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Monday, January 04, 2010

Hindsight is 20/20. The Night Stand Project Reviewed

"There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning."

Jiddu Krishnamurt

Well, I finally made it! The nightstand is modeled, it's drawings completed, and now it's checked into Vault Manufacturing. I'm reviewing the files for missing dimensions and the other little things, but the heavy lifting is over!

The nightstand rendered in Autodesk Showcase

(click to enlarge)

So what are some of the lessons learned in this particular affair?

Here's the list:

  • Every time I check a file into Vault, a version is created, I don't want to have 20 versions of the file inside Vault

True, every time you check a file into Vault, you're going to create a version. There's no denying that. It's also true that this takes up more disk space (because of the multiple copies) than just saving the file into the workspace, and overwriting it on subsequent saves.

I know that I'm guilty of having a visceral twitch to creating extra versions. It's like admitting that the previous version had something wrong with it, and I hate making mistakes.

However, I also found through this exercise, that I rarely, if ever, regretted having the extra version. It gave me fallback points when I made a mistake, and also let me rest assured that when I backed up my Vault to my external drive, the latest versions of my files were being backed up with it.

Lastly, don't forget that you can purge old versions when you're done. So while you might have 20 versions of a file, that doesn't mean you have to keep all 20 versions of the file

So I came to the conclusion that in the long run, the versions aren't as bad as they sound. On the contrary, they can save you a ton of time.

  • Take advantage of all the tools you have at your disposal.

At first blush, this might think that this project was pretty simple. Almost every component is rectangular. It doesn't get any simpler than that! But there were definitely some tools that I found very useful, that I hadn't planned on using.

  • View Representations. The floor of the night stand has fasteners in it that are used to connect the back panel. But when dimensioning the actual assembly, I didn't want the fasteners shown in the view. I created a View Representation that allows me to make them invisible for that view.

View Rep with hardware on

(click to enlarge)

View Rep with hardware off

(click to enlarge)

  • Promote/Demote Components. I changed my mind on BOM structure more than once during this project. I decided that a component that was originally in Subassembly 'A' would be better placed in Subassembly 'B'. Recall that you can drag and drop a component from one subassembly into another.

(click to enlarge)


  • You can't beat doing it right the first time

Okay, this is a little tongue in cheek, but I'll own up to the fact that I didn't bother to put things in the correct folder every time, or ignored a misnamed property or two because I knew that Vault would let me fix them later. I usually did this when it was getting close to midnight and I was just trying to 'squeeze out' one or two more files.

While that's true, and Vault did allow me to move and rename files without much hassle (which is one great advantage of Vault), I still had to go back and make sure to perform all the corrections that I'd let slide because I got a little lazy.

So one of my New Years resolutions is going to be; If I tell myself 'It'll be okay for now', rethink it. It very well might be okay for now. But then again, when I have to go back and make the changes, I might also be grumbling about 'why didn't I just get it right the first time?'.

There're some of the lessons learned. I'm definitely planning on expanding on these lessons a bit. I'm sure there's going to be more learned as I perform my review

Happy New Years, everyone! Here's to a great 2010!



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