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I'm an RF engineer that works on the design of in-building RF enhancement projects for both CMRS (AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, etc.) and PLMR (public-safety, corp. security) systems. The industry standard software tool for the design of such systems is iBwave which can imported DWG plan files for use in the design. However, due to the processing demands of an RF propagation program it cannot work at the size of the original and must be reduced typically to 11x17 size and re-scaled going into iBwave. Additionally iBwave cannot directly export the resulting design in any readily usable form thus we must print the design to something like a PDF file if we need to share it outside the iBwave environment and often the contractors involved in the project desire to see it back in the original form which would mean creating a file that could be imported into AutoCAD that would be restored to the original size without loss of detail and resolution. To further complicate our life, often the DWG plan files we receive have display issues such as lines too thin be seen when reduced or employing colors that can barely be seen on the full-size plan and appear to disappear when reduced. With this info as background I am hoping that the brain trust here might be able to recommend: 1. a program capable of modifying basics such as line and text size and color on DWG files submitted to us by others and 2. a soft print driver that would allow us to create a file that can be imported into a version of AutoCAD and resized back to original size without loss of detail or resolution. The proposed solutions must be simple to employ as iBwave is a anything but user-friendly and possess numerous quirks that make it a full-time vocation leaving no time to even consider becoming a semi-competent on AutoCAD. Hopefully this is enough info to explain our circumstances and allow those of you with the expertise we lack to make a recommendation particularly since we've heard there are potential compatibility issues between versions of AutoCAD and we have little to no control over what is provided to us by clients. Any guidance or recommendation the members can provide would be greatly appreciated. If further information should be needed I will gladly do whatever I can provide it.

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Any problems with not being able to open certain AutoCAD drawings could be addressed via the free DWG TrueView program available at the AutoDesk website. It allows the user to open a drawing then save it to an earlier file format. For example, open a drawing created with AutoCAD 2014 and save it back to the 2007 file format.

Edited by ReMark
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At us in the Russian Federation don't know that the such

CMRS (AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, etc.) and PLMR (public-safety, corp. security) systems.

Anybody and never used your programs.


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Sorry, CMRS is the Federal Communications Commission's abbreviation for Commercial Mobile Radio Service which is how they categorize mobile phone service providers and PLMR (which stands for Private Land Mobile Radio) has actually been replaced by PMRS for Private Mobile Radio Service which refers to those agencies or companies that operate private radio communication systems that support their specific needs only. The iBwave radio propagation analysis program I referenced is used to determine such things as the number of antennae required to provide coverage in a building that lacks coverage from CMRS and/or PMRS systems. We import DWG files into the iBwave application in order to obtain details that would effect the coverage analysis such as building dimensions, walls, stairwells and such along with the types of materials used in their construction as such attributes will affect the propagation of the radio signals. I do not expect the forum members to know of the iBwave program for although it could stand improvements the bigger issue for us is having the ability to modify DWG files provided to us by others to improve the results of their importation and, since the results of the iBwave analysis and design can only be saved in a proprietary iBwave format (IBW). Though iBwave has recently released a viewer application, those that will deploy the solution we engineer want hardcopy preferably in DWG format so it can be scaled back to its original size without loss of detail resolution. Currently our only option is to use a PDF print driver to create a PDF file which can be shared but with only a single, all-in layer which cannot be readily annotated. In short we do not need to or desire to become AutoCAD gurus but we do need to acquire a limited ability to modify DWG plans sent to us prior to their importation into iBwave and ideally to find a way to print to a print driver that would either directly create a usable DWG file or some form of file that would be importable into hopefully the same programmed used optimize the original, pre-engineered DWG file. I hope this better clarifies what we are trying to accomplish so those of you with the AutoCAD experience we lack as RF engineers can recommend how we might best achieve these goals.

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"...the bigger issue for us is having the ability to modify DWG files provided to us by others..."


You have three options for handling this specific task.


1) Use either full AutoCAD or AutoCAD LT. Cost: $4000/$1000 repsectively or thereabouts.

2) Use an AutoCAD-clone such as Bricscad, progeCAD, or ZWCAD (or similar). Cost: much, much lower than any AutoDesk product.

3) Use a free 2D CAD program such as DraftSight or nanoCAD. Cost: did I mention the word FREE?


Note: Both the low cost and no cost options can read and write to the DWG file format HOWEVER there may be limitations. Example: nanoCAD can only work with drawings that were saved up to and including the 2007 file format. Drawings saved in 2010 or 2013 file format cannot be opened.


Note: AutoDesk has a free file viewing/conversion program called DWG TrueView that can take a drawing saved in the 2013 file format and back save it to an earlier release such as 2007.


You do not have to be an AutoCAD guru to make the edits required. And no matter if you choose AutoCAD or a clone they are so similar that just about anyone here should be able to assist you with any problem you have not to mention that each program has its own dedicated forum should you visit the company's website. So, bottom line, you're covered either way.

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Thank you for taking the time to provide some needed guidance! I could not find anything on the web that even identified whether AutoCAD Lite would handle the basic changes we'd need to make to a file potentially created by the full blown version.

If I understand you correctly any of the three options you suggest address our needs to clean up a DWG file we'd been provide prior to importing into the iBwave RF engineering program but will any of these provide a solution for getting the proprietary iBwave output file back into DWG format without having to add all the iBwave pictograms into the original DWG file by hand? I have been told that a PDF file can be imported into AutoCAD however the concept of layers (which is supported to a degree by iBwave) gets lost, it also appears that things like the iBwave pictograms come through as raster images rather then vector images therefore the do not old their resolution when scaling and the largest size a PDF print driver application appears to support is A0 which is still smaller than the size we most commonly receive plans in, something like 60" x 40".

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"...but will any of these provide a solution for getting the proprietary iBwave output file back into DWG format without having to add all the iBwave pictograms into the original DWG file by hand?"


No, they won't. Warning: attaching PDF files to an AutoCAD drawing, while doable (PDFATTACH command), may cause your system, and AutoCAD, a performance hit. You might be better off using TIFF files if that is possible. The problem might even be addressable via the use of Xrefs (external references) but this method would have to be tested.


Are you, or someone else in your company, reasonably knowledgeable in the use of AutoCAD? Where are you located if I might ask? I'm assuming you are not located in the U.S.

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Welcome to CADTutor forum. :)


With regards to the issues of lineweights and colors, there is an Autocad command LAYTRANS (stands for Layer Translate), which could address both.

You would need to determine a minimum lineweight which displays as required on your reduced prints.

Once you know the threshold you can map a Layer Translation, wherein you can redefine the lineweights, layer names and colors,

thus ensuring that you have legible reduced images.

You would open a drawing, run the LAYTRANS command, specifying the LAYTRANS mapping that you wanted to use, and any defined

layer property tweaks would be executed. In that way after reduction your legibility should still be good.

If you later wanted to return a .dwg file, you could run the LAYTRANS command again, but through a reverse mapping which

would restore the display colors and properties to their original values.


There is a forum member by the name of Lee Mac who is an extremely talented programmer, whom you might want to approach

to write a custom program entailing all of your needs, push of a single button sort of thing.

Lee is very highly regarded, and you can reach him at his website http://www.lee-mac.com/index.html .

Layer Translator setup.jpg

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