Wednesday, December 14, 2016

How it goes...

Just need to revise these drawings....just need a gas bottle on the plan view.
....just need an easement boundary on the site plan of that one.

In my mind: This should only take about 10 minutes.  Wait, I'm always out, so
multiply by the "Bill Factor"  This is about 3 usually, so say 30 minutes.

Decision: I need the following:

1. A button that inserts a revision triangle

2. A button that inserts a polyline across the whole drawing and is on the
defpoints layer so it does not print but anyone looking through the layout tabs
can quickly tell which layout tabs were revised. So they do not get confused the
next time the drawing set gets revised ;)

3. A button that puts a draft stamp on the drawing.

An hour later, done.

All this fiddling around with buttons adds another 15 minutes to that hour.

Previously I had some of these several mouse clicks away in a menu pull down.

So why are these not a built in part of Autocad?  Even if it was just a
ctrl key + letter?

Another thing missing: Automatic bubble inserting, eg, you have bracing which needs
a series of sequential numbers in little circles.

We have LT, so I had to get creative here - no lisp on LT.

What I did it was create 24 little blocks each with a circle and a number.
Then a macro that inserted them one after the other, something along the lines
of -insert;"c:/cad/library/bubbles/bubble1.dwg";\;1;1;0;  repeated 24 times.

Again, how come we do not have this sort of thing built in?

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A cautionary tale.....

While seemingly not related to Autocad, it actually is.

Every sensible person knows that if you use a computer, you should do a backup now and then in case all turns sour.

I thought that I had been a good boy in this department, but it turns out, not so good.

One of my recent jobs was a set of apartment houses and as such kept a pretty good backup.
Of my lisp routines....maybe not so good!

So when my operating system finally kicked the bucket (Windows 10? who knows?), I took it to the man, thinking he might be able to resurrect it with some magic tricks.

But no. All too difficult  it seemed, so it was decided he was able to save the data on the hard drive and reinstall Windows 7 ("your computer is maybe not geared up for Windows 10"...)

Ok then.  Well it would have been, but he only copied what was in Documents, deleting the other gazillion gigabytes on the rest of the drive!

So....take a look at your storage, and over do the backups!

I have found a system of backwards date names for the files is good, for instance:
20160907 Backup, which means done in 2016, 09 means September and 07 is the day.
When you have a lot of these folders, they will sort themselves in date order in Windows Explorer.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Them there pesky contours...

You have a site plan, onto which you have put spot levels obtained from a field trip to the farm.

The need now, is to convert these to contours.  To do this accurately, you have to calculate the distance between two spot levels and then calculate from them, and the level information.

Which is a lot of calculation and fiddling around.

So, another lost weekend later I have a lisp routine that does this.  No doubt someone has already done something similar, but at least I can say I did it my way!

In the pic below you can see the spot levels in grey, and the contour text in red-in NZ we do them every half a metre.

Of course, you have to draw in the contour lines in afterwards, but the points are accurate, not guesses.

The next routine that flows from is where you pick two spot points, and then a third point, and the elevation of that third point is marked with an X and it's elevation put on the defpoints layer.

You can see the demo at

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Setting up an Architectural Drawing.....Fast!

This is an add on to the last post, showing on Youtube a video of my Detail Monkey  in action.
See it here:

Needless to say, the first time used in anger, resulted in the boss complaining that we always do our floor plan on sheet 11! (Not sheet 15).

So back to the drawing board to make it so.

Which is a bit depressing because the shortcomings of such a system became evident, namely that this results in some sheets appearing with not a lot on them.  Not a huge problem as you can easily cut and paste from layout to layout.  Still, a realisation that this is not the final solution!

In the mean time, I have been like a little bee, checking out Chief Architect, Archicad and  Revit in the search for the best 3D residential home design package.  This is quite hard, because if you look on the internet, really good appraisals of each are not easy to come by.

Still have the nagging feeling that I could maybe design one based on Autocad 3D solids.  I would need to be able to draw individual bricks, which means using surfaces, and last time I mixed solids and surfaces the results were not good.  That was about 15 years ago!  So it might be worth a try now.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Meanwhile, back in the real world.....

The boring details

Details. Yurgh!  Maybe there are some strange draftees love doing these.

What irritates me about architectural drafting is the endless details to be done.
Not only done, but cross referenced back to a plan/elevation or section.  Seems like the same
ones come up time after time, but each drawing is different.

How about details that are always on the same sheet every time?

So,then I had the usual rush of blood to the head: what if you kept a strict numbering system?
Such that you would always know that for instance, a concrete rib raft foundation with bricks is ALWAYS on tab 51?

How to get a drawing set up so it is ready to go?

Then, just to really amp things up, have a VB program that offers the person starting a drawing a series of choices: 1 storey or 2? Brick or Weatherboard? and so on, which would be used to generate an Autocad Script.

You start with a base drawing that has 0-Cover Sheet (list of all the drawings) 1-Site (because all drawings have a site plan) 2-Site notes (You always should have these!).

The VB program generates an Autocad script (we use LT here), to consult the godzilla drawing file that has around 60 tabs on it, and insert the relevant tab into the base drawing.

So there you have it:

1. Run the program, the user clicks on radio buttons, choosing what is relevant to the building he wants to draw.

2. Drag this script into a drawing that has only 3 tabs in it.

Job done!

As an added bonus, the drawing list shown below is generated automatically.

Not only that, but I have done proof of principle for the idea that if you choose say a concrete foundation with a brick wall, then the reference bubble is automatically put into the foundation plan, referencing the detail.
For simplicity, this goes in paperspace.

To do all the rest of the reference bubbles might take a while.  Depends if my work wants to use the idea. Or if anyone reading this wants to part with some dosh! 

This is the simple, single screen where the user gets to choose what he wants:

This is the listing of the template drawing that has all the possible tabs on it, (excuse the lousy formatting). It looks like there is room for more details, but I may be getting near the limit for the number of tabs.

0 Cover
1 Site Plan
2 Site Notes
3 Earthworks Plan
4 Drainage Plan
7 Existing Site Plan 
9 Existing Ground Floor Plan
10 Existing First Floor Plan
11 Existing Elevations
15 Ground Floor Plan
16 First Floor Plan
18 Elevations
19 Elevations
21 Sections
22 Sections
24 Foundation Plan
25 First Floor Framing Plan 
27 Ground Floor Roof Plan
28 First Floor Roof Plan
31 Foundation Detail-Rib Raft + Brick
32 Foundation Detail-Rib Raft + Weatherboard
33 Foundation Detail-Rib Raft + Shiplap WB
34 Foundation Detail-Rib Raft + Rusticated WB
35 Foundation Detail-Rib Raft + Brick/Weatherboard
36 Foundation Detail-Slab + Brick
37 Foundation Detail-Slab +Weatherboard
38 Foundation Detail-Slab + Shiplap WB
39 Foundation Detail-Slab + Rusticated WB
40 Foundation Detail-Slab + Brick/Weatherboard
41 Foundation Detail-Timber + Weatherboard
42 Foundation Detail-Timber + Shiplap WB
43 Foundation Detail-Timber + Rusticated WB
54 Window Detail-Bevel Backed WB+Corners
55 Window Detail-Shiplap WB
56 Window Detail-Rusticated WB
57 Window Detail-Brick
58 Window Detail-Brick/Bevel Backed WB
59 Eave/Verge Detail-Concrete Tile with Brick
60 Eave/Verge Detail-Concrete Tile with Bevel Backed WB
61 Eave/Verge Detail-Concrete Tile with Shiplap WB
62 Eave/Verge Detail-Concrete Tile with Rusticated WB
63 Eave/Verge Detail-Concrete Tile with Brick/ Bevel Backed WB
64 Eave/Verge Detail-Trapeziodal Tin with Brick
65 Eave/Verge Detail-Trapeziodal Tin with Bevel Backed WB
66 Eave/Verge Detail-Trapeziodal Tin with Shiplap WB
67 Eave/Verge Detail-Trapeziodal Tin with Rusticated WB
68 Eave/Verge Detail-Trapeziodal Tin with Brick/ Bevel Backed WB
69 Eave/Verge Detail-Metal Tile with Brick
70 Eave/Verge Detail-Metal Tile  with Bevel Backed WB
71 Eave/Verge Detail-Metal Tile  with Shiplap WB
72 Eave/Verge Detail-Metal Tile  with Rusticated WB
73 Eave/Verge Detail-Metal Tile with Brick/ Bevel Backed WB
74 Eave/Verge Detail-Shingles with Brick
75 Eave/Verge Detail-Shingles  with Bevel Backed WB
76 Eave/Verge Detail-Shingles  with Shiplap WB
77 Eave/Verge Detail-Shingles  with Rusticated WB
78 Eave/Verge Detail-Shingles with Brick/ Bevel Backed WB
79 Eave/Verge Detail-Flat Roof with Bevel Backed WB
80 Concrete Tile Detail - Ridge and Valley
81 Trapeziodal Roof Detail - Ridge and Valley
82 Metal Tile Detail - Ridge and Valley
83 Timber Floor Details
100 Durability Notes
101 Lumberlok Details 1
102 Lumberlok Details 2
103 GIB shower-Tiled Walls and Base/Bath Tiled Upstand
104 GIB shower-Acrylic Shower
105 Common Details

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Which is faster? Autocad LT or Revit for drawing a house? The results are in!

You would hope this result is a reflection of the prices of Autocad LT and Revit, which is that at the time of writing, Autocad LT is Australian $530/year, and it seems they do not sell Revit by itself, but comes in a Revit Collaboration Suite, which is Australian $3,515/year, which presumably includes full Autocad.

The results are:

Autocad LT : 2.5 hours

Revit: 1.5 hours

Proof can be viewed at.

I came across as a bit of a novice user occasionally, so in the hands of an experienced user, you would expect an even quicker time.

Still, drafting is not all about creation of geometry, as I am finding in my job that the focus is not so much on the drawing as on the annotations.  I would prefer Autocad to do 2D annotations, but this could be my lack of familiarity with the Revit detailing options, which do have all sorts of nick nacks, for example to draw insulation, you just pick two points and there it is.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

So.....which is faster, Autocad or Revit?

I have just spent most of the weekend producing 10 videos, uploaded to Youtube, for the Autocad section of this test.  Just a bog standard NZ house, single level, part brick and weatherboard.

Plan, elevations, and 2 sections: 2 and 1/2 hours, which is not too bad I thought.  So why have I just spent 6 hours at work, just altering a house that was already drawn?  Not sure really- could be that I am still feeling my way with how things are done.  For example: with a roof plan layout, you do not normally show the internal walls, unless they are load bearing.   Plus if you have land that is on a slope and you have to do a sectional view, all bets are off, as you have to massage a site plan to be acceptable.

Here is the link to the first of the 10:

I am hoping to do the identical plan in Revit, which may cause skewed results because I am not a long time Revit user, but I will get a bit of practice in beforehand, next weekend.

It could be argued I do things the slow way, but I have tried my reasonable best to think of quicker ways of doing things.

About half my time was spent organizing blocks and a pull down menu.  I tried to do a few screen shots, but you cannot hold a pull down menu down and then use the snipping tool. If you watch the videos, you will see this in action - albeit with some blocks not coming in because their name was not quite right!

Pull down menus are really easy to make, and if someone else on the network wants it, it takes 2 minutes to install it for them.

This is the format to use:

[Details 2D]
[->Decks-Joining to House]
[Weather boards]-insert;"C:/CAD/GB/Details-2D/Decks-joining to house/DTH-150X50 Joists-to Weatherboards.dwg";\1;1;0;
[Bricks]-insert;"C:/CAD/GB/Details-2D/Decks-joining to house/DTH-150X50 Joists-to Weatherboards-to Existing Lower Brick Wall.dwg";\1;1;0;
[<-butynol ecks-joining="" etails-2d="" font="" house.dwg="" house="" insert="" joists-deck="" sloping="" to="" towards="">
[->Decks-outer edge]

You just make this using Notepad, then in Autocad use customise user interface, to insert it.

There are no doubt really good explanations on how to do this on the internet.

One of my ones I was was quite proud of was an inserted window block in plan, which brought in it's elevation at the same time.  Another time saver was the one to insert whole rooms at once, eg bathroom, toilet and so on.  The block for doors was not wonderful, and a bit clunky to use.  Could have been a dynamic block.

Here is the final result:

Monday, February 15, 2016

New ways of using Autocad

My new job has offered up some different ways of doing things.

1. You work "in the viewport", from paperspace.  You can do this because the viewport's property is "locked".  Very disconcerting for an aged draftee used to doing most things in model space.

2. Using "layer filters". I have not totally mastered the use of these yet but am making some progress.
The idea is you set up a filter, say "GF*" and it will ignore all else and show only layers that begin with GF, eg GF interior wall.

3. They use lots of layers. This takes a bit of getting used to.  No rigid "color by layer" rules.  Same with linetypes- some by layer, some not.  Only the first 8 colours are used, so it is hard to know which layer you are on unless you keep an eye on the layer box display.

4. My worst trick is to be on say the foundation layer, nip into the ground floor viewport and start drawing, only to find nothing appears.  Because it is frozen in the viewport, dumbo!

5, Using a Sheet Set to control the title block.  The title is not a block actually, just some lines and a few text fields.  These are controlled by the Sheet Set.  Each new job has to have a dst file copied across to the directory.

6. Everything is drawn on top of each other.  Seems a good idea for sections with elevations, but plan views get very messy looking in model space.

I set up buttons to show for example, only the ground floor stuff.  This worked fine, until I opened up a different drawing only to find the layer names were not consistent.  So the button approach was a waste of time, until I realised a "negative" system would work: just get a button to do the following:
-layer;f;GF*;;  This means freeze all the layers that start with GF.  The ; is autocad macro language for the enter key.

The catch with this is you have to just keep pruning away until you have what you want, without coming across the famous "cannot freeze the current layer" dialog.  Got around by setting the layer you want before pressing the button.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Drawing a house in Autocad 3D Solids

I have become the magpie of CAD software, dabbling in, but never quite mastering Inventor, Solidworks, Vectorworks,Chief Architect, and so on.

The thing that strikes me with most of the architectural ones is that they provide a solution to a set problem, for instance, how to draw a roof.  Then you have a major struggle to make things like the fascia board to be in the correct position, which usually causes it to be buried in the roof.  I have just realised most users of this software just live with the approximations the software creates.  After all, does it really matter if the gutter is out of place by say 30mm?

You can draw a house using solids Autocad, but things like doors and windows can be a problem because you have to draw them each time, or have a library of pre drawn ones to stretch into place.
Or have a set of lisp routines to Africa to insert these.  Not impossible.

A unioned window frame is not that stretchable, but if you could live with a window made up of slabs, you could alter these using the properties of the slab. Then once things are fixed, union it all.

I have just got a job drawing houses in 2D, using Autocad LT.  The boss says he is not totally against 3D though, so this possibility is suddenly interesting.  In the meantime, I hope to learn the ropes using 2D.

Over the years I have made a few lisps to lighten the load:

1. Wind.lsp  This just draws a simple window, putting things on layers like "window" and "glass".
You can have only vertical mullions, so it is pretty limited.  On the other hand, is is fast.

2. Truss.lsp. 

The truss routine uses a dialog box called truss.dcl to draw a cross-sectional view of a roof truss. It inserts components such as GutterCopper in the process of drawing the truss.

It could be argued that the bracing is a bit unrealistic.

This is usually not a problem in New Zealand because the draftsman is only expected to
produce an approximation as the actual truss is redrawn anyway by the truss maker.

3. A set of routines to draw wooden windows.

Modelling The House in 3D
The technique used is to model the house carefully in 3D, then xref this into a blank drawing and then use the section command, and the flatshot command.

Bringing my recent try at this into Showcase turned out a bit strange: all the bricks decided not to lie the correct way! I tried drawing a brick as a block and laying them, but this was too long and involved, plus the mortar seems to be a problem. A cunning plan might be to draw a wall all as mortar and then stick 10mm thick bricks on top of this.  Which still does not solve the problem of trimming the bricks around a window. Maybe a super lisp routine might be needed.

The nice thing about Autocad is you know EXACTLY what you are modelling, and Autocad has a nice set of solids editing tools.

In this screenshot, you can see the model on the left, with the sections and flatshots on the right.

I brought this one into Showcase, from Autocad, all weatherboards are drawn, which came out with a bit of realism.