from Civil to Inventor

The Autodesk enthusiast exile

Autodesk University 2009 – Tuesday

SNC00121 It’s the first day of classes, and we are all ready.  There are about 8000 attendees, and they descend on the South Convention Center for Breakfast. 


This year it’s muffins and coffee. ummm…yeah…  We’ll push through this section with a few brief comments.  First BRING BACK BREAKFAST!

The muffins were delicious, as most muffins are, although I have no idea what they were since they were labeled “assorted muffins”.  Since this is not a culinary convention, we should not be expected to know what type muffin is which.  I suspect those with basic food allergies were perplexed.  We were told the first day to “go upstairs, they still have food up there”.  You can figure out how well that went over.

Classes – Showcase

I headed off to my first class, which was ID104-2L Showcase Your Design by Stephen Gabriel.  This was a great class.  Not too difficult.  I like high level classes, but I am new to showcase, so the level was just right.  I had waned to meet Thomas Fitzgerald, one of the lab assistants, but I had other responsibilities, and figured I’d meet up with him later.

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December 7, 2009 Posted by | Autodesk University | , | Leave a comment

AU 2009 – Twitter Channel

If you are going to AU, or just interested on keeping up with things, follow the Autodesk University twitter feed at AU_Online.

This year they are planning various things for the AU twits, including some fun things.  If you suddenly see 20% of the population run in the direction of the vender expo area, it’s probably AU twitter, and someone announced a ‘blue light special’. 

Log into your Autodesk University profile, and in the edits select the twitter setup button. 
Be sure to include the tag #AU2009 it in your tweets.

Community AU Twitter scan

If you don’t have a profile (and don’t want to set it up), you can still watch all the AU tweets using a tag scan.  I could see all AU_Online tweets, but not the rest of the community. Here I am using twhirl to illustrate.  It took me awhile to figure it out. 

Just go to search, and swap over to tweetscan, then scan for #AU2009.  The list will come up.


Then check the Add to home and Notify boxes.


Now on your home box, you’ll see them, even if you don’t follow the author.  Pretty sweet.


I still have not figured out what to do with Facebook, but twitter has become part of my daily life.  I’m looking forward to how it will shake out this December.

Now, if I can just figure out how to get this functionality on my WM6 phone…

November 3, 2009 Posted by | Autodesk University | , , | Leave a comment

Autodesk University – LinkedIn

Are you going to AU this year? Stop by the LinkedIn AU group and tell us what you have planned, and what you are looking forward to. 

Come join he discussion and help me figure out who is going where and when ( and where I am supposed to be next). 

Autodesk University LinkedIn Group

October 29, 2009 Posted by | Autodesk University | , , , | Leave a comment

Autodesk – DWG Launcher wigged out fix


Please remember we have moved to Come visit us there.

This has been a pain in numerous people’s sides for a long time.  One day you love it and the next day you hate it. 

The DWG Launcher

This gizmo is the thing that loads the drawings from remote requests, based on the registered DWG extension. AcLauncher.exe

Since Autodesk is trying to spread it’s trademarked use of DWG to numerous platforms, it needs some flexible way to allow users to open the DWG easily through explorer and other applications. 

How this works

When the OS sees a DWG file request sent, it uses the DWG registered app to open it with. In this case it is the DWG Launcher. The application uses registry entries to figure out which version of what application to use.  It is fairly simple, except there is nothing evident about it, and it gets fouled up. 

The registry settings governing this work something like a flow chart:

  1. Windows initiates default dwg app ->DWG Launcher
  2. Launcher reads shell DWG default Application –> AutoCAD
  3. Launcher goes to AutoCAD and reads launch instruction –> AutoCAD r18 exe path
  4. Launcher executes launch statement with requested dwg file


Most users will never have a problem with this since they only use 1 type of DWG application.  Actually, most users of differing DWG apps never have a problem. 

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July 6, 2009 Posted by | AutoCAD Civil 3D, Inventor | , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Civil 3D – Export Group for CSO


This is just an organization idea, not a revelation.  I was tired of posting problems, and wanted to post something useful.

Problem with exchanging construction data

I used to rewrite all the data out to the crews, and give them a new file.  I had to bring in the old file each time, recover all the check data for review, as well as any new control.  A genuine PITA.  I did not mind so much, but once in a while the crews would level through horizontal control, and revised elevations.  I’d miss those.  The next day was quite frustrating if they did not notice my mistake.

I decided to stop the madness by exporting only new data, and merging the data into their files.  They have 2 free ranges; 1 for control, and 1 for recollect checks.  I have 1 free range for calcs.  This way I can merge the points without worry of overwrite.  When I need the recollects, I pickup new control at the same time, so those control points show up on the calc plots.

Export Group

Each time I export the NEW data, I assign the NEW point to an export group, from which I export out of.  The trick is to use this as an organizational tool.  I have assigned sort point and label styles, and the group lies below the All Points group.

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June 25, 2009 Posted by | 2009, 2010, Points | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Inventor – Loft Angle and Weight

Lofting….I don’t know about you, but this has been one of the things I learned to hate.  Maybe because the application seems to have more control that I do during the process, or because I had some bad experiences with 3DS 10 years ago (pre MAX).  Whatever the reason, I just never liked Lofts very much.

Lofting is an extremely useful tool.  While you can reproduce the model by other means, the pain involved would be extensive.  The Loft Feature has so much control over the process, by weighted interpolation, there is no reason not to use it.  The trick is to control the interpolation to accomplish your goal.

Today, we’ll use Angles and Weights to create a transition between 2 other features, that would normally take a bit more time and planning to complete.

In the image below, you should see the part I needed to tie into another loft feature, with a specific angle at the transition.


While a Sweep around an extruded Feature might normally get a similar job done as easily, you would need more than 1 rail, adding complexity to process.  The Right side view (below) shows the problem with fillets and sweeps.  The rear edge is offset farther than the front, and the upper edge is not a typical fillet This is a perfect candidate for a Loft.

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March 16, 2009 Posted by | 2009, 3D Features | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Inventor – Match Shape and Open Profiles

The Match Shape, and conversely the Match Contour option is available in the Extrude and Revolve Features.  These are not rocket science options, but do occasionally present confusion, either by the situation they are used with, or by the Inventor help available.

When an Extrude feature is created, it expects a closed loop profile, from which it will add a feature perpendicular to the plane the profile lies on.  Alternately, an open profile can be selected.

In the image below you should notice a small tray with a sketch containing an open profile dimensioned 20mm x 20mm.  The sketch was created on the face of the tray bottom.


Open Profiles

Notice in the image, the purple 2D sketch geometry that was referenced from the existing part geometry, and projected automatically when we selected the part face for the sketch plane.  This comprises a closed loop profile.  What will happen when we try and select the open profile in the corner?  This…

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March 2, 2009 Posted by | 2009, 3D Features | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I’m Certified!!!!

civil3D_09_cert_pro_rgb inventor_09_cert_pro_rgb

That’s right C-E-R-T-I-F-I-E-D baby! I Passed both the Inventor 2009 Professional and the Civil 3D 2009 Professional.

So after listening to me gripe for months about studying, and dealing with delays in publishing, here’s what went down…

Motivation and AU 07

While most of the people that take this test are validating for their employers, I validate for my self. I can’t help it.  I am self taught, self motivated, and just can’t stand the thought that something is bigger than me, or beyond my capabilities. While planning my 2007 AU classes, I noticed the Inventor Certificate Classes at the last minute, and decided to completely screw up my class schedule at the last minute.  They don’t tell you that it’s too late, you just find out when you get there and you have no class handouts. The cutoff is November something.

I took 3 certificate study classes that all looked at the tests differently.  After Barbara, Nancy, Dan, and Matt were done, I was hooked.  Dan said “If everyone had all afternoon to take the test, no one would fail”. Oooh pressure…(small sadistic grin). Clearly I have issues.

I purchased my tests in January 2008, and studied for the 2008 Inventor Expert and Civil 3D 2008 Expert tests.  I won Dan’s Expert AOTC book in Vegas.  There was only 1 book, and I guarantee the nearby classes knew it when my number was called.  I purchased the User book.  All my books were Inventor books, thinking “I run Civil 3D day in and day out, what do I need a book for?”.  This is the reason people read my blog.  I make every stupid decision know, and then talk all about it.


Autodesk cancelled the Inventor 2008 Expert test (mostly due to candidate fear I suspect, no one would pay to torture themselves that way).  They kindly helped me migrate all my tests over to 2009, so I studied for the 4 new tests.  For Inventor I alternated, reviewing each test’s requirements, and then studied the 2008 AOTC guides from cover to cover. When one AOTC guide was over, I’d go to the next.  During each requirement, I’d study Dan’s course from AU 07.  During the process I’d use everything I studied in various things I was working on. When my exam dates got moved back, I’d repeat the process. This is the way to study for that test.  Trust me.

The way I did Civil is NOT the way to study.  All I could do was to practice a start to finish development, using every option I could find. When the Civil Associate exam went from the performance based user, to the question answer based Associate, I choked.  I have no book.   C%#p!!!!  It was a bit late, but I borrowed a copy of Dana Probert and James Wedding’s 2008 book, and bit down hard.  I skimmed over everything, looking for things that would be in a ‘check all that apply’ question.

Even though I moved up to 2009 tests, I had to keep using 2008 books, because we were slam broke, and couldn’t afford the gas to get to Orlando.

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January 23, 2009 Posted by | 2009, 2009, AutoCAD Civil 3D, Inventor | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Civil 3D – Part Builder Part 4

We will pick up where we left off from Part Builder Part 3.

Open our saved part “Wingwall sloped” from the last session.  Adjust the view so that you have something similar to the following image:


It’s time to speed things up a bit, so as I refer to procedures, I will once again detail them, and thereafter I will just state that it needs to be completed. 

Note: Halfway through I realized some changes needed to be made, in order for this process not to be more confusing than it might already appear.  If I missed any odd things in the images, or got out of sync with the variable names, please notify me, and I’ll do my best to correct them.

In this session we will create another offset plane, and additional profiles and transitions. Before we do, it would be prudent to create the remaining profiles that will be referenced to our (current) Right Plane. These will be the locations that the extending walls project into, the “tie in” points.  You should be fairly familiar with the basic procedures, Lord knows you’ve had tons of time to practice since my last post, we will pick up the speed a bit. Continue reading

December 9, 2008 Posted by | Part Builder, Pipes | , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Civil 3D – Part Builder Part 3

We will pick up where we left off from Part Builder Part 2.

Open our saved part “Wingwall sloped” from the last session.  The image below should be representative of what we had before.


Model Parameters

The Model Parameters are the nuts and bolts variables that control the size of the part. The parameters are either dimensions or offsets that are controlling the size and angle of features, or parameters that the user has defined. Expand the collection heading, and you should be able to see all the parameters stored in the part, as well as the values currently assigned.  Lets create some user defined parameters to help us in our equations.

Right click on the Model Parameters collection, and select ‘Edit…’


The Model Parameters dialog will appear, allowing changes, additions, and deletions to the existing parameters.  On the right you will see buttons, all of which are self explanatory, with the exception of the ‘Calculator…’ button.  This allows you to pull variables form a list (without having to remember and type them), and evaluate the result of a proposed equation.  Any time you need to map a parameter to another, you can use this feature instead of typing if you wish. Continue reading

November 27, 2008 Posted by | Part Builder, Pipes | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments