Dialog Box November 2005

14 Nov, 2005 By: Cadalyst Staff Cadalyst

Letters from our readers

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AutoCAD Tutorials
Thank you, Bill Fane, so much for your informative tutorials in Cadalyst. I have a question relating to polylines.

I work with customer files and use them to create our working AutoCAD files. We use solid hatch on all our designs so I need closed polylines. When using some of these customer files I find that I get polyline segments which won't join to the previous polyline segment. The Command line tells me "Object is not parallel to the UCS." I have a workaround for this situation but it's tedious. Is there a simple solution to this problem? Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

— Declan Flannery, via Internet

Bill Fane replies:
This problem arises when someone has been working in 3D, whether deliberately or accidentally. Segments can only be added to a polyline when everything lies flat in one plane. In your case, one end of the segment probably has a z-coordinate different from the other end. As you look down on it in Plan View everything looks fine, but the segment is actually sloping up towards you or down away from you. Note also that the UCS can also include the WCS.

If you have the Express Tools installed, try the Flatten command (Express / Modify / Flatten objects). It basically flattens all 3D objects into flat 2D ones.

Ad or Review?
In regards to your review of the HP 4000 in the September 2005 issue (LINK), we have an HP Design Jet 4000 and it's not near the device your article made it out to be. It produces bands on aerial photographs that shouldn't be there. Choosing the high quality mode removes these lines, but it takes far too long to print in this mode. In addition, processing time on the computer is unrealistically high when we chose best quality. The HP 4000 staggers lines that should be straight when Max Speed Bright White paper mode is used, plus the scale is inaccurate in both the x and y directions. The color calibration is hugely different from that of the model it replaces, the HP Design Jet 1000 series. The contrast of aerial photographs is poor from the HP 4000. With color calibration set to "no color calibration" on the HP 1050c, we get better contrast than the HP 4000. I did not see a single negative remark about the HP Design Jet 4000 in your review of the device. Is this an advertisement or a review? Your readers would appreciate honest, thorough tests of plotters.

— Paul Lohr, via Internet

Ron LaFon replies:
I'm sorry to hear you're having difficulty with your plotter. At Cadalyst Labs, if we had run into those problems, we definitely would have let you, the readers, know. I did a wide variety of testing, with different kind of originals (CAD line drawings, bitmapped images and scans from original maps), and didn't encounter any problems. I think it's an outstanding device. Have you contacted HP and asked for assistance? Perhaps there are some settings that could be changed to fix your problems. Or perhaps there is a defect in your machine.

Zip CAD Pro Price?
I read your product announcement about Zip CAD Pro from Couttes and you show a cost of $99, but when I go to the product Web site it shows $499. What's going on?

— Patrick Young, via Internet

Sara Ferris replies:
It looks like they've moved on to v3 and raised the price substantially on those products. I've updated our Web site to reflect that fact. The product announcements are usually written a month or two before posting, and at that time we verify the pricing with the company. So either they sent us special introductory pricing and forgot to note that, or they decided to increase the price. It also looks like they discontinued one of the products we mentioned. I apologize for the confusion.

The Right Video Card
We are a small architectural firm using Autodesk Architectural Desktop 2006. We plan on leasing new computers from Dell next month and are trying to decide between the Precision 380 and Dimension 9100. Our choice will be based primarily on the video cards. The Precision offers the 128MB PCle X16 NVIDIA Quadro FX 1400 (the 1440 is too expensive for us) while the Dimension offers the PCI Express 256MB GeForce 6800. Do both offer OpenGL and how important is support for OpenGL with Architectural Desktop? Is there a difference we would notice between the two? Can you point us in the right direction?

— Donna Mathewson, via Internet

Sara Ferris replies:
The GeForce cards are aimed more at the gaming market, so they don't support OpenGL, while the FX 1400 targets CAD and other workstation-level applications and does support OpenGL. Though many users are perfectly happy with the gaming cards, we've had trouble getting vendors to send them so we can compare their performance with the workstation cards. With the workstation cards, you get drivers designed to optimize CAD performance. Unless you're doing very simple 2D work, I think you'll notice a definite benefit from the FX 1400. My work computer is a basic desktop system with no OpenGL support, and I've given up even trying to run AutoCAD on it.

64-bit Workstations
You're September Editor's Window column was timely for us. We needed to upgrade a couple of our workstations so, based on the suggestion in your column, we purchased 64-bit machines. We are now learning that Autodesk's Architectural Desktop 2006 doesn't seem to like this. The installation appears to go OK, but the program returns an error message when I try to launch it. When I try to register the license, it makes an attempt but fails. Our vendor is stumped also.

I've relied on Cadalyst's expertise and advise on AutoCAD for years, so it never occurred to me to question whether Architectural Desktop would run on a 64-bit operating system. Have you or your staff run into this, and do you have any suggestions on how to make the two "play nice?"

— Steven R. Groth, AIA, CSI, CCS, via Internet

Sara Ferris replies:
I'm sorry to hear you're having trouble. We have been running plain AutoCAD on 64-bit systems with no problem, but don't test the various flavors. I did find some references to problems in the Autodesk discussion groups.

Select ADT 2006 and search on 64-bit to review the problems and suggested solutions. If none of them seem to apply, please let me know and I'll check with our contact at Autodesk to see if she can help track down an answer.

CADIG Toolbar Issue
In regards to your 10/31/05 issue of Cadalyst Newsline, the fourth article titled "Free Cadig Tool Puts AutoCAD Table Commands in a Toolbar" is incorrect.

After reading the Autodesk discussion groups under AutoCAD 2006 / AutoCAD & Excel / AutoTable I read that this Web site is fraudulent.

— Nils Erling, via Internet

Paper Space
In May 2004, Lynn Allen wrote a second article about paper space and ended the article with a note that the next month's issue would address scale factors within viewports. In the first article the month before, she stated that the MOST asked questions about AutoCAD related to confusion about paper space.

I am very disappointed that in the June 2004 issue, she changed the topic and abandoned paper space after promising to continue the series.

— Mark Wellander, via Internet

Editors reply:
We'll forward your message to Lynn Allen and perhaps she'll pick up the topic again.

SolidWorks Needs Update
Please forward this request to John McEleney at SolidWorks.

We need a better way to draw wire displays for retail store environments. Many of our wire shelving involve multiple bends in multiple planes on the same wire. Using 3D Sketch doesn't work because we need to be able to flatten the assembly for our manufacturer. Most of my team has been using SolidWorks since version 95 and we've been struggling with this since then. Please fix this in the next upgrade!

— Robert DeGroff, via Internet

Quality Assurance
I work in the QA (quality assurance) for a company called Enercon Services. Our company works for and with commercial nuclear power plant owners, suppliers and other design engineering companies in the nuclear power generation industry. In regards to safety-related work areas, we are required to work under the Code of Federal Regulations, specifically 10 CFR 50, Appendix B and its supporting ANSI Standards. As a consequence, we are required to provide V&V (verification and validation) for all software, both internally developed and commercial grade, used. The V&V involves many steps including verification of the calculated results.

Recently, the use of commercial software such as AutoCAD and Inventor to calculate areas and volumes in safety-related calculations has come under closer scrutiny by QA managers. Some companies have recently tried to contact Autodesk without any success to obtain a statement regarding their policy and methodology for quality control of their products. Do you know of any articles, company contacts or organizations that can be used as resources regarding this issue either specific to vendors or generically?

— John Brandon, via Internet

Call to Readers:
If you have ideas about this, please email

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff

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