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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Autodesk Showcase Revisited - Doodling on a Friday Evening

“Sometimes we strive so hard for perfection that we forget that imperfection is happiness”
Karen Nave

Friday night I decided to take a wood working project I've been working on in Autodesk Inventor, and import it into Autodesk Showcase, just to have some fun. 

The project is a Prarie Sofa out of the book Shop Drawings for Craftsman Furniture.  I've been redoing the plans in Inventor

The sofa, up to know

Yes, this is what I do on a Friday night.  :-)

As I did this, I revisted some of the challeges that come from disconnecting my 'designer's brain', which I've found I need to disconnect when I start working in Showcase.

So what do I mean when I say I have to disconnect my designer' brain?

Well, my designer's brain thinks in decimals and tolerances.  It argues that ".1875" = "3/16? and anyone who uses ".188" isn't doing it right.  My designers brain thinks in right angles and precise calculations.

When you're working in Showcase, this line of thought can get in the way, believe it or not.  In reality, many things don't work in precise inputs.  No edge is perfectly straight, no angle perfectly aligned. 

Reality, by definition, is a bit imprecise.

So what did I try to do to create some of life's natural imperfections? 

First, I added in some cushions to the sofa.  Since Showcase can't create, them, I added them in Inventor.

With the cushions added

Looking at the sofa, I realized it was going to look too 'sanitized' in Showcase.  People would look at it and say: "That looks cool, Jon.  But I dunno, something isn't right."

Trust me, it's happened to me before!

So I went a step further.  I added two extra cushions to the sofa, but used the rotate tool on Inventor's Assembly ribbon to reposition the cushions.

Rotating the cushions
Now if you have a designer's brain, this part may make your eyelid twitch. 

Don't worry about rotating a given amount, just position it until it looks good. 

That's right.  I said 'eyeball' it.

In the end, I think you'll  be happy with the results.  Doing things like this breaks up those perfect lines, and gives you something that looks much more realistic, and therefore, much more appealing. 

Here's the finished result in Showcase.

Here it is, the end result!
I think addin the two pillows, rotated randomly added a bit of realism to it.  In the end, I'm glad I did it. 

As a matter of fact, I may go back and move some more cushions around, just to see if I can improve it. 

So if you find your self doing any presentation like this, be it in Inventor Studio, Showcase, or any rendering program.  Remember that in reality, nothing is quite perfect.

And that's the beauty of it! 

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Stop Seeing Red! Using DWF Markups in Autodesk Inventor

“Skewered through and through with office-pens, and bound hand and foot with red tape”
Charles Dickens

Earlier this week, while reloading on coffee at my frequented haunts, Starbucks in Norwalk, Ca.  I was thinking about DWF files and Autodesk Inventor.

Yes, these are the things that go through my geeky brain while standing in line getting coffee.

I had been talking about marking up DWF files in Autodesk Design Review, and how you can take the DWF markups, and how you can overlay them on your Autodesk Inventor drawing.

Example of a DWF that has markups on it

As I discussed it, I found that I wondered how many Inventor users might not be aware that Design Review and Inventor could communicate on this level.

In short, Design Review and Inventor do have a cozy relationship here.  For years, you've been able to export your files as a DWF, send them to a user who has Autodesk Design Review, and have them mark up your files.

They can send that file back to you, and you can overlay the DWF markup right on top of your Inventor drawing, make your corrections with the redlines sitting right on top of your Inventor drawing.

It can save you the trouble of waiting for drawings to print, you can e-mail the files to someone off site, and yes, it can help you be a little bit more green.

Here's a video on making the full circle!  And don't forget, if you double click on the video, it opens in a new, full size window!

So the next time markup time comes around take a look at using DWFs instead of printing out all that paper!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Creating Searches in Autodesk Vault, and Remembering Them Later!

“New Year's Day - Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.”
Mark Twain

First of all...  Welcome to my first post of 2011, and Happy New Years to everyone.  I hope you had a great, and relaxing holiday!

On one of my day's off for the holiday, while I was sitting down having breakfast at a local haunt in Whittier, I came up with a Vault question that I've been asked fairly often, and thought "I should post on that."

The question I've been asked, many times, in one form or another is, "How can I quickly check to see if I've got any files checked out?"

The answer is to create a search, and save it for later.  Start out by going to Tools>Find, and making sure you're on the Advanced tab.

The Tools>Find Pulldown

Creating the Saved Search

Once you create the search,  you can save it, and recall it any time you want. With the search saved, it shows up in the Vault browser, and you can recall it any time you want!

Recalling the search

Perfect for making sure that you check in all your files before a weekend or long vacation!

Without further delay!  Here's the video!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sectioning Parts in Assembly - Who's Section is it, Anyway?

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

Coming up with a blog post was a little difficult after a great holiday with friends and family, as well as a fantastic snowboarding trip to Mammoth Mountain, Ca.

But here's a situation that was asked of me before I left for my holiday that caused me to wrack my brain a bit.

The question was this:  I want to create a section in an assembly, but I want to control who sections, and who doesn't. 

This is what I started with

Fortunately,  I had found this once long ago, and the memory was still in the back of my head, covered by a thick layer of mental dust.

I had to remember how to get to something like this

So before I forget how to do it all over again, here's how to section a component in an assembly!

Happy Inventing!  And here's a couple of pictures of the insane snowfall we had on the mountain

Under here hides a Christmas Tree

One of the best days we had.  They were still setting of avalanche charges though!

The view from the mountain was stunning!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

On Vacation - Change in Latitude

“A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in.
 Robert Orben

Sorry, all.  No big blog this Monday. I'm off on a snowboarding holiday to lovely Mammoth Mountain, California.   So instead of blogging (except for this quick note), I'm getting gear ready.

Here's a picture from a previous trip

Still, that doesn't mean you're without resources to look to.  While I'm throwing myself down an 11,000 foot mountain, check out the KETIV Tech Tip page and the session archives at the KETIV Autodesk Manufacturing Academy site! 

There's a ton of information to choose from there! 

Happy Holidays!  I'll be back in a few days

That's me on my Neversummer

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