmer would see as a trivial job, I finished it.

Here it is, in action:

A very simple one form program, all it presents is a list of details on a panel which you choose from.  Once chosen, a preview appears. Pressing another button copies the file name to another panel. Once you have a list, next press another button to generate an Autocad script.

Running the script in Autocad inserts new layouts and viewports.  In model space a set of reference bubbles is found which you then put on your elevation.

My present work has shown no interest, but I retire soon and I may do a similar thing for Revit.  

The ethical consideration of letting a thing like this loose could be concerning.
Instead of spending say one hour inserting details you might spend five minutes.
Less work for draftsmen.  On the other hand, if I don't do it, someone else will.

Which leads me to the strange system of architectural drafting that is the standard at the moment, which is that every drawing office has it's stock of details which it inserts in the set of building consent drawings.

This to me, is nuts!

What is to stop the government from issuing a book of standard details to every builder?  Then all the architect need do is refer to this book in his drawings?

Of course, not all would be covered, but for an ordinary house they would be.

Anyway, check out my video on YouTube at:

Thursday, January 18, 2018

I did it myyyyy way!

Which, sometimes, is not everyone else's way! Recently the boss got me onto a duplex. The source was a drawing already done by an architect in cad, as a PDF file.

Oh goody, I thought, I can try out the 2017 Autocad LT command PDF import.  It seemed to do an excellent job on it, so I scaled it up and away I went, being Mr Efficiency, converting all the layers to our ones.  What I did not take on board, was that the boss, as an owner of the business, wanted things like windows to have a consistent look, and I appreciate that now.

What also proved annoying was the appearance of inaccuracy, namely walls that were not 90.000, but 90.200. Some were, some were not, so everything had to be checked, which makes me think it would have been faster to draw it from scratch.

Then my co-worker mentioned that she found layers named "gf New dim" annoying.  Why not just name them "gf dim"? Well I said that is my doing, because I wanted to have a constant layer set across all jobs, ie residential, commercial and renovation, so I can use my scripts to change colours of layers so I can see what layers I am on.  Currently we only use three colours, so you never quite know what layer an item is.  Needless to say I have a script button that changes all my multicoloured stuff back to good ole red and white!

I am supposedly retiring end of March, and propose to work from home an a contract basis, so it appears I am more wedded to my work than I thought I was.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Modelling a Cleaner's Trolley

For the last week and a half, I have been laid off work (boss overloaded), so I have been keeping myself busy by entering competitions.  Be warned, these do not pay very much, and if you do not win, you get nothing for all your work.
Still, it seems I have to be cadding along somehow.  One of the competitions was for a motorised version of a cleaner's trolley.  I was quite disappointed when the number of stars I got was 3, and other entries which were just hand sketches got 4 stars. Oh well, this is life! I put quite a lot of consideration into exactly what was going into the trolley, and how it was to be accessed.  The more highly rated did not seem to even consider the items to go inside.

Here is my entry, modelled in Autocad 3D solids, and rendered in Showcase:

Added 19 December 2017, this was the winning entry:

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Drawing a Roof Structure Using 3D solids in Autocad

Where I work as an architectural draftsman, I recently had to draw a renovation that had a nasty roof on it.  Not that nasty, but the question was, if a wall was removed, will the roof fall down?

By drawing in 2D you can make a few close guesses, so on the weekend I cranked up dear old Autocad to see what it would be in 3D.

The underlying drawing was not accurate, which accounts at least for some of the shoddy drafting!

More of an attempt to understand the structure. 

Last much of a drama to produce this in Revit?

The positions of the rafters were found from a set of solid planes that were representative of the purlins layer, not drawn as individual purlins, but as a set of intersecting planes.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Drawing sections and elevations in the same place

I have to admit defeat on this one. Apparently on a recent job we had a coved ceiling on the elevation, and naughty me drew a standard section, using my separate is good technique, leading my boss to point out that had I combined the two, I would not have made that error. The builder coped somehow.

Score one for the boss.  He also said my technique of separating out the building plan from the site plan was annoying for others who wanted to work on one of my drawings. So can I please put the eggs an ham in the same frying pan?

So, ok, I will just have to cope somehow, taking a productivity hit. Every time I open up Revit and work in 3D, it just feels a lot nicer way of working anyway.