Find us on Google+ June 2012 ~ Inventor Tales

Friday, June 29, 2012

A Return From the Canada. Back in Los Angeles

“There is a magic in that little world, home; it is a mystic circle that surrounds comforts and virtues never known beyond its hallowed limits”
 Robert Southey

After a week in Edmonton, Canada, I'm back home. 

It was a busy week of working, not sleeping quite enough (those long Canadian nights really kept me up)!

But it was a great experience of seeing a  different part of the world, meeting new friends, and learning a little more about installing Autodesk Vault in the process.

Canada, you're a great neighbor with wonderful people.  I'm grateful for the opportunity I had to visit! 

But while I enjoyed the trip, and I'm grateful for the experience, it's good to be home!

I have some ideas for a future blog or two coming up.  But for this Friday night, here's a few of pictures from the trip.  Tonight, I have an appointment to catch up on some lost sleep!  They're long summer evenings meant I was staying up a little later than a boy should!   :-)

The Maple Leaf.  I'm not in the U.S. now!
I saw electrical connections in every parking lot.  At first I thought Edmonton might have a lot of electric cars.  Then I found out it was for the engine block warmers!  In winter it can get well into negative digits!

Open fields in a city.  Not something you see much of in Los Angeles, sadly.

The view of Downtown Edmonton from Sherwood Park, were I stayed.

A friend who is an Edmonton native hooked me up with the local Starbucks!  Thanks Irene!

All over.  My ride back to L.A.'s concrete jungle.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Visit to the Great White North - Welcome to Edmonton.

This week's blog is only a brief one, due to a trip to Edmonton, Canada for an Autodesk Vault install.  I spent most of today traveling. But I'll likely come back with some new installation lessons to share!

My office this AM.  A Boeing 737.

But on that theme of Vault, I'll give a brief lesson life taught me last week.

That them is: "If it's crazy, and it works, it's not crazy."

I ran into a Vault installation that was crashing when files were checked in from Autodesk Inventor.   The files would start to check in, then BOOM, Inventor would go to ground.

We checked system virtual space, service packs, and server logs.

No smoking gun jumped at us.

Finally a suggestion came out of the blue.  "Test it without publishing a DWF on checkin.  I have a feeling we've got a bad video card."

We were out of ideas, so what the heck, right?

We tried it.

Turning off the DWF Publish option

The files checked in perfectly.

We scratched our heads, and checked the video card.  Sure enough it was below spec.

We never thought of that one!  

So what's that lesson?  Sure, if your Vault is crashing on checkin, try turning off the DWF publishing.  That's the easy lesson.

But the other?  Don't dismiss something too quickly.  We never thought about the DWF publishing, but thankfully, someone else did. 

"If it's crazy, and it works..."

The other thing.  Send in those CERs, or Customer Error Reports to Autodesk, and make sure ot add your e-mail address.

Because it was an astute Autodesk tech, looking at that CER that had the suggestion that solved our issue. The CER showed the crash was happening when the DWF visualization file was created.

So there will be new video cards to be had, and more testing to be done, but we're now on the trail of what caused the issue.

So if you run into your own issues, send in those CERs, and try the stuff that makes no sense.

You might just be on to something...

Have an unusual solution you encountered to an usual problem you encountered?  Share it!  Leave a comment!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Details! Details! - Changing Labels in an iLogic Form

“Never neglect details. When everyone's mind is dulled or distracted the leader must be doubly vigilant.”
Colin Powell

While looking over my iLogic video last week on creating forms,  I had what could only be described as a "facepalm" moment.

Yeah.  It was one of those moments.

I talked about everything but how to rename the labels!  By Default, the labels identifying the parameters in form take the form name.  But you don't have to keep them!  They can be changed!

Example of labels in an existing iLogic form.
Now, changing labels is, for the most part, pretty simple.  But I'd hate to imply that  it can't be done by leaving it out!

The steps are pretty simple.  First, edit the form from the iLogic browser.  It's on the "Forms" tab.  Just right click on the rule you want to change, and choose "edit"

Choose the form to edit.
The form editor will pop up.  Just double click on a label to change it.  The description in the form will change.

The process of changing the form "Board Width" has been changed "Board Thickness" is in the process of being changed.
 So there it is!  Not difficult, but a good to know.

So go ahead and go wild on creating forms! 

Have an idea or an interesting use for iLogic!  Feel free to drop a comment!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Using an iLogic Form to Make a Rule User Friendly in Autodesk Inventor

“Everything that is simple is theoratically false, everything that is complicated is pragmatically useless.”
 Marleen Paul Valery

In last week's blog.  I created an iLogic rule that changed the length, width, and thickness of a board for the template I use in my woodworking projects.  It also turned the tenon joint on and off, as well as setting the dimensions of the tenon.

But, while effective, the rule could be refined to make it more effective.  This is especially true when looked at with respect to ease of use.

So in this blog post, we don't make the rule.  We make the rule better.

How do we do that?  We create a dialog box, or form, that makes the rule easier to interact with.  It puts all the critical inputs in one simple, easy to use interface.

The board with the form open.

To create the form, right click in the iLogic Browser, and choose "Add Form"

Adding the new form
Next, drag and drop the desired parameters from left to right to create the form.  That's it!

Drag from left to tight to build the form.
Labels of Parameters can also be changed, so you can make them look exactly the way you want them to.

We'll also set up two types of triggers.  This will help control when the form is displayed.

The first, is an Event Trigger that will start the form when the template starts. 

The second, will fire the form when the iLogic "iTrigger" icon is clicked. This will let us fire the rule, "at will".

In order to create the iTrigger functionality, add a new rule by clicking "Add Rule" from the iLogic Panel on the Manage tab.

The :"Add Rule" icon
Give the rule a name, and type the following code.

'Fires rule when "iTrigger" icon is clicked
trigger = iTrigger0
'Shows form named "Board Options"
iLogicForm.Show("Board Options")

Where "Board Options" is the name of the form created.

Now this rule will fire when the 'iTrigger" icon is clicked.

Next, we add an "Event Trigger" which fires the rule when the template starts.

Selecting the Event Trigger
Setting the rule to fire when the template starts.
Now of course, this blog post wouldn't be complete without a video!  So here it is!

Have more ideas?  Leave a comment!

P.S. If you'd like to download the part used for this blog post. It's located on the GrabCAD website here!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Turning Features On & Off - An iLogic Enabled Template in Autodesk Inventor

“You can't keep putting bodies against it. It's becoming too quick and complex. You have to automate the process and have standard policies.”
Andrew Bird

One of the side projects I work on semi-regularly is designing furniture in Autodesk Inventor.  Mostly, that means taking designs that I find on the web or in books, and increasing the detail to the point of having full piece and assembly drawings.

I quickly learned to create templates containing "board blanks".  Templates that contained a board already created, with parameters named "Length", "Width", and "Thickness".

The original template.  Just a board with Named Parameters

Instead of redrawing that geometry every time, I would start a template with the geometry already created, and I was off to the races!

But soon, I found that I was using a lot of tenon joints.  So I went ahead and created a second template with a tenon joint in it.

The tenon "enabled" template.  With it's extra parameters

And I was proud of my ingenuity.

But now the challenge I faced was caused by my poor memory.  There were many times I grabbed one of the templates, then part way through realized I should have grabbed the other template!

So I simplified my templates to one template that contained all I needed.

 I created a template where I could control the suppression of the tenon using an iLogic Multi-Value List.  Now I had something I could toggle on and off at will.  With the flip of a switch, a "standard" board, or a "tenon" board.

The combined template.  The Multi-Value List shown with it's two options

And I was *very* proud of my ingenuity!

But now, to "add octane to the mix" as said by Paul Munford in his blog post on "The CAD Setter Out"

Over time, here and there, I created a better interface.

Over the years, and releases of Inventor, utilizing spurts of motivation to overcome barren planes of procrastination,  I added a dialog box.  Now I had something that was easier to interact with then opening parameters

A few months later, I got around to setting the dialog box greet you on file creation, saving the trouble of activating manually.

After completing that task only a few weeks ago, I decided to share this template with the world, so to speak.  

This is one of those blog posts that frankly, I procrastinated on a bit.  Why?  It's a lot to write up.

So to ease the task I'm breaking it up into parts.  So, first, let's get something functional.

How to Suppress and Unsuppress the Tenon!

For starters, name your parameters.  It makes them easier to work with when creating your code.

 Note the bottommost parameter "Joint Type" this is a multi-list that sets what type of joint is used.

Also, note there are a "Shoulder_Length" and an "Overall_Length" parameter.  This parameters are toggled depending on whether or not a tenon is placed on the part.  Ultimately, this parameter can be exported to the parts list for a cut length.

The Parameter list. 

Once those parameters are created.  Create an iLogic rule and use the following code to drive the rule.

'If Parameter "Joint_Type" is "Tenon Joint", then unsuppress the feature named "Tenon"
If Joint_Type = "Tenon Joint" Then
Feature.IsActive("Tenon") = True
'Set Value of Length equal to Parameter "LengthOL" (for eventual parts list export)
Length = LengthOL

'If Parameter "Joint_Type" is "Regular Joint", then suppress Feature named "Tenon"
ElseIf Joint_Type = "Regular Joint" Then
Feature.IsActive("Tenon") = False
'Set Value of Length equal to Parameter "Shoulder_Length"(for eventual parts list export)
Length = Shoulder_Length
End If

Check out the video below for the fulls steps.

In Conclusion

This portion of the blog only gets to that "functional" part of the rule  It works great, but it requires that the parameter screen be opened every time.  It may not be elegant, but it is effective.

I ran it like this for quite sometime?  Why?  It worked, and I never got around to further tweaking.

It's that classic case where I fell victim to "good enough".

In the next post, we'll add a form and make this rule run more efficiently and more user friendly.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Postponing this Weeks Blog a Bit

“Vacation is what you take when you can't take what you've been taking any longer.”

This weekend I had a nice getaway with friends in Big Bear, Ca where we attended the Victorian Days Faire.

As always, fun was had by all, but there was no blogging to be done.

Look for a blog later this week!  I've got some things in mind, I just have to sit down and build up the video.

Until then here's a few pictures from the Faire

Old buildings on the Faire Grounds

Gallows Humor.  One of the entertaining bands.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Simplfy... Simplify Me - Inventor Simplfication from Autodesk Labs


In my post last week, I talked about how you could remove features and voids using some of the new tools in Autodesk Inventor 2013


Now, while cruising about the internet, I find Inventor Simplification. Brought to us by the team at Autodesk Labs

Admittedly, this tool did come out back in April, but I only got to install and start driving it late last week.  

So what about it is so wonderful that it warrants a blog post? 

I was impressed by the workflow.  There are only four tools, all located on a "Simplfy" tab that's added to Inventor's ribbon.


Just for buttons!  That's it.




  Another plus, is the flow is pretty natural, at least in my humble opinion.  The basic steps are:

  • Select the components to be added to the simplification by picking, or using a filter for external parts

    • Inventor Simplify creates a View representation containing the parts selected

  • Export the parts to an Inventor part file that now contains the simplified geometry.  If desired, the exported geometry can be edited further by patching holes.  This removes additional detail, or even voids.

Optionally,  components can be reduced into "envelopes".  In other words, show the volume the components occupy, without showing the actual component.  Handy for removing that intellectual property you don't want to show!

Additionally, if components need to be removed from the simplification, the View Representation can be edited. This makes it a lot easier to make adjustments.

An example of a simplified component

As always, I've got a video where you can take a look at the process.  If, after seeing the video, you can't wait to get your hands on it, you can download it at the link here

Have thoughts or cool uses for Inventor Simplfication?  Throw out a comment.

On a more personal note.  I've tried removing the "bookend" slides from the video.  I'm looking for a little feed back on if the users out there would like them better "out" or "in".  Let me know!