Find us on Google+ Inventor Tales

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Use for Inventor's Sketch Constraint "Relax" Mode

“Try to relax and enjoy the crisis.”
 Ashleigh Brilliant 

Sometimes, it takes the right circumstances to find a good way to use a new feature in Autodesk Inventor.

The new Relax mode in Inventor 2015 fell squarely into this bucket.

When it first came out, I was frankly a little unsure of the new tool.  It's my nature.  I just find myself wary of any tool that is "too automatic".  I'm just type "A" enough to not like it when too much is done for me.  I circle them like a cat sizing up a potential meal.

But I've also learned that there is a time and a place for these tools too.  Experience has taught me to never dismiss a new function too quickly.

In my case, I was rebuilding an aircraft instrument panel in Inventor.

Originally, I had created it as a test to benchmark how text affected the speed and file size in Inventor.  To do this, this, I created the cutouts for the instruments as extruded borders with text inside.

A sample of the original panel.  There were no cutouts for instruments,
but this was part of a test and not meant to be "real" at this point.
Not accurate as a part.  But perfect for the benchmark I was creating!

But once I had done that, I wanted to create a more accurate representation of the panel.  This meant deleting the extruded  borders, and recreating them as cutouts.

But as I did that, I ran into one issue.  Part of the sketch that I had removed had anchored the text that I had placed.  Now the geometry was disassociated.



I could delete and recreate the sketch, but I didn't want to try to retype all that info again.

But what I did find was able to delete constraints to free the geometry and reattach it to other geometry,  In some cases, this meant deleting four co-linear constraints, and recreating them all over again.  This is what I would have to do with these circuit breaker cutouts, for example.



While it wasn't a huge pain for a few of them, there were a ton, there was a lot to do, so how could I make this task go a little quicker?

Well, if you guessed that I used the "Relax" constraints mode that's new to Inventor 2015, you would be guessing correctly!

First, while editing the sketch in question, I  turned on Relax Mode,  It can be found at the status bar on the bottom of the Inventor drawing screen.  You can also use the hotkey "F11"




Once that was on, all I had to do was grab the text and drag it.  The constraints would automatically be removed, and I apply the new sketch constraints right away.



Is it a small thing?  Perhaps.  But over time, it did make fixing the panel a lot easier!

A simple thing?  Perhaps.  But it can be the simple things that matter.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Did You Know You Can Use the End of Part Marker to "Compress" an Inventor File

“The question is, what's the best way to do this? There may not be a one-size solution to the question.”
 Peter Gore

Today I wrapped up some basic benchmarks for extruded text versus sketched text in an Autodesk Inventor part model, and I was getting ready to e-mail them out for some testing on external systems.

First, what did I use for the test?

The files I created were from an instrument panel for light sport aircraft from the RV series.

I recreated the panel from an image, and created the instrument identification first as extruded text.

The panel with extruded text

In the next panel, I created a panel with the same text, but this time, the panel the text was created as sketches, and not extruded into 3D extrusions.

The panel with sketched text.  You can tell by the projected sketch lines, which are magenta.

The challenge?  The panel with the extruded text was nearly 13 MB!

12.7 MB.  That's big! 
By comparison, the panel using just sketches was less than 2 MB!

1.64 MB.  Nearly a tenth the size!

First, let's take a moment to ponder that.  If you're creating a lot of text, consider leaving it as sketches. These two models show a big difference in the size, and that can affect performance, especially if there's a lot of them.

But there was also another challenge I was facing.  How can I e-mail the files?  Together, these files are flirting with 15 MB.  That's big enough to cause problems with some e-mail systems.

Sure, I could zip the files, but there's another way to "compress" an Inventor file.

Locate the End of Part marker.  It's also known as End of Folded if you're using a sheet metal part.

Right click on the marker and choose Move EOP to Top (or  Move EOF to Top for sheet metal parts).

Locate the End of Part marker.
This pushes the marker to the top, and all the a feature in the part are suppressed.

The EOP at the top, and the features suppressed
After compression, the part with extruded text was a mere 2.41 MB.

A big change from 12.7 MB

By comparison the panel using Sketches was 1.01 MB.  Not as drastic as the larger file, but substantial nonetheless.


A smaller change, but still about a third. 
Having that trick can make it much easier when moving large part files back and forth.

When the recipient gets the file on the other end, just right click on the EOP/EOF marker and choose Move EOP/EOF to End.

How to get it back. 
This can be a nice way to "compress" an Inventor file without having to use zip files.  So when you're sending part files around, take a look!  It's worth a glance.

Oh!, And if you have an unsuspecting coworker, rolling the EOP to the top of their part when they leave their computer unattended has been known to be an "April Fools Trick" in the past.

Not that I condone that..... Or I've ever done that....

*************************Edit 17-November-2014*************************

Thanks to Clint Brown of Cadline Community for sharing a nice bit of iLogic code that will rollup the EOP marker and put it in an email for you.

It's definitely work taking a look at!

Have a look by clicking here! 





Thursday, November 06, 2014

Autodesk Vault 2015 Service Pack 1 is Out!

It's that time again, a new Service Pack for Autodesk Vault.

It can be downloaded by clicking here!

So what are the steps to install it?

Without going any further, it's all spelled out in the readme files that are included with the service pack.  And no matter what you do with this blog post, you should be reading those!

This is particularly true if you're working in a replicated environment.  The steps in this post are the steps for a single site update!

These are the files you should reference!
With that being said, let's begin.

There are some steps that you should always do, when updating Vault, particularly with the server. It's just good standard operating procedures, and good practice

1) First make sure you have a backup.  

In reality, you should be checking this already, but this is a good time to make recheck and make sure.  There's always the chance of something unforeseen going wrong!

I've never had a service pack fail to install, but I've talked to people who've had power outages occur right in the middle of an install.  How is that for bad luck?

Be a hero, have a backup

Stranger things have happened
photo credit: Rogan via photopin cc

2) The system will be down for a while.

Don't plan on running this upgrade on the server in the afternoon just before a project is due.  The service pack migrates the database, during which time the Vault will be closed for business.

Don't be the guy calling tech support and end up being told "Yeah, dude.  You're just gonna have to wait for that to finish.".

These are common steps in planning, but they're often overlooked, and I think they're important to mention.

Now, we get to start the service pack process!

First, open up a command prompt by typing CMD at the windows start window



Once the command prompt opens.  Type IISRESET.  This bounces the IIS service.



Now, you can finally click on the *.msp file to start the Vault Server service pack.

You may launch when ready


Now it's just a matter of clicking through and waiting.  It's a good idea to follow the recommendations

Ready, set...

Now the service pack will install.  Give it time to finish.


Go! 

After a bit, the service pack will tell you it's done!

All done!  Or is it? 


Once the service pack is installed, open the ADMS Console, and make sure the databases are migrated.

Vault will ask you several questions during this series of steps. First, it begins a before you log in.


Migrating before logging in
Next, Vault will ask you to log in, and which Vaults to migrate.  I've never done anything but pick all.

What libraries to migrate

Now, there's more migration!


You might think you're done, but if you have custom content libraries stored in Vault, you're going to see a few more questions.  Vault is asking you if you want to keep copies of libraries for multiple versions of Inventor.  If you're not using old versions of Inventor, this is your chance to get rid of old libraries.

What libraries do you want to keep

Clicking OK on this dialog box brings up yet one MORE dialog box.  What I call, the "are you sure?" dialog.  It's a final confirmation to make sure that the clicks you've made are correct.

Are you sure that you're settings are right? 
Now, at long last, the screen we're hoping for.   Success!



So those are the basic steps.  Vault updates aren't that difficult with a little planning.

The next step is to move onto the clients installs.  Those are pretty easy, and while you should update the clients as soon as possible.  Those can be done at a much more leisurely pace.


Monday, November 03, 2014

How Precise is Precise? Changing Measure Precision in Autodesk Inventor

“Most of the most important experiences that truly educate cannot be arranged ahead of time with any precision.”
Harold Taylor

KETIV's AMA 2014 in Southern California is a wrap!  It was good to see everyone, and as much stress as it was preparing for the session I helped in, it was fun presenting again.

But out of that course came one question that I didn't know the answer to.

"How can you change the default measuring precision in Autodesk Inventor?"


The default measure location behavior
At the time, standing in front of the room, I didn't know the answer.  After all, I don't know everything!

But over the weekend, the thought would occasionally return to me.  I felt like there might be a way.

Finally, I had a little bit of inspiration, and decided to give it a try.

Opening up Inventor, I played a little bit of a hunch.  On the Tools tab, I located Document Settings and opened up the Document Settings dialog.

Using Document Settings


Once on the Document Settings dialog,choose the number of decimal places you want by changing the Linear Dim Display Precision (or angular if that's your preference).

Changing precision

Once that's done, the measure precision will change for this document.

Precision reset. 

But wait, I said default setting, right?   If you want to make this a default behavior, the final step would be save these settings into a template file.

One way would be to open the templates from their location, make the very same change, and save that file.  This would change the existing templates.

The other would be to start a new file, make any changes you want, and choose the Save Copy As Template option.


Save as a Template

Whichever you choose is up to you!

On a final note.  I know that there are those who might want a different functionality.  And that's okay!   Share your ideas on the Autodesk Inventor Ideastation!