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Tuesday, September 01, 2015

My Test Drive of a 3Dconnexion CadMouse

The last few weeks I've had an opportunity to test drive the new CadMouse from 3Dconnexion.

The guest of honor for this post. 
Color me impressed.   Very impressed. Here's why.

Initial Impressions

Naturally, I had to inspect the mouse when I first freed it from it's packaging.  The feel is nice and solid, and it fits comfortably in my hand.

It was much bigger than my current go to mouse, a Logitech Anywhere Mouse MX.  Which I am a big fan of, incidentally.

My CadMouse on the left, my Anywhere MX mouse on the right. 

As I inspected the buttons, I quickly noticed there are three mouse buttons, plus a wheel, plus a gesture button.  On top of that, there are two additional buttons on the side.


  1. Side buttons
  2. Left button
  3. Middle button
  4. Right button
  5. Scroll wheel
  6. Gesture Button


Each button has its purpose. And you can control that purpose
The Test Drive

Installing  the driver, was pretty easy.  Having my laptop recently go back for repairs, I had to reinstall my drivers. But after a quick download, a few clicks and a little waiting over a cup of coffee, and it's ready to go.

Next it's time for the rubber to meet the road.  Drive it!

I purposefully ran without my usual SpacePilot Pro.  I didn't want to use it as a crutch and skew my opinion of the CadMouse.

So in I dove into Autodesk Inventor with the CadMouse alone.

The first thing I fell in love with was the wheel.  As much as I love my Anywhere mouse, I hate the scroll wheel for panning.  It's great for non-CAD applications.  But for double clicking to "Zoom Extents" in Inventor with the Anywhere mouse?  Forget it.  I programmed the menu button to duplicate the middle mouse so I could zoom and pan with that.

The CadMouse on the other hand, works beautifully for scrolling and panning. That alone is a big winner for me. It's designed for CAD users, nuff said.

The rest of the buttons are smooth, and work nicely.  I customized the extra middle mouse button as the "F4" key, so I can use that as a shortcut to access my orbit tools.

The Gesture button is a nice tool.  It places commands on a "Heads Up Menu" that you can customize.  I haven't had a chance to really customize it, but I see it as a great way supplement the commands on Inventor's marking menus.

The gesture menu in Autodesk Inventor.  And it can be customized.


The "Side Buttons" are set to Zoom in and Out by default.  I've changed them to Undo and Redo.  Since those are tools I use often.  I'm content to scroll with the mouse wheel.

And as for that optional mouse pad.  It's not a necessity to use it with the mouse.  The CadMouse works great on the surfaces I've used.  This includes tables made out of plastic laminate and my mahogany coffee table.

3Dconnexion also included the optional mouse pad.  The first thing I noticed about this is it's about the size of a small helipad at 350mm x 250mm (13.75 inches x  9.875 inches).

The mouse pad has plenty of room! 
While not required to use the CadMouse, the mouse pad makes the CadMouse just glide.  It's like having a great car on the urban freeway, versus having the right car on a wide open country road.

I do recommend the mouse pad for the desk at home, although it might be a little tough to travel with.

The "Drawbacks"

I really can't find much to say is "bad" about it.  I always feel I have to find "something" to have a proper review, but I'm really splitting hairs.  I had to try to find something.

The cord sometimes gets in my way. Due to the fact I'm very mobile and always have it connected to a laptop, I tend to have a lot of extra slack. Wireless might be nice, but in a few seconds, I can arrange the cord so it's not in my way.

And because it's corded.  No batteries to change!

.But that's a minor complaint, really.  If the cord is the best I can come up with, then I have a collection of nits I'd love for you to pick through.

At 100 US Dollars, it costs more than a many mice.  So sticker shock might be an issue.  But if much of your job is driving a CAD machine, this is an investment that will pay off quickly, especially with the ability to customize the buttons.

The Summary

The CadMouse is great.  That's all there is to it.  3Dconnexion put some thought into it, and it shows.  I've thoroughly enjoyed the time I've had with it so far, and I'm looking forward to getting some more time with it.

If you're in the market for a new mouse, I think you should seriously consider the CadMouse as an option.  You're doing yourself a disservice by not taking a look.

Next, I'll be customizing the buttons even further.  Not to mention connecting my SpacePilot again!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Defragging Autodesk Vault Using a Script

It's been a little while since I've been able to dig into Autodesk Vault, but just this week, I had to locate a script to defragment the Vault database. 

The reason for a defragment is to make sure Vault performance doesn't degrade when making database queries.  For those of us not intimate with SQL, those are Vault Searches.

A manual defrag can be kicked off from the ADMS Console on your server at any time.  All you have to do is right click on the database you want to defrag, and choose "Defragment Database".

A manual defrag from the ADMS Console


But the next warning will give you an indication that this isn't a small feat.


You should read and heed this message! 
The database will lock during a defragment, and the users won't be able to use it.  As a rule, this is undesirable during working hours.

What would be better, is if we could run it during off hours when nobody is accessing the server.

A script can be used to make sure you, as a CAD Manager, don't have to log in during the dead of night to execute the command yourself.  The script is just a text string that runs the same function as the command shown above.

An example of the script in Notepad.  Click to enlarge this image.

This can be set to run as a Window Scheduled Task.  You can let the server run this at a time of your choosing.

First of all, the text for the script is listed below.  You can type this in Notepad.  Also, it's all one line of text.  Don't let the wrapping below fool you.

"C:\Program Files\Autodesk\ADMS Professional 2016\ADMS Console\Connectivity.ADMSConsole.exe" -Odefragmentvault -NVault -VUAdministrator -VP -S

There's a lot of geeky sort of words and phrases in this script.  So let's break it down a little bit.

C:\Program Files\Autodesk\ADMS Professional 2016\ADMS Console


This line just opens up the directory where the executable file to run thee script is located.  Note that it's version specific if you use the default location.

To make sure I've got it right, I copy and paste the location into Windows Explorer.  If it opens up the folder location with the file, Connectivity.ADMSConsole.exe in it, congratulations, it's right.

Go get yourself a cookie!

Speaking of Connectivity.ADMSConsole.exe. 

This one is pretty simple, it's the executable file that starts Vault commands.  In effect, it's starting the ADMS Console without the interface.

-Odefragmentvault

This is the switch that tells Vault that a defragment is being done.  Different switches can get Vault to do different functions, such as backup.

-N

This is important! The -N is a switch tells Vault which Vault database is going to be defragmented.  For example -NOlympus would defragment the Vault database named "Olympus".

-VU

Often the user "Administrator", the -VU switch tells Vault which user the Vault is using to run the defragmentation.  The user running the script isn't important, but they must be a Vault user with administrative permissions.

-VP

This is the password for the user identified by the -VU switch.  In my sample, it's blank because my administrator doesn't have a password.

Yes I know, this is a terrible practice.  Do as I recommend, not as I do!  (cheeky grin).

-S

This runs the script silently.  That means that it won't show you any dialog boxes and wait for you to hit "OK".  It's just going to chug along.

Now that all that is been explained, you can save this script with a *.bat extension.

Now, set it up as a Windows Scheduled Task, and you should be off and running!

It's hard to give a solid schedule to run a defrag on, but I usually run my tasks about every six months or so, but that's just what works for me.  You'll have to keep an eye on your Vault and see how it performs.  You may be able to go longer or shorter depending on your personal experience.

If you want, you can always check the ADMS Console, if it says "Defragmention Recommended", it's probably a good idea to run that defrag!

Time to do a little maintenance! 
One more tip, but this is a big one.  Always! Always! Always! Make sure you close the ADMS Console interface when you log off your machine!  

Vault will only allow one instance of the ADMS Console to run at a time!  If you forget this step, the script won't be able start.  That means that no backups, defrags, or anything else that runs off Connectivity.ADMSConsole.exe will work!

You don't want to see this message
The last thing you want to see is this message when you need a backup, and one hasn't been running for six months because you forgot to close the ADMS Console!

In conclusion, good use of batch scripts can be a boon to making sure your Vault runs efficiently.  It can eliminate the need to constantly log into run maintenance processes.  Instead, you can let them run on a schedule, and just monitor to make sure the finely tuned system is still finely tuned.

The defragmenting script is one, the backup script is another.  But there is a lot more that can be done.

For a full reference, check out this link from Autodesk here!





Sunday, August 16, 2015

After a GPU Failure, Fusion 360 Keeps Me Designing!

This Friday, my laptop had to go to back to the manufacture because the graphics card was spiking at a 100 degrees C.  Needless to say, my GPU was better suited to making coffee than processing graphics.

At least that GPU is good for something! 
With my laptop, I also lost my installs of Autodesk Inventor, Autodesk Vault, and AutoCAD Electrical.

Fortunately, I have a personal laptop that I can use, but it doesn't quite have the horsepower to run 3D modeling software.

So what do I run in the meantime?  I decided to take it as an opportunity to use Fusion 360 in the meantime.

I've not used Fusion 360 much but I have created some files, and that did allow me to enjoy a couple of benefits.

1. I had very little configuration to get up and running on my "backup" system.

Most of the configuration is stored in the cloud.  I only had to install the Fusion 360 application.  At about 1.5 GB, it not a big install.

The client itself is pretty small. 


2. All my files were readily accessible.

The files are all stored online, so there was no backup to restore.  I just need an internet connection, and I just log into the system.

My training files. No restore needed.  They were there when I logged in to my account.
3. The hardware requirement isn't nearly as heavy.

My "backup" laptop only had a 4 GB of RAM, a 2 GB ATI video card, and a respectable AMD processor.  Not a bad machine, but not a CAD station for sure.

But it does run Fusion nicely!

Most of the drawbacks are matters of my own personal preference, but I suppose in many cases, drawbacks always are.  And ultimately, it's all a result of my acceptance of the "status quo".

1) It's not Inventor!

I've been using Inventor since 2000.  That's right!  Since the turn of the century!  I'm used to it, I'm comfortable with it.  Fusion is new, and different.

I guess I'll just have to expand my comfort zone!

2) All that data is online.

It's a little weird at first, isn't it?  I'm used to having my data local.  I'm comfortable with it, I know it.  But I'm already backing up my Vault data to Dropbox, so it's not that big of a departure, in many ways.

So I'll have a bit of learning to do!  I'm planning spend a little time this week!

Friday, August 14, 2015

It's Been a Great Run - Farewell to KETIV

After 7 incredible years, I've decided its time to move on from KETIV Technologies.  I will remain with them until August 31, 2015, in order to make sure our transition is as smooth as possible.

They've been good to me, they deserve my best efforts.

A perfectly natural question to ask is "Why?" or "What's the story?".  Some may even ponder, "What's the real story?"

And that question has really been posed to me!

Some seem to think that this is a good analogy for leaving a job.
This is far from reality for KETIV and I.
I can say there are no great wrongs, real or perceived, no dirty laundry to air.  It is simply time for me to move in a new direction.

I'm going to miss my colleagues at KETIV, even as I look forward to my new course.  They're an outstanding group of people, and I look forward to seeing them at a future event!

As a user, I wouldn't hesitate to have KETIV support any engineering department I land in!

So what does that mean for InventorTales?  I plan on keeping it going and adapt it to my new path.

And as for that path?  What does that look like?

It's a trail I'm still blazing.  I'm hoping continue taking aircraft maintenance classes, combining my theoretical engineering mind with the practical lessons of grimy hands and bloody knuckles.

It may yet be a while, but I'm hoping to gain my aircraft maintenance certification from the FAA some day.

I also plan on continuing to expand and improve my work in CAD, I'm not quite sure what form that's going to take, but stay tuned! There will be more news for sure!

I'll add updates as I have them, and I will certainly have some!

Thanks to all those who've supported me over the years!


You'll never find out what's over the next hill, if you don't get up and take the journey.

Acknowledgements

U.S. Thunderbird F-16 Ejection: By U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons