Avatech Tricks: Design Panel Layouts

9 May, 2006 By: David Lynch

Use simple wireframing techniques to depict axial information in AutoCAD Electrical.

When designing panel layouts, it's often necessary to mount components in the front door of the enclosure. Although AutoCAD Electrical does a fine job, the majority of components contain only 2D data. Designers must consider any interference between the components mounted on the internal backplane of the cabinet enclosure and those mounted in the cabinet door.

A relatively easy way to determine interference is by adding the height and depth data using basic rectangular or circular geometry.

First, in AutoCAD Electrical, switch from Plan View to SE Isometric View (figures 1 and 2). Zoom in on the component, in this case, a relay module.


Figures 1 and 2. To begin, switch from (1) Plan View to (2) SE Isometric View.

Start the Rectangle command and using Osnaps, draw a rectangle on top of the module. Next, issue the Move command, select the newly created rectangle (type "L" for Last) and move it up on the positive z-axis for a distance equal to the height of the module device (figure 3).

Select objects: 1 found
Select objects:
Specify base point or [Displacement] : (Pick a corner) Specify second point or
<use first point as displacement>: @0,0,5

Figure 3. Create and move the rectangle.

Launch the Line command and connect the upper and lower corners to create a 3D wireframe representation of the relay module (figure 4).

Figure 4. Connect upper and lower corners to create a 3D wireframe.

Using this example, you can generate enough z-axis dimensional data for each component mounted on the back plane (figure 5). Do the same for the rectangle that represents the enclosure to obtain the depth.

Figure 5. You now can generate enough z-axis dimensional data for each component.

You can determine interference between the internally mounted and door-mounted devices using the same approach. Use the door front and superimpose it over the enclosure, draw rectangles (or circles) on top of the door-mounted components and move them in the same manner, except give each a negative z-axis value.

It's a good idea to create a few extra layers upon which to place the z-axis data. Name them something like "Z-Axis Door Front" and "Z-Axis Backplane" (figure 6).

Figure 6. Create a few extra layers to place the z-axis data.

Although in this example, I used simple wireframing techniques to depict the axial info, alternatively you can use the Extrude command just as effectively (figures 7 and 8).

Figure 7.- Here's the SE Isometric View created with the Extrude command.

Figure 8. And, the SW Isometric View created with the Extrude command.

About the Author: David Lynch

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