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Adding Dimensions & modifying existing drawing - newbie needs help

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Hi Guys,


My sincere apologies. I have just spent days watching videos and I am still stuck on adding dimensions – and then I need to modify the drawing. It seems that a lot of videos are very soft and many I have difficulty in understanding the heavy accents. I am an English speaker. Not sure if that is the problem.


I am trying to modify a 4U rack front panel for a PC box I am building. I got the file from “thingaverse” I think, and it was in Solidworks. I managed to convert it to dwg. I am sort of OK on FreeCad, but this drawing has far too much stuff and I could not understand the “parts” tutorial.


Hope you can guide me through this first step that totally confuses.


The instructions seem to be go to “Annotation”, click on “Dimension” and then highlight the end points of the line that need measuring and there you have it…. well I do not have it….


Here it all goes pear-shaped. Left click, right click, hold down mouse – none of the videos seem to tell me.


The other way is hover over the line also fails to work.


Also, when I get to the edge, there is 1) square and then sometimes 2) a circle with an X.


Now, I am only doing 2D as 3D would totally confuse me.


Hope someone has the patience and kindness to assist.


Thank you.

(I tried to attach the file - it was too big - so here is a png. The problem is also there are far too many holes and when I converted it it seems to treat the whole in a strange way - meaning, if I delete a small error the whole drawing disappears. I took it from a 3D solid works.

VentPanel_4RU_1.1_  (4).png


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Good Morning.   I opened your drawing using Draftsight and then I exploded it.  The result was one rectangle and ten oblong slots (i.e. - screw holes).  Every object is on layer "0" with a l

Have a look at this

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If you only need the length of the line, you can use the DIST command. Start DIST, select one end of the line, then the other. You'll get a message giving you distance, angle, etc. You can also select the line and look at its Properties (right-click if you don't have the Prop window already open), which will have the same info.


If you need a permanent dimension, use the DIMENSION command. That's a subsystem in itself.


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Thank you.


Looks like my conversion from Solidworks to Autocad is bad.


While I am typing.....once a line is drawn - how can one make it longer/shorter??


I watched a video about stretching - 5 times I went over it and still it did not work.


Any help gratefully accepted

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When you click on a line you should see a little square appear at each end, if you click the square you can now drag the end of the line, length or shorten try typing a length and see what happens. This is known as grip editing.


For say a rectangle and you want it to be longer, you need to use a window selection covering the vertical and part of the horizontal lines. For stretch you pick a base point then drag to a new point. Using grip edit, window again, you will see the little squares, drag by selecting the mid point of the vertical line.


Would post a animation for you but having problems posting.

Edited by BIGAL
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hi Guys - Thanks Bigal.


I am a little battle scared. After a week of autocad, I made (see ...mess-dwg) a total mess. I did it again in freeCad (see...FCStd and...dxf - my programme will not convert to dwg, I have lost the path to the file I need).


But the problem is everyone wants dxf or dwg so FreeCad is a little left field. But....when I add the holes the file becomes too big and it slows down. I think I need to make a layer or part. Neither of which I have managed to do. I have asked an associate who (you guessed it) works with Solidworks - but I think he has gone away.


So I am trying to get the little holes (ventilation) for the front panel of my new PC Rack.


I have just finished a 15 Video series on Autocad and man was that confusing. All I want (at this stage) is 2D...everyone wants to sprint to 3D. It's hard enough in 2D.


Thanks for your help. I need a face-to-face AutoCad TAFE course or something. I am in the bush, so I think I am probably out of luck. The AutoCad people say AutoCad, the Solidworks say SolidWorks and the FreeCad people...well I think they are somewhere else.


Thank you

Rack-4U-Panel-Front-Solid-Basic-DF-490-177.8.dxf Rack-4U-Panel-Front-Solid-Basic-DF-490-177.8.FCStd Rack-4U-Panel-Front-Solid-Basic-DF-490-177.8.FCStd1 Rack-4U-Panel-Front-Solid-Basic-DF490x88.90-mess.dwg

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Hello Foxint,

I've looked at your .dxf; a couple of comments and observations: the object drawn is a block: SKETCH036. It is on Layer "0". 

Are you trying to modify it without Exploding? Or is this the file of the Block  you are working in? The .dxf should be .dwg to make a working drawing open to modification; then when you are happy with the final look, you could then make it into a block.

I suggest you start a new .dwg, and open the Block: SKETCH036 into the new .dwg and explode it, modify as needed, then use the BLOCK command to create a new block of the OBJECT only (not the entire drawing).

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Thank you.

I am not sure what you mean by SKETCH036?

Are you trying to modify it without Exploding? – I do not understand and I do not know how to explode.

Or is this the file of the Block you are working in? – Again, you have totally lost me

I have started a new file but getting it to measure the right measurements is a nightmare. I will attach.


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Hello Foxint,

Yes, I opened your .dxf file in AutoCAD2000Lt, and discovered that when I selected any geometry that ALL geometry was selected.

I then opened DESIGN CENTER and selected blocks and discovered that you entire geometry is one block and DESIGN CENTER identified it as Block Name: SKETCH036.


Somewhere in you drawing of the geometry, you must have accidentally made it a block and named it.


Or, probably most likely you downloaded what you thought was a live drawing, but in fact you downloaded a BLOCK.

Use the EXPLODE command [typed into the command line or selected from the MODIFY pulldown] and select the geometry.

It should then become more manageable as a collection of geometry allowing you to modify it. 

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Hi Guys.


If you have the patience. Can we start again. I will attach the file I converted from solidworks. I tried to explode it and nothing. When I try to delete small parts it all disapears. I need to make changes to the placement of the screw holes and add screw holes and holes for switches etc.


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Good Morning.


I opened your drawing using Draftsight and then I exploded it.  The result was one rectangle and ten oblong slots (i.e. - screw holes).  Every object is on layer "0" with a layer color of "white".   I have attached a copy of the drawing below.  It has been saved in AutoCAD 2013 .dwg file format.



Basic Rack.dwg

Edited by ReMark
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Only that this is the device the OP is trying to draw; it has the appropriate dimensions in case he would care to start truly using a Computer Aided Drawing program and start a new drawing with fresh data. I felt he was trying to resurrect someone elses' output instead of practicing the art of CAD for himself.


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The drawing you have provided has only a passing resemblance to that pictured in the OP's first post.  Perhaps you can tell him where he needs to start.  Ex. - Using the RECTANGLE command do the following...  To create the slots for the holes at either end start with the CIRCLE command and do the following...  To create the punchwork slots in the grill use the following commands...(list them).  Understand? 

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Hi Guys - THANK YOU....your comments have been great.


Yes I do agree - I started from ground zero, but I am having a lot of trouble with 1) getting the exact positioning of the holes and the exact dimensions of the plate - I am in metric (the whole rack system totally frustrates me - but that is a whole other story.) 2) the vent holes are a mystery 3) also the screw holes - I tried to make them with 2 1/2 circles, but getting the measurement from the middle of the hole was total mess for me.


Just on a side matter - when I open up the attached file....it is nowhere in my screen I have to zoom and then use the hand is there anyway to get it to some opening point. I searched fro seems like a long time - but my search terms do not match AutoCad terminology.




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