from Civil to Inventor

The Autodesk enthusiast exile

Inventor – iFeatures provide a quick fix

This weekend I was up to my neck in a problem with having to rebuild a fast and dirty project.  It was built for pretty only.  The problem was that a weekend build did not cover enough time to do the job right. Shortcuts lead to failures in Inventor.

I had constrained latches of a door in the door assembly, and then reversed my build and snapped the cut edges off the latch in the door part, and cut out the hole.  It was fast and I didn’t need solid build, just fast.  Hmmm, sounds familiar.  Don’t have time to do it right, but always have time to do it over….  And do it over you will.

I started the job with a skeleton containing the global resources, and the overall shell.  This worked like  champ.  Eventually as I began to run out of time, I started to cut corners.  Portions of the projected geometry began to fail for one reason or another (because of the shortcuts).  Everything was fine until I had to make a change.

So was tired of recreating my ‘shortcut’ doors, and decided to get a better shortcut.  The latch plate had to recut for each change. 


Use the iFeature to reduce repetitive steps

Rather than create it for the third time (eventually even I learn from my mistakes), I created an iFeature.  This part however had no geometry and was just the solid model.  Fine.  I created a cut extrusion from sketched cut edges, an sent it out in all directions.

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October 7, 2009 Posted by | 2010, iFeatures, Inventor | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Civil 3D – FileDia Switch

image A buddy of mine took 2 subscriptions of Civil 3D home, while brooding over the need to reinstall his Civil application.  2009 or upgrade…. The rest of his project team are on 2009.

It appears as though the whole platform was fouled, because every time he tried to open the non-default drawing, Civil 3D would crash.  I was neck deep in an overdue project, so he went on his way.

This morning he reported to me that before wiping everything, he set his FileDia switch back to 1.  That’s the switch that initiates a dialog for file operation such as Open, Save, etc.  Without the switch, you just get command line options.

I like command line, but not that much…

Lo and behold, everything perked right up.  He was able to recover his drawings, and open anything from Civil, inside or out.

The moral to this story is before you reinstall due to crashing while opening a DWG, try checking your FileDia switch first.  Just type “filedia” at the command line, and set it to1.

October 5, 2009 Posted by | 2009, 2010, AutoCAD Civil 3D, Autodesk, Bug Report | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Inventor – Creative Design With Autodesk Inventor 2010/2011™

image I am very pleased to announce that I am working with Dennis Jeffrey at Tekni!

He has assembled a team of experts to create the new Web Based training series titled Creative Design with Autodesk Inventor 2010.  Many training programs just ‘throw the information at you’; we (authors)  don’t want a repeat of the status quo, non-intuitive and inflexible methods sometimes employed.  We are developing a complete training course focused on real world application, and a start to finish methodology.

The Creative Series is designed to give the student a better sense of direction and confidence. Students work at their own pace and receive mentoring when needed.  Furthermore we have spent a great deal of time focusing the lessons around solid ‘real world’ design practice. Details, notes, and exercises detail why certain steps are counter-productive, and what can be done to create more efficient and flexible designs.  As the students move from one lesson to the next, they will have developed an awareness of some things that could go wrong in the current lesson, and are conscious of these while studying the steps.  This allows the student to gain more self-confidence as they verify that their cultivated concerns were substantiated. 

While nothing can replace real world practice, this course was designed to put the student a step ahead of the basic (and some advanced) problems that traditional lessons can’t identify.  The result is with designers and engineers that have more self confidence about applying solid design practice in their workplace, what to do when something does go wrong, and how to use that knowledge in an adaptive way at your company.

Tekni web site

I have spent numerous days on each of my segments in the series, going through each portion and applying the lesson to the examples provided.  I focused my troubleshooting skills on creating powerful examples that work well and are easily adaptable.  Bulleted lists of commonly known issues and new insights are furnished in the lesson so that the student gets the benefit of past and present research and adaptations.

The Creative Design series is scheduled to be available by the end of 2009, but we will begin releasing packaged segments earlier.  Check in with us in the mean time as things become available.

September 30, 2009 Posted by | 2010, Autodesk, Inventor | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Civil 3D – Rotate/Translate selection of Points

In Land Desktop rotating a selection of points was a piece of cake.  Well….if you had Lisp code, and we had tons of it.  Since writing about solutions (and actually solving them) takes more time that writing code, my group doesn’t really have a great deal of new code turned out, and use mostly native AutoCAD/Civil commands and features.  I’d love to finish .NET’ing all my old LISP, but I just don’t have the time and money.  I tried to get dirt on fellow coders, but coercion and blackmail will not work on Christopher (he is a clean cu chap), so I guess I am stuck with work-arounds.

The situation in the image below is nothing new to anyone dealing with Point data coming in, especially when it is fill for an existing design.  The backsight is wrong.

If you don’t have a survey network loaded, then you may be scratching your head.  There are no tools to select a group of points and modify them using standard AutoCAD tools.  You can get a group, but you still can’t affect a group with the touchy feely interface that you understand.


Identify the group of points that are wrong, and make a Point Group, and position it at the top of the Group List.  Set both of it’s styles to be Standard.  Then take the ‘All Points’ Group, and send it just below the new Group.  Set it’s styles to be ‘<none>’ for both styles.  No big Mystery here, just filtering out the problem points.

Now the key is how you have organized your Object Layers.  Mine are all “PNT-*”.  So I go to the command line and lock all layers, and unlock the Point layers. “-la lo * unl pnt-*”

When I window the area, only the visible points will be selected.  All the rest of the entities are locked by layer.  Here a simple rotate by reference command gets me going.


We used to have a really nice tool written by Dexter Lundy, that selected LDD Points by Description, Point Range, and Elevation Range.  That will probably be the next tool I recode.  It wasn’t possible to get it in 2007 when I last investigated it, but I believe it would be a cinch to get working now…..hint hint.

September 30, 2009 Posted by | 2010, Points | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Civil 3D – Find *Bug*

I was correcting a mistake that went out on one of our drawings.  It’s across the Alabama border, and Florida always gets left somewhere on a drawing.


So I used one of my favorite tools – _Find.

Really, none found.  Ok, good. Then I can count on being safe from that embarrassing issue, because I was prudent enough to check.

September 28, 2009 Posted by | 2010, AutoCAD Civil 3D | , , , , | Leave a comment

Civil 3D – Part Builder Context Solution Part 2

Part Builder Context Solution Part 1

Ok, at last, the end of the journey.  We covered getting the model values out of an existing part.  The remaining issue lies with what to do now that we have a mandatory context added to the structure type.  Each time we create a new form of that structure type, that variable will be added to the Part XML file with all the other OEM required variables, such as "SHBTh".  This would not be a problem except that we still cannot get our non-OEM variables forced into the part model parameters.

As you may recall from earlier discussions, adding an existing catalog parameter to the model parameters is verboten.  Consequently without some assistance, each new part would require yet another context parameter to be created in the list.  Eventually the list of copies of the same variables would be ridiculous.

What we did figure out is that we can link a required context parameter that is created in the part XML, to a parameter we used in the model parameters. 

The basic outline is as follows:

  • Create the new part, using the proper structure type. 
  • Validate the part and save it.
  • Create the model to its completion, adding any model parameters as needed.
  • Configure the Required Context Parameter to be a range or a list as desired.
  • Save the part and exit.
  • Edit the Part XML, and change the MODEL parameter’s equation to equal the Required Context Parameter.
  • Save the file and perform a catalog regen, and a catalog validation.
  • Check the part validation file to confirm all is well.  If it says there is a duplicate parameter, return to the Part XML, find the parameter definition that is a duplicate, and delete it so that only one parameter definition remains

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September 22, 2009 Posted by | 2010, AutoCAD Civil 3D, Part Builder | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Civil 3D – Hatch is wonked in VP

A buddy of mine cornered me about a problem he was having with his hatching.  It was wacked out in 1 viewport, but not the others.  By now there is enough circulation on the hatch origin issue that everyone knows about it.  When I mentioned it to him as a possible resolution, he said I must think he’s an idiot.


The answer was the Associative Property in the Hatch entity does not get along with the DView Twist angle.  Getting rid of the Associative property will calm the hatch down, as well as losing the Twist angle in the view.

If I run into a better way care for this, I’ll repost the fix

September 21, 2009 Posted by | 2010, AutoCAD Civil 3D | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Civil 3D – Part Builder Context Solution Part 1

I stated previously that David Neill gave me an idea.  A simple switch that had not been useful previously.  The problem was that I had just not returned to it after so many new ideas.  Thanks David!!  I guess collaboration works huh.

It took a while.  I had beaten this up over and over.  I did not want to rerun it all.  Through the frustration, I just kept thinking there is no way David is crazy.  Eventually, I got the combination right. 

This article proceeds with the premise that everyone is familiar with part builder to some degree, and has an existing part that needs to be made variable.  If not, I have a load of info already to use to catch up.

I did say multi part.  Don’t worry, there are only 2 parts.  The first is what David ad I worked to beat, and the second is when that wasn’t good enough for me.

Part 1 – Getting our existing Parameters into  structure that allows later adjustments.

Part 2 – Getting the Catalog require parameters BACK INTO the model.

I have rewritten this 3 times.  Please forgive me if it is a bit shabby.  It is all starting to run together now.

The old problem

We have been fighting an old issue of customizable parameters.  We can make he basic parameters such a height, width, etc. adjustable in the Civil 3D environment, but not specific feature parameters that we need.  Say like the angle of a structure slope.  After working so hard on a structure, who wants to be stuck with a limitation.  David and I did get some ranges and lists to come through, but we couldn’t do it on a consistent basis…until now.

I will go through and identify the major portions of this adjustment.  As I do I will discuss the issues, and explain the edits.  We will be changing things as we go.  This is not a tutorial, but more of an explanation, and a few warnings that have not been made clear elsewhere.

We will focus on the following:

  • Some basic information about the Catalog
  • Getting into the Part Builder Catalog in 2010
  • The Custom Switch
  • The Model Variables
  • The Context
  • The Named Parameter
  • The thing that hides Successes and Failures the most
  • Validation

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September 16, 2009 Posted by | 2010, AutoCAD Civil 3D, Part Builder | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Civil 3D – Revised Part Builder News

Ok, whew! We did it. After weeks of rework the custom parameters have been introduced and now stay put!  We have ranges and lists without error.



I say we, because my new associate, David Neill, was working it at the same time. He suggested reintroducing an old issue into the new arrangement of edits. He was right.

David is the moderator of the LinkedIn site Civil 3D Part Builder.  He discusses these problems and many more.  If you are not part of the group, check it out.


As many of you know I have been trying to get some input from the big dogs on this.  Indications were pointing to some poor bastard over there was being asked to answer a couple simple questions on my behalf.  While some of the conversations I had left me with the impression that Autodesk was employing the “is it worth our time?” evaluation, the official settlement is that they don’t have the ability to assist.  

The teams that were involved in that phase of the development have redistributed an in many cases have been laid off.  I know both of these issues to be absolutely true, not only in Civil, but in Manufacturing as well. 

Is it worth their time?  I don’t think so.  Really.  One popular professional said, “Insert a block an get on with it”.  After spending hundreds of hours pouring over these issues and answering questions, I agree.  Do I use the parts, Yes.  I already have them built.  I continue to build them for people for a fee.  However I still see very efficient designs using null structures every day.

Will they fix it in revision one day.  I think so.  But it may wait for a an architecture overhaul.  I really have no idea.

There are so few using that part of the software, that our pleas for help are often not heard.  I have stated that rather than address it, they simply ignore it. I can’t say that since I have been replied to about the issues.  What I can say is that commenting on the blogs is not enough.  You have a VAR, use them.  Who knows, they may comp you a year of subscription to get off their back.  Hmmm….

Autodesk has called the hand, and well it’s a push. They can’t help, but David and I will show you what we can to get it going.


I will explain the issues.  After that, if you need detailed help, you can email me.  Perhaps we can work something out.


This post was revised.  There was some contention that certain statements were not true.  Information I gathered indicated otherwise, but in the end, I cannot prove beyond a doubt hat I was not lied to.  Therefore this revision will correct a possible error.  An apology will follow in another post so that it will not be overlooked.

September 15, 2009 Posted by | 2010, AutoCAD Civil 3D, Part Builder | , , , | Leave a comment

Civil 3D – 2010 Update 1 resolution

I have finally patched the Civil 3D 2010 up to Version 7.0.1348.0.

Well I’d like to tell everyone that I solved the bug, but I cannot.  I gutted the app and installed again.  Time is money, and you all don’t pay very well.  So I had to get my unit on the move very quickly.  A VAR Tech decided to throw his 2 cents in, and I figured I’d play along while I had him available.  It was not long before the application was rendered useless.

Checked items and review

Along the way, I ended up checking a few things that you may want to learn about.

Correct Update File

Make sure the file is c3d2010sp1.exe, and the size should be 9,853,952 bytes.

AECC Version

In Civil 3D, key in AECCVERSION.  The list of AECC modules will run through, displaying their respective versions.  The OEM will respond with 7.0.1289.0, and Upgrade 1 will come back with 7.0.1348.0.  If the latter is found, the Update will not install.

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September 2, 2009 Posted by | 2010, AutoCAD Civil 3D, Update | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment