Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Why getting into Architectural Drafting might not be a good idea....

You may not agree with this, but give Autodesk's new Homestyler a try out.

I have tried out previous attempts by Autodesk to do this sort of thing, but this is way out in front as far as usability and so on.

It's primary function seems to be for interior layouts and it is is very good at these. Outdoor layouts are catered for as well, but it appears a pretty flat world out there.

I could see my friends computer-phobic wife getting onto this and producing a kitchen or two.

In the pic, I just slammed in some furniture and hit the render button, and it produced a fairly good render.

There are some things it does not seem to do:

1. Allow you to make your own content.

2. The window content is a little sparse as yet, but might grow.
What this shows is the shape of things to come: The tools of designers will become so effortless to use, that anyone can produce drawings. The new job of architect might then become what it should be: a dreamer, artist etc.
I'm still waiting for something similar to come along for mechanical drafting.....

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Yet another Golden Rule broken....again

What Golden Rule? The one that says:

"If you draw everything, then there is less surprises in store for you!"

Recently, I had to draw a simple platform next to a dust extractor. The purpose of the platform was to enable maintenance persons to get access to Stuvex bottles. These bottles are an anti-explosion device and as far as I know, sense and explosion and release some sort of dampening gas so the explosion is nullified.

Just to make life complicated, it was located up alongside an old wall, which had pipes, electrical trunking and so on either side of a corrugated iron wall. I have found out the hard way, that it is easy for a draftsman to say- "This pipe will be in the will have to be moved." "Yeah, but, where to?!" Easier drawn than done it appears.

The platform ended up being on 2 levels, and the lower one looked fine in the plan view: Yes, fine until you asked yourself: How to get it in that place? Fortunately, the man on the job is highly intelligent and made it bolted so it would fit in. Except there was a brace, not drawn, apparently in the way. Not a big deal, it can be relocated, but to have noted this on the drawing would have saved drafting embarrasment.

Which highlights a problem found often in drafting: You need to bash together a concept drawing, and then go through numerous changes to the design before it solidifies. By the time that happens, you are quite convinced that your drawing is accurate and wonderful.

At this point the thing to do is kick your own butt out onto the site and site check your critical dimensions. I do this now by forcing myself to put these dimensions on the drawings and putting heavy boxes around critical dimensions.

I guess the lesson I'm slowly learning here is that the initial site measuring should be thorough and accurate and not to trust old drawings, even ones that were done by yourself.

Finally, a quote sent to me that seems on the nail:

"We moderns have managed to combine an incredible mastery of technical knowledge and information with an astonishing ignorance of the traditional wisdom once possessed by an illiterate village elder, and evident for all to see on every page of history.

Spend more than you earn and you’ll go broke.

Give someone something for nothing, and he’ll soon expect something for nothing on a regular basis.

Fail to hold people accountable for their bad behavior, and they’ll continue to act badly.

Give people an excuse to fail, and they’re more likely to fail.

Let aggression go unpunished, and you’ll get more aggression."

-Bruce S. Thornton

The guy who sent me this one made the following suggestion:

(except substitute 'we moderns' with 'dimwitted lefties')

Saturday, November 27, 2010

He hates Autocad....not really...Part 2 of Excel to Autocad

I showed my PLC Excel application (see my previous post) at work , and the man said, yes, it had promise. As usual, someone else said "The address numbers are not right!" Ok.

So here I have wasted another sunny day (actually, if I go into the sun here in NZ for more than 15 minutes, I get burnt) fiddling with this stuff.

I have done a few changes, mainly the buttons that were embedded in the spreadsheet have now been transferred to a User Form, this is activated by the Quick Access menu. It just allows the user to scroll up and down and get the buttons to show only when necessary.

The range of equipment is now light, relay and solenoid valve. The silly idea of having each line drawn has been ditched in favour of block that just gets inserted.

The existing drawings like to tell the viewer that this is an "alarm light". Which seems extra work when you have a symbol that conveys that information. Same for the solenoid valve.

I did toy briefly with the idea of downloading the IEC 6017 electrical symbols. Yes, you can, but they cost. I had some doubts as to the snapping I should be using, but I figure if this all goes ahead and someone says they want 2mm snaps instead of 1.5mm, then it would not be that horrible to change.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

He hates Autocad down by the sea shore...

Hate is probably too strong a word. Prefers to avoid might be better. He is an electrical person who organises motors to start, stop and so on. He will never read this, but just in case I will refer to him as "Fred" (not his real name).

This is done by means of PLC's (Programmable Logic Controllers). My knowledge of these is limited to the following:
They have cabinets, and in these cabinets are "racks" and in the racks are "cards".

The cards are where the wires from say a relay are connected to. It appears Fred is quite OK with Excel and happily puts all his stuff into a spreadsheet. If the electricians were happy with this, instead of a drawing, then life would be easy.

But no. They like drawings, done in Autocad because that has been the way of things for quite a while. Recently, he gave me some drawings to update, which involve me typing hundreds of times the same thing over and over again. Words like REMOTE and FAULT. I have now requested we get a program called "Active Words" which just stores up your keystrokes and you can allocate hot keys to them.

This all triggered an idea (no doubt not new!) to see if I could give Autocad an Excel connection.
The plan was to have a spreadsheet all set up with buttons on it to make filling it out a quick thing, then a button to generate an Autocad script file. I did this once years ago, and have no idea where all the files ended up, so thought it might be fun to do a new approach. It is summer here now in Auckland and maybe fun might be getting out to the beach.

Another wasted weekend later, I have a bare bones setup that works. It was a struggle with Microsoft Excel 2007, as I was used to the 1997 version. Little differences like: you have to have a macro enabled file type, the ribbon where things seem to be never where you think they might be. Plus, if you want VBA, you have to add the "Developer" tab to the ribbon.

Here is a screen shot of the spreadsheet:

This is a snippet of the VBA screen, showing part of the code:

This one is a shot of a typical autocad drawing of a PLC card:

This one here shows a line of script generated lines and text:

They have only got LT Autocad, so a script is the only way here. I have been down this rocky road before in a way: I tried to do the same thing, but using their existing blocks, which became a nightmare.
This time: no blocks, just lines and text, it is just simpler. Having said that, the line shown was hard coded-ie the coordinates of everything had to be specified. If this goes any further, there would have to be a lot of number adding and string converting.
That's if....

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Menu Pulldowns

I have often wondered why Autocad does not ship with useful stuff as shown above. Even if it was supplied as a .mnu file, then it would be a 5 minute task to have it up and running should user want it, without cluttering up a standard installation.
The obvious answer is that Autodesk has to look after all it's 3rd party add-on sellers. Just a commercial reality I suppose.
The Flanges just come in as a block. The Fixings1 items come in as individual bits. Fixings2 - they come in as "combos" ie a set of head, flat washer, spring washer, and nut.
To make one of these for yourself is not that hard.
Just fire up Notepad (Look under Start/Programs/Accessories)
and type in something like this:



[M6 Bolt Head] -insert;"C:/cad/library/3D/fixings/bolter/m6headb";\1;1;0;

Then save it as not a text file, but with a ".mnu" on the end so the file name ends up something like Bilro1.mnu.
The syntax looks a bit arcane, but just go with the flow.... You can see where the path is, and the block name (ie just another dwg file) is, and all the ;\1;1;0; is a shorthand way of saying:
enter,pause,use a scale factor of 1 for X,enter, scale factor of 1 for Y,enter,use a rotation of zero,enter.
To sum up:
; means enter
\means pause for user input
Then you have the fun of getting it into Autocad, so just:
1. Right click on any toolbar, and choose customise.
2. See the little round button with the arrow down the bottom? Hit it.
(There is someone in Autodesk that loves to hide things....)
3. Now pick the Transfer tab up the top.
4. Hit the 2nd button from the right, one that should give a tooltip of "open customisation file".
5.When the dialog comes up look down the bottom-it will say something like "...cuix" or "cui", so change this to legacy files-mnu, and hunt for your file.
Although Autocad does not tell you this, I believe (I can always be wrong!) that it converts it to a cui or cuix file as you open it.
6. On the right panel, expand the + next to "Menus". You should see your new headings there.
7. On the left panel, do the same. You should see the standard menu headings there.
8. Go back to the right panel, pick your first item, hold down shift to select all your items, then drag and drop to the left panel in the position you would like them to occupy.
9. Hit OK.
After some humming and whirring, you should have your menu additions!
As you can see, the Fixings and Flanges are most likely foreign to you as here in NZ we use British Standard Flanges usually.
Now comes the part I had a lot of hassle with: What happens if you get the path name wrong, and need to update it? You would think it should be straight forward, but I did not find it that logical.
How to do it:
Do the same actions as above, but stop at item 7. On the left panel, right click on the items you have added previously and choose "delete". Yes, you are sure! Then from the right panel drag your headings back onto the left panel as before.
I am going to add a few more bits and pieces, and then I hope to post the whole lot as a bundle on

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Video Postings

I have been sort of busy doing some videos of my window frame drawing lisp set.

The above is an experiment to see if video embedding works.

The other videos can be found on youtube, just type bilrocad into the search box.

We had a long weekend here in Auckland, and I have been trying to find out how to stop huffing sounds when doing a video. (Maybe I should get a life? ...or paint the fence???)

For probably equally strange reasons I started doing a test of my Autocad skills on Brainbench, but made a bit of a hash of it and got a case of the "can't be bothereds" half way through. If you are tempted to do the test, make sure you have Autocad up and running before you start!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Sort of Autocad, and who is Nate Holt anyway?

Sometimes I end up doing electrical drawings, which is quite irritating, because I'm not sure what I'm doing. I did actually get a New Zealand Certificate, Electrical in 1988, which I never ever used. I did go for the odd job, only to be told (no doubt quite rightly!), how long were you a tradesman electrician? On hearing the answer, I was told to sling my hook.

So I know what a relay is etc, but how everything hangs together and why is a bit of a mystery to me.

Recently, I tried to look for a lisp that would allow me to align some text, and in the process of looking ended up at a blog page of a man called Nate Holt. My first reaction was: "Wow! This guy can really do a good job explaining things!" Check out his blog yourself at:

On digging a little deeper, it turns out he is someow connected to Autocad Electrical, that is a "vertical" of Autocad, meaning it tacks on or adds to standard Autocad. Which led me to:

I had a look at some the videos, and have come away quite convinced that this would be the way to go if you had to do Autocad Electrical drawings.

Last week, one of my co-workers popped his head up and asked:

"Hey, how come I have updated the file on my desktop and the other one has also updated?"

I cannot claim the high ground here, because it was about 5 years ago that I discovered that Windows Explorer loves to duplicate the display of it's folders, only to be told "Everyone knows that!" Which apparently is not true, because this man did not know either.

Whoever made Windows Explorer decided to make it "easier to use" and in the process removed it's logicality. By the way, in case you did not know, you can access Windows Explorer by right clicking the Start button.

Here is the top level of the "Desktop" shown in Windows Vista, notice the folder called Pictures:

Double click on Pictures and you get a view of the folders in there:

Then, close everything up and you get:

Next, double click on Computer and then open up Users:

Now double click on Pictures....there are the same damn folders!

Which reminds me of the Microsoft Helicopter Joke:

A helicopter was flying around above Seattle yesterday when an
electrical malfunction disabled all of the aircraft's electronic
navigation and communication equipment. Due to the clouds and haze
the pilot could not determine his position or course to steer to the
airport. The pilot saw a tall building, flew toward it, circled, drew
a handwritten sign and held it in the helicopter's window. The sign
said "WHERE AM I ?" in large letters.

People in the tall building quickly responded to the aircraft, drew a
large sign and held it in a building window. Their sign said, "YOU
ARE IN A HELICOPTER." The pilot smiled, waved, looked at his map and
determine the course to steer to SEATAC (Seattle/Tacoma) airport and
landed safely.

After they were on the ground, the co-pilot asked the pilot how the
"YOU ARE IN A HELICOPTER" sign helped determine their position. The
pilot responded, "I knew that had to be the MICROSOFT building
because they gave me a technically correct but completely useless

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Blocks versus lines and things

I have been playing around with some joinery details, and it came to me that whoever drew them was thinking as he drew, with lines and so on. Once he had those lines, he saw no reason to alter them. Which is fine.

Only problem is, that he wanted to generate more sections based on them, things got a little messy, to the point where he must have said to himself:

"Funny? That dimension should have been is not actually that, on this model....oh well, let's just do a quickie here and alter the dimension text to read what I want instead of what it actually is".

Where's my big hammer?

The trouble is, when you are designing, it is wonderful to use lines etc, but once you have zeroed in on a particular size, make it into a block, so you don't inadvertently stretch it, plus you can reuse it, confident in knowing that it is a set piece of geometry.

I'm thinking here of a sectional view of a window sash.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Video Productions and old 2D lisps

Once, long ago, last century I posted a heap of supposedly useful lisp routines on an old web site (now long gone). I have gone through these and reposted them on:

I have also posted some ancient 3D ones on:

It struck me that some of these are hard to use(!), so I have done a few videos, creating a special page for them at:

It was a bit of a learning curve doing them - they ended up with huge file sizes, so I downloaded a free converter and condensed them a bit.

Before 2000, I was interested in Virtual Reality Modelling Language (VRML) and sort of expected that this would evolve into something useful around about now. It appears not....although maybe I have not looked hard enough. I looked at all the old sites and most of them seem to be stuck around 7 years ago. Octaga seems to be the only one still chugging.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Revisions...the last post...I promise! and Working with XREFS

Revision File Naming

About a year back I raved on about revision problems created by the fact that a drawing file might contain many layout tabs, where sheet 1 might be rev B and sheet 2 might be rev D.

My approach for the last year, which I now admit is one that has a major fault, was to remame the actual drawing file name so it reflected the fact that it was a later revision. For example 150283D.dwg. The "D" would represent the most advanced revision. Into a folder marked "History" went the old files, for record purposes.

This worked well until the man in charge of maintenance requested that we go back to the old format of 150283.dwg, because he had that number listed in his database package called Mainpac.

My new system, from here on, is to saveas the drawing into the History Folder as "150238 as at 12Aug2010", and keep the current one always as "150238.dwg". Always a brain strain to remember to saveas!

As well, the principle of Xreffing goes astray if you start changing file names. Xreffing is something I had avoided because people in the future would come unstuck if the masters of IT ever changed a name of a drive. (They would never do that....would they?)

If they replace me in the future, then part of that person's job is to understand the concept of xrefs and how to fix them if the drive is reanamed. With this in mind, I have started to use them sparingly.

A Different Way of working, using xrefs

We have a 3D models of the plant in a folder marked "Plant-3D Models". Each major building has a name, eg "Melthouse" and the file name is the same as the building name.

My idea is to gradually build these up so that they represent a true and more or less accurate model of what is currently there. In these models, there are section tools, which write out 2D sectional views to the appropriate folder.

Our setup is further complicated because we have 2 sets of drawings-One for proposals and one for things actually built. So if something went from a proposal to reality, I would have to change my xref paths. A further gotcha is my 3 step method:

  1. Model with section tool.
  2. Outputted section file.
  3. Presentation drawing with outputted section file xreffed in.
The benefit of this seemingly overly complex method is that the process of updating the Presentation file is quick and easy: Change the model, write out the section file, reopen the Presentation file and everything is updated more or less automatically.

I have mentioned this in previous posts, but not in the same format!

At the moment this system seems to work, but sometimes the model gets cumbersome. For instance I might be working on the basement area, and you tend to trip over all the other stuff just looking at that. I'm thinking of a lisp routine that freezes layers according to their names- for instance Level1-Plant might get hidden when I want only level2 stuff showing. Yes, this can be done with layer filters and the layer manager. The trouble with the layer manager is that it seems to choose to turn off layers and not freeze them. As well, if you create new layers, you have to update the layer definition in the layer manager.

There are other problems: The detail required of a large plant layout is usually better to be of a low level, whereas for say a tank, I usually make this quite detailed. How to mix and match the two? I don't have an answer as yet. Possibly the answer lies in a 64Bit machine with 12Gigs...?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Handrails and Stairs....Lisps

Turns out only 2 people requested the handrail routine I offered for free about a year ago.

If you wonder what these may be about, check out Utube, with bilroCAD in the search box.

Kind of makes me wonder what planet I was on when I thought maybe I could make a small amount of money doing this sort of thing.

Maybe the problem is that if you look hard enough, you can get all sorts of stuff for free.

So I have decided to not be so precious about them and have stuck them on my web site at

If you delve into them you might find (if you are a purist) that some of the programming looks a bit ham fisted. However, they do work most of the time! What do you expect for free? Just to add to the fun, looks a bit shonky when you see that I have put "these do not conform to any known standard"!

I have just spent about 2 days trying to get the handrail one to work with R2011. After much harrumphing I created a special one, just for R2011.

I'm pretty pleased with the handrail one, but the stair one could do with all sorts of things added:like footplates, top-plates, handrails and a sytem for variable depth treads, and some way of tying it in with the New Zealand Building Code. It produces stairs which have a rise x going of 46500, which is not how the NZBC does it, so this lot is going to have to be revisited big time soon!

I like to have just one version of Autocad, so it is quite annoying to have things that work on one version but not another.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010 exciting...

I'm glad I did not just stick the handrial routine for free download. It seems a few instructions are needed. I like to think I'm OK at instructions, but there is a 20% of me that says "Room for improvement!"

I have sent the routine to a man, where he lives I don't know, but he has had an uphill battle to get the thing to work. Part of the problem is the method Autodesk used when it first designed lisp routines with dialog boxes. They made it so the main program was in one file, say HRAIL.LSP, and the dialog box was another file, say HRAIL.DCL. The usual problem is that Autocad cannot find where the dcl file is located. They probably had good reasons for their decision, but it has made it tricky for all from then on.

Here is the offending code from the lisp file:

(setq dcl_id (load_dialog "C:\Program Files\AutoCAD 2002\Lisp file\Holes/HRAIL.dcl"))
(if (not (new_dialog "hrail" dcl_id))

Autocad does not like it’s slashes “\” as in the old msdos days. You have to do it their funny way, ie “/”

So the corrected bit will be:

(setq dcl_id (load_dialog "C:/Program Files/AutoCAD 2002/Lisp file/Holes/HRAIL.dcl"))
(if (not (new_dialog "hrail" dcl_id))

I'm hoping this fixes the problem.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Them there pesky round viewports

A little known snafu with circular viewports is that it is hard to access their properties.

For instance you might want it to plot with conceptual shading.

It can be done as follows:

Right click on the viewport and choose properties. You will see 2 items (one is the circle) are selected because the little drop down at the top says "All(2)" , next, click the little triangle to show the drop down. Pick viewport.

Now you can see the properties, so choose conceptual for the plotting of the viewport.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Other CAD programs

The above is a screen shot of DoubleCAD-XT.

Way back in 1986, I took a job that promised that CAD was on their radar and had every intention of introducing it. By 1988, they had bought a "CAD" system. It's specs and prices seem laughable today, but in those days it was a fairly average setup.

The computer was a 80386 with about 1 meg of ram, a 19" monitor running about 320 x 200 pixels if I remember rightly. (This was 22 years ago!). The program was an English one called "Supervisions". It proved an easy one to learn, and had a very clever 2 word command system.

For instance you had to pick "Add" then "Line". You could do all sorts of tricks: for instance "select all circles 200mm in diameter" was a piece of cake.

I remember that the whole lot cost about $45,000. This was for computer, software, an A1 pen plotter, and an A4 laser printer. The laser printer was super duper new technology then and was about $5000 worth. I can buy one today for $130.....

At some stage, I had a holiday. When the big boss found out I was the only person in New Zealand that could get a print out of this setup, he arranged for Autocad to be bought.

In true NZ management style, my immediate boss said:"We've got problem."

Fortunately for me, I had dabbled previously on an old AT that had no mouse, finding out how Autocad worked. I was not impressed with Autocad. It felt like a giant step backwards. Anyway, I went in, and over a weekend got to a stage where I could sort of draw.

Learning Autocad was a fairly steep hill for the next few months, and I gradually became comfortable with it's funny ways. That is, until I ended up in a consulting engineering place where the engineer said:"Paperspace...I want it done with paperspace!" Very stressful, especially as the permanent staff were not that helpful!

We have yet another new engineer that started recently. He obviously likes drawing because he is one of those ones that seem to like getting out graph paper and bits of plastic with holes in and doing a bit of old fashioned sketching. I've noticed that engineers that do this are usually quite good at their job. At which point I suggested he might like to use a CAD program seeing as he has a computer. What to use and how much might it cost though?

I had heard of Autodesk Freestyle, which is about $US49, so I did downloaded the trial copy.
It seems very much slanted to drawing things architectural, and did not feel very Autocaddish.

Cruising google, I found another one called DoubleCAD-XT. This is very similar to Autodesk's LT. This one is free, and I found it appears to do the 2D job OK, although I did not try to do a proper drawing from start to finish. If you are used to Autocad, this one might be a little irritating, as some commands are similar and others not. His battle now will be to convince the IT department that this is a good idea......

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Photofly and Accessing Blocks

I have given photofly a bit of a try, and a series of pics of a boilerhouse produced something, but I'm not all that pleased with my results. I have to put my hand up here to say it is most likely the way I took the photos.

I questioned some drafting friends and they said accessing blocks was not a problem for them. Apparently I'm an old fuddy duddy because I use the scroll bar in Windows Explorer. The thing to do is to get onto the directory, then hit say "f" for "fixings" to get to the fixings directory.

The result of this must be: "Can you teach an old dog new tricks?"


Monday, August 9, 2010


I'm not having a good run lately. Things seem to be going wrong on a daily basis at the moment after a dream run of 2 years with no problems.

The latest drama is a lisp routine, which while seeming to do the job, was not really.

The routine in question is a round flange drawing one. The problem was that while I keyed in a pitch circle diameter of 295mm, it took it upon itself to draw one at 297.82mm or so....Nasty, because the flange looked ok.

The lesson learned? Make sure any routine that draws anything sets the osmode (ie the running snap value) to ZERO. ie to achieve this , use the following code:

(setvar "osmode" oldsnapmode);this is so that you can reset at the end
(setvar "osmode" 0)

Here is the routine, if you like such things, cut and paste into notepad,
call it flan3d.lsp and load it by dragging it from explorer into your autocad drawing.

To run, type flan3d at the prompt.

;Program written by Bill Le Couteur
;Auckland NZ
;Rev 0 date 16/6/00
;This program draws a flange in 3d

(defun c:flan3d()
(setvar "CMDECHO" 0)
(setq oldsnapmode (getvar "osmode"))
(setvar "osmode" 0)
(setq flangeod(getreal "\nEnter the outside diameter: "))
(setq flthick(getreal "\nEnter the Thickness: "))
(setq flangeid(getreal "\nEnter the Internal Diameter : "))
(setq boltholedia(getreal "\nEnter the Bolt Hole Diameter: "))
(setq boltpcd(getreal "\nEnter the PCD: "))
(setq no_holes (getint "\Enter the number of holes: "))
(setq boltpcr (/ boltpcd 2))
(setq the_point (getpoint "\nPick the point to draw it: "))
(command "cylinder" the_point "d" flangeod flthick)
(command "cylinder" the_point "d" flangeid flthick)
(command "cylinder" the_point "d" boltholedia flthick)
(command "move" "l" "" "0,0" (list boltpcr 0))
(command "array" "l" "" "p" the_point no_holes "" "" )
(setvar "osmode" oldsnapmode)
(setvar "CMDECHO" 1)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The end to grumpiness and Photofly

The answer to the previous post is simple really: Just set up a bunch of keyboard shortcuts that are tied in with lisp routines that have dialog boxes. For instance, CTRL-F might bring up Fixings. What is not that straight forward is setting it all up. Shame Autodesk do not do it out of the box....

Try Photofly from Autodesk Labs. More on this next post.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Grumpy with frustration

Sometimes I'm very happy with Autocad. Sometimes I get very frustrated. I have to admit part of this is because I am not that organised with blocks etc, although compared to some draftees I am very organised.

Take for instance today, where I am drawing a tank, and want to put some adjustable feet on it.

Easy you say: just pick one already drawn and pinch the feet off that. Ok, but these are M12 A-justa feet, and they look a little puny on this particular tank. So off to the internet and go to the manufacturer's site. Hmmm....this site is a "restricted site"..cannot think why.

Fortunately I have a fairly big library, and locate a brochure I downloaded about 3 years ago.
Humff..have to draw an M16 one.

Hang on a minute! This is drudge drafting...really this 2010?..or have I somehow managed to time travel backwards?

My point is that we are still living in the dark ages as far as CAD is concerned, in spite of all the wonderful things like lofting and sweeps that have been given to us. Well, not given exactly, I had to pay for upgrades...

Autodesk could really make things hum for themselves and knock their opposition around really badly: All they have to do is pay some poor person to cruise the internet, see that the product being sold needs drawings and just do them.

After that, post the drawings on some web site:anywhere will do! Then, tie this into Autocad somehow so that getting what we want is quick and easy.

For the curious, the firm that sells these feet is (no, I'm not getting paid for a bit of free advertising!)

There are about 3 main ways that I'm aware of to enable swift insertion of blocks and I use all 3 in this order:

1. Windows Explorer- always open on my second monitor.
2. Tool Palletes, again, always open on the second monitor.
3. Drop down menus.

None of these is that wonderful. There has to be a better way.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Draftsmans Daily Struggle

It's winter here in NZ and contrary to what the nice tourist posters tell visually, I can confirm that Auckland in the winter is pretty miserable, with rain most days.

Consequently, I'm frequently telling myself a warm office is a good place to be!

Sometimes I believe me, but I would rather be curled up at home with a good book.

Recently at work I have been asked to do a drawing showing how the hot water piping is run throughout the plant. In a previous go at this, I had a 3D model, which I exploded into lines so that everything was "X-Ray vision".

This did not work out that well as you ended up with a forest of lines which had to be grey to fade into the background. So the latest attempt involved getting a 3D model of the plant and
running my pipes around that. The buildings are just "shells" to minimise clutter, and I xref in the bits of plant that I have drawn previously.

Still not the ideal solution, and just seems a struggle.

The plant is here:

I'm starting to wonder if my approach is correct.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Want to draw wooden windows then?

On a previous blog,

I gabbed on about a sorry saga of making a lisp routine to draw doors and windows.

It has now been posted on my website, if such a beastie is your thing.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Autocad as a desk-top publisher

I recently was asked to do a site layout, just a general map showing where the main buildings were. This was to be a 3D job. As I already had a 3d model, it was relatively simple to chuck a few materials on and render it.

Then the thorny question arose: How to put annotations on a jpg? The silly answer is of course use Microsoft Paint. Silly, because it came out looking like crap!

Once upon a time, I had my own computer at work and my own copy of Corel Photopaint, which would have done the job. Unfortunately, I now work on the firm's supplied computer and the preventers of information technology dept have it so you must ask for such software to be installed. It can be done, but the thought of all the forms and fighting bureaucracy put me right off.

Then the penny dropped: why not use Autocad? Just drop the jpg into modelspace, put the annotations in paperspace-easy.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A CAD Standard

Here it is - it may not be perfect, but anything is better than nothing!
Unfortunately in the process of getting it here all the formatting is gone....but the info remains!

This procedure provides a basis for to produce drawings to NZS5901 (1987), ENGINEERING DRAWING PRACTICE IN NEW ZEALAND using AutoCAD.
This standard also lists the changes to the AutoCAD configuration, and forms a basis for layers, text styles and system variables as required.
All drawing numbers to have prefixes as follows:
P=PI & IDs
S=Process Flow Diagrams
Paper and Model Space
Place entities as follows:
Paper Space
Title Block at 1:1 Scale
Annotation Text/Dimensions for 3D Views
Parts Lists
Model Space
Object outlines
Annotation Text for 2D views
Sheet Sizes
Drawings to be on A1 Title Block, and usually this is printed on at A3. This means the 3mm high normal text comes out at 1.5mm printed.
All units in millimetres
Plotted Line Width
ALWAYS AN ENTITIES COLOUR SHOULD BE "BYLAYER". Hence whatever layer an entity is on controls its plotted line width
Plotted widths to be 0.05mm, 0.2mm, 0.45mm
The only exception is dimension lines, these are forced to white for the lines only.
Plotting and Scale of Entities
Plot scale is controlled by setting the zoom factor while in Model Space, for instance if the drawing is to be 1:5 scale, you would go to paper space, then enter Model Space by double clicking in a viewport, then type "ZOOM" "1/5xp". Then double click outside the viewport anywhere in paper space to get out of the viewport.
All entities to be drawn in Model Space to be full size, i.e. 1mm=1mm
These are set to an A1 sheet in the prototype drawing, and are up to the individual user to set, as they may prefer. Remember a grid will not show up unless limits are set to cover the area.
For Mechanical Drawings:
These are the layers normally to be used, and come already loaded on the prototype drawing.
Layer Colour Colour No Line type Pen Width (mm) For
0 white 7 continuous 0.05 Blocks written to file*
CL magenta 6 centerx2 0.05 Centrelines
DIM red 1 continuous 0.2 Dimensions
HID magenta 6 hiddenx2 0.05 Hidden Lines
HVY cyan 4 continuous 0.45 Heavy Lines
LGT white 7 continuous 0.05 Light Lines
MED yellow 2 continuous 0.2 Medium Lines
PH grey 253 phantomx2 0.2 Phantom lines
For Process and Instrumentation Diagrams (P&IDs):
Layer Colour Colour No
Valves yellow 2
Product red 1
CIP magenta 6
Equipment Major white 7
Equipment Minor grey 252
Instruments white 7
Instruments-Control white 7
Text white 7
Services-Gas light blue 140
Services-Chemicals Lt Green 83
Services-Liquids Dk Blue 145
Services-Compressed Air Lt purple 213
All linetypes are continuous for PIDs except for CIP, which is centerx2.
*NB When you write out a block to the library for other people to use,
put all of it on the 0 layer. In this instance you can make centrelines colour by name and
linetype not by layer. The advantage of this is that when someone brings it into a drawing, they
can put the block on a layer and it will show in that layer’s colours.
Plans and Elevations
These should always be in line with each other, ie if a vertical construction line is drawn through an item in the plan view, it should also go through the corresponding part on the elevation. This usually means that the view to the left of the plan view has the floorline running vertically up the page.
To make this view easier to work on just rotate your UCS by -90 degrees and issue the PLAN command. A lisp routine called RO90 will do this
The commands are UCS, Z, -90, enter, Plan, enter.
Entity Creation Modes

Entity Mode
Colour Bylayer
Dimension line colour White
Dimension extension line colour White
Dimension Text Colour Bylayer
Dimension style "Standard"
Linetype Bylayer
Textstyle Standard

Dimension Variables, and System Variables
1. Ltscale will initially be set at 4 for the prototype drawing so that dashed lines show up.
2. Mirrtext should be set to 1,because you would never want mirrored text.
3. Dimscale will be set to 1 so that if you are starting a drawing at 1:1 you will not need to reset it.
Note that contrary to a lot of common practice, the units are set to 3 decimal places; not zero places as many people set them. The logic in this is that when machined items need 3 decimal places you do not need to reset the units. For normal whole dimensions, ACAD conveniently suppresses the trailing zeros-see the dimzin variable.
A noted drawback of this is that when you are dimensioning a hole in the middle of a piece of 75 wide flat, the dimension will come up as 37.5, giving rise to a tolerance of +/- 0.1mm which is clearly not desired. The fix of course is to enter the dimension manually at the prompt.
Use standard Autocad ACAD.LIN
Heights and pen widths will be:
Entity Height Penwidth Colour
All normal text 3mm 0.3mm bylayer
Large text 4mm 0.5mm bylayer
Use Arial
Category Recommended Scale
Enlargement scales 50:1 20:1 10:1
5:1 2:1
Full Size 1:1
Reduction scales 1:2 1:2.5
1:5 1:10
1:20 1:25
1:50 1:100
1:200 1:500
Item References
Shall use numbers, not letters. The text height will be 5mm high .The circle to be 10mm diameter.
Block Library
These are kept at
Various categories are used in this folder eg bearings\saeco
If drawing say a motor, have a dimensioned drawing showing 3 views,
plus separate plan, side and end views with no dimensions on.
Be verbose with filenames, eg do not put "150kw motor", put for instance:
"Electric Motor-Teco-315s-85r.-plan - 2D"
Issue of Drawings
Only the project engineer may issue drawings. A document transmittal (standard form) must go with the drawings and a copy kept in the job file. All drawings must be stamped as to their purpose e.g., construction, for information, for tender etc. The project engineer is responsible to see the drawings are checked in respect to design and dimensioning, before issuing any drawings. The project engineer must sign all drawings issued. A copy of any drawing issued is to be kept on a stick file specific to the job, while the job is in progress. Finalised drawings should be stored in the drawing cabinets.
Sections and Views
On any drawing sheet sections and views start at A and work forwards through the alphabet
The following lisp routine sets up the layers for PIDs:
;Program written by Bill Le Couteur
;Auckland NZ
;Rev 0 date 18/8/97
;This program sets up layers
;the idea is that layer names are set ONLY
;by this routine...and this routine is run every time you open a drawing
;so if as a contractor you change employers, YOU ONLY
(defun c:laysetPID()
(setq the_layer (getvar "clayer"))
(setq layvalves "valves")
(setq layproduct "product")
(setq laycip "CIP")
(setq layequipmajor "Equipment Major")
(setq layequipminor "Equipment Minor")
(setq layinstruments "Instruments")
(setq layinstrumentscontrol "Instruments-Control")
(setq laytext "Text")
(setq layservicesgas "Services-Gas")
(setq layserviceschem "Services-Chemicals")
(setq layservicesliquids "Services-Liquids")
(setq layservicescair "Services-Compressed Air")
(command "-layer"
"m" layvalves "c" "33" layvalves
"m" layproduct "c" "1" layproduct
"m" laycip "c" "6" laycip
"m" layequipmajor "c" "7" layequipmajor
"m" layequipminor "c" "252" layequipminor
"m" layinstruments "c" "7" layinstruments
"m" layinstrumentscontrol "c" "7" layinstrumentscontrol
"m" laytext "c" "7" laytext
"m" layservicesgas "c" "130" layservicesgas
"m" layserviceschem "c" "111" layserviceschem
"m" layservicesliquids "c" "145" layservicesliquids
"m" layservicescair "c" "213" layservicescair
"m" "TEXT" "c" "120" "TEXT"
"s" the_layer "")
(command "-laYER" "t" "*" "")
(command "-laYER" "unlock" "defpoints" "")
(setvar "blipmode" 0)
(setvar "ltscale" 4)
(command "regenall")
(setvar "CMDECHO" 1)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Process and Instrumentation Diagrams-P & IDs.

You can have too much of these. I've been doing a few in the last week or so, and I'm just about all PIDed out. Where I'm working they don't have a standard, so we went with a bunch of symbols that the engineer liked the look of on a previous job. He did not particularly like the ones that I have posted on my site at

There seems to be all sorts of ways of doing a valve unsurprisingly: the ones on my site have little bits of line on the ends of the valves, and they have actuators built in. On his ones, the actuators come as a separate block. Some of them have invisible attributes, some don't.

They are also plainly "old autocad" in that there are no dynamic blocks at all. I have not been a fan of dynamic blocks for normal drafting, but I think they might be the best for PIDs.
If I get enthusiatic enough, I hope to post a set that could do pids.

It looks like a fertile field for lots of lisp macros. On that springs immediately to mind is a routine where you specify 2 points and a line is drawn between the two with maybe a continuation tag at one end and a valve in the line, already inserted.

You can pay for such things, but it seems most people don't, preferring to slog it out with plain Autocad.

There are all sorts of ways of doing pids- I like the tanks drawn in a heavy line-the engineer likes them in grey or very light so that the lines are the emphasis.

Anyone interested in a CAD standard? I have a very lightweight one that just covers the basics.
Maybe next post......

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Video Driver for Autocad Fun...not

As always with a new version of Autocad (R2011) , it is a good idea to update your video driver.
I am lucky enough to have a quadro FX1500, so I duly updated it.

Somewhere along the line, and I'm sorry I cannot remember the exact sequence of steps needed, this all came unstuck. I had text that disappeared after moving, slow everything, viewports that went all funny. Just beore I thought to blame Autocad, I decided to check 3dconfig. There it had a choice of 2 drivers- One Autocad and one that looked like an invdia one.

I changed to Autocad and all was fixed.

Hope this helps someone!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The disappearing draftsman, slips and trips, and DS and DIMLO

First, The Disappearing Draftsman. Last week I had an interesting viewpoint explained to me by an engineer I'm working with. He had gone ahead and done his own PID's, but needed me to knock them into shape so that they would be presentable, which took a day to do. I'm not sure how long he spent on them, I would imagine at least 4-5 days.

He explained that he found that he could use Autocad as a faster, easier way of producing a sketch of what he wanted than doing a hand sketch. Plus there was an added advantage that the draftsman was only required to do a short "tarting up". The last place he worked, there was a proper drafting department, and they were probably grumpy that he was doing part of their work.

Here at his new work, there is no drafting dept (only me, 2-3 days a month!). So he has to manage somehow.

I have done a few PIDs, but would hardly call myself an expert, so I was interested to hear his take on how they should be done. He reckons, at the quotation stage, you just insert symbols, and leave it at that. You do not use symbols with lots of hidden attributes so that at a future date you can extract a full Equipment List from the job.

The generation of tag numbers, he said, should be the preserve of the Electrical guys, who make a large database. When they have done their thing, and the job is a go, then you can put the tags on.

Slips and trips: I recently had a reasonably complex design to draft. It was a "bag massager".
I came unstuck in one of my drawings: the 20mm plates welded onto a 100x100 axle, somehow got moved by 100mm, this was only in the detail drawing- the main ass'y drawing was correct.

Which made me think: could this have happened in Inventor? Probably not. But I'm stuck with Autocad, so what could I do to prevent this happening again? My only idea is that I make it policy with any assembly to xref in all the parts.

DS and DIMLO: Yet another engineer, at a different plant, has arrived, and he seems keen on doing his own drawings. That is OK by me, because less time working=more time living. He seems pretty good, just a little polishing required in the dimensions department. Namely, he had large arrows and tiny text on his dimensions.

I explained to him the system I use-but I'm not sure he was at all in favour of it, which is to use 2 lisp routines, DS.lsp to set the text height and DIMLO.lsp to insert, then erase a block that has most dimensions styles a mechanical draftsman might need.

In the past done I have done things differently-see a previous post about zero height text.

Here are the two routines:


;This routine sets up for text to be right height
;By Bill Le Couteur
(defun c:DS()
(setq skale (getreal "Please enter the plotted scale: "))
(command "-style" "STANDARD" "ARIAL" "0" "1" "0" "" "" )
(tblsearch "style" "R1")(command "-style" "R1" "ARIAL" "0" "1" "0" "" "" ""))
(if (tblsearch "style" "R1-25")(command "-style" "R1-25" "ARIAL" "0" "1" "0" "" "" ""))
(if (tblsearch "style" "R2")(command "-style" "R2" "ARIAL" "0" "1" "0" "" "" ""))
(if (tblsearch "style" "R5")(command "-style" "R5" "ARIAL" "0" "1" "0" "" "" ""))

(setvar "MIRRTEXT" 0)

(setq the_textsize (* skale 3))
(setvar "textsize" the_textsize)
(setvar "dimassoc" 2)

The nice thing about this is if you have an existing drawing an someone has used the style R5 say, then you can change that at the same time as well.

Here is DIMLO.lsp

;This routine sets up for dims and text;
By Bill Le Couteur
;imports a dummy block containing a set of dimension styles
(defun c:Dimlo()
(command "-insert" "c:/cad/library/symbols/dimension styles" "0,0" "1" "1" "0")
(command "erase" "l" "")

A very simple routine-I have no idea why Autodesk don't have a magic button that does all this...

Of course, many will argue that you need to set up your prototype drawing nicely, with all the needed scales and the text the right size, and this is correct, except what happens when you change scales? As well, if you purge the drawing your nicely setup scales that are not used are ditched, so if you want to use a 1:20 dimension style, it won't be there.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Autocad 2011

There is not much point me going into the user interface etc etc as you could go to, say,Robin Capper's excellent blog at where he does a good job of giving a run down on R2011. You might have to reverse through to the post, as he seems to be churning them out!

So, I'll just outline my experiences with it and hope that someone gets around a few of the things that I found as I proceeded to waste my Easter weekend drawing a set of instructions for a do-it-yourself cabinet assembly.

On firing up for the first time I noticed: No toolbars. Well, it turns out that they are still there, just hidden-I guess that Autodesk want you to move towards the Ribbon system. Here is a snip of my screen setup, just of the ribbon, shown vertically as I have two screens:

(By the way, there is a snipping tool in Vista-look under Accessories)

How to get your toolbars? Just to the right of the Quick Access Toolbar there is a small triangle.

Press this and locate "Show Menu Bar". Then go Tools/Toolbars/Autocad and tick the ones you want.

Another fun annoyance, was the helpful popups that appeared in the top right hand corner.

On pressing "Don't show me this again" it appeared yet again, and again. A friend told me that they were all different ones and that after a while all sorts would be eliminated. Makes sense, really, because you want your new users to be looked after.

A lot of new changes are not immediately apparent- for instance the loft command has been overhauled to allow for surface creation. Previously, the dialog box came up automatically, now you have to use the Settings option to make it come up.

As usual with new releases, I tread carefully, making sure I do regular backups.

The neatest things I'm finding are:

*The materials system has been overhauled and is looking good.

*Hatching has had a lot of work done on it and seems much better.

*Polylines are a lot nicer to edit - but old habits die hard!

*There is a new display bar on the right of the screen which has the often used orbit button on it, and the "Steering Wheel" which I have not been using but have been driven to because of it's handy little button marked "Center" which is great if you want to reset the orbit center graphically.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Title block pain

Just plodding my way through (pardon the pun) a bunch of Hazardous Area drawings and it was pointed out the the company logo had gone all funny. This is on about 40 drawings.

If you had 2 or 3 drawings you would just reinsert the block, redefining the old one. So you would think a script would be the go. This where I found out my ignorance regarding the insert command.

After some digging on the net I came up with parts to make this one:


An explanation:

-insert ......just issues the insert command without the dialog box. the name of the title block, and the = means that you wish to redefine it.
Y is the answer to the prompt "Do you want to redefine the block?"
(command) a means of cancelling the script-does not make much sense but it works!

Just one catch-you have to put the location of the directory of the block in file locations in autocad. Go Tools/Options etc.

Just use the cui to make yourself a button and you just click when you want the block redefined.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

From igloos to elephants

More architectural monstrosities-yes I know the curves do not match, yes I know there does seem to be no means of support in some of these...but hey, it's Sunday and I have limited time!
I'm not quitting my day job just yet!
It is strange- this house design is supposed to be about olives (it is near an olive farm), hence the shape of the rooves, but things have ended up resembling upside down boats and elephants.
This is just a massing exercise. Sometimes you wonder what you need walls for out in the country-the only place I can think one might be needed is the toilet/bathroom and say a sound barrier if one had a the outer walls could be totally glass, but this means lots of dollars.Though if you were to have such a house, cost might not be an issue.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A draftsman's lot and architectural fantasies

Being a draftsman is a bit like doing a maths exam every day, one where you should not make mistakes at all. But ask yourself: who ever scores 100% day in day out? All we can hope for is that our mistakes are minor and easily fixed.

I remember the story of one draftsman who drew an entire truckload of ducting. On the day it was delivered, he was looking out the window. As soon as he saw it he realised they were all completely wrong.

Another, an architectural designer, was awoken at 2 am in the morning. Apparently the irate person on the phone accused him of bad design of a deck because there had been a party and a large number of people were on the deck and it collapsed resulting in some injuries. A real shock to him, but he was later vindicated as it was found the builder had just nailed the stringer support to the house instead of using coach bolts!

Anyway, I seem to be sliding back into drawing houses for fun-it is great, just as long as you do not intend to build them!

The "flying saucer" one came from a vision I had of standing inside a house and looking upwards and seeing the sky: ie a hole in the roof! Hardly original. Maybe the glob below the hole made of chrome is though (probably not!). The "pears laid on the ground" one is again probably not original, but has the "looking at the sky while inside" thing going as well.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Batch processing of Autocad drawings

Some years ago (about 12!) I played around with scripts and lisp routines to automate the plotting of drawings. So when a co-worker asked me if I knew of a downloadable routine that could search a series of drawings for a text string, I thought: I'll just rejig my old routines and there we are.

Not really. He was after a system that would search electrical drawings for numbers. The reason for this is that say you have wire number 39 on one drawing, then you want to know where this wire number is on other drawings (maybe the drawing system is at fault here!). Just to add to the fun, some things are attributes, not text. Probably if you looked, you would find some mtext in there as well.

This is all hanging on your finding a thing that will open several drawings in succession.

I have looked, but most of them you have to pay for. To cut a long story short I found the ideal thing-just for opening up drawings: and for free!

I have tested it out by reinserting and updating a title block.

The number finding thing will have to wait.

The routine can be found here:

There is a trick to it's use-Navigate to the directory, and then select the first file.
Otherwise, it works brilliantly, (yes, I did leave a comment).

Maybe someone at Autodesk might read this and consider putting it in Express Tools?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Whats bin did and what's bin hid

If you are a little older, you will recognise the title as one from an LP made by Donavan in the 1960's. I thought I might be forgiven for pinching it.

I have been trying (empasise on trying!) to draw a Flying boat from the 1950's.

The pic shows progress so far.

If you are keen on looking at Flying Boat Pics, then here is a good place

My approach to the fuselage was to draw the individual frame shapes and then loft them, hoping that if I drew the inside as well, I would end up with a hollow aeorplane. Sadly, this approach came unstuck and I had to regress to a solid all the way through one. At the tail I lost patience (never a good plan if you want things to go right!) and drew the tail section as a chunk and tried carving bits off it. Not a good way to go, but I have resigned myself to the idea that this is just a first pass.

The process of getting information, ie PLANS was a bit of a trial. I ended up with a Short Seaford (not Solent) as my pdf of choice.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

16 Days of Revit Left

It might as well be 2 minutes, as I go back to work on Tuesday, and have a pile of things to between here and there. Things like going to Goat Island Bay and looking at the fish.

As you can see I did not get very far. If you look really hard you might see all the rafters, purlins and fascia boards. For flying rafters, I had to create a family of them - all slanting at 10 degrees.
My thinking was that I wanted to model as much as possible of the underlying roof structure.
I have experimented with various ways of creating purlins-sometimes modelling in place, sometimes creating a family for them.

My conclusion, and I admit here that it is not a very informed one, is that Revit is great if you are drawing multi-story buildings. I'm not so sure about ordinary domestic houses, except where you are happy to represent a roof structure as a slab. This is probably how it is used in real life?
No doubt as your library of families is built up, life would be a lot easier, and quicker. With Autocad the same rule must also apply, except they are called blocks not families.
I considered starting the roof over the garage, and just thinking about it was enough!
Who knows, maybe I'll try copying the lounge roof over and just modifying it?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How not to learn Revit...

This is how far I have got, in between having a day off and putting unwanted stuff on the local internet market.

Two conclusions:
1. Putting in walls and windows in Revit: easy.
2. Constructing floor structures and roof structures:a bit harder!
When it came to putting in the floor structure, things seemed to go a lot slower for some reason-most likely because I was doing things for the first time, and did not realise there was a multiple copy. (There is, you just have to look for the checkbox).

I downloaded a roof truss from somewhere but things came to a bit of a halt when I had to alter the existing family. This was when I realised that I had not quite understood families and creating them. So I spent most of the day trying to make a sloped rafter, even getting as far as making a bird's mouth at the lower end, which caused quite a few problems.

Maybe I have missed something, but I would have thought that a plain old rafter would have come with the package. It probably is, but is called something like "Structural Effects".
I can see that the English are on to the fact that the Americans speak American. For instance a "notch" in English is "coping" in American.

It has been a frustrating experience, but just reinforces what someone has said previously:"You can learn by yourself, but you will take less time if you have training".

After the last try, I found my rafter coming through as an elevation in a plan view, so I tossed the toys out of the cot and went and mowed the lawn. (Yes, I do know what I did wrong!)

Maybe I'm like a lot of those crusty old Autocad users: Don't show me anything new: my mind is made up. It just seems working in Autocad is wonderfully precise and extremely flexible: you can quickly draw anything you want. It's just that it is not parametric.

I seem to be stuck in the family editor, doing things the "correct" way (by my way of thinking!)
only to be greeted with error dialog boxes saying things like "reference dimensions are no longer parallel " and so on. Going to Youtube is no good as the tutorials there do not cover a sloping item such as a rafter.

As an Autocad user, you find yourself keying in things like "M" for move, when you should be pressing a button. Visibility states are another minefield for an Autocad user: there ain't no layers!

When you finally find out a way to hide something, it's gone forever because the way to get it back is not the same button or next to it!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Autocad to Revit...Notes of an Autocad user

A successful install of Revit Architecture 2010. Whaddaya mean there's no tutorials???

Well, says R, they are a separate download. Oh...Ok. All sorts of downloads going to the wrong directories and much shuffling later...

I have ground my way through the tutorials, missing things like room spaces etc.

Being an impatient type, I thought it would be good to redo a previously done house drawn in 2D Autocad to see how it compared. (Yes, I know I should not have done it in 2D--it just reinforces for me that 2D is a crazy way of drawing.) This particular drawing I remember well because in the early stages the client wanted a print. Being a "work in progress" there were things wrong.
He got very cranky, so this has taught me the lesson that you do not give anyone a "rough" drawing. I'm not a particularly fussy person, but I'm sure that there is sweat and blood on that drawing...even if it is a PDF!
The above shows progress so far- about 3 hours. The house is a bit deceptive as it has 2 levels on the ground floor.

Putting in things like walls, doors and windows is fairly easy, once you get used to the idea that if the standard version is not what you want, you just duplicate it, and rename it as something else, then alter that one.

Another head scrambler is the fact that all you ever need is already drawn for you: your job is just to fit it and modify it to what you want.

I'm half way between huge admiration for this product and frustration with how things are done.
Another neat way to learn is to go to Youtube and type in say "Revit Stairs". There are some very good presentations there.
Another thing that really surprised me was the connection to Autodesk Seek-
This seems to be a huge depository of components such as baths, sinks etc.
(Note in the standard install they cleverly hide bathroom fittings under "Drainage"-go figure!)
Equally surprising was the lack of sliding windows- sure you can go places where you have to register/pay for such things, but even they have only 2 panels, not 3.
Or am I missing something? (Probably!)

Monday, January 4, 2010

On a video roll

I've gone mad with the uploading of videos to Youtube. The latest is for
handrails to be found at:

I hope that I'm getting better at doing these- a friend suggested I work on a smaller
screen size and have the autocad background set to white, which seems to produce
a much better result.

Now, back to that Revit tutorial....

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Xmas Madness continues

It's all too much: Xmas food, holidays, being able to decide what to do each day.

So the mad part is I have downloaded a trial copy of Revit to see what it is about.

Just to be totally inconsistent, I downloaded Java netbeans integrated development environment as well.

It just allows you to "easily" make java programs. That is, if you can figure out what the heck is going on!

Even worse, I have downloaded a screen video capture program called CamStudio and after much searching for a microphone produced a video. The trick (I have not mastered it yet) is to have the settings so that the file size is low. It is just a short 3 minute demo of my pipe lisp.

It can be found at: