Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 13, No. 24)30 Jun, 2008
This Week's Software Tips
Dynamic Block Visibility States
"For example, I have a dynamic block of a square weld symbol that contains attributes. The symbol allows the user to select many different options, including field weld, weld all around, welding note, weld size, weld length, weld increment, and contour profile. The symbol displays horizontally, but it can be flipped from left to right or right to left. The problem is that the block could have as many as 32 possible visibility states to display the various combinations of symbol designations, making the block extremely difficult to use.
"To help alleviate this problem, I decided to use the technique of scaling to the contour profiles. I embedded the profiles near the center of the block at a very tiny scale so that they would not normally be visible when the block is plotted to proper scale. I then linked them to a linear parameter and a scale action. When the user selects the contour from a look-up table, the tiny detail displays at a normal, visible size.
"Another technique I use in the welding block to eliminate the need for more visibility states is using a flip parameter and action to display the square weld symbol on the arrow side or far side of the weld. I've included the block. You can check how this works by opening the block in the block editor. Before using the block in a drawing, make sure that the MIRRTEXT system variable is set to 0 (zero)." Download DYNA_SQUARE.DWG.
NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Very useful tip for dynamic blocks with multiple views! One caveat, as Gordon mentions: Be careful if plotting or printing the detail. At the wrong scale, it may look like a blob on the paper.
Architectural Desktop Tip: Dimension Style Fix
"The problem is a result of the drawing scale. Go to the Documentation menu / Set Drawing Scale, and you may notice it is set to 1/8" = 1'-0" or a scale factor of 96. Set it to 1'-0" = 1'-0" (a scale factor of 1) and the problem will never occur again."
NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Considering that ADT v3 was seven releases ago, we can safely assume that such a feature has changed locations in newer versions. In ADT 2006, it's under Format / Drawing Setup / Scale Tab. Keep in mind, this tip changes only the text height, not the dimensions. Practically all 2D formats are based on a full-scale drawing in model space. To assemble the drawing for plotting, switch to paper space. Thanks for the reminder, Mark!
MicroStation Tip: Level Display
Today's MicroStation tip courtesy of The Envision Group.
Note: These follow-up tips have not been tested by the Cadalyst Tip Patrol.
Align Crosshairs to Odd Angles
Brian Hand reminded all of us about an "AutoLISP Solutions" routine from 2001 by Cadalyst author Tony Hotchkiss, UCS-ROT.LSP. "I have used this LISP program with AutoCAD 2004 for several years now, and it works extremely well and appears to carry out the function as described in last week's tip." Rotate UCS to Match Any Line rotates the UCS to line up with any selected line or polyline entity. The entity may be part of a block or xref.
Mike Toolen wrote, "There is another one that has vanished from the UCS options that I use that's even easier than the three-point option: E, for Entity. It's a one-click alignment for the UCS for quick alignments and changing the view on Plan view -- and like the Tip Patrol added, by using the P option to get back to the previous UCS is an easy and quick type-in command. (Or just type in UCS and Return twice to get to the world UCS.) On a side note, it's also good to use the UCS, E command to quickly fix hatches (like the concrete hatch) when the hatch is in world coordinates and the hatch looks like a bunch of random dashes. Pick on a line close to the hatch with UCS, E and then change the rotation angle of the hatch in properties. Just retyping in 0 will work also. Now your hatch looks correct. Then type in UCS and Return twice (or P if using another UCS) and keep on working."
Skyler Mills reports that the UCS command still has the three-point option; it's now buried under the New option.
Peter F. Kane says, "One of the major advantages of using this method is that the UCS view can be named with a logical identifier. In a layout with multiple buildings and associated parking areas, the names of the saved UCS could correspond with the name of the proposed building. Using this command with the named view command (available since AutoCAD 2007) makes it very easy for users to do detail site layout, including adding text annotations normally added parallel to a building."
Juan O. Alvarez wrote, "I only use the 3 command for 3D design. E does not work on xref'd files, so a temporary line (your alignment entity) is needed if working with xrefs. Just remember to select on either side of the midpoint of such line for the right direction of the x-axis. Type the Plan command, Enter twice to select the default, Current, and your crosshairs are shown at their normal alignment. This works great on viewports, so I typically leave model space at World and work in the viewport. It also works perfectly if you dimension on the viewport and places leader text at the right orientation. Going back to World and Plan is easier too. By the way, some of these 'vanished' options are still shown on the old Screen Menu, an old Display option that I turn on sometimes when I can't remember an option. Ahhh, the old Screen Menu days!"
Colin D. Gilbert, who uses AutoCAD 2007, wrote, "Whenever my e-mail pops up with the latest Cadalyst Tips and Tools Weekly, it doesn't sit long before I read it. This week I read with interest the tip on setting crosshairs to odd angles, and thought I would add to that by mentioning another method that works as quick, maybe even quicker for some of us. At the Command line, type in UCS, press Enter, then type OBJ. Then merely pick the line you wish to align your crosshairs on. Then, as the TIP Patrol stated, the P option will always get you back to your previous UCS."
Robert L. Zipprich says, "I'm always aligning my crosshairs to lines at different angles, so I wrote the following menu items to allow a quick pick."
Saves the current snap base and lets me pick a line or polyline, establish a new snap base and rotate my snap angle to it:
ID__1 [_Button("Snapper", "snapper.bmp", "ICON_32_BLANK")]'setvar
orthomode 0 'setvar snapang mid (setq snpbse (getvar "snapbase")
p1 (getpoint)) \end !p1 'setvar orthomode 1
Resets the crosshairs back to snap angle 0 and snap base back to the previous snap base:
ID__2 [_Button("SnapperR", "snapperr.bmp",
Lets me establish a new snap base:
ID__3 [_Button("Snap Base Pt", "snapperb.bmp",
Resets snap base back to 0,0 and snap angle to 0:
ID__4 [_Button("Snap Reset 0", "snap00.bmp", Martin Swords, who uses AutoCAD 2006, wrote, "You can make SNAPANG easy by creating your own commands. To create a SNAPANG icon use the macro ^C^Csnapang;. Then you can simply enter the angle you cursor. You can also make an icon turn the cursor back to 0 by using the macro ^C^Csnapang;0;."
Martin Swords, who uses AutoCAD 2006, wrote, "You can make SNAPANG easy by creating your own commands. To create a SNAPANG icon use the macro ^C^Csnapang;. Then you can simply enter the angle you cursor. You can also make an icon turn the cursor back to 0 by using the macro ^C^Csnapang;0;."
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Viracon Launches New Sustainable Design Tools
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Deals & Freebies
ArcGIS Explorer 480 Available for Download
Free Report on Construction Project Management Software
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Opportunities & Honors
Siemens PLM Software Named a Best Diversity Company
ArchiCAD User Wins New Zealand Institute of Architects Supreme Award
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The Week's New CAD and Related Products
Hardware/Software: 3D Review Station
General Software: Adobe Acrobat v9
AEC: AecBatchStylesEditor 2009
GIS: ArcGIS 9.3
MCAD: RTT DeltaGen v8 and RTT PictureBook v4
MCAD: aesthetica v3
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Mark Your Calendar
PAUG 25th Anniversary Celebration
For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Cadalyst.com.
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Autodesk Technical Evangelist Lynn Allen guides you through a different AutoCAD feature in every edition of her popular "Circles and Lines" tutorial series. For even more AutoCAD how-to, check out Lynn's quick tips in the Cadalyst Video Gallery. Subscribe to Cadalyst's free Tips & Tools Weekly e-newsletter and we'll notify you every time a new video tip is published. All exclusively from Cadalyst!