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Power Planning


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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

We are in the process of building a highly integrated power planning solution for Vectorworks Spotlight. The solution we envision will make use of the data contained in lighting devices, cables, and other Vectorworks objects.

For version 2023, cables have been upgraded, and power-based parameters have been added to many other objects. We feel the cable and object functionality available in the Power Planning palette already adds a lot of value and is very useful for viewing and designing your project.

Please be aware that more analysis and reporting are still in progress. Looking at our interface, you can get a sense for where we are taking this feature. Please join the discussion if you would like to ask questions, make suggestions, or provide feedback.

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee


This video will give you a brief overview of the Cable and Power Planning Enhancements made in Vectorworks 2023.

We show faster cable configuration, planning, and documentation with the latest upgrades. New views in the Power Planning palette will allow easier selection, preparation, formatting, and documentation of cable runs. Specialized filter options and modes make cable management more user-friendly. Finally, updates to the cable path now report all associated cables to a Data Tag, making documentation easier.

Here is the Cable Tools tutorial from 2022.
Cable Tools Suite
Some functions have be updated since publishing this course.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Will the power planning solution also export other data such as dmx channel, circuit number, unit number - in other words everything you need to send a document to a lighting warehouse so they can patch units? At the moment there is only the Create Report method which means having to build a complete chart every time you want to export lighting data.

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I'm a Gaffer/Production electrician, and I spend a fair amount of time trying to "tell the story of data" effectively.  When we work at scale, with dmx nodes, and data snake cables, it is another layer of cable and information.  As I'm playing with the new cable tools, it seems like we're making some headway in making the power and power cable parts quicker to create, and quicker to see the phase/load relationships.  All good things.

 

What I'm most interested in, is how this cable model (generator, trunk cable, distributor, consumer) might map to data management.  Or, is the workflow better aligned to separate power to the cable tools, and data to connect cad?

 

@Scott C. Parker - your tutorials have been most helpful, thank you.  I am trying to understand which of the toolsets, including autoplot, best serve my needs.  And Mark Krasnov was entertained to see your face on my laptop!

 

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

@tgooch If you haven't seen the Vectorworks University cable tools skill video's there is a complete learning path that goes through the new cable tools, it should get you up to speed with the basics.
The new cable tools are designed to be used to plan both power and data cable layouts for the live events industry. At this point the data cable side is primarily focused on calculating how many cables you need for the system you are planning. Cable objects have a number of data fields that can be used to document info about the data cables but you will need to use either the cable tools automatic numbering or Spotlight numbering to

ConnectCAD does more with data cable planning but is not designed to be used for live event planning, it is focused on permanent installation design and planning. It focuses on connections between devices, in the virtual world vs the Spotlight tools focusing on the physical world.

 

Also with the launch of 2023 one of the main issues affecting data cable planning has been fixed, that data cables would push their ID's into the circuit name and circuit number fields of a lighting device.

 

 

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee
On 9/26/2022 at 2:41 PM, tgooch said:

separate power to the cable tools, and data to connect cad?

@tgooch Two different workflows with different results. Given that power planning and data management are not linked at the moment, the two workflows are likely needed to produce the different sets of paperwork.

 

On 9/26/2022 at 2:41 PM, tgooch said:

which of the toolsets, including autoplot,

I am a fan of AutoPlot and used it extensively before joining Vectorworks HQ. Though it produces paperwork and reports differently than ConnectCAD, if it fits your workflow methedology, it would be the way to go. Otherwise, CC is a solid choice.

 

On 9/26/2022 at 2:41 PM, tgooch said:

your tutorials have been most helpful, thank you

You're most welcome. Thanks for mentioning.

 

On 9/26/2022 at 2:41 PM, tgooch said:

Mark Krasnov was entertained

Say hello. Great guy. I'm one who can truly say, "I knew him when..." 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Firstly - I'm also @tgooch.  Mistakes were made, and now there is a second, never to be used again forum login.

 

Anyway, I have the right scale/type project to use the power planning suite, and just enough time to play and explore.  @JCodgell I've completed the learning path (I'm hugely appreciative of all the added training content).  

 

At this moment, I am stuck trying to get cables to relate to paths properly- they seem to have lost the behavior where cables can enter or leave the path at any point, and can only enter or leave at the path ends.  I'ver restarted VWX, and tested in a new file as well, with the same results.

 

Any ideas?  Is there a setting somewhere to influence this behavior?   I can make loads of little path segments, but it undermines the entire functionality.

 

Thanks,

 

Trevor Gooch

 

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee
1 hour ago, trevorgooch said:

At this moment, I am stuck trying to get cables to relate to paths properly- they seem to have lost the behavior where cables can enter or leave the path at any point, and can only enter or leave at the path ends.  I'ver restarted VWX, and tested in a new file as well, with the same results.

In 2023 we added  a modifier key (hold alt on PC or command on mac (I think, I'm not a mac user)) to the cable tool to control whether the cables will enter or exit a cable path at any point.  We found that cables were often jumping out of the paths at odd locations (such as cutting corners at the end of a path) and decided that having more user control over the behavior was needed.

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Continuing this conversation:

@JCodgell - I can't consistently enter the path with the modifier key.  With a simple test path, drawn all in the sample plane, "option"-click works.  However, in a complex cable path system, I can't seem to ever control where I enter.  I can test more - i ran out of time yesterday.

 

I can confirm that as I atatch cables to the path, they sometimes turn into two elements: a path element, and a NURBS element.   See the attached picture - in this case, I used the reshape tool to change the vertex style for the bottom right corner of the path element.   You can see the two separate objects.  on the upstage truss, the path element coming from the Up/Down cable cary truss path, could find the path object, because a NURBS object was created in front of the path, making it un-selectable.

 

942193667_CablePath-NURBS.thumb.png.56880a610c5f0f6a17603d278d189452.png

 

So, I have a couple questions- I have a hard time confirming that my cable is attached to the path segment, and as a result, often *extra click* the path, and terminate the cable early, resulting in starting over.  Is there a way, akin to atatching to a rigging object, that we can connect cables to paths?

 

Also, in the convention center show that I'm laying out, i have 30+ multicables that need to travel along the cable bridge to their respective trusses.  I understand that I can split the cables at a specific place to clearly define parts.  In practical execution, I'm struggling to isolate only the cables that I need to break at a specific place without having lots and lots of separate disconnected path elements, while leaving enough connected path elements to change the plan at a later time.

 

Finally, if a cable becomes disconnected from either of it's distributor elements, is there a way to re-connect them, without re-drawing the entire cable, or using an automated connection?

 

It looks great, and I see loads of value at the end.  Now I just have to find a workflow that's faster than running the real world cables myself. 😉

Thanks so much,

 

Trevor

 

 

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee
22 hours ago, trevorgooch said:

Finally, if a cable becomes disconnected from either of it's distributor elements, is there a way to re-connect them, without re-drawing the entire cable, or using an automated connection?

Not yet, its on the list of issues that need to be addressed.

 

22 hours ago, trevorgooch said:

Also, in the convention center show that I'm laying out, i have 30+ multicables that need to travel along the cable bridge to their respective trusses.  I understand that I can split the cables at a specific place to clearly define parts.  In practical execution, I'm struggling to isolate only the cables that I need to break at a specific place without having lots and lots of separate disconnected path elements, while leaving enough connected path elements to change the plan at a later time.

I find the easiest way to select cables when there are a large number of them following the same truss or path is to select the cable object labels, which then selects the cable as well.

 

23 hours ago, trevorgooch said:

I have a hard time confirming that my cable is attached to the path segment, and as a result, often *extra click* the path, and terminate the cable early, resulting in starting over.  Is there a way, akin to atatching to a rigging object, that we can connect cables to paths?

Try giving the path a very heavy line weight (1.0 or more), this makes it much easier to see the connection highlight and its also easier to select the path. Another option that may help is to change the paths fill colour (make it very pale or with a partial opacity) so that the connection highlight is more obvious.

 

23 hours ago, trevorgooch said:

I can confirm that as I atatch cables to the path, they sometimes turn into two elements: a path element, and a NURBS element.   See the attached picture - in this case, I used the reshape tool to change the vertex style for the bottom right corner of the path element.   You can see the two separate objects.  on the upstage truss, the path element coming from the Up/Down cable cary truss path, could find the path object, because a NURBS object was created in front of the path, making it un-selectable.

This is a bug, I thought this had already been squashed as it has cropped up a couple of times in the past. I'll reopen the bug report

 

23 hours ago, trevorgooch said:

I can't consistently enter the path with the modifier key.  With a simple test path, drawn all in the sample plane, "option"-click works.  However, in a complex cable path system

Are you in a 2D or 3D view when trying to enter the path, one thing I've noticed myself is that with a complex path it is much easier to control where the cable enters and exits a path in a 3D view than in a 2D view.
Another option is to add an extra vertex into the cable route near where you want the cable to enter the path, by clicking on a nearby piece of geometry, for example on a truss beside where you wish the cable to enter the path.
 

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  • 2 weeks later...

@klinzeyI see that when I import a distributor to a new blank document it imports a distro record as well. Is there a way or will there be a way to attach this record or custom records to these devices directly from the resource browser? I can attach records after they have been placed, but it would be very nice not to go thru the extra steps risking errors in missing something.

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

The distributor works just like the lighting device. You can attach a record to the symbol library but once the object is converted to a distributor the record will not be attached to the distributor object placed in the document.

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Hello, so I'm getting stuck in to learning these tools. I'm most of the way through the learning path on the Uni at the moment. My first impression is that in order for a given quantity of cables to exist in a file, it seems they all need to actually be drawn, which would likely make it a non-starter for us as it's almost an additonal job role to draw/define the cables to reach each fixture for each show going out (unless these tools turn out to be lightning quick). At the moment, I need to define my distribution cable and then usually the worst-case final circuit cable (i.e. to the furthest load on each distribution unit, let's say last fixture on the longest audience truss) in order to run calculations, and then I just want to add a batch quantity of different cables to each truss/position. Let's say 10 x 3m 5 pin, 5 x 3m 16A etc. At the moment, for the worst-case fixture that did have it's cable parts defined, VWX doesn't do anywhere near the power calculations needed, I'll still have to put that data in other software for calculations.

 

That said, I want to make sure I understand the full picture of these tools and what they could do for us, in case I find anything I wasn't aware of or any way we could make use of them, so I intend to keep looking in to it.

 

First off - I'm from the UK, and I'm not sure on some of the terms used. Is there any documentation that defines some of the terms?

 

The videos seem to assume that 'feeder', 'jumper' etc are givens, but as with everything in events, every company/territory is a bit different. For us, a feeder is a loomed-up group of 2-6 socapex cables from a moving light distro up to a truss, and a Multi is the control loom that goes from stage to FOH with the necessary power and fibre cables.

 

I think I understand it as thus;

- Feeder: Incoming heavy mains from supplies to power distributors

- Multi: Individual Multicore cables - i.e. Socapex

- Jumper: Any loose cable that isn't any of the above - so single runs of mains from utility outputs direct to loads, and then from breakouts to loads?

- Loom: A group of Multis? Or a group of anything?

 

Also, the tape colour code for these tools - does that refer to how a given company uses colour codes to denote different cable lengths? Or how each truss/position on a gig is given a colour code? One suggestion, particularly for truss/position colours, I think any use of colour code for shows of any real size require this to have up to 3 parts - i.e. 'Red/Magenta/White' rather than just 'Red'. A medium size arena show for us would have two colour codes per truss, and stadium shows can easily run in to 3 colours. Similarly for cable lengths, we use resistor colour code for our cables as do a lot of people, so a 15m cable would be brown/green. I've made custom gradients for lots of common colour combos for us in truss data tags etc, but as a general suggestion, if there are any 'colour code' facilities anywhere, it would be awesome to just have two or three colour drop-downs that can generate an automatic segmented swatch for wherever it gets displayed.

 

Thanks

 

 

Edited by spettitt
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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee
9 hours ago, spettitt said:

Loom: A group of Multis? Or a group of anything?

A loom can include any type of cable.
The feeder, jumper multi and data cable type classifications are from the original Spotlight cable tools, and were carried over into the new tools to avoid changing terminology that was already standard in Spotlight.

 

9 hours ago, spettitt said:

Also, the tape colour code for these tools - does that refer to how a given company uses colour codes to denote different cable lengths? Or how each truss/position on a gig is given a colour code? One suggestion, particularly for truss/position colours, I think any use of colour code for shows of any real size require this to have up to 3 parts

There isn't a fixed use for the tape color code field in the cable object, though its more commonly used for loom or truss color codes, rather than a company specific cable length or id marking.
 

 

9 hours ago, spettitt said:

One suggestion, particularly for truss/position colours, I think any use of colour code for shows of any real size require this to have up to 3 parts - i.e. 'Red/Magenta/White' rather than just 'Red'. A medium size arena show for us would have two colour codes per truss, and stadium shows can easily run in to 3 colours. Similarly for cable lengths, we use resistor colour code for our cables as do a lot of people, so a 15m cable would be brown/green. I've made custom gradients for lots of common colour combos for us in truss data tags etc, but as a general suggestion, if there are any 'colour code' facilities anywhere, it would be awesome to just have two or three colour drop-downs that can generate an automatic segmented swatch for wherever it gets displayed.

I'll add this as a enhancement request

 

 

 

 

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  • 1 month later...

Thanks Pat,

 

What I'm really after is an overview of where Vectorworks is trying to get to with the power tools. I am particularly interested in a schematic overview of the power scheme, much like the Device Graph, but at the moment I can't seem to get this to work at all, even marginally. I know you guys are working on many improvements, so I would hate to be asking for stuff that you already have in the pipeline.

 

Cheers

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Have things changed from 2022 to 2023 in regards to making custom power items? I'm attempting to create a simple stage pin port so I can patch conventional fixtures and get cable lengths. I'm following the instructions found here however nothing appears in the object info palette after I exit the symbol.

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Hey,

 

I've plowed trough the cable tools today and yesterday and as always, Vectorworks, you are so close but yet so far. I do not work with fixtures, I only work with hoists and trusses. This is a great tool for cable planning, and with some adjustments, it is able to save plenty of time, specially when making changes to your drawing.

 

1. The Path tool does not really work for bigger systems(As pointed out earlier in this thread). To snap in and out of the path is troublesome also using the ALT key to better control. The cables out of the path ends up in either end of the path or goes down to the ground, as the "tool snap" to truss or hoist in my case does not work holding down the ALT key.

 

2. When i understood the "workarounds" to use the path tool adding cables, it takes me some seconds to click trough the needed steps to ad a cable and VW uses 60 seconds to finish the process of that cable run. Having 60 breakout boxes in my system, it takes a while. As with most functions in VW, they work perfectly in small scale, and has VERY poor performance in a bigger scale.

 

3. There is a fine report function to count all the cable parts in my drawing. But breakouts and other distributors are not included in this count. And as far as i have tried, there is not possible to automate the cable count and have all cables, breakouts and motor controllers on the same sheet. When you first created a nice report, why not include all parts of a system, and why not make it possible for the user to create their own reports that can be updated.

 

4. The distributor symbols, why do they not have a scale to them? It would be great to be able to scale them, so one can make use of them in sheet layer and general documentation for the crew. Since I've first done the job placing the breakouts and the motor controllers, it would be nice to just use those symbols as information on the printed drawing.

 

5. When having made a system to ease the planning of cables, it would be great to have better functionality to check your work. A function to highlight, select, show units not connected to power, signal or whatever. Then it is possible to verify that you actually have a cable for each unit.

 

My list is longer but you have to start with the important bits.

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Hey,

 

I have played some more with the cable tool and have some more suggestions to make Power planing a better tool.

 

6. It would be great to be able to insert connections to a cable run. As one often want to avoid having connections in vertical cable runs. So it would be awesome to be place connection point along the cable run as needed. Or a checkbox ion the settings, "Place connections in vertical runs: yes/no". I cannot speak for all riggers and how they plan, but often we are in a situation when all trusses are in trim, we disconnect the motor controllers and all or most of the ground cable. This makes it very important to have a cable connection as close to the point where the vertical cables becomes horizontal. So we have no cable on ground. Thus it is awesome to insert "connector points"

 

7. An option for each cable to be able to add them to a cable path or add them to a new cable path. If I made a mistake, or did not add them to a path when first drawn. it would be great to also be able to have the options to add a cable to several paths.

 

8. I made a mistake when drawing a cable between two distributors. I did snap to the distributor but i did not get the red highlight so i only ordinary snapped to the box. I did not see this at first and drew my cable some hundred meters  with several clicks. When i found the error and wanted to "connect" my already drawn cable to the distributor i could not find a way to do this. This would be nice to do, click and drag cable end, to connect to a distributor, or change the distributor.

 

9. When you connect a cable to a distributor, the dialog box that pops up is great. But it could be a bit larger. It is not able to show the complete text and thus difficult to see what is per-selected for me.

 

cable-connect.png.5d4652990c7f48e3edb092c4e40ec6f2.png

 

10. The  power planning palette does not show me anything. All views and graphs are completely empty.

 

11. If one uses the Object Info palette to path the in's and out's of a distributor, specially when making the distributor and connecting all the L's N's and GND's to the correct place. The drop-down and selection could be improved. It is possible to search but not click/select multiple before the drop-down closes. and one have to search scroll and click for each connection. Also, the drop-down does not show what is selected and as you see(image below) the bold is shown in the drop down before clicking, and is not the one selected(with and X). Shift select and CTRL select would be super.

 

power-select-.thumb.png.c2acb956adfd50508e71919e27f359f0.png

 

 

12. Visualize cable sag. When a cable is moving in free air, the cable will sag. It would be awesome if this was illustrated. IT would be even better to be able to select the sag and adjust it according to preference.

 

I use the latest VW Spotlight SP3.

 

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