Quick Quantities using Field Conversion Factors

Quick Quantities using Field Conversion Factors

The long list of inquiry tools within AutoCAD provide many ways to approach the task of performing quantity takeoffs on your drawings. Yet as powerful as these tools are, one limitation that has long challenged me is way 1 doesn’t always equal 1 in the context of quantity takeoffs. A common example of this is the need to calculate the number of parking stalls throughout a site. Because of site design elements such as parking islands, it’s likely some stalls will not have a painted stripe separating it, meaning it’s not necessarily possible to get an accurate count by simply calculating the number of paint striping lines in my drawing.

Despite this limitation, one consistent parameter with parking stalls is their width. It stands to reason that an accurate count could be achieved by adding up the length of a parking stall run, and dividing it by the width of a single stall. Interestingly enough, this can be automated using a lesser known Conversion Factor parameter for Fields.

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AutoCAD Optimization Tip: Updating the Certified Hardware Database

AutoCAD Optimization Tip: Updating the Certified Hardware Database

As I make presentations about AutoCAD throughout the year, some of the most common questions that come up have to deal with optimizing AutoCAD; the software is slow to start, the software is very sluggish when I try to draw, and the list goes on. While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for issues like these, something I’ve found to help more times than not is updating the Autodesk Certified Hardware Database. In some extreme cases I’ve actually seen this solution take an AutoCAD installation that ran so slow and unstable it was absolutely useless, and make it usable once again.

Modern releases of AutoCAD have become much more dependent on your machines graphics card and the underlying drivers. In a nutshell, the Autodesk Certified Hardware Database matches the capabilities of your machines hardware to the capabilities of AutoCAD.

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Name That Page Setup and Win (Save) Money

AutoCAD provides an almost infinite number of possibilities when preparing a drawing for plotting. Setting up drawing to plot is like an artist making a reproduction of a painting; the two paintings will look very similar, but they’ll never look exactly the same. This is much like plotting in AutoCAD; you’ll probably find the right combination to correctly plot sheet 1, but reproducing those settings for sheet 2 will likely be a shot in the dark. Even if you do manage to perfectly reproduce those settings for subsequent sheets – how much time did you waste?

You may have seen a quick tips video I filmed for the AutoCAD Exchange with Heidi Hewett where she and I chatted about a solution to this problem – Named Page Setups. Instead of manually configuring the PLOT command for each drawing you produce, why not capture those settings in a way you can quickly and easily apply them to future sheets? This is the exact role Named Page Setups play in every modern release of AutoCAD. Since I could, and well did write several pages on this topic alone in my upcoming book AutoCAD 2011 and AutoCAD LT 2011: No Experience Required, I’ll give you the Reader’s Digest version in this post.

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How your clients can open DWF’s without downloading anything

How your clients can open DWF’s without downloading anything

Regardless if you think DWF’s are the best thing since sliced bread, if the person you’re sending the DWF to can’t open the DWF; how great DWF’s are becomes irrelevant mighty quick. In my experience, unless you’re sending a lot of DWF’s to someone, they’re not all that interested in installing yet another piece of software just so they can view your drawings. They’ll simply reply to your e-mail and ask you to send a PDF since they already have Adobe Reader installed on their machine. But did you know Microsoft Windows can open DWF’s without ANY third-party software? All you need is Internet Explorer. Let me explain…

PLOTPrinterPlotter
Selecting the DWFx ePlot plotter from the PLOT command

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The X Factor – Placing text above and below dimension lines

image Many veteran users already know this tip, as it has been around for a while now. Still, for the uninitiated figuring out how to get text both above and below a dimension line (without breaking the line) can quickly resemble one of those puzzles where you have to get a metal ring off an interwoven mess of bent metal. As you fumble with the metal ring, usually getting it more tangled than when you started, you think to yourself; I know there’s a simple solution, but I just can’t seem to figure it out.

So that everyone understands what I’m talking about here’s a pretty standard dimension line with the text positioned above the dimension line.

Dimension above line

 

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Creating Zoom Macros with the Action Recorder

I can’t speak for the other vertical products out there, but both Land Desktop and Civil 3D have a handy assortment of Zoom Macros. These Zoom macros include things like ZE for Zoom Extents, ZP for Zoom Previous, and so on. Although both LDT and Civil 3D are built atop the beloved AutoCAD platform, these Zoom Macros cannot be found inside regular AutoCAD. That is until you learn how easy you can build them yourself using the Action Recorder in AutoCAD 2009 and AutoCAD 2010.

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Creating Custom Contextual Ribbon Tabs in AutoCAD 2010

I certainly hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, and got to spend some quality time with your family. Thanks to a rather historical snow the Saturday before Christmas, here in Richmond, VA we did still have snow on the ground for Christmas.  Aside from the big piles of snow found in nearly every parking lot throughout town, by the morning after Christmas all the snowmen had melted away.

One of my favorite enhancements to AutoCAD 2010 was the contextual ribbon tabs.  In fact, contextual tabs are one of the biggest reasons I have come to actually like the Ribbon.  Out of the box Autodesk provides a number of contextual tabs for all sorts of things like xref’s and more.  Like many things in AutoCAD, the true power of Contextual Ribbon tabs if the fact you build and customize your own Contextual Ribbon tabs.

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Automate Sheet Setup with Named Page Setups

image During my time at Autodesk University 2009 this year, I had the chance to sit down with Heidi Hewett and record some videos for the AutoCAD Exchange.  Among the topics, we discussed were Named Page Setups inside AutoCAD.  Despite their time-saving potential, Named Page Setups seem to be one of those features that’s been in the software forever, and is often overlooked. So if you find yourself overwhelmed with the endless array of plotting options inside AutoCAD, have a look at this quick video.

In the video, I’ll show you ways to capture all the settings inside the AutoCAD PLOT command in a way you can configure the dialog once, and use it again and again. In addition to the time Named Page Setups can save you, they also ensure each of your sheets is setup in exactly the same way; so your title block will plot in the same location on every sheet.

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