Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 11, No. 29)

13 Aug, 2006

Untitled Document

What's New at

Check Out Cadalyst's Latest Discussion Forum
Cadalyst now offers the new Product Reviews Discussion Forum, where you can "review our reviews." Read the latest Cadalyst Labs and First Look reviews of hardware and software, then post your own comments about the review.

Share your own experience with that product and see what other CAD professionals have to say. Visit today!

Get the Code!
Cadalyst's August code from Hot Tip Harry is now available for download. Theresa Poole earned $100 for this month's top tip, Delete Dimensions, a utility to globally filter, select and delete dimension entities of a specified measurement in a floor plan. Congratulations!

August Tutorials Now Live Online!
The latest editions of all your favorite Cadalyst tutorials for AutoCAD as well as SolidWorks, Solid Edge, Inventor, Alibre Design and more are now live on

Cadalyst Daily Update
For all the latest news and new products, subscribe to Cadalyst Daily e-newsletter. Plus, every issue includes a feature you won't find anywhere else – hardware and CAD software reviews, success stories, AutoCAD tips and much more! Here's a sample of what you missed this week:


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Improved Search Engine for Standards
ANSI (The American National Standards Institute) has launched a new version of its NSSN vertical search engine for national, foreign, regional and international standards and regulatory documents. According to ANSI, the redesign was based on extensive consumer research to make it easier to find standards and related documents and to identify points of contact for standards-developing organizations. New enhancements include additional content, a streamlined design, greater speed, improved search functionality, results filtering and display options.

Sheet Metal Guy Adds SolidWorks Site
A new site has been added to the Sheet Metal Guy's Web offerings to keep users informed of the latest news and information relative to SolidWorks and the sheet metal industry. The SolidWorks section offers free tips and other information to increase users' effectiveness in creating high-quality sheet metal parts in SolidWorks. In addition, it provides news and reviews and access to several SolidWorks bloggers. Sheet Metal Guy publishes training books and materials for the design and manufacture of sheet metal parts and assemblies.

Downloadable Hardware Models
H.A. Guden Company recently expanded its offering of downloadable 3D models on its Web site. Guden’s CAD models are available for immediate download and now include spring hinges, latch hinges, un-hinges and concealed hinges. The detailed 2D CAD drawings and 3D models were created for Guden by VirtualCAD and are said to be easily imported into all major CAD programs. Guden is a supplier of hinges, gas springs, handles, latches and other industrial hardware.

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This Week's Software Tips

Do you have a favorite tip or shortcut that you use every day in your CAD software? One that saves you time? Makes life easier? Share it with other readers and, if we publish it, we'll send you a “ Cadalyst: CAD the Way You Want It” t-shirt.

Follow-up to Draw Pipe Ends
Tim Thompson
wrote regarding this tip originally submitted by Leonid Nemirovsky on July 31st and Kevin Sawyer’s follow-up of August 7 . He says, “While both of these are good routines, neither is for pipes -- they are for shafts.  Pipes have wall thicknesses that create an inside dimension.  I use a great Hot Tip Harry routine originally published in June 2005 -- Tip #2035, BREAKER.LSP, by Thomas Christman, for both pipes and shafts. It asks for the outside dimension, wall thickness and direction of break.  When the routine asks for the wall thickness, if you want a shaft end, just enter the radius of the shaft.”

DWGTrueView2007 Publish Option
Mechanical engineer Aggelos Emmanouilidis says that for the "last few days I was trying to find a way to plot and publish nearly 3,000 DWGs, each with different page setups and layouts into DWFs. Because I don’t have AutoCAD 2007, I couldn't use the Sheet Set Manager or PUBLISH command, plus the BatchPlot Utility that comes with AutoCAD 2002 wasn’t working for me. The solution to my problem was the DWG TrueView 2007 and its Publish option that you can download from Autodesk site."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Lynn Allen talks about this in her July 5 blog entry. I’ve passed it around to a couple of non-AutoCAD users and it seems to work very well for them. Be sure to remember to place any client-related fonts where TrueView can see them.

We have it installed on all our engineers’ workstations for viewing and plotting DWG files. However, the big advantage is that the users can’t edit the files -- they can only change visibility on screen or in a plot. To be a really good freebie, it needs to have more screen interaction such as listing entity properties, freeze layers by selecting entity, distance checking and the like. There are a lot of non-editing tools in AutoCAD that could be added to TrueView. When publishing multiple drawings, it’s useful to have a generic file containing page setups that plot setups such as: Extents in paper space at 1:1 to your default large format plotter. This can then be applied to all files in your list. Obviously, you can’t be responsible for the integrity of outside files, but hopefully they have clean paper space limits and are scaled at 1:1.

Run the Circuit
Scott Brown uses the BURST command to explode a block to its basic elements.  “If you think of a block as being a balloon or bubble with objects trapped inside and you use explode,” he says, “then you explode everything inside the bubble as well, which can have some unforeseen and undesired effects. However, if you take the same block and use the BURST command, it's like taking a straight pin and bursting the bubble or balloon that is around the objects without affecting the objects themselves. The good thing is that if you select All, the command filters out everything except blocks. The drawback is that it only bursts the first layer of a block. If you have blocks nested inside of blocks, it will not burst these, and you have to repeat the command.”

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: The BURST command is in Express Tools and is noted as the routine to Explode attributes to Text in the pull-down menu. In its own right, this can be very useful, but remember, you shouldn’t explode blocks unless absolutely necessary. In addition, it works well when you can’t use Refedit, and it’s also nice that the Attribute text becomes real text.

MicroStation Tip -- Transparency on Elements
Axiom offers Microstation Tips on its Web site. The latest tip answers the question, “Is there a way to adjust the transparency, say 50%, when I place Shape/Smartline or Create Region? Also, is it possible to print it out as is without tweaking the pen table or anything?”

Answer: If you are looking for filled shapes displaying on your screen with transparency, it is best to use a pen table with a RIP driver or use MicroStation V8 XM Edition, which does support transparency on elements. Another option is to use a Raster image file of the color desired. Clip Bound & Mask to the desired area. Make the Raster image transparent, and then plot.

Adjust Scale
Leonid Nemirovsky discovered an easy way to handle scaled drawings. He says, " I had couple of drawings from a subcontractor where details were drawn in 1:1 scale and then rescaled, for example by a factor of 24 to represent 1/2"=1'-0". They didn’t use paper space for some reason. In order to add or change dimensions, I set the DIMLFAC variable to 24 for that particular scale; for other cases it can be set to different scales 48 for 1/4"=1'-0", etc. That resets the scale factor for linear dimension measurements. All linear dimension distances (including coordinates) are multiplied by DIMLFAC before being converted to dimension text. Positive values of DIMLFAC are applied to dimensions in both model space and paper space; negative values are applied to paper space only. If used in layouts, it MUST be set for each layout."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Our Patrol is in agreement: “ Give me paper space, or give me death!” Your best course of action is to train your subcontractors in the art of paper space. AutoCAD 2006 and 2007 also have a system variable DIMASSOC which, when set to 2, factors your dimensions in paper space based on the viewport scale. With all these different scales to consider, doesn’t it make you thankful for good old paper space? Also remember that, although using DIMLFAC is one way to handle the dimensioning for details in model space, sometimes the folks who create this sort of thing use scales that aren’t recognized -- then you have to calculate them out before dimensioning.

Send us your tip or shortcut for your favorite CAD software. If we publish it, we'll send you a "Cadalyst: CAD the Way You Want It" t-shirt.

Tips & Tools Weekly software tips for AutoCAD are reviewed by Cadalyst staff and the Cadalyst Tip Patrol before publication. Use tips at your own discretion, please, and watch later editions of this newsletter for updates and corrections. Many thanks to our volunteer Cadalyst Tip Patrol members: Don Boyer, Mitchell Hirschklau, R.K. McSwain, Don Reichle, Kevin Sawyer, Ivanhoe Tejeda, Billy Wooten and Ben Young.

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Deals & Freebies

Free Versions of KOMPAS-3D V8 Plus Light and Viewer
ASCON announced the availability of freeware versions of its KOMPAS-3D LT V8 Plus and KOMPAS Viewer for viewing and printing KOMPAS model templates, documents and files. Ascon intends KOMPAS-3D LT, a functionally reduced version of its 3D solid modeling system, to be used for professional self-education and raising designers' skill levels. The main difference between KOMPAS-3D LT and the commercial software is its limitations in creating and editing assembly parts, according to the company. ASCON group of companies is a CAD/CAPP/PDM developer and integrator located in Russia.

Free Demonstration Version of Strata 3D CX 5.0
Strata launched a demonstration version of Strata 3D CX 5.0 that is free to users who register. The software for 3D illustration, design, Web-ready graphics and animation reportedly has an improved interface and tools that make it more familiar to current Adobe customers, including the ability to render to layers. Strata 3D CX 5.0 also adds the ability to render to Strata Live 3D, a new application, which reportedly allows objects to come alive on Web pages, in Flash content and in Adobe PDF files.

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Books & Training

SolidProfessor Releases PhotoWorks Essentials
A new addition to SolidProfessor's training library is available to help designers present their 3D models in a virtually realistic environment. PhotoWorks Essentials ($149; multi-user discounts available) delivers specific training in the necessary skills required to create photorealistic renderings of SolidWorks designs. Users can access multimedia modules that guide them through applying textures and materials to models, as well as manipulating lighting, decals, scenes, studios and backgrounds, according to the company. SolidProfessor creates self-paced multimedia training materials for users of SolidWorks and related products.

New Russian AutoCAD Book
AutoCAD 2006/2007: New Facilities (208 pages) focuses on new facilities realized in AutoCAD 2006 and 2007. One large chapter is dedicated to dynamic blocks that brought de facto parametrization into the system. Also addressed are the problems that arise in transferring applications created to work inside AutoCAD to 2006 and 2007 versions.

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The Week's New CAD and Related Products

Hardware: OxBlue Construction Webcams
System monitors job sites in real time, using wireless communications to transmit images users can access via the Web. Read more

Hardware: MDX-540 SRP
Roland Advanced Solutions Division introduces new Subtractive Rapid Prototyping system. Read more

Hardware: Atlas 600e, Select 600e, Nova 36e, Spectra 600e, Surveyor 600e, Flash 600e, Latitude 600e, and Lynx 25e
New scanners from Vidar process originals 25"-54" wide and up to 15 millimeters thick, in color and monochrome. Read more

General Software: Publisher3D Standard 2006, Publisher3D 2006 Professional, Pages3D Standard 2006, and Pages3D 2006 Professional
QuadriSpace's updated line of 3D publishing products includes new features and a reduced price. Read more

General Software: SP1 for AutoVue 19.1
Native document visualization solution from Cimmetry Systems adds support for AutoCAD 2007. Read more

Visualization: modo 202
Upgrade from Luxology promises faster rendering speeds and improvements to 3D modeling, UV editing and paint tools. Read more

Visualization: Max Monster Pak
Digimation offers collection of 13,000 3D models for use with 3ds Max. Read more

AEC: Primavera Contractor
Construction planning solution, now available in standard and deluxe versions, assists contractors and subcontractors with building schedules. Read more

GIS: GeoExpress 6.1
Image file compression and editing tool from LizardTech now offers advanced color balancing and GMLJP2 support. Read more

Leica Geosystems Geospatial Imaging solution now offers expanded platform support. Read more

Lifecycle collaboration solution from Dassault Systemes adds support for SolidWorks 2007, eDrawings 2007. Read more

New solution from Sescoi helps small and medium custom manufacturers manage production and costs. Read more

MCAD: AS Mechanical
AutoSolids adds support for AutoCAD 2007 to its add-on for quickly creating parametric 3D solids. Read more

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Mark Your Calendar

Cadalyst'scomplete list of upcoming industry events is always available on our Web site.

AUGI Manufacturing User Groups Hartford Chapter Quarterly Meeting
August 17, 2006, 5:30 p.m.
East Berlin, Connecticut
M2 Technologies partners with Autodesk User Group International to sponsor this new chapter's first quarterly meeting. Attendees can take part in a seminar on Autodesk Inventor 11 and discussion with fellow users. Read more 

Pictometry FutureView 2006 User Conference and Trade Show
October 29-November 1, 2006
Orlando, Florida
Pictometry user conference features a curriculum that provides a learning and networking experience, highlighting solutions from Pictometry and its business partners. Read more