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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Placing an iFeature from Autodesk Vault 2014 - New for 2014!

“Burglars know there's more than one way to skin a vault.”
James Chiles

Early this week, I had a chance to play with an intriguing new feature of Autodesk Vault 2014. 

It's the ability to add iFeatures to, and place iFeatures using Vault.

I'm going to definitely use this tool in my personal projects.  I've created plenty of features in my day, and many times, I recreate them because I'm careless and lose them, forget to migrate them, etc.  I can get creative when losing iFeatures.

Trust me!  No matter how many times I tell myself I'll be more careful, I've sent many an iFeature to the "Land of Lost Files"!  Vaulting iFeatures will definitely reduce lost iFeatures in the future.

But, is it set up to work with Vault? 

I don't claim to have all the tricks figure out.  I'm still trying some things out, but here's what I've discovered so far.  Take my ideas, modify them, tweak them, and use them for inspiration. 

The first thing I did, was choose a folder in my Vault Workspace to store my iFeatures.   I also copied my default iFeatures here, so I can use them if I want.

Why?  This will prevent this error, when trying to check in iFeatures from the default Inventor location!  This error is caused because the default iFeature location isn't located in the Vault Workgroup path.

This is an error.  Years of experience have taught me that errors are bad.
I'm also going to change Inventor's default iFeature location to match the workspace.  This will make sure that I'm always using the same iFeatures I've Vaulted, even if I don't place the iFeature directly from Vault.

First, I change the default iFeature location in Tools>Application Options>iFeature Tab.  Note that sheet metal punches are a special class of iFeature, so I'm going to change that location too.

The new locations specified in Inventor's application options
 Now, an iFeature can be checked in and out of Vault, and enjoy all the benefits of being stored in Vault!

Checking into Vault

Once it's checked into Vault, now it can be placed from Vault onto a part that needs it.

Placing an iFeature from Vault
And after that, it's just like an iFeature has been place for years!

And it's placed
And here's the video version of the process!

One thing I have noticed, is that this tool doesn't work with sheet metal punches.  So I've decided that I'll have punches Vaulted but keep them in my local workspace, using the settings I created above.  Maybe we'll see that one come in the next release!

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Changing Autodesk Showcase Model Orientation After Importing from Autodesk Inventor - A Guest Video

“For many people, one of the most frustrating aspects of life is not being able to understand other people's behavior.”

Autodesk Showcase has a lot of tricks up it's sleeve when importing models.  But that leaves the challenge of knowing when to use which trick. 

One challenge, I know I've always faced is importing Autodesk Inventor Constraints as Behaviors in Showcase.  I don't do it often, so I find that I figure out how to use them for a scene, but then I don't use them for a while.

The next time I need to use them, I've managed to forget everything I learned, so I have to relearn it again! 

But as many a teacher has reminded me over the years, "It's not about knowing information, it's about knowing where to find information".

So here is another guest video by Marion Landry on how to use import settings in Showcase to make sure you get the results you want!  It gave me some more ideas on import tricks, and I'm sure others will find it helpful too!

Thank you, Marion!!

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Controlling the Visibility of Multiple Sketches on an Autodesk Inventor Drawing

“I do a bale of sketches, one eye, a piece of hair. A pound of observation, then an ounce of painting.”
Gardner Cox

In a blog post a "few moons ago", I discussed how to get model sketches and show them on a drawing in my post: "Using Model Sketches on a Drawing in Autodesk Inventor". 

In that post, there was a comment that stated once the sketches were made visible, the option to "Get Model Sketches" was grayed out.  Which is true. 

Get Model Sketches is now grayed out

So how can the visibility of sketches if they're added to the model after the "Get Model Sketches" option is used.

Here, I've added a second, distinct sketch in Autodesk Inventor 2014.

Note the sketches are separate

When I switch to the drawing, the sketch will automatically appear on the drawing, with no further interaction.
The second sketch appears

But what if I don't want to show both sketches.  Perhaps one sketch represents a spot weld, and the other is just there for construction or a model only reference?

All that I have to do is right click on the sketch in the browser, and uncheck the "Visibility" option.  The sketch will disappear and will no longer be shown.  Showing the sketch will make the sketch visible again.

Now you see it!

Now you don't!

 Being able to control the sketches individually adds more flexibility that an "all or nothing" approach.  So take a look and see how you can use it!

Monday, May 06, 2013

That Time of the Year - Migrating Templates to Autodesk Inventor 2014 Using Task Scheduler

“Are you suggesting that coconuts migrate?"
Monty Python

In a previous post, I talked about migrating Styles from a previous release of Autodesk Inventor into Autodesk Inventor 2014.

The simplest way, of course, is just to open each file in Inventor and save it.  This will migrate the files.

And it does have it's advantages.  Opening the file would allow for an "inspection".  Old styles could be inspected and purged, new styles can be added, and general clean up could be performed.

But another way to quickly migrate files would be to use Inventor's Task Scheduler.  This tool allows for the templates (and any other file for that matter), to be migrated in batch, hands off.

Note!  Before migrating any templates, make sure you've backed everything up!  I've never had a problems with migration, but you only have to be wrong once! 

 To access Task Scheduler, go to Windows Start>All Programs>Autodesk Inventor 2014>Tools.  Task Scheduler will be in there.

Finding Task Scheduler
Selecting the icon will open Task Scheduler for use.  Choosing Create Task>Migrate Files will bring up the dialog box to set up migration tasks. 

With the Migrate Files dialog open, now the settings for migration can be configured.

There are several settings that can be changed for this dialog.  Some of the major ones, and my preferences for this task

Project: The project under which the files will be migrated
Vault: Migrates the files out of Vault - Since my templates are not in Vault, I won't be using this setting
Folder icons: Are the files going to be added individually, are folders going to be added, or is an entire project going to be migrated?  I'm going to use folders

Under Task properties, it's also possible to give the task a name (I just use default), and schedule the task for a given time.  Since my templates aren't particularly large, I'm going to run them immediately.

The Migrate Files dialog.

In the dialog below, I've added the folder to migrate, and completed my settings.  I also like to click on options, and have the Task Scheduler Skip Files with Unresolved References, Purge Old Versions, and Compact Model History.  

If these were parts with features, I'd also compact the model history, but these are mostly empty templates.

Setting up options

Once the settings are ready, I can close the Migration Options, click OK, and start the migration.

Committing the migration

The migration will begin running.  For templates, this typically takes a few minutes, but it does depend on how many files are being migrated, so that has to be taken into consideration before starting.

Once the notification is completed, right clicking on the task will allow for a report to be generated that will show which files were successful, and which files failed and why. 

But those are the steps to migrate files.  Here I've used them in templates, but they're not limited to just template files.  This is valid for any Inventor files, so remember that it's available for use!

If you prefer the video form, just take a look below!

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

A Quick Tour of the Pixlr Photo Editors Included in Autodesk 360

“the highest regard you can receive. That photo can describe an entire life, just an honor, as well as a fun moment.”
Aaron Eckhart

One of the things Autodesk Showcase can do is publish renderings both locally, and to the cloud via Autodesk 360.

Rendering an image both locally and to the cloud
But one of the things I recently learned, quite by accident, is that Autodesk 360 will do more than just store the renderings for safe keeping and sharing. 

It also contains tools from Autodesk Pixlr, which allow for additional photo editing to the image even after it's been rendered from Showcase.  So additional effects to make for a more eye-grabbing image can be created if desired. 

Before, I only knew this tools to be available for mobile devices, I hadn't realized they'd made their way to Autodesk 360 too!

These tools can be access by using the "Actions" pull down in Autodesk 360.   There the tools Pixlr Editor (Advanced) and Pixlr Express (Efficient) are located.

Below I'm using the scene I used from my previous blog post on the "Depth of Field" settings in Showcase 2014.

Choosing the editor
Selecting Pixlr Express, the editor will open and allow effects beyond what was created in Showcase available. 

The effects toolbar
The effects include things like:

Adjustment: Find tools like, Rotate, Blur, Resize, Rotate, etc. to images.
Effect: Tools to soften, age, make unicolor, etc. to images.
Overlay: Overlay effects like Flame, Fireworks, and more.
Border: Add several different borders to the image
Sticker: Several "stickers" are available to place on the image.

Below is an image in the process of having an effect added.

Editing the image.

When all is done, a new image with new effects is created and can be used.  So if there's a need to tweak an image, or just create something with a little more "artistic flair", the Pixlr tools on Autodesk 360 can be a nice way to add what's needed.

Below is the completed image, with an aging effect and a border added. 

And don't forget, there's also Pixlr Editor, which adds a lot more tools for even more photo editing options!

Pixlr Editor for more editing tools
 Below I've used it to to remove the truck in the background from another rendering created off the same scene.

Note the truck in the background on the left side.

I'm not much of a photo editor, so it's not difficult to see my edits.  Someone with a little more skill can do a much better job.

The truck hidden!  Even though the user's skills aren't very good!
 So there we are.  Some of those little known tools inside of Autodesk 360.  But if needed, they'll be there to add more punch to an image.

And on a final note, everything I've done has been using Autodesk Showcase, but any image can be edited.  So that means images created from an program, or even a photograph can be manipulated.

Below is an image I took in Lake Tahoe in Summer 2012.

And now one with a few effects added.

All that's left is for you to give it a try!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Using the New "Depth of Field" Setting in Autodesk Showcase 2014

“There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are.”
Ernst Haas

One of the challenges in using Autodesk Showcase is getting the rendering, and particular, the focus of the rendering stand out.

Its one of the reasons that many times, I don't like putting the subject of a rendering "in it's natural environment".  It looks like it belongs there, and it just disappears.

But on the other hands, there are definitely times that there's a benefit to putting a subject where it belongs, in a shop, in a lab, or on a street, for example, instead of in an "empty photo room".

One of the new tools added to Autodesk Showcase 2014 is the "Depth of Field" setting, which, like the F-Stop on a camera, controls how the scene is focus, and how objects "blur away" as they get further from the "lens" in the scene.

In the scene I'm using here, I've taken a picture of the Planes of Fame B-25 Mitchell, created a backdrop, and inserted two engines, which are models I downloaded from GrabCAD at the link here. 

I'm not using any depth of field settings.  I'm just using the backdrop "as is".

The two engines place in the scene with the B-25

Everything is in focus.  And while it might be easy to look at the engines in the foreground, it's also possible that the person viewing the image might not be immediately drawn to the engines

With the Depth of Field setting, the background can be blurred and the focus of the scene can quickly be places on the engine.  So how does depth of field work?

I start by going to View>Camera Properties.

Choosing Camera properties.

Once the Camera Properties come up, click "Show More Controls" under lens effects.  "Depth of Field" will appear there, check the box to enable it.

Choosing depth of field.

Now, I can select "Click on Object", and choose the engine closest to the foreground on my screen.  This tells  Showcase where I'm "aiming the camera".

Choosing the object of focus
Once this is done the sliders for Focal Distance and F-Stop can be used to change the focus of the scene, and bring one object into focus, and blurring the others to bring out the desired effect.

Changing the Depth of Field settings

Once the desired effect is achieved, select OK to accept the new result!

The completed result

So go ahead and give these settings a try.  Like so many settings in Showcase, there's not a right or wrong way, just what you like!

And for the steps in a video form, look below!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Migrating Styles to Autodesk Inventor 2014 from a Previous Release

“The flow of migration is not this inexorable, constant increase.”
Roberto Suro

It's that time of year again.  Autodesk Inventor 2014 is hitting the streets, and I'm kicking the tires on the new release. 

One of the first steps I like to do, is migrate my custom styles (dimension styles, Sheet Metal Rules, Thread Data, etc) and templates to the current release

In this post, I'm only going to focus on migrating my styles.

Getting started with the styles.

The Wikihelp for Autodesk 2014 contains the steps for migration, but states that I can:

"Continue to use the migrated library. It will function exactly as it did in the previous release. However, you will not be able to take advantage of the corrections and additional styles that Autodesk has added in the latest release."

Translation?  If I just migrate all my 2013 styles libraries to 2014, I may be missing some good stuff. In light of that, I decided to merge my custom libraries with the standard 2014 styles, which is a departure from the method I used in my post a couple of years ago.

So here's how I went about it this year.

First I made a decision where I'm going to keep my 2014 design data.  Since I'm on a laptop, I keep them in a "Utility Folder", based on version.  

True, the default locations could be used, but I like having my styles in a location I choose.

The Utility Folders I like, based on Inventor Version

Now, I direct my installation of Inventor 2014 to look at that folder.  This can be done in one of two places, in Application Options with the File Tab.

Or in the Folder Options section of the project.  Note, that if the paths specified in Folder Options is different than that in Applications Options, the Folder Options path will be used.

The location as used in the project
I'm going to copy my default styles libraries from Inventor 2014s default location (which is the one depicted in Application Options), to the "Utility Folder" I created.

Copying the standard styles from the default location to my custom location.

With that out of the way, I  copy the Styles from my previous release, Inventor 2013, into a new "Transition" directory.  The reason for this is twofold.

1) I'm not playing with my live 2013 styles
2) I can still use that old data to work with the previous version of Inventor, which I often need to do.

Copy and Paste my previous versions styles to the transition folder

With my "setup" completed, I'm going to go ahead and open the Styles Library Manager, Located in Windows Start>Programs>Autodesk>Inventor 2014>Tools

Locating the Styles Library Manager
 Once the Styles Library Manager is open, I'll browse to my "Transition Folder" from the left pane, and my new location in the right pane.  The custom styles, which are currently missing from the 2014 library, are shown in blue.  These are my custom libraries

A sample of my Dimension Styles.  Two of my custom styles are in blue

Clicking on the "Migrate" button, the libraries will be migrated for use with 2014.

Migrations done!

After migration, the arrows to copy the style to the new location for Inventor 2014 light up, and by clicking the button, the styles are transferred over.

Click to transfer over
It's just a matter for repeating this for any other styles that need to be done, and soon, you'll be off and running!

An example of the transferred libraries
And for more information, naturally, I've included a video below!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Enhance Your Presentations in Autodesk Inventor - A Guest Video

“One should strive to improve one's capabilities. One should enhance his abilities only in the positive direction. ”
Rig Veda

This weekend was a busy weekend as I tried to get some personal errands wrapped up, as well as spending my usual Saturday at Planes of Fame working on fabric control surfaces, and watching the first arrivals for the big airshow on May 4th and 5th.

An aileron for the D4Y Suisei (allied code name "Judy") in the process of restoration

Warbirds gathering for the airshow.  From front to back a T-6/SNJ Texan, a Douglass AD Skyradier, a Vought F4U Corsair, a Northrop N9MB Flying Wing, a Douglass SBD Dauntless, and way back, a Douglass C-47 can be seen.

Nonetheless, I ran out a time to put together a quality blog post, so I'll be creating one a little later this week.  But in the mean time, check out the Tech Tip created by Bill Bogan, fellow compatriot at KETIV Technologies.  He shows us some tricks that can be created with presentation files!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Changing Default Edge Display Settings in Autodesk Inventor

“When one jumps over the edge, one is bound to land somewhere.”
D.H. Lawrence

Edge display in an Autodesk Inventor model is a setting I find helpful to change at times.  Most of the time, I prefer to work with the Edge Display turned off, but there are times that I find it helpful to turn  it on in order to make the edges of components a little more visible.

The image below shows the first setting, with Edge Display turned off.  This is my usual personal preference. 

Edge Display off

Next , the edge display is turned on, which I like to use in certain cases.

Edge Display on

But not everyone likes my preferences, that's whey they're my "personal preferences".   So how can the settings be changed to change which setting Inventor initially uses?

If the default settings in Edge Display are located in Tools>Application Options, on the Display Tab

Finding the settings
The first thing to notice is that there is a radio button for "Use Application Options" or "Use Document Settings".  These buttons decide whether the setting will be applied via Application Options, which will set the edge display to affect all models that are opened (Use Application Options), or if the setting is set from with in the document itself (Use Document Settings).

Personally, I prefer Use Application Options, but that's just my choice.   Clicking settings will open up the Display Appearance Dialog box. 

Opening the Display Appearance Dialog box
Now, it's just a matter of choosing which setting you prefer.  In the example below, I've selected "Shaded with Edges".

Changing the style.
 It's important to note that the setting won't affect the files that are currently open.   Don't panic!  The next time the files are opened, the settings will take effect.

That's it! All set!
Happy Inventing!