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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Taking a Demotion - Creating Assemblies Using the Demote Tool

“The unexpected always happens”

This post comes from a lesson I learned while taking woodshop classes where my assignment was building a coffee table.  We were supposed to create drawings, so taking full advantage of the tools at my disposal, I used Autodesk Inventor.

A rendering of the table in Autodesk Showcase

I found that Inventor did indeed help me lay the table out.  Inventor helped me foresee and avoid problems, particularly by helping me realize that parts I thought would have been identical, were actually mirrors of each other.  That alone saved me from possibly having to remake parts.

But while I was creating the assembly I encountered a mistake I made in the way I approached the assembly structure

The lower part of the table was originally built with all the parts at the same level.  There were no subassemblies.  But when I started to put the sides together, I realized I should have made the table side a subassembly, since a subassembly would require fewer constraints to assemble on the other side of the table.

All my parts are at the top level. It seemed like a good idea at the time!

But now that I'm halfway there, how can I fix that, without having to jump through a bunch of hoops? 

As it turned out, the demote tool was my best friend. I just selected the components I wanted to create my new subassembly from, right clicked, and chose 'Demote'!  i was quickly off and running!

Select your components, right click, and choose demote

Now I could quickly add the other side of the table with just three constraints!

Viola!  All the other side of the table quickly added.

For a little more detail, here's a video on how it helped me restructure my assembly with minimal delay, and get things rockin' and rollin' again!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Sketch Planes and Offset Planes - In One Step

“You can't do sketches enough. Sketch everything and keep your curiosity fresh.”
John Singer Sargent

Here's a little Inventor trick that doesn't do anything that you can't already do.  But it does let you do it a little faster. 

You may know how to create an offset work plane, then create a sketch plane on it to create a feature.

But did you know that you can combing both steps and create the sketch plane and the offset plane at the same time?

If you did.  Congrats!  It's a slick little trick!  If not, here's a video on how to do it!

There it is!  Happy Inventing!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Keep Your Finger on the Trigger - iLogic and Event Triggers

“Next in importance to having a good aim is to recognize when to pull the trigger.”
David Letterman

Just a short post for today.  I spent the holiday snowboarding in Mammoth, so I only had limited internet access for a few days.  But for views like this, I'll give up a bit of web access.

And the time off was great!

The view from town is pretty nice.

Who wouldn't want to have a morning like this.

For today, I wanted to expand upon last week's post and talk about Event Triggers in iLogic.  In that post, I talked about creating a rule to choose my sheet size, border, and title block by choosing them from a dialog box created in iLogic.

This rule could be fired by clicking the iTrigger icon on the 'Manage' Tab in the drawing.

The dialog box created in iLogic

But what if you want a rule to fire automatically, under a specific condition? 

That's where an Event Trigger can come into play. 

By clicking on the Event Trigger icon, you can specify the condition under which a rule fires without you explicitly asking it to. 

1) Click Event Trigger from the 'Manage Tab'.

Access the Event Trigger
 2) Right click to edit an event.

Right click to add or remove the rules attached to an event
 3) Choose the rule (or rules to attach to the desired event)

Edit your rule
One you do that, you can now fire the rule when you want it to.  For example, when I start this file from a template, the option to choose my sheet size, border, and template fires up automatically!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Drawing Conclusions on Formatting a Drawing with iLogic

“Information is a source of learning. But unless it is organized, processed, and available to the right people in a format for decision making, it is a burden, not a benefit.”
William Pollard

***Edit 4-April-2012***

I've added the file I used in this blog post to the GrabCAD website if you want to download it and take a look.  You do have to be a member, but I think you'll find that it's a great site with a lot of free CAD models. 

As I was wrapping up my videos for the Autodesk Manufacturing Academy, I found a video that had slipped through the cracks.  I had recorded it, but I hadn't produced it.  So I finished it up and added it for this weeks post.

This video discusses how to change drawing formats with iLogic.

The finished rule asking you for the format you want to use
One more note before you look at the code below!  If you use event triggers, you can fire the rule automatically.  For example, the image below sets the drawing to fire it's rule when I start a new drawing.  If you set this from a template, the drawing will ask you which drawing format you want when you start it!

Use event triggers to fire a rule when a particular event happens. This one occurs when you start a new file
So without further delay, here's the video!

Here is the full code for this particular rule.  Once you get the first couple of rows down, it's a matter of copying, pasting, and changing options to get the others.

'Fires Rules when iTrigger icon is clicked
trigger = iTrigger0

'Creates a dialog box asking us which format we want
Format_Select= InputListBox("Select Format Type", MultiValue.List("Border_Type"), Border_Type, Title := "Drawing Format Selection", ListName := "List")

'Sets sheet size, title block, and border for A size
If Format_Select = "A Border" Then
ActiveSheet.ChangeSize("A", MoveBorderItems := True)
ActiveSheet.TitleBlock = "Small Border Title Block"
ActiveSheet.Border = "A-Border"

'Sets sheet size, title block, and border for B size Sheet 1
ElseIf Format_Select = "B Border Page 1" Then
ActiveSheet.ChangeSize("B", MoveBorderItems := True)
ActiveSheet.TitleBlock = "Large Format Page 1"
ActiveSheet.Border = "B thru F Border"

'Sets sheet size, title block, and border for B size Sheet 2+
ElseIf Format_Select = "B Border Page 2+" Then
ActiveSheet.ChangeSize("B", MoveBorderItems := True)
ActiveSheet.TitleBlock = "Large Format Page 2"
ActiveSheet.Border = "B thru F Border"

'Sets sheet size, title block, and border for C size Sheet 1+
ElseIf Format_Select = "C Border Page 1" Then
ActiveSheet.ChangeSize("C", MoveBorderItems := True)
ActiveSheet.TitleBlock = "Large Format Page 1"
ActiveSheet.Border = "B thru F Border"

'Sets sheet size, title block, and border for C size Sheet 2+
ElseIf Format_Select = "C Border Page 2+" Then
ActiveSheet.ChangeSize("C", MoveBorderItems := True)
ActiveSheet.TitleBlock = "Large Format Page 2"
ActiveSheet.Border = "B thru F Border"

'Sets sheet size, title block, and border for D size Sheet 1
ElseIf Format_Select = "D Border Page 1" Then
ActiveSheet.ChangeSize("D", MoveBorderItems := True)
ActiveSheet.TitleBlock = "Large Format Page 1"
ActiveSheet.Border = "B thru F Border"

'Sets sheet size, title block, and border for D size Sheet 2+
ElseIf Format_Select = "D Border Page 2+" Then
ActiveSheet.ChangeSize("D", MoveBorderItems := True)
ActiveSheet.TitleBlock = "Large Format Page 2"
ActiveSheet.Border = "B thru F Border"

'Sets sheet size, title block, and border for E size Sheet 1
ElseIf Format_Select = "E Border Page 1" Then
ActiveSheet.ChangeSize("E", MoveBorderItems := True)
ActiveSheet.TitleBlock = "Large Format Page 1"
ActiveSheet.Border = "B thru F Border"

'Sets sheet size, title block, and border for E size Sheet 2+
ElseIf Format_Select = "E Border Page 2+" Then
ActiveSheet.ChangeSize("E", MoveBorderItems := True)
ActiveSheet.TitleBlock = "Large Format Page 2"
ActiveSheet.Border = "B thru F Border"

'Sets sheet size, title block, and border for F size Sheet 1
ElseIf Format_Select = "F Border Page 1" Then
ActiveSheet.ChangeSize("F", MoveBorderItems := True)
ActiveSheet.TitleBlock = "Large Format Page 1"
ActiveSheet.Border = "B thru F Border"

''Sets sheet size, title block, and border for F size Sheet 2+
ElseIf Format_Select = "F Border Page 2+" Then
ActiveSheet.ChangeSize("F", MoveBorderItems := True)
ActiveSheet.TitleBlock = "Large Format Page 2"
ActiveSheet.Border = "B thru F Border"
End If

Monday, November 15, 2010

Oh Wait, Maybe We Do Need Those Stinkin' Passwords After All

"My intention was never to disrupt security. The fact that I logged on when there was no password meant that there was no security to begin with."
Gary McKinnon

Today's blog contains a video created by KETIV Technologies own Mike Carlson.  I provide the narration, but this time, I'm only giving a voice to his expertise.

We've all had it happen.  A password is forgotten, or a user parts ways with the company, taking their password with them into the wilds of the outside world.

So how do you access that account when the password has been lost to the ages?  The video created by Mike shows you how.

Before we get started, make sure you're logged in as the Administrator (or have the Administrator logged in), since changing the password to another account is an Administrator privilege! 

It's good to be king, isn't it?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Just a Tip or Two - A Short Blog

“Of all the things which wisdom acquires to produce the blessedness of the complete life far the greatest is the possession of Friendship.”

Today I had a hectic weekend, including attending my Uncle's 80th birthday.  To say the least, a worthy cause to skip blogging.  So tonight's blog is pushed back a little later in the week, but it is coming! 

Until then, here's three tips that I've uploaded to my Twitter account over the last few weeks!

Tip 1:  When working in a model (*.ipt) file in Inventor 2011, click where indicated to change the dimension display.  Inventor 2011 even lets you choose fractions!

Get fractions too!

 Tip 2: In an Inventor 2011 drawing, use 'Change Model Reference' to make your model reference a different drawing

Change the model reference here!
Tip 3: Do you want a work plane, work axis, or work point to remain in the command (so you can place more of the same), instead of cancelling after you place the first work feature?  While in the command, right click, and choose 'repeat command'.

Right click while in your work feature command and check 'repeat command;

That's it for now.  But I should be able to get something up by Wednesday!

Happy Inventing!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

What's Old is New Again - Using AutoCAD Blocks Inside Your Inventor DWG

“Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it”

Recently, I found that I wanted to use some data in my Inventor drawings.  The problem was, that the only resource I had available to me was a group of AutoCAD blocks.

Boym, wouldn't it be nice if I could reuse these?  :-)
Fortunately after Inventor 2010, we can reuse AutoCAD blocks inside of Inventor.  On the Annotate Tab, you can choose "Import AutoCAD Block" to reuse your AutoCAD blocks.

Insert Blocks from the Annotation Ribbon

Choose the block you want

Serve and Enjoy!  :-)

And of course, here's the video on how to do it. 

Finally, a couple of notes.

There is one thing to be aware of.  The blocks only work in the Inventor *.dwg file, not in the *.idw file.  It;s the only place I can think of where I've ever noticed a difference between the two files.

I'm not sure if the exact whys of this one, but it would be remiss of me not to mention it.

Also, I would be equally remiss not to thank Woodworkers Woodshop.  I located these profiles here, and converted them into AutoCAD blocks that I can reuse.  So if you're in the market for wood working info, swing by there site!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Exporting a Sheet Metal Flat Pattern with Autodesk Inventor

“Many attempts to communicate are nullified by saying too much.”
Robert Greenleaf

Here's what we're going to export

 Every once in a while the export of sheet metal flat patterns comes up, and how best to export the flat pattern.

One way I really like is directly exporting from the part file, primarily because it gives you several options to adjust how your file is exported.  One often overlooked method is to save the settings in an *.ini file.

Here's a video showing how you can export to a *.dxf from the Inventor part file.   And don't forget to make sure those unfold rules are set up correctly!

Video & Screen Capture created using Snagit & Camtasia by Techsmith
SpacePilot Pro by 3DConnexion used to navigate model

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

“I think a lot more people are getting into Halloween because it's the one time of year where adults can be kids.”

Craig McDonald


Once again this weeks post is a little delayed.   I spent this weekend amongst friends enjoying the Halloween weekend, and in that time, I didn't get a chance to work on a blog post. 


So once again, this week we'll be a little late.   Look for a post a little later this week!

Until then, Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 25, 2010

This is Your Section. Controlling Sectioning in Inventor Drawings.

“Divide your movements into easy-to-do sections. If you fail, divide again.”
Peter Nivio Zarlenga quotes

While on working off site on an assignment, I encountered more section views than I'd seen in a long time.

We all know that there's going to be components that won't be sectioned.  But Inventor doesn't necessarily know which components we want to participate in the section view.

Not what we want, the plunger and shaft shouldn't be sectioned

 So how to we tell Inventor that it shouldn't be sectioned?

This is what we want!

Here's a video on how to control which parts are sectioned in the drawing.  Happy Inventing!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Monday Post Delayed

“Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday.”
Don Marquis

I've been pretty consistent about putting up a post Monday, but this Monday is an exception.  I was lucky enough to take a quick camping trip this weekend to Joshua Tree.  But that prevented me from getting a post ready for my Monday deadline.

But never fear, I should have one by tomorrow, and then, back to the usual schedule!

Until then, here's a couple of pictures from the trip!

A tree trying to grow along one of the hikes

The road near camp

The view near the camp site
My loyal steed near the hike we took.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Dimension Display - See Dimensions in a Different Way.

“There is always a better way.”
Thomas Alva Edison

Now that Autodesk Manufacturing Academy  has at last drawn to a close, it's time to play catch up.

This week, it's a quick video on dimension display in the sketch environment.

If you've used Inventor for a while, you likely know that you can create equations that display your design intent.  But what you might not know is that you can change how your dimensions are displayed on the screen.

Right click to see the options!

There's a nice little tool called dimension display for that.  It's a tool that's like an old dependable car.  It isn't flashy, but it always comes through when you need it.

So without further adieu, here's the video!

Happy Inventing!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Naming Parameters in Autodesk Inventor

"You're never ready, you just run out of time."

With the Autodesk Manufacturing Academy looming close, these weeks blog is going to be quick and simple.

Many of us know that you can (and in some cases should), rename parameters inside of Autodesk Inventor. This makes the parameters easy to call back at a later time.  For example, it's much easier ot find a parameter named 'Length' opposed to trying to remember what parameter 'd89' represents.

Typically, you rename your parameters in the parameter screen of Inventor. 

A parameter renamed
But there is a quick way to rename them as your typing the parameter.  Just type "parameter = dx' when creating a dimension, and the parameter will rename at the time you're placing the dimension.

Renaming the Parameter

This renames the parameter all at once!  You don't need to go and open the parameters screen!

Verifying the renaming of the parameter

That's it!  A simple tip, but one I think is helpful!

More to come when AMA is done!

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Creating a Cooling Grill in Inventor Sheet Metal - By Using Plastics Tools

“The wise adapt themselves to circumstances, as water moulds itself to the pitcher” 
 Chinese Proverb

Inspiration comes from unique directions at times.  I've been offsite working with a lot of electronic encolsures, which has been a fantastic experience for me.  But that's a story for another day.

While speaking with one of our techs, Mike Carlson about the project, the subject of cooling grills came up.

An example of a fairly typical cooling grill

Try using the grill from the Plastics tool set, he suggests.

I pause for a second.  I think there was a visible light bulb over my head.  My wheels spin for a second at at my first instinct, which is to blurt out, "That's a plastics tool, you can't use that in sheet metal!"

But my brain processes the information.  It can't find a flaw in that plan.  Instead my answer is "Bloody hell, that will work!"

I try it at my first opportunity.  Sure enough.  It works great.

So here it is!  Thank Mike Carlson for the inspiration.  I can't take the credit.

How to create a cooling grill in Inventor's sheet metal environment.... using plastics.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Inventor Customization - Using iLogic to Raise a Yellow Flag

“Time is the cruelest teacher; first she gives the test, then teaches the lesson.”

With KETIV's Autodesk Manufacturing Academy getting nearer and nearer, I've been working heavily on my iLogic class.  As a result, this post is about, what else?  iLogic.

As I worked on developing my iLogic exercises, I found one place that would have been helpful in a past job working with electronic enclosures. 

I did a lot of work with Electronic enclosures that had to meet NEMA enclosure ratings.  We regularly used Hoffman boxes.  I downloaded this file from their website HERE.

Ahh, The Hoffman enclosure.  I know thee well.

If you want to read about the ratings, feel free to follow the link, it's good information.  For the purposes of this post, let's just deal with indoor, and outdoor applications.

I dealt regular dealt with outdoor (more robust, but expensive) and indoor (less robust, but less expensive) enclosures.  Needless to say, you didn't want to mix them up. 

An outdoor rated enclosure in an indoor application is overkill.  It costs too much, and the gains in exposure resistance aren't beneficial.

On the other hand, you don't want to use an indoor rated enclosure in an outdoor application.  The box isn't designed to meet those requirements, and moisture is likely to get inside the box and damage the components the box is intended to protect.

Back when i was in this line of work, you had to check the box part number and be sure.  while this wasn't difficult, it was sometimes a painstaking step, and there were times that mistakes happened.

Fortunately, one of these mistakes never made it beyond the computer, but it did result in lost time as the wrong box was removed from the model, the correct box (which may not have been the same exact size) was placed in, and the components placed in the box again.

So how does iLogic help?  With one, simple line of code, I can create a warning that will tell me the rating for this enclosure.  So I know right away if this is an outdoor rated enclosure, or an indoor rated enclosure.

Yes it's simple, but it can also be effective.  And sometimes little extra warning is all the help we need.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

It's Automagic! The Drawing Resource Transfer Wizard

“He's got tools. Something to see.”
 Sid Monge

Necessity is often the mother of invention, and last week proved no different.

I was creating a large number of drawings for someone, and we were faced with something that, while easy, can be exceedingly tedious.

We needed to update title blocks in several drawings.  There were only about ten or twelve, but copying and pasting each one can be time consuming.

So instead, I used a tool to help automate the process; the Drawing Resource Transfer Wizard.  It can be found from Windows Start>All Programs>Autodesk>Autodesk Inventor (version)>Tools

The Drawing Resource Transfer Wizard

So how does it work?  Let's roll some footage and take a look!

This tool really helped me transfer the title blocks quickly, without having to do a bunch of copying and pasting from drawing to drawing. 

One thing to watch out for.   While the Drawing Resource Transfer Wizard will try to match up all the properties in the new resources, but it may not be able to do it in every case.  In other words, it pays to double check when everything is done.

In my case, I had to open the drawings to create final prints, so I checked the title blocks along with he dimensions, views, text, etc. that I had to check anyway.

In the end, this tool saved me the trouble of having to do a lot of tedious work, and let me focus on more important (and fun) things.

Happy Inventing!