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CincyCad

Project Design

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CincyCad

Hello, I'm a newbie to AutoCAD, and have a few general questions about how to properly design a project. I can do the actual drafting ok for now and have made a few drawings, but I'm getting ready to do a larger project and want to do it right.

 

 

I will be making a set of electrical prints (approx. 120 pages). For the experts out there, can you give me a very basic top-down description of the best approach? For instance:

 

 

1. Create or find a template (I've done this)

2. Create a title block.

3. Create a sheet set.

4. blah, blah, blah

 

 

I don't need anything too wordy, and I'll deal with the nuts and bolts of it later. In real life I am a software engineer and want to approach this like I would use Classes and Functions and create as many reusable objects as possible. I also assume that if I start off correctly, life will be much easier just as it is in the software world.

 

 

Thanks!

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CyberAngel

You have good instincts. I too have a software background, and I've found that there is some overlap between data design and CAD project layouts.

 

AutoCAD blocks make good title blocks. For things that don't change, you can include text in them, e.g. your company's name. For things that do change, you can include attributes. If you're feeling adventurous, you can include fields for drawing-specific data, such as a project name. Once you've defined the block, you can save it as a template.

 

If you'll be printing at different scales, create a title block for each one. Don't put viewports in the block.

 

Once you import the title block, you can redefine the block definition if needed. It's much easier to fix a typo once than 120 times.

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rkent

First to clarify, in AutoCAD 'template' means a .dwt file that will be used to start other drawings. 'Title Block' can be self contained or it can have many parts, some inserted in and others xrefed in.

 

1 Figure out what will be the same in each title block on every page. Make a separate drawing for that and that will be xrefed into each sheet, if and when something needs changed you change it once and it is updated in each drawing.

 

2 Create the other part of the titleblock and use attributes for the areas where you will be editing for unique information for individual sheets.

 

Xref the first part into the second part and save. Now insert 2 into your .dwt (template) file, use that to start each new drawing. In your template file you will setup layer names, text styles, dim styles, leader styles, etc., so every drawing started with the .dwt will have all that information from the beginning.

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Dadgad

Welcome to CADTutor Cincy. :)

Probably worth adding, you will need to be sure that the template with which you will be working is in the appropriate units of measurement.

Most of the standard Autocad templates are Imperial, unless they end with ISO, for metric.

Any drawing can be SAVED AS a .dwt file, which as a coder, you likely already understand.

 

Once you have created the template which you think fills the bill, you can set it in your OPTIONS.

Click on the FILES tab, then you will find the TEMPLATE settings, where you can BROWSE to, and set the appropriate template as your DEFAULT QNEW template.

Once you have designated it as your default, whenever you open the program, that will be the template opened, or when you use the QNEW command.

It is quite likely that you may wind up with multiple customized .dwts, for different tasks, units of measurement, or whatever.

Settinga the default QNEW template.JPG

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BIGAL

A help to setting up your dwt is get a copy of www.lee-mac.com steal.lsp as you start building your dwt you will realise that you want some blocks out of another drawing. The lisp allows you to do just that rather than use copy and paste etc.

 

Also think about your block libraries you dont necessarilly want every single block in your dwt, you can use menu's or the preference is for tool palettes.

 

Lastly set up a good directory structure for your projects and use excel to record etc with multiple key words. Dont call projects by obscure names you will forget.

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CincyCad

Thanks very much everybody for the helpful posts. It is greatly appreciated.

 

 

Let me regroup a little bit: If I understand this correctly, I can make a drawing (i.e. a blank title block) and xref it into each of my sheets. But for the unique data for the title block (page number, title, etc), I would use annotations. Correct? So, where are the annotations stored or can they even be stored? Can I stick all of the annotations in a text file or SQL database and reference that? I see that AutoCAD supports SQL connections, but I'm not sure to what end. It would be a piece of cake for me to put all of my dynamic data in a database and even export it to whatever form AutoCAD would like, but I first would like to verify if AutoCAD even works that way.

 

 

To understand where I am going with this, my electrical drawings will contain a lot of things like wire numbers and IO addresses, and I could easily auto-generate them. If I could then pass them into my drawings, that would eliminate a lot of tedious work.

 

 

Again, thanks.

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ReMark

Isn't AutoCAD Electrical capable of generating wire numbers and I/O numbers based on a user supplied starting number?

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CincyCad
A help to setting up your dwt is get a copy of www.lee-mac.com steal.lsp as you start building your dwt you will realise that you want some blocks out of another drawing. The lisp allows you to do just that rather than use copy and paste etc.

 

 

Very cool! Thanks!

 

 

One question on blocks- is a block actually kind on a mini drawing that was defined as an object that can be copied and pasted wherever I want? So if I made a drawing, and inside this drawing a made a "circuit breaker" and called it "CB", if I ran this program it would find something called "CB" and allow me to copy it? Are blocks stored as a dwt or are they added to a library or something?

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CincyCad
Isn't AutoCAD Electrical capable of generating wire numbers and I/O numbers based on a user supplied starting number?

 

 

Using a starting number would be a non-starter (sorry for the terrible pun). Often times, modifications to existing machines are made so the end product is a mixture of old wire numbers and new wire numbers, plus the numbers and addresses are rarely logical in nature. These addresses and component IDs already exist in the code I am writing to control the machines, and it is easy for me to extract the data.

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BIGAL
a block actually kind on a mini drawing

YES it can live inside your dwg or you can have each block as a seperate dwg which is commonly known as a block library and there are many ways to call up these library items.

 

Re title block you can xref or we have it as a block in our template and has attributes like project name, sheet No, drafter, date and so on ours has around 20 values that you can enter. Copying the layout copies the Titleblock then we edit some of the attributes like, sheet description. You may want to look at sheet sets this can automate a number of tasks in your title block like sheet number.

 

Blocks can have lots of detail including Attributes which you can change the value like I/O number.

 

Whilst Autocad can access sql database, MS Access, the best and for most help code wise is to use excel, or even simpler text data files, including CSV files.

 

Ask here for help plenty will assist. Once you get something together post it here and you will get productive comments back.

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CincyCad

Ok, I'm a little confused about the structure. I defined a template as the default (Manufacturing_Metric.dwt), and now when I create a new drawing, it starts with that template, which happens to contain an entire title block. I assume that is good, but doesn't quite make sense. I thought a template would contain only drawing settings and no drawing elements, since I understood that a title block drawing would be referenced in anyway. Are the canned templates the wrong thing to be using in this case?

 

 

Also, once I have the drawing open, it is a viewed as a big, white drawing of the title block as I would see it plotted out. This is "paper space", right? There is a "model" button next to it, and when I draw a couple of elements in it, I see them appear magically in my paper space. That's all good. But when I click the plus sign and open a layout window, I get another white space that displays large versions of the two elements I just drew, but no title block. What is the purpose of this layout tab?

 

 

Btw, I was able to set up a SQLServer connection and browse a database through the dbconnect window in AutoCAD, so I'll be working on populating some labels next, but I need to understand this drawing hierarchy a little better. Thanks!

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nukecad

There are many different ways of working with Autocad, ask 12 Autocad users and you'll probably get 12 different answers.

 

I have always had a border block, with attributes for drawing number, issue,title, etc., in the papersapace of my templates.

Along with other saved definitions for layers, dimensions ,etc, etc. set up). That way each drawing has its own drawing border.

 

PS. A paperspace is also known as a 'Layout' which is what is says on a new layout tab. More about this later.

 

You can do it the other way and x-ref in a border, that way if you change the border it changes in every drawing it gets xrefed into.

(I never liked that method, because it means a drawing can change in appearence without any revision letter).

 

So from what you describe you seem to have a template with a border block in paperspace, this has a 'Viewport' through into modelspace.

 

You draw elements in modelspace and they show in the viewport in paperspace.

 

You can have more than one viewport in your paperspace, showing different parts of the modelspace, maybe at different scales (for enlarged details, etc.).

 

You can have more than one paperspace (layout), as you have found, by clicking the '+' and opening a new layout tab.

 

This means that you can have different paperspaces, with different borders in each, showing different parts of the geometry from modelspace, all saved as one file.

(So you can have a whole project of many drawings all saved as one file).

 

When you come to plot your drawing(s) you plot from paperspace at 1:1 scale, which makes plotting much easier.

 

Then it gets to questions like- where should you dimension things?

Some dimension in modelspace, some dimension in paperspace.

It all depends on just what kind of drawing you are producing, how you organise your workflow, and what works best for you.

 

(Some still insert a drawing border into modelspace, enlarging it as necessary, it's the old way of using CAD but it's not considered the best practice nowadays)

 

As I say, everyone has their own way of using Autocad.

Because it is so flexible it does not dictate any 'best' or 'correct' way to do things, it lets you work in the way that is best for you and your business.

This does mean it can be a bit confusing to get to grips with at first though.

 

PS.

If you would like to see the sort of drawing templates that I use the you can find a set here:

http://www.cadtutor.net/forum/showthread.php?99585-titleblock&p=677649&viewfull=1#post677649

From what you describe in your previous post the one that you have made is similar to these.

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BIGAL

Cindycad it sounds like you need some basic Autocad training. Autocad has a series of tutorials installed when you install. type help and it should point in the right direction.

 

Re using layouts search here for "tutorial layouts" this is some links to some really good ones. See if you can get hold of a good Autocad book dont worry about if its not about 2018 anything say 2013 on should be good, try KINDLE it has Autocad books and they are real cheap. I paid $8 for a book.

 

Do you know someone who has been using Autocad maybe you could spend some time with them, a lot of schools run classes as well.

 

Re new layout was the Title block in the layout ? Click on the layout should be Layout1 and right button click choose COPY, To end. You will find the new layout now has the title block as well. I Have 4 dwt's they all have different settings from a full blown with everything in it to what we call Blank which has as much removed as possible.

 

Its just that the posts are going to get longer and longer if posters try to train via Cadtutor, but I am still happy to help.

ScreenShot083.jpg

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CincyCad

I have done tutorials and read through tons of help, but that only gets you so far. For instance, Nukecad's post above cleared up more questions about layouts than all of the tutorials I viewed did. The problem was that every tutorial I saw about making templates always described making a title block, but that didn't jive with the poster who said I could xref a title block into my drawings. Now I'm understanding it much better, and all the posts have been very helpful and succinct. Trust me, I'm doing a lot more research in the background, but I like deferring to the experts right here that use this stuff every day. The main thing I’m trying to prevent is creating the drawings for the system I'm designing, only to find out I then need to go back through 120 pages and manually edit something stupid that should have been accounted for in the beginning. It's all about planning right now.

Right now I'm still slogging through a procedure for linking external data to my drawings for populating labels. I thought I would be able to connect directly to SQLServer, and I was able to make a db connection, but it appears that doing things like running queries and binding to table data requires AutoCAD Architectural. So now I wrote an app to export by SQL data to a CSV file and will try it that way, as someone noted above. That is an extra step, but no big deal. I'm sure I'll have questions.

Thanks!

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tzframpton
I have done tutorials and read through tons of help, but that only gets you so far. For instance, Nukecad's post above cleared up more questions about layouts than all of the tutorials I viewed did. The problem was that every tutorial I saw about making templates always described making a title block, but that didn't jive with the poster who said I could xref a title block into my drawings. Now I'm understanding it much better, and all the posts have been very helpful and succinct. Trust me, I'm doing a lot more research in the background, but I like deferring to the experts right here that use this stuff every day. The main thing I’m trying to prevent is creating the drawings for the system I'm designing, only to find out I then need to go back through 120 pages and manually edit something stupid that should have been accounted for in the beginning. It's all about planning right now.

Right now I'm still slogging through a procedure for linking external data to my drawings for populating labels. I thought I would be able to connect directly to SQLServer, and I was able to make a db connection, but it appears that doing things like running queries and binding to table data requires AutoCAD Architectural. So now I wrote an app to export by SQL data to a CSV file and will try it that way, as someone noted above. That is an extra step, but no big deal. I'm sure I'll have questions.

Thanks!

Be reminded that we have a programming/customization section in this forum. Lots of highly skilled programmers frequent that portion of this message board, so don't hesitate to jump over there for more programming related approaches.

 

-TZ

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nukecad
The main thing I’m trying to prevent is creating the drawings for the system I'm designing, only to find out I then need to go back through 120 pages and manually edit something stupid that should have been accounted for in the beginning. It's all about planning right now.

Ah, but as you are finding out, setting up your cad standards and project management standards is a bit like what you are already used to with software engineering - when you write code it never compiles right first time out, you do your best but you always end up going back and redoing something.

With time you keep finding things that you could have done better and so refine it until you get it just as you want it to work.

 

It's just the same with getting your cad standards and management exactly as you want it.

(And then you'll change your mind, or start working in a different discipline, or for a different company, and it's all change again).

 

I'm afraid it's just part of life, we can plan things as much as we like, but we can miss things, and we can learn new things that change the way we would have planned it if we knew them back then.

 

The best we can do is to get something that works for us at the time, - and then spend the time to change it later when we feel what we have learned makes it worth spending the time.

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CincyCad

Oh yes, I understand that, and I know I will miss things. But I want to start off on the right foot so that fixing a screw up is as painless as possible. For instance, if it wasn't for you guys, I might have had a unique title block for each drawing, but now if the customer wants some additional info, I know I can just change my title block drawing, link to some data in an excel spreadsheet, and fix it in short order.

 

 

But I also know that ten years from now I will look back on my first effort like I look back at my first code I wrote in 1990. It wasn't pretty. :)

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Dadgad

Lee Mac certainly might have some helpful information or lisps on his site.

When in doubt check Lee Mac out!

 

http://www.lee-mac.com/index.html

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CincyCad

Yes, BIGAL posted a link to that site previously. Very interesting. Once I get going, I'll experiment with some scripts to automate some tasks. I'm just making a bunch of tedious electrical drawings after all, so much of it is repetitious.

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BIGAL

Making csv files will make your search for some repetitious answers so much easier. Reading a line and convert to a number of variables will be one of the first lisp to add to your library lisp, like a good programmer having common functions at you finger tips makes life so much easier.

 

Here is an example of loading a lisp when required returns 2 values from a simple dialouge box, its loaded individually as its not a common one used everyday.

(if (not AH:getval2) (load "getvals3"))
(ah:getval2 "Please enter Pit L m: " 6 5 "0.9" "Please enter Pit W  " 6 5 "0.6")

 

You need to post a request for one of the tasks you do repetitiously it may have already been answered.

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