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Posts posted by CreativeConners

  1. OK, you're wrong wink.gif" border="0

    But seriously, I think you'll find vw9.5 is really a good improvement, though not as great as the progression from 7 to 8. I'm a mechanical designer so I was disappointed to find the mechanical workspace gone from 9.5. However, the tools are still in there, you just need to recreate your palette using the workspace editor. I suspect this is the same with the AEC tools (there's a bunch of AEC tools and menu commands in the Workspace Editor).

    Some of the highlights:

    1. Boomerang mode- hit the space bar and you can zoom and pan in the middle of any command. For me this has been a real boon.

    2. The 3d toolset has taken another step forward. The 3d power pack has some key features like rounding and skinning. Though, it's worth saying that snapping in 3d is still a drag.

    3. The parametric tools are real nice like the new bolt, structural steel, bearing, spring, etc.

    4. Scaling prints down in the print dialog is handy when clients want all the drawings faxed to them.

    5. Compose and decompose polyline/polygon. This is a great tool if you ever deal with curves. You can now draw lines, arcs, and splines to create an intricate shape and then use the compose tool to convert all the objects into one polyline. Kind of like the old "Combine into surface", but it works. Where I work, a lot of the shapes have to be exported as closed polylines to be read by our CNC equipment so this tool has saved us tons of time.

    6. Accuracy is greatly improved, you can now convert between unit systems to your heart's content. And if you scale objects several times, they stay accurate. Also you can now set the dimesions to display measurements in decimal if the object isn't an exact fraction. So if an object is 4'-2.502", it reads exactly that without rounding to 4'-2 1/2", which makes it easy to find small drafting errors.

    It is a shame that every release seems to run slower than the last. My old Centris 660 ran MiniCAD5 at top speed, but version6 marked the end for that machine. Alas, this seems to be the trend in all software, as the programs progress and gain functionality and sport slicker interfaces they get slower.

    When 9.0 came out the we had a lot of printing problems and we were constantly switching between 9 and 8 just to get drawings printed. But most of the bugs are squashed, and many of the VW8 bugs are gone (i.e. all of the wacky things that would happen when clipping curves). In fact, VW8 now only exists on one machine.

    Give it a week before you give up on it.

  2. Sadly, I think the best resource is to get a copy of the MiniPascal manuals (last printed version I believe was v7). Then print out the PIO chapters from the online help in v9 to get up to speed with the new features. It really is a shame that industry-wide software is get more complicated and documentation is getting more scarce.

    I for one just can't stand reading manuals on a scrolling computer screen while constantly alt-tabbing between Acrobat and the application your working with.

  3. Hello,Thanks for the compliment. I'll be happy to share the code, however I do want to find the time to put together a few pages of docs to go with it so that folks can understand what the plug-ins are and what they aren't. Additionally I'd like to have the docs give the more ambitious users a sense of what could be altered, appended, or improved should anyone feel motivated.

    The boards I'm having made that used these tools (in combination with OsmondPCB, which is still downloadable as a free beta!) are coming back to me at the beginning of next week. After I check the final hardware that was produced I'll try to get the code and some docs up on my iDisk for public consumption.

  4. Hey Frank,I actually use several dynamic arrays in my "Export Netlist" menu command. You're right, it's a handy data structure when dealing with lists of unknown or varying sizes. I'm glad the structure exists in VS as it made sorting and crunching lists much more pleasant than it could've been.

    So far it all seems to be working out nicely...


  5. Hello Again,

    Here's an update (I promise this is the last one, unless anyone wants more info).

    At the close of the weekend after a couple evenings worth of work things look pretty good. I've goosed up the Integrated Circuit tool so it now looks pretty and allows the user to enter pin labels, and turn the pin numbers on or off. The NetWire tool works pretty well, on creation of a new NetWire the tool checks to see what the highest current signal number is and then gives itself the next signal number. And most importantly the "Generate NetList" menu item is outputting text NetLists. The script scans all NetWires, combines any that have touching endpoints into one signal, and then writes out what pins are connected to the endpoints of each NetWire. The fact that this scanning only takes place when actually generating the output file, keeps the process of placing components and wires reasonably speedy. But this also means that you don't get any feedback about a connection being made/or not made. Though with a snap grid @ 1/8" and your constraints turned on, it's pretty easy to see visually whether a connection is made or not.

    I've got about five more PIO's to make (resistor, capacitor, diode, connector, switch) and that'll do it for getting my current project done. Making these tools should be pretty quick since it'll be a lot of cut and paste from the IC tool. One of the most glaring limitations of the system is the inablilty to connect wires anywhere but endpoints (so you gotta drag every wire to a pin or other wire endpoint to make it count). But, this is something I can live with for a while. Another limitation is that the wires aren't "stuck" to the components, so if you move a component you have to drag the wire back over to the pins with the poly-edit tool. This is something that I can also live with.

    Anyhow, thanks again for all the tips and ideas I'm still impressed by VS versatility and quick turn around time to work out new ideas.

  6. Hello again,

    Raymond thanks a bunch for the nickel tour, it's always helpful to get a glimpse of other's processes.

    Matthew, it was really wild to read your post this evening since I spent the better portion of this afternoon implementing a similar approach! After kicking the idea around for a couple of days I've decided to plough ahead and see how far I can get to make some tools that help me get this specific project out the door.

    Considering the limitations of PIO ability to interact with one another vs. the powerful database tools both within VW and other environments (i.e. VB,FileMaker, Access, etc.) I'm tacking a course that uses PIO's for each component flavor (IC, discrete passive, etc.). The IC tool allows the user to enter number of pins and package type, as well as a unique component name, passive components accept user entry for the package type and value (4.7kOhm, etc.). The component tools attach a "Pin Record" to each pin that contains fields like:

    pin #component namepin X coordinatepin Y coordinate

    So 28DIP IC will have 28 pin records all sharing the component name but with each with individual coordinate information. Every time a component is plopped onto the drawing or moved around it updates each of its pin records to reflect the new coordinates. I placed a few hundred of these quickly into a drawing without any noticeable slow downs.

    I've also made a "Net Wire" tool that is basically a just a polyline tool that stores an attached record "Net Signal" with fields:

    signal namestart point xstart point yend point xend point y

    So at the moment I have these basic tools built that all keep track of their own pin coordinates, without any knowledge of connection to other objects. Since my end goal is to export a Parts List and a Net List, I'm going to write a menu tool that grabs a NetWire and use it's start and end points as search criteria to find connections between components, then grabs the next Netwire and repeats the process until all connections have been detected. This means that the most time consuming portion will be accomplished in a batch (rather than transaction) fashion. While this approach isn't as whiz-bang as it could be, I hope it will suffice for my current goals.

    As this weekend progresses I ought have a sense for the scale of the database handling. At the moment I'm feeling fairly good about the prospects for success, as this sort of database work bears great resemblance to the work I've done in automation software development. I'll keep y'all posted if anyone's still interested.

    Thanks again for the input, it's nice to get some thoughts bubbling.

  7. Hello Raymond,

    Thanks for responding, that was beginning to feel like an uncomfortable silence smile.gif" border="0

    I can appreciate your point that just handling the data structures will be a time consuming task within VW. My interest is really just to develop a set of tools to aid in the design some of my products, and as such I'll be continuing to add parts to my library as I go. I think trying to develop a comprehensive library is beyond my scope.

    I'm still wrestling back and forth of whether or not to continue down this path. As I mentioned in my previous post, I've used (and spent good money on) other dedicated software that claims to accomplish the tasks of schematic capture and PCB layout, but I've found the reasonably priced ones (<$1000) to be glitchy and hampered by bad interfaces. The higher ticket software probably is free from such issues (though, perhaps not), but it's academic from my point of view because the upfront costs are prohibitive. What I have done in the past is simply draw the schematics in VW and then layout the PCB manually in TraxMaker or similar software. This process is fine for low-pin-count two-sided boards, but rapidly becomes unwieldy as the circuits become more complex.

    I'm really curious to know more about the way you get your work done. If you have any pointers that you could share I'd sure appreciate it.

    Thanks again for the response, if I end up doing anything with this idea I'll share some of the results.

  8. Hello all,

    This past Friday I wrote my first Plugin tool which is a simple caster tool that draws the orthographic views of a caster based on user-input. It was nice project to get aquainted with the VS syntax, and a handy tool for myself and my fellow draftsmen at my workplace. I was generally impressed with the VS power and ease-of-use which inspired some thoughts on a more grandeous project, one which I'd like to get some thoughts on the feasability of tackling.

    I've been using Vectorworks for about 7 years for drawing machinery used in theatrical automation equipment (a task I've always found VW/Minicad well suited for). Sometimes, because of the electromechanical nature of the projects I work on, I also need to draw up electronic schematcs and wiring diagrams as well as PCB layouts. I've often used Vectorworks for drawing up schematics and then manually converted the schematics into PCB layouts in other software. What I'd love to do is develop a set of drawing tools that allowed me to graphically wire up a circuit, and then export a PartsList and a NetList (which is just a list of every signal, and what pins are connected to the signal) to PCB software, thus saving me the hassle of making of connection manually in the PCB layout software.

    There would need to be a few tools:1. IC tool--a tool that would generate a schematic version of an IC taking user input for package type (DIP, SOIC, etc.), number of pins, description of pins.2. Passive component tool--user selects type (resistor, capacitor, inductor, etc.), value (4.7kOhm, 200pF, etc.), package (axial, surface mount, etc)3. Wire tool--this seems to be the big one...a tool that behaves just like an oridinary polyline tool, but can detect what pins on what component it starts and stops at. Every wire placed would generate a new database record called "Signal" in the NetList. Each signal would have a distinct signal name as well as a list of which pins on which components were connected by the wire.4. Netlist export--exports the Netlist worksheet5. Partslist export--exports a partlist

    From the user perspective you'd select a component tool place and spec your components, grab the wire tool and connect pins together. The wiring tool keeps updating the database with every wire drawn, so that at the end of the drawing session you just export you lists for use in the PCB layout application.

    While this all may be ambitious, does it sounds feasible? My biggest concern would be how the wire tool can figure out which pins it has touched. Maybe the wire tool just records the coordinates for its starting and ending points in the database and then part of the exporting process is to scan the database for component pins that have the same coordinates as wiring points and compile those matches into the Netlist.

    I have used dedicated electronic schematic software that does such a task, but the interfaces are often clunky and I prefer to work in Vectorworks when possible.

    Whew, that was a mouthful! I'd love to hear thoughts about best ways to tackle this idea, or whether such an idea is best left untackled smile.gif" border="0

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