Thursday, December 23, 2010

Seasons Greetings

I'll use the politically correct version of the holiday greeting. All the best to you and yours this season and in the new year.

Since starting this new job, I have stepped back to ACAD 2008 so all of those wonderful new features that I enjoyed in 2011 are not with me. Ribbon, I miss you!
One of my coworkers had that problem of not being able to select something on defpoints. Remember to check to see if layer 0 is frozen or off when this happens to you. 0 and defpoints have some weird relationship that I still don't fully understand.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mysterious Width Changing Mtext

One of my counterparts had a problem today with a drawing he had saved last week. He had adjusted the width of literally hundreds of pieces of mtext to fit between some detail lines. When he opened the drawing this morning, all of the widths of his text boxes were very narrow and text was all over the place.
The culprit was his MTEXTCOLUMN system variable was set to 2 where it should be set to 0. It was always trying to make columns in his text. You want your mtext toolbar to look like this:

Thursday, August 26, 2010

More Rendering in Revit MEP

I have been doing even more rendering in Revit to show light distribution patters to clients. To do this effectively, I have to use manufacturers IES files and make my own luminaires and put them on the model. Sometimes the the luminaire breaks in the model and I get no light from it.
You can tell when this happens because your distribution pattern turns into the generic type with the sphere around it. I have my IES files stored on a network drive, so I moved them to the C: drive of my computer in the Revit/IES folder with all of the other IES files. I then have to completely remove the family and then reload it and place it again. I then get light output from it and it is in the pattern that I expect. This seems to be working so far.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Rendering with Revit MEP

I have been doing a lot of rendering lately to present lighting layouts to a client. I have had to make my own light fixtures and use ies files from varying manufacturers. I have found that if you place the light source behind the glass in a fixture, the light will not show in a rendering. All I get is a point of light that appears to be on the surface of the glass and nothing is emitted from the fixture. When I pull the light source outside the glass, the light spills out and is reflected off surfaces around the fixture accurately. I then make the glass material self illuminating so it gives the illusion that the light is coming from inside the glass.
This seems to give me the best results in term of looking realistic for the client.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Vote for the Autodesk University Classes you want to see

I have voted for the classes that I want to see. They are mostly BIM centric with lighting and electrical thrown in there for good measure. If you haven't voted, go here to register and have your say:

AU Class Voting

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Revit 2011 Solar Radiation Technology Preview

The Revit labs have come out with a great tool for sustainable design. This tool allows you to examine solar radiation on various surfaces of your building information model. The amount of solar energy is based on the buildings location and weather data in the model. You can download the preview here: Download the Free Solar Radiation Technology Preview from Autodesk Labs

What a great tool to help you decide where to place your PV Panels for maximum efficiency.

Check out the video here: Solar Radiation Technology Preview Video

I hope this also works with Revit 2011 MEP. If it does I will check it out and see what the reports that it generates can do for us electrical engineers.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cooper B-Line has Revit Cable Tray Families

For those of us still needing to use Revit 2009 and 2010, Cooper B-line has made some nice cable tray families for us to use. I was stuck for a long time with using ducts or custom made families that didn't really work properly. These seem to be working fairly well so far.

The one thing that I have noticed is that they seem to still show an interference when you put a corner on them. That is, when you do an interference check, there is conflicts with equipment that doesn't intersect your cable tray. I t is like the cable tray extends past the corner and into what it is interfering with even though you cannot see it in any view.

 As you can see, Revit is telling me that the duct (in red) is hitting the cable tray (selected) when they are obviously not. You can tell from the interferences on the list that this is happening in a number of different places.

As long as you and your mechanical engineer are fine with checking these conflicts manually, these cable trays come together quite fine. They are pretty easy to use and configure. You can download them here:

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Proxy Graphics Warning Messages

I have started using AutoCAD 2011and setting up the UI so it is like my AutoCAD 2010 installation.

I have noticed that I am getting this message when I am opening some older projects and architectural files created with systems older than ACAD 2007:

If I cannot download the object enabler for the objects that are contained in the drawing, I will always get this message. No matter what option I pick at this point, the next time you open the drawing, I will see this message again.
To make sure these objects are shown every time, type in the following command:
Set this to “1” to get a graphic display of the objects in question. If you set it to “0”, then the graphics will not show. If you set it to “2”, then you will get a bounding box around where the object should be.
Now to never get that warning message again, type in the following command:
Set this to “0” and that Proxy Information box will not show up again when you are opening these types of drawings.
Alternately, you can find this setting here in the Options menu under the Open and Save tab:

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Work with AutoCAD Architecture Plans with Vanilla AutoCAD

Most of my office uses vanilla AutoCAD to produce electrical engineering documents. This is fine most of the time for when we receive documents from the architect in 2d format. But sometimes it starts to act funny when we get 3D walls and doors to work with.

At first I tried to explode all of the AEC blocks in order to break them down to 2D objects to make them easier to work. This usually required a bunch of steps of exploding a block and then deleting some and exploding more blocks to get down to the lines that are found at a Z=0 level. The trick was to isolate only the AEC objects and explode them. You didn't want to explode the normal 2D blocks.

If you don’t want to explode other blocks or try to find all the AEC objects, you can use this handy command to just convert the AEC objects to autocad objects.

-AECTOACAD   This command creates another file with all of the AEC objects converted to autocad objects and flattened. It is a lot smaller that exploding everything in the drawing.

I choose the prefix option from the drop down menu and AutoCAD prefixes the new file with a ACAD-. Then hit "F" for filename and autocad will show you the path and the new filename for the drawing it will create. It defaults to the same directory of the file you are working on. This makes it easy to find your converted file when you are done.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I can't quite see what that says.

Here is an interesting trick to make text more visible if I need to use it on top of architecture and lines in AutoCAD. It is called the background mask for mtext.

You can access it here when you have the mtext editor open:

Then select Background Mask...

You get a window like this:
Be sure to check the Use drawing background color box and the border offset factor to something just slightly larger than the text. I thought 1.2 was pretty good.

You can use this to get our text to show up better when it is on top of architectural items that make it hard to read the text. I don't like to place text over lines or architecture but if I have to, I like to use this method. I don’t need to use it all the time but it would be useful in some situations.

Uncheck the "Use drawing background color" to use a different background to highlight the text box if you want.