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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Documenting Sheet Metal Punches on Drawings

“Chicago is a city of contradictions, of private visions haphazardly overlaid and linked together.”
Pat Colander

Now I've returned from Autodesk training in Chicago.  The training was informative, and well executed.  Now to absorb all the information! I'll be sharing some of that knowledge as I apply it to my real world.

For this blog, I wanted to continue the lesson from my last blog post, where we created a sheet metal iFeatiure

In that last blog, Creating Sheet Metal Embosses, we saw how we could create a sheet metal punch.  Now, we'll see how we can reuse that punch, and place it on a drawing.  Once you place it on the drawing, you're able to annotate it, and take advantage of the information you placed on your punch.

Take a look at the video, and see!  We've also added some fancy new "Intros & Outros".  Let us know what you think!



Monday, October 10, 2011

Off to Chi-Town for Training

I don't mind sitting in the back row of an airliner.  Aircraft usually don't back into a crash.
Jonathan Landeros

This weeks technical blog is pushed off a bit due to training in Chicago this week.

It's going to like "drinking from a fire hydrant" as they say, but hopefully I'll come back with my head full of ideas.  Some of them may even be good ones!

Seeing colors in fall is a unique experience.  We only have three fall colors in Ca.  Green, Brown, & on Fire.


Sunday, October 02, 2011

Creating Sheet Metal Embosses in Autodesk Inventor

You're better off being a brick layer if you're going to play guitar than a sheet metal worker.
Roger Daltrey

In a few short days, I'll be in front of a room full of people, teaching the sheet metal course for KETIV's Autodesk Manufacturing Academy.

It's fun, but it's also stressful and nerve wracking at the same time.  There's datasets to test, information to accumulate, & presentations to tweak in an all out effort to get everything down.

One of those items I was taking a look at was creating a sheet metal emboss.

The Finished Emboss



It's been a while since I visited this particular item.  It seems to come up, then go away for a while.  But since this particular item has returned, I decided to "make hay while the sun shined", and create a video showing how you can go about creating a punch.

So far, this is the way I've found is easiest, at least for me.  Others may have ways that they've found.  I hope the  video below gives you some inspiration.

For me, wish me luck at AMA!  My next post won't be until after Wednesday, when the event is over!


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Life Lesson - When a Part Becomes Art

“Wisdom is a blessing only to those prepared to absorb it.”
Anonymous 

Sometimes lessons come from the most unexpected places. One of those lessons was an invaluable schooling on how sheet metal parts are made.  Not out of a book, or in a video.  But from an experienced hand who's been doing it for decades.

A couple of weeks ago, while working my volunteer gig at Planes of Fame in Chino, Ca.  I found myself talking to the DC-3 restoration crew.

The DC-3 undergoing restoration



The DC-3 at Planes of Fame is on the road to flying again, but needs to have some work done to it.

Tony, an Airframe and Powerplant mechanic started out working on aircraft in the U.S.Navy.  He's been at it so long, some of the ships he's served on are museums now.

He's studying a door gusset that's come out of the DC-3's door.

The gusset's location
The gusset after removal


"This part is finished." He remarks confidently.   "See here?"  He indicates the ends of the part.  "It's been drilled too many times."  I can see three holes in the part where one should be.

There's a few extra holes that shouldn't be there!

There's an extra one here too!

But Tony's lesson is just getting started.  "We're going to have to fabricate one."  His eyes narrow as he studies the part.  "The part is made out of 2024-T6, but the bend radii on the flanges are too tight.  If we try to use T6 from the start, the part will crack.  That wouldn't be good."  He smirks.

"So what's the plan?"  One of the curious volunteers among us ask.

Tony closes one eye and holds the part up, studying it.  "2024-0 will bend to that radius, but we can't use in an aircraft structure.  It'll have to be heat treated to T6 after the fact.   We'll also have to be careful about how we cut our blank.  We want to make sure our flanges are oriented correctly with the metal grain."

"Sheet metal has grain?"  One of us asks.  (I smile inwardly.  This is an answer I knew!).

"Sure does."  Tony remarks.  "Almost like wood.  If you bend along the grain, the bend has a better chance of cracking."   

The collected few of us nod.  It's been quite a lesson he's taught us.  The wisdom of decades of experience, passed on with a casual confidence.

"Yup."  Tony smiles.  "In the English Wheel for the contours, bend the flanges, we'll leave a little extra on the flanges and trim them back."  He makes a casual wave of his hand.  "A thing of beauty."

Why relate this story?  Because in our age of computer aided calculated nonlinear numerically simulated design, it's amazing to see somebody who is a true artisan of his trade.

I consider myself to have learned a valuable lesson.  A lesson I'm going to take back to my computer aided numerically simulated world.


I'm bringing back a lesson on how parts are made in the "real world".  And just as importantly, I've relearned a valuable lesson that to be a good designer, you have to understand how those parts are made.

So what are my "treasured" lessons?

  • Sure I knew sheet metal had grain, and I knew it could affect a part.  But when I was designing sheet metal, we never considered it.  Now, I know more than being able to repeat "sheet metal has grain", like a trained parrot.  I understand how that grain can affect a part.
  • Heat treating was another process I "sort of" understood.  I knew that T6 materials won't make tight bends without cracking.  But because my sheet metal design work was done in mild steel.  I never applied that understanding.  If we had a tight bend, we just avoided the material that wouldn't make that bend.  I never even considered having to use annealed material, then treating it after the fact.  Now that an experienced hand has explained it to me, I feel silly not having considered this myself. 

I'll truly appreciate the lessons I've learned.  I hope there's a few more in my future!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Hold that Pose! - Extracting Camera Views in Autodesk Inventor Publisher

“There are no circumstances, however unfortunate, that clever people do not extract some advantage from.”
Fran├žois de la Rochefoucauld

This week I've been spending a lot of time working on one of two things.  The Autodesk Manufacturing Academy, and Autodesk Inventor Publisher.  During that time, I've learned a few tricks that can made the job go  along smoothly.

One of the challenges I encountered was working with the storyboard.  As I was moving from step to step, creating assembly (or disassembly) steps, I encountered an issue where I wanted to move a component.  That part was easy.

The hard part was that in order to select the component I wanted, I needed to zoom into to the assembly.  But the snapshot remembers that I did that, and creates a rotation I don't want.

So how do I get back to my original view?  I could try to "eyeball" it, and try to match it up, but that would be tedious, and I would probably never be exactly right.

Fortunately, a tool called "Extract Camera" helps with that.  By using this tool, we can extract a camera view from one snapshot, and place it on the current camera.

Right click on a snapshot and choose "Extract Camera"


It's great when you need to rotate your view to see something, then match it up to another snapshot.

It wouldn't be a blog post without a video, so hears the video to go with the post!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Life Lesson: The Temp Directory is not Infinite!

Yeah, it felt a little like that!

Sometimes it pays to check the obvious!  Occasional "spring cleaning" of your CAD machine is always a good idea too!

Just today I was working with Autodesk Showcase, prepping some models for KETIV's Autodesk Manufacturing Academy.

I notice Showcase has started to slow down.  I'm not over-tasking it, I've run larger models at higher resolutions.  

But it's still seeming sluggish.  I perform the "three finger salute" (Ctrl + Alt + Delete) and check the task manager.

My machine is running fine.

I'm getting ready to try a new video driver, although I wasn't having problems a few weeks ago....  Why so slow now?

Then I think, "I wonder what my Temp directory looks like?"

I open up Windows Explorer and type "%temp%" to take a peek under the hood. 

My Temp directory looks like the aftermath of a frat party that was simultaneously hit by an hurricane. 

In other words, it's a mess!

I use "Ctrl +A" to select all the files.  I hit delete.  I don't even bother checking the size of the directory.  It's time to get serious.

And with this Temp directory, I wanted to be SURE!

Windows counts the files as it prepares to delete them.  The total size of the collected files climbs like an altimeter on a space bound rocket.

Finally, the numbers settle at nearly 5GB worth of  files!

Suddenly, I can hear Adam Savage of Mythbusters fame proclaming; "There's your problem!"

After a few minutes, the Temp directory is as clean as I can get it.  There are always some files in use, so you can never get every last one.

I open up Showcase, and try the same model.

It was night and day!  Showcase maneuvered around as smoothly as my memories recalled.

What's the lesson!  Check that temp space!  It clutters up over time, and keeping it clean can really help your performance!

Don't let it get to 5GB like I did! 


Monday, September 19, 2011

Pushing My Blog Post back

 Delay is preferable to error.
Thomas Jefferson

I'm afraid this is one of those weeks that I have to push my blog back a bit.  It was a pretty intense weekend building some Autodesk Inventor Publisher videos, so a quality post was a pipe dream.

The good news is I did get some ideas for my next tip!  Look for it soon.  I'm hoping to have something by mid week!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

One Fell Swoop - Affecting Multiple Snapshots in Autodesk Inventor Publisher

“In one fell swoop they could make a pretty big dent.”
Harry Schuhmacher

This week I found myself working with Autodesk Inventor Publisher again.   As I worked with it, I realized that each storyboard snapshot had it's own camera view set.  So as you moved through to each snapshot, the camera was constantly zooming in and out.

In some cases, I liked it.  In others, it was unnecessary, unless part of my goal was to give my views motion sickness.

I also wanted to change the material on some of my snapshots, but the materials are also set per snapshot.  Hmm.  I didn't want to have to click through each snapshot and set the material.

How to I affect all my slides at once?


So, what to do?

With a little bit of searching, I found the solution.  If you right click on your story board, you can choose the snapshots affected by your action.

Here's the little gem!


Some of the choices I've come to like are:
  • Choose Selected Snapshots - Be sure to use the Ctrl+Left Click, or Shift+Left Click to choose your slide)
  • Choose All Snapshots - The "fell swoop" option
  • Choose Preceding Snapshots
  • Choose Following Snapshots

Give them a try!  I think you'll find they help a lot!

And of course, here's a video to go along with what I've described!

Monday, September 05, 2011

Wash, Rinse, Repeat (my work features)

“It is not worthwhile to try to keep history from repeating itself, for man's character will always make the preventing of the repetitions impossible”
 Mark Twain


While enjoying the day off for Labor Day here in the United States, I got to thinking about some of the settings I change right away on a new installation in Autodesk Inventor.

One of those settings is the "Repeat Command" option in Work Features.

The default behavior for Inventor when your placing a work plane, work axis, or work point is to place the work feature, then exit the command.

While many users like that functionality, I like to stay in the command until I exit with the escape key, or by right clicking and hitting "Done".

Fortunately, Inventor allows for this.  While in the Work Feature command, right click and check "Repeat Command".  From that point forward, the command won't exit until you tell it to.

Repeating a Work Feature Command


It's a nice little feature, and one not everyone knows about!

Check out the quick video!

And for all you social media fanatics out there, check out KETIV's Autodesk Manufacturing Academy website on Facebook.  Become a fan!



Sunday, August 28, 2011

Tricks o' Me Trade ol' boy, Tricks o' Me Trade!

Tricks of Me Trade, Boy-O.  Tricks of Me Trade!
Jack Dalton in MacGyver (Jack of Lies)

When working in an assembly, one of the tricky things can be trying to pick a narrow edge when using the mate constraint.  Murphy's Law grabs you by the lapels, then shakes vigorously like a bartender shaking a martini. 

You can pick every edge, sketch line, and point, but never get the face you want.  If you're on your forth cup of coffee, you probably can't even hold your hand still enough to use the "Select Other" tool.

So now what?  You could zoom in to the part so closely you feel like your reenacting the "extreme closeup" scene from Wayne's World.  But that can get a little irritating.

You could hold your breath, grab your mouse hand by the wrist, and stick your tongue out the corner of your mouth until you can steady yourself enough to make the pick.  But that just looks silly.

Or you could learn this trick I picked up from somewhere in my past.  I wish I could tell you who showed it too me, but that recollection has fallen to the fog of Autodesk Universities past.

What's the trick?  Instead of using Mate, choose Flush first.  Why?  Flush sees ONLY faces.  It doesn't pick edges, points, or sketches.  Only faces.  Once you have your faces selected, switch back to Mate.



It's like it's own filter!

Using Flush to filter faces.  Try saying that 5 times fast!


Give it a try.  It's pretty quick, simple, elegant, and a lot easier than you might think.

Plus, you don't have to cut back on your coffee intake!

And here's a quick video version!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Creating Narrative Assembly Instructions - Camtasia Studio and Inventor Publisher United

Typing the quote just doesn't have the same effect.  So let's hear it from Gene Wilder himself:



For this weeks blog, I had a crazy idea, and opted to go a bit off the page. 

For years I've been using Camtasia Studio, by Techsmith, to create the videos you seen in so many of my blogs.

Then in the last few weeks, I've been working with Autodesk Inventor Publisher, and talked about exporting video files from Inventor Publisher

Then one night, it occurred to me, and I had that moment that Gene Wilder spoke of so well. 
Camtasia Studio for years.  Inventor Publisher can export a video format.  Why not combine the two?"

Using Techsmith's Camtasia Studio for editing my Autodesk Inventor Publisher video


So I did.  Here's the result.  It could definitely use some polish.  But for a first try, it's not too bad (at least I think).  I could probably add a few more bubbles, and tweak the narration a bit more.

Perhaps some of you out there in the "Cloud" can share some of your thoughts on how you might approach something similar?

In any case.  Here's my video.  Take a look, and let me know what you think!




Delaying this Weeks Post a Bit

Life is too short for traffic.
Dan Bellack

I've got to put this weeks post off a day or so.  I was fortunate enough to drive to Las Vegas for a good friends wedding, but not so lucky as to get back at a reasonable time.

Why?  A see of taillights.

Why me?
The normally 4 hour drive ended up taking more like 7 hours.

So after getting home at midnight, I thought it best to save the post, and get to bed.

Tomorrow is a work day!

I'll post as soon as I can.  I've had some interesting ideas combining Techsmith's Camtasia Studio editing capabilities, with an *.avi generated by Autodesk Inventor Publisher.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Exporting Your Inventor Publisher Data - The Final Step

“He who distributes the milk of human kindness cannot help but spill a little on himself”
James Matthew Barrie

At long last, my next  (and final, at least for now) video in my Autodesk Inventor Publisher series of videos!  We're going to publish your Inventor Publisher data into "publicly" consumable format.

Those formats can be one of several.  Microsoft Word documents, Adobe PDFs, Adobe Flash, Autodesk DWF formats, and even files for the Autodesk Inventor Publisher formats for iPhones, iPads, and Android mobile devices.

Example of an image Exported from Inventor Publisher


So the first thing we'll have to decide is what format is the best for the end user we want to supply.  That will ultimately a decision based on the best format to send to the end user.

So far, we've seen how we can create the formats, adjust the timing of our instructions, as well as add annotations to the instructions.

In this video, we'll talk about exporting the instructions and finally get them distributed to the users who will be using them!

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Busy Weekends, Avengers, and Learning from the Past

“The truth should never die. It is our mission to keep the true history of 'our' side alive for our descendants.”
Grady Howell

Another busy weekend has prevented me from putting together my next planned Inventor Publisher video.  I promise to get one out as soon as I can.

I can at least see the light of day with my current projects, and I'm pretty sure it's not an oncoming train!

But on a "tangent blog", I thought I'd share an anecdote picked up from my volunteer work at Planes of Fame in Chino, Ca.

I recently began learning out to recover control surfaces in fabric.  That's right.  The old school cloth and fabric rudders, ailerons, and elevators. 

My first assignment?  Not a trip to the shop to get dirty.  Start reading the manual.  Get familiar with the process, so you know what we're doing, and why we do it.

After that, I finally after a couple of weeks, I got to start working on a real project.  The rudder of a TBM Avenger.

The rudder of the Avenger looking from the bottom up.
The first thing I'm told before we start looking at it?  "This is more art than science."

We begin working.  Actually, they're doing more working, I'm doing more watching.  But I'm learning the art of tugging, stretching, and; cutting the fabric to fit around the curved surfaces of the rudder.

As the project progresses, the team stands up and studies a compound curve.  They discuss whether or not the material will shrink around a given bend when heated.  If it should be cut instead, and if so, where it has to be cut, and how many cuts are required.

And if we cut the fabric, here, that's going to have an effect two steps down the line, so that has to be considered too.  

It's an exercise in patience and planning.

So why would I put this in a blog?  This is about CAD software, not about seventy year old warbirds.

I put it in here because the planning of the project is as important as the process, maybe even more important.  Even the veterans of doing this have to check the manuals, stop and talk over a step in the process, and even step a way for a few minutes to pace around the hangar until inspiration comes.  (These are referred to as "coffee breaks").

Starts sounding a bit like an implementation, or maybe an installation or software upgrade, doesn't it?

So that's where my observations are this week.  A reaffirmation of all those times that I've wanted to charge ahead, get 'er done.  All those times I've wanted to "make it happen" so we can get to happy hour and high five for a job well done.

The same rudder, a little bit closer now.


What did I learn from those guys stretching the fabric on a 70 year old Avenger's rudder?  The experts know what they know, and they also know what they don't know.   

Don't neglect your planning.  And when you think the planning is done, self check yourself as you go forward.  You never know when you may learn a better way to do things.

And on that note, here's the aircraft that rudder belongs to.  This video was recorded when it flew at an event last year.




Sunday, July 31, 2011

Autodesk Inventor Publisher - Creating Annotations

“He listens well who takes notes.”
Dante Alighieri

At long last.  Here's my next post for Autodesk Inventor Publisher.

In the last big post, we saw how we could adjust timing to get our time line to show the details when we need it.  Now in this post, we see how to add annotations to the post, so we can make sure we include as much key information as possible.


By using annotations, value can really be added to files you export out to the end users!

Here's the video to go with it.  Happy Inventor Publishing everyone!  


 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Still Working on the Next Blog, but for now, a Quick Publisher Tip

“We learned a lot and lost a lot of sleep.”
Mabel Smith

I still haven't had a chance to come up for air!  :-) 

It's been a hectic week working on some tests, a data creation project or two, plus our normal office duties at the KETIV homestead.

But I promise to have another, full featured, blog up by Monday (yes, it may have to go that long).

But until then.  Here's a short litttle Inventor Publisher tip I learned while working on one of my projects!

When moving components, click on the glyph to see options align the Triad, show your Trails, or restore your component to its home position.

A quick tip on Inventor Publisher Trails!

And on one last note.. We created a "commercial" for Autodesk Manufacturing Academy, and I got to be a part of it.  Feel free to check it out! 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A busy weekend. Blog delayed a bit

This weekend was a busy weekend composed of my usual volunteer gig at Planes of Fame on Saturday, and taken technical test for the new 2012 releases.

I love exams!  Don't you?


So instead of forcing out my next post at this late hour and putting out something half baked, I've decided to hold it back a day or two and make sure it's up to par. 

Look for the announcement on my Twitter feed, or just check the blog a little later! The next post will be on creating annotations in Autodesk Inventor Publisher!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Inventor Publisher - It's a Matter of Timing

“A little help at the right time is better than a lot of help at the wrong time.”
Proverb

Last week's blog saw us explode an assembly inside of Autodesk Inventor Publisher.

Of course, this is the first step of many we can take.  We might intend to place these in a document format for a technical manual, or perhaps create a video that can be put on the web or a mobile device.

But before we send that data to whatever it's final destination is, why don't we use the storyboard to add as much critical information as possible, as well as make sure that the assembly shows all the information it needs as it comes apart and goes together.

 
The Inventor Publisher Storyboard


So in this week's video, we see how to add descriptions, and adjust timing in our storyboard!


There we go!  Happy Inventor Publishing!  :-)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Autodesk Inventor Publisher - If You Don't Write it Down, It Didn't Happen

“Real programmers don't document. If it was hard to write, it should be hard to understand.”
Unknown

I'll admit, I always thought Autodesk Inventor Publisher was a just a "cool program".  The power of being able to create documentation was impressive, but I asked myself the question, "What does it do that I can't do using presentation files?"

Trust me.  Creating exploded views are just the start!


I told myself, "I'll have to look into it's capabilities later on".  

Then, time marched on.  I found myself working on Vault, on Inventor, on Showcase.  Every once in a while, I'd stick my head up and say, "I need to get back into Inventor Publisher."  Then I'd put my head back down and carry on as I had before.

Nearly a year ago, I saw a presentation on Inventor Publisher's capabilities, and I finally "got it".  I understood the power of being able to create documentation directly from your 3D model.  It can create in in 2D pdfs, publish to a mobile device, you can even use it to create Flash movies!  I get it! I get it! 

I really facepalmed myself for not seeing it sooner.  

Now, at long last, I've found the time (alright I'll come clean, I made the time) to take a deep look at Inventor Publisher.

The more I use it, the more I like it.

So I've decided to create a short series on Inventor Publisher.  Here's the first installment, inserting a 3D model and creating a timeline in Inventor Publisher.  We're just getting started.  I'm going to add more in the up coming weeks!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

On the Road Again - Autodesk Inventor Publisher Viewer

“We are in or are entering TWO cycles instead of one — broadband Internet and mobile.”
Mary Meeker

 I just got back from my July Snowboarding Trip.  That's right, July snowboarding.

Even up there, I couldn't complete stop thinking about CAD, so between runs, while sitting at the watering hole, enjoying the sun reflecting off the slushy snow, I was thinking about CAD.

I wonder if there's a support group for that....

That's me, on the 4th of July at the top of Mammoth Mountain


What I'm going to blog on today isn't exactly earth shattering.  I'm talking about Autodesk Inventor Publisher Mobile viewer.

First, what is Autodesk Inventor Publisher?  Inventor Publisher let's you create technical documentation, from a 2D instructions in a traditional format, or in 3D interactive formats.

If you've never seen Inventor Publisher before.  Rob Cohee does a nice job describing it here.


If you've heard of Inventor Publisher, then you probably have heard of the mobile applications Autodesk Inventor Publisher Viewer, available at no charge on the Apple Store and Android Market.

Once again, I'll rely on Rob Cohee's excellent work.  It would be a shame for it to go to waste, and I didn't get a chance to create my own, being on vacation and all!


Wonderful!  If you have Inventor Publisher, you can publisher them to your mobile device.  The Coefficient of Really Cool pegs the meter at a 9+. 

But now we get to the part of the story where I thought things got interesting.

I was talking to someone about Inventor Publisher Mobile, and they stated, "I'm not giving our shop, iPads.  They're too expensive and we can't afford to have them get broken."

Fair enough!  I think of how long an iPad would last in the restoration hangar at Planes of Fame.  Probably not long.

Could you picture an iPad or Droid plummeting to its death off the top of this Avenger?  I can.

But that doesn't mean that the mobile apps are immediately not an option.  How many technical folks out there have personal Android phones, iPhones, or iPads we carry around?

I'm on a Droid!
I'm on an iPad!


Sure if you make components with "some assembly required", you can make the files available on your website.  But what you don't do that?

To put it simply.  I told this user to keep their options open.  The shop is just one place you can use the mobile applications!

What if you have someone off site, in a different facility somewhere.  Maybe they aren't "on the floor", but they need a quick reference of an assembly?  Perhaps they don't have Inventor Publisher itself, and dealing with your laptop's boot time is a nuisance (I've been known to put something off because I didn't feel like waiting for my laptop to boot).

Then Inventor Publisher Mobile becomes an option.  It's quick and it's interactive.  You can zoom in on parts and inspect the assembly operations up close.

So the morale of the story?  Don't limit yourself.  Inventor Publisher Mobile applications just aren't for the shop.  They're for anyone who can take advantage of them!