AutoCAD: Attributed Blocks keeping order

Written by: Cindra Drowne-Walsh

Creating a block with multiple Attributes and making sure you are prompted in the order you want to be prompted in, may take time upfront when creating the block but in the long run will save you and your company time which in turn is a money saver. 

*Attributes are a huge time saver and helps keep consistency within the drawings. I refer to Attributes as intelligent text. Attributes are text that is associated to a block definition and can be modified as needed.

Here we will discuss the steps to make sure the prompts for the Attributed Blocks are in the order the creator wants them to be. 

The key to this is when creating the block to select the Attributes in the order you want to be prompted. This prompt sequence shows up in the Command line, with in the Attribute Editor dialog box, when you insert the Attributed Block or edit the Block at a later time.

Process:

Step one: Draw the geometry (if applicable) of the item to be blocked.

          Step two: Add the Attributes that are needed. (ATTDEF   1 Attdef Located in the Home Tab / Block Panel drop down) needed.

Step Three: Create the Block – First select all geometry and non-Attribute information. Second using the Pick Selection option select the Attributes One at a time in the order you want them to list.

Step Four: Test the Attributed Block out and make any corrections if needed.

Step 1 and 2:

The geometry is created and the Attributes are defined as the X. This is the TAG section that must be filled in when creating an Attribute.

The X was my choice in hopes that it would stand out for this image.

2 Attributes placed ready to be blocked

Step 3:

Using either the Block or WBlock Command create the block definition. Keep in mind (select all geometry and data first then, while still in the command select the Attributes one at a time in the order you want the prompts to go.

Step 4:

Checking the Block to make sure the Attributes are where they are needed and to make sure the prompt sequence is correct.

Here displays the Attributes defined per the company’s and drawings information.

3 Block with Attributes filled in

This Block contains 14 Attributes:

ATTDIA: is a system variable with the toggle of 0 or 1. When set to 0 the Attribute prompt will display at the Command Line, when set to 1 this opens up the Attribute Editor dialog box when a Block containing Attributes is inserted. To get the second page to display select Next. (See example below) 

This shows the Attribute prompt set up for the above block. The left side is the prompt the user added when defining the Attributes, the right side is the information added once the drawing is created.

4 Attribute Editor5 Attribute Editor

* Always save your Block(s) / WBlock(s) in a directory that everyone has access to. This is a time save – others won’t have to duplicate what has already been completed and will keep consistent within the companies drawings. 

Attributes can be defined by themselves or with geometry, the key to success is they must be selected within a Block / WBlock to function.

AutoCAD: Calculate the Area

Written by: Cindra Drowne-Walsh

No math involved: Calculate the Area, find out the Perimeter of your geometry quickly.

Need to make sure the new tank will fit into the open space, want to calculate the square footage before a rug install, or figure out how much material will be wasted?

The AREA Command:

AREA command allows quick calculation of the area and perimeter geometry.

Where to access of the AREA command:

Ribbon:            Home Tab, Utilities Panel, Measure Button drop down, select Area.

Command Line: type in AREA or MEASUREGEOM (If you can remember) then enter. Either approach offers the same command options.

*Area is a running command, meaning it does not finish by itself you need to finalize or stop the command. When you are done you either select the ESC (escape key) or select the eXit option in the command options line or type an X in the command line and then enter.

Steps to calculate the area of a geometry: *this only works when the geometry is straight lines. (see video 1)

Command: Area

Select the endpoints of the lines: Working your way around the geometry (clockwise or counter clockwise either direction works, the selection cannot overlap itself)

AutoCAD fills in the area with a light green display to help make sure the area being selected is what the user is looking for.

Enter once, the area has been completely selected.

The Area, Perimeter even Length information is displayed within the command line


*Change this geometry into Polyline and the process is quicker. You can utilize the Object option which allows a single selection of the entity.

Steps to calculate the area of an object. Geometry that are polylines  (see video 2)
Command: Area
Enter to start the Object (command option) – this is the default option so  it does not have to be selected.
Bring your cursor into the drawing and select the Object / polyline to be calculated.
Enter
The Area, Perimeter even Length information is displayed within the command line


*When calculating geometry with arcs or curves the geometry must be converted into a Polyline (one entity) as the area command doesn’t calculate arcs when selecting individual points on the screen but will when selecting an Object which a polyline is considered to be.

Steps to calculate the area of complex object containing arc (see video 3)
Command: Area
Enter to start the Object (command option) – this is the default option so it does not have to be selected.
Bring your cursor into the drawing and select the Object / polyline to be calculated.
Enter
The Area and Perimeter is displayed within the command line


Steps to calculate the area of an object that contains an areas either being taken up by another solid or a void where a piece has been removed, (Islands)
This process includes additional steps that must be followed in exact order. Think of it as a mathematical problem, start (ADD area) with the largest number (in this case the largest object) then (SUBTRACT area) the smaller number (in this case the smaller geometry items inside the larger geometry) to be removed from the calculation.

Steps to calculate the area containing Islands (see video 4)
Command: Area
Add area
Object – select the outer / largest Objects
Enter
Subtract area
Object – select the interior / smaller Objects


Note:
GREEN filled in area represents the area being calculated.
RED filled in area represents the area being removed from the calculation.

Ways to access the Area Command options are either typing from the keyboard the capitalized and blue letter of the option, selecting the option with the cursor that are listed within the Command Line prompts or by Right-Clicking and selecting the command options from the popup window.

AutoCAD: How the Ribbon displays

Written by: Cindra Drowne-Walsh

Has your Ribbon display accidentally changed or worst disappeared?

The Ribbon can display as one of four different ways and also can be turned off.

  1. Minimize to Tabs: Only Tab Titles are displayed.
  2. Minimize to Panel Titles: Only Tab and Panel Titles are displayed.
  3. Minimize to Panel Buttons: Only Tab Titles and Panel Buttons are displayed.
  4. Show Full Ribbon: All Tab Titles, Panels and Buttons display.

Ribbon 1Ribbon 2Ribbon 3Ribbon 4

To quickly cycle through the Ribbon display options select the small rectangular button with a black arrow in it, located at the end of the Ribbon Tabs. This automatically cycles through the Ribbons when selected.

Ribbon 5

To select these options from a drop down list select the drop down arrow at the end of the Ribbon Tabs.

Ribbon 6

Cycle Through All: Cycles through the all four ribbon displays.

*To Display or not to Display the Ribbon:

From the Command Line: type in (not case sensitive) RIBBONCLOSE and Enter. This is automatic, and the Ribbon is turned off.

Turn the Ribbon back on type in RIBBON and Enter. The Ribbon automatically appears.

From the Ribbon: Right click in a blank area on the Ribbon just past the Tabs. A pop up window appears with the option to Close. Select and the Ribbon turns off.

*The Ribbon by default is located at the top of the screen just below the Title Bar. The user can undock the Ribbon and relocate it to a side or even in the middle of the drawing area.

AutoCAD: Another time saving approach

Written by: Cindra Drowne-Walsh

Polar Tracking:

How it works – when the cursor is in the area of the pre-set Increment
and/or Additional Angle(s), the cursor tracks automatically in the direction of those angles. Polar Tracking is a toggle ON/OFF feature found in the Status Bar. (Blue = ON or active / Grey = OFF or inactive). The F10 key works the same way.

Polar Tracking 1

Where to access the Polar Tracking tab:

Polar Tracking settings are found in the Drafting Settings Dialog Box within the Polar Tracking tab. This can be accessed by Right-Clicking over the Polar Tracking Icon located in the Status bar then selecting the option Settings, (quickest most direct option) or by accessing the Drafting Settings Dialog box any of the other numerous ways AutoCAD offers.

Polar Tracking 2

How to set up Incremental angles:

Within the Polar Tracking tab the pre-defined Increment angle options are located within the drop down list. Select the appropriate angle.

AutoCAD offers a list of eight pre-defined angles, 5, 10, 15, 18, 22.5, 30, 45, 90. Example of an Increment angle selected: if the angle of 30 is selected your cursor will track on all angles of the increment of 30. Ex. 30, 60, 90, 120, 150, and so on.

*Only one Increment angle can be selected (active) at a time.

Polar Tracking 3

How to set Additional angles:

If you need an angle that doesn’t fall into the range of any Increment angle, AutoCAD offers right below the option of Additional angles. Select the box in front of Additional angles (this places a in the box), then select New. This placed a text box to the right for the Additional angle(s) to be typed in. If another angle is needed repeat the process.

AutoCAD allows up to eight angles to be added. Theses angles are not incremental, they are for the specified angle only. Example: the Additional angle of 8 will track only when in the range of angle 8, along with whatever the Incremental angle is set to.

*Watch out for over kill, too many Additional angles may slow your drawing time down rather than increase it.

Polar Tracking 4

*Ortho and Polar Tracking cancel each other out, they cannot be on at the same time.

*Key here is to put in the most commonly used angle(s) for the type of work you do. For the randomly used angles access them the old fashion way by typing them in as we have always done.

Try this, set the Incremental angle to 30 and make sure Polar Tracking is ON. Start the Line command, pick any point anywhere in the drawing area and slowly move your cursor around a 360ᵒ direction. You should see the green tracking line snap to those Incremental angle of 30ᵒ, along with a tooltip not only the angle but the distance you are away from the selected point. This feature is not limited to the Line command it works with other Draw and Modify commands.

AutoCAD: No need for construction geometry

Written by: Cindra Drowne-Walsh

Object Tracking used by itself or along with Temporary Tracking (TT) may take the place of your construction geometry. At a minimum it will save you time once you retraining your brain to use this approach.

Object Tracking: Object Tracking allows you to place new geometry or re-locate existing geometry by reference one to two points off of exiting geometry. This feature works with the Object Snap feature. Both features must be active (ON), the Object Snap(s) pre-set or (Running). Object Tracking references the pre-set Object Snap points and automatically activates when you hover the Cursor over the corresponding geometry a (+) appears to show where the cursor is tracking from. No selecting the geometry when you hover just let AutoCAD do its thing.

These features are found as a button in the Status Bar, toggle On or OFF, and also accessed through your function keys.

F3 = Object Snap

F8 = Ortho

F11 = Object Snap Tracking

(Objects Snaps were referenced a few weeks ago in a previous blog).

Object Tracking button - 1
Temporary Tracking (TT): Temporary Tracking allows you to reference from an existing piece of
geometry out to a new point in space, then from that point to a second point. Key to this option is to type in the TT at the first point prompt.

Examples:
Object Snap Tracking, Drawing a Line using One Point of reference from existing geometry:

Object Snap Tracking, Moving a Circle using Two reference points (Midpoint) of a Rectangle:

Temporary Tracking, (TT) Placing a Rectangle referencing existing geometry for the first point out to a second point in space:

*Do not bring your cursor back over the (+) as that will remove it and you will have to start again.

*The default setting for Object tracking is to track off of 0ᵒ, 90ᵒ, 180ᵒ, 270ᵒ. If other angles are needed Polar Tracking can be defined.

AutoCAD: Hover don’t select – Object Snaps

Written by: Cindra Drowne-Walsh

When using Object Snaps the first thought is to snap to the geometry once we see the AutoSnap marker display. Selecting (pick) works with all but these two Object Snaps Parallel and Extension. Instead of selecting the geometry when the AutoSnap marker displays we hover the cursor over the geometry allowing time for the Object Snap symbol to displays then move the cursor into the direction needed and the Auto Tracking feature kicks in ready to continue with your command.

Solution:

Parallel: This example shows how to draw a Line Parallel to an existing line. The angle is not known.

Steps:

  1. Start the Line command
  2. Pick a start point for the Line
  3. Access the Object Snap Parallel
  4. Hover the cursor over the existing line
  5. Once the Parallel symbolParallel symbol displays move the cursor into the direction of where the Parallel line will be placed. When the cursor finds the parallel location (green dashed tracking line displays) and is now ready for the next input point of the line.

 

Extension: This example shows how to start a Line X units away from an existing line

then place a Line X units long into the drawing.

Steps:

  1. Start the Line command
  2. Access the Object Snap Extension
  3. Hover over the Endpoint of the line
  4. Once the green tick mark displays move the cursor away from the line in desired direction. (a green dashed extension line appears)
  5. The green dashed line is tracking on the same plane as the referenced line, input the distance away you want the line to start.
  6. Access the Object Snap Extension feature again
  7. Hover over the Endpoint of the line again
  8. Move the cursor in the direction the line is to be placed. (Object Tracking kicks in weather it is active or not with this command).
  9. Input the Length of the line.

* With both Object Snap features a green tick mark will display on the original line until the next point is placed. Do not move the cursor back over this tick mark as it will remove the tick mark and you will have to start the process all over again.

AutoCAD is only as precise as the input that it is given

Written by: Cindra Drowne-Walsh

Exact coordinates may not always be available, but accuracy is imperative. Making sure geometry is placed correctly is easy when referencing existing geometry and utilizing Object Snaps.

Solution:

Object Snaps: Allows the user to select an exact locations on existing geometry without knowing specific coordinates. When the prompt is for a “point” Objects Snaps are accessed individually by either typing in the complete Object Snap name. For a quicker approach, type in the first three letters of the Object Snaps name (1) (not case sensitive) or hold down the Shift Key then Right-Click (2) also if you Right-Click without the Shift key you will receive a pop up window- select Snap Overrides for the Object Snaps pop-up window. (3)

  (1) end      =  Endpoint                                       tan       =  Tangent

                            mid     =  Midpoint                                       per      =  Perpendicular

int       =  Intersection                                   par      =  Parallel

app     =  Apparent Intersection                 nod     =  Node

ext       =  Extension                                      ins       =  Insert

cen      =  Center                                            nea      =  Nearest

qua     =  Quadrant                                      none   =  None

Object Snap 2Object Snap 3Running Object Snaps: Are preset in the Drafting Settings Dialog box (3) located in the Object

Snap tab. Selected Object Snaps are active (available) all the time and ready to use when the prompt is for a “point”.  To access the Drafting Settings dialog box through the command line type in DSETTINGS then enter, or Right-Clicking over the Icons on the left side of the Status Bar, this activates a pop up window – select Settings (4). Hint: Right –Click over the icon you want and it will open the Drafting Setting dialog box to that specific tab. (Example place the cursor over the Object Snap icon, Right-click, the Drafting Settings dialog box opens and the Object Snap tab is current).

Object Snap 4Object Snap 5Snap Override: This feature is used when you need an Object Snap that is not Running for a one time selection. This puts a temporary hold on the preset Running Object Snaps. They are accessed by the above examples (1, 2 and/or 3) while in a command that prompts for a point.

* Object Snaps are saved within the program not within a drawing, they stay set until changed.

* Time saver: To toggle the Running Object Snaps, ON or OFF, select the F3 key or select the

Object Snap Icon located in the Status Bar.

Object Snap 6* Accessing the Drafting Setting dialog box repeatedly, to modify the Object Snap options, results as a time consuming event. Suggestion: preset your most used Object Snaps (three to five) as Running Object Snaps, then, incorporate Snap Overrides when needed. Using both approaches will lead to a smoother flow when drawing and improve your drawing time.

Cranston Woman Breaks the Mold at Welding School – Business | Cranston, Rhode Island Patch

Kierstyn Ebbeling just completed an eight-week training welding training program that helps unemployed Rhode islanders connect with jobs.

From the Cranston Patch:

Wearing a helmet and wielding a fiery torch is in all in a day’s work now for a Cranston woman.

Kierstyn Ebbeling has just completed an eight-week training welding training program that helps unemployed Rhode islanders connect with jobs in the marine trades and manufacturing industries.

The Shipbuilding/Marine and Advanced Manufacturing Institute (SAMI) at the New England Institute of Technology (NEIT) recruits, screens and trains individuals for high demand careers in these industries at no cost to participants.

“I thought of the SAMI program because I was at a point in my life where I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I had always been interested in mechanical things, but, being a small-framed woman, my options were obviously limited,” Ebbeling said.

“Through the SAMI program, I was able to meet the instructors and they opened me up to the world of welding, which I had tried in high school and I really enjoyed, but had never thought of as a career path,” she said.

According to NEIT, 90 percent of SAMI graduates are already working for companies including Blount Boats, Senesco Marine and Electric Boat, which hired Ebbeling after graduation. She cannot believe how far she has come since beginning the training program in March.

“I love welding. I could do it all day. I could watch YouTube videos about it all day. It’s something, you know, to be able to go and work at Electric Board and have them set me up welding right away. That is like a dream come true,” she said.

Ebbeling even stars in a video that is being used to promote the SAMI program to potential students.

“Some of the first women that you saw welding were the Wendy Welders of World War II, and those welders were working on marine crafts. Wendy the Welder was a ship builder. I’m going to end up going into shipbuilding and it’s just kind of cool having that connection between the present and the past,” she explained.

NEIT staff worked closely with local companies to develop the curriculum, training programs and laboratories that will give Rhode Islanders the skills needed to be successful in the job market.

“It’s a terrific example of how Rhode Island’s private educational institutions of higher education can help the state in its effort for economic development,” said NEIT President Dr. Richard Gouse. “New England Tech is going to train those employees with those specific skills. So from that point of view, it’s a win for everybody and an important thing for Rhode Island.”

Funding for the program came from the U.S. Department of Labor, the Governor’s Workforce Board and the Rhode Island Foundation.

“We saw this as an opportunity to link unemployed and under-employed Rhode Islanders with local employers, leverage the training resources of a local institution, and highlight the importance of these industries to our community,” said Foundation president and CEO Neil Steinberg.

The Foundation’s $50,000 grant for SAMI grew out of its Make It Happen RI initiative, which develops proposals that will jumpstart the state’s economy.

“This funding achieves two goals. Helping companies grow by closing the so-called skills gap and getting people trained quickly so they can get back to work and into solid, good-paying jobs,” Steinberg said.

Cranston Woman Breaks the Mold at Welding School – Business | Cranston, Rhode Island Patch.

AutoCAD: Increase your drawing area…

Written by: Cindra Drowne-Walsh

View Cube and Navigation Bar (are located on the right hand side of the drawing area) by default are active on your screen when you start with AutoCAD’s default drawing. When on they can impede access to geometry that lays behind them. If needing to access geometry that resides below the View Cube or Navigation Bar you have to reposition (Pan or Zoom) the drawing before you can work on that area.

Navigation 1

View Cube and Navigation Bar features are very useful when drawing 3D or Isometric drawings, the Zoom and Pan options are easily found using the mouse or keyboard.

Solution:

Turn off the View Cube and Navigation Bar in the active drawing or set up a Drawing Template so that it will always be turned off. (Drawing Template – I’ll discuss another time)

View Cube and Navigation Bar visual display: ON/OFF

Command Line:

1. View Cube: Command Line type in: DISPLAYVIEWCUBEIN2D

(Autofill will help find this when typing) There are two options ON or OFF.

Navigation 2

2a. Navigation Bar: Command Line type in: NAVBAR

(Autofill will help find this when typing) There are two options ON or OFF

This option allows you to either type in your choice or select the option of ON or OFF.

Navigation 3

2b. Navigation Bar: Command Line NAVBARDISPLAY

(Autofill will help find this when typing) There are two options 1 = ON or 0 = OFF

This option allows you to either type in your choice or select the option of ON or OFF.

 

Navigation 4

Ribbon:

Located in the View Tab, User Interface Panel, to the User Interface Button drop down you will find the option to toggle on or off visual display for the View Cube and Navigation Bar. A check mark next to the feature means it is active (visible on the screen) no check means it is turned off.

Navigation 5

Drawing Area:

Or a much easier approach than recalling what to type in is to access the Model Space Viewport Controls located in the top-left corner of the drawing window. This allows quick access to turn off the visual display.

Navigation 6

Viewport Controls [-]:

Select the Viewport Controls symbol [-] (with the Left Mouse button) this opens up a pop up window.  The View Cube and Navigation Bar can be toggled on and off here.  The Blue box with the check mark represents that the features are displayed on the screen. To turn the display off or on move the mouse over the feature it will highlight blue – select it and the feature will either display or not.

Navigation 7Navigation 8

 

AutoCAD: CAD files slow to opening or slow to regenerating?

Written by: Cindra Drowne-Walsh

When working with large files, and electronic files that have been active through many releases of CAD or just a very involved file there may be excess information that is not relevant to the project anymore that could be slowing you down.

Solution: Purge command offers a quick way to clean out your drawing files of unused, unwanted information.

*Caution: The command Purge should only be used when and if you know the data you are purging will no longer be needed in this drawing or any other drawing file. *Once an item is purged it is removed from that CAD file and is not recoverable. Yes you can recreate the information that was purged but that is now a time consuming factor, especially when blocks are part of the mix.

Purge command is found:

  1. Through the Command Line type in Purge then Enter.
  2. Through the Application Menu select Drawing Utilities then select Purge
  3. Both options bring up the same dialog box.

Command line: (1)

Purge 1

Application Menu: (2)

Purge 2

Purge dialog box breakdown:

Purge 3

Example – A: Purge – Confirmation dialog box.

Purge 4