Thursday, December 13, 2012

Wildcards for Device Tagging and Wire Numbering

For device tagging and wire numbering

%F Component family code string (for example, "PB", "SS", "CR", "FLT", "MTR")

Family codes can easily be modified at a global level. See Mark's paper on this here... wd_fam.dat

%S Drawing's sheet number (for example, "01" entered in upper right)

%D Drawing number

%G Drawing's wire layer name

%N Sequential or Reference-based number applied to the component

%X Suffix character position for reference-based tagging (not present = end of tag)

%P IEC-style project code (default for drawing)

%I IEC-style installation code (default for drawing)

%L IEC-style location code (default for drawing)

%A Project drawing list's SEC value for active drawing

%B Project drawing list's SUB-SEC value for active drawing

Examples of Component Tags

For a light on sheet 3 rung 50

%F%N = LT50 (Default)

%F%S/%N = LT3/50

%F-%S-%N = LT-3-50

Examples of a Wire

For a line reference 100 of sheet 02

%N wire number = 100 (Default)

W%N wire number = W100

%S-%N wire number = 02-100

%S%N wire number = 02100

%S : %N wire number = 02:100

Note: For %S and %D to work the sheet and drawing fields must be entered in the drawing properties.

For defining wire annotation and graphical terminal strips

%P Terminal pin text

%Q Terminal pin TERMDESC text

%I IEC-style function/installation code

%L IEC-style location code

%M Mount assignment (on panel footprint equivalent)

%U Group assignment (on panel footprint equivalent)

%W Wire number

%C Cable tag + conductor/core color combination (format is "tag-color")

%E Cable tag

%J Cable conductor/core color

%V Cable tag substituted for wire number if cable tag is non-blank.

The wire number is displayed when a cable ID doesn't exist.

%G Wire color/gauge (or wire layer name)

%H Cable wire color substituted for wire number if cable color is non-blank.

The wire layer is displayed when a wire conductor in conjunction with a cable ID doesn't exist.

%T Terminal strip terminal pin assignment

%K Terminal strip TERMDESC text - useful for multi-stack terminals

%1 Destination component tag ID. You can use only one of the (%number) parameters.

%2 Equivalent of "%1:%P" (comp tag:term)

%3 Equivalent of "%1:%P:%D" (comp tag:term:termdesc)

%4 Equivalent of "%L%1" (IEC comp tag)

%5 Equivalent of "%L%1:%P" (tag:term)

%6 Equivalent of "%L%1:%P:%D" (tag:term:termdesc)

%7 Equivalent of "%I%I%1" (INST prefix+IEC comp tag)

%8 Equivalent of "%I%L%1:%P" (tag:term)

%9 Equivalent of "%I%L%1:%P:%D" (tag:term:termdesc)

The part after the colon(:) is suppressed if the value is blank in %2 - %9 parameters (for example, %2=comp tag:term). The ":term" part is suppressed if blank.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Shop Tools & Real Definitions


WIRE WHEEL: Cleans paint off bolts and then throws them somewhere under the workbench with the speed of light. Also removes fingerprints and hard-earned guitar calluses from fingers in about the time it takes you to say, "Yeou..."

DRILL PRESS: A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest and flings your beer across the room, splattering it against that freshly stained heirloom piece you were drying.

ELECTRIC HAND DRILL: Normally used for spinning pop rivets in their holes until you die of old age.

CIRCULAR SAW: A portable cutting tool used to make studs too short.

PLIERS: Used to round off bolt heads. Sometimes used in creation of blood-blisters.

BELT SANDER: An electric sanding tool commonly used to convert minor touch-up jobs into major refinishing jobs.

HACKSAW: One of a family of cutting tools build on the Ouija board principle. It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable motion, and the more you attempt to influence its course, the more dismal your future becomes.

VISE-GRIPS: Generally used after pliers to completely round off bolt heads. If nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.

WELDING GOLVES: Heavy-duty leather gloves used to prolong the conduction of intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.

OXYACETYLENE TORCH: Used almost entirely for lighting various flammable objects in your shop on fie. Also handy for igniting the grease inside the wheel hub you want the bearing race out of.

WHITWORTH SOCKETS: Once used for working on older British cars and motorcycles, they are now used mainly for impersonating that 9/16" or 1/2" socket you've been searching for the last 45 minutes.

TABLE SAW: A large stationary power tool commonly used to launch wood projectiles for testing wall integrity.

HYDRAULIC FLOOR JACK: Used for lowering an automobile to the ground after you have changed brakes, trapping the jack handle firmly under the bumper.

EIGHT-FOOT LONG YELLOW PINE 2X4: Used for levering an automobile upward off of a trapped hydraulic jack handle.

TWEEZERS: A tool for removing wood splinters and wire wheel wires.

E-Z OUT BOLD AND STUD EXTRACTOR: A tool ten times harder than any known drill bit that snaps neatly off in bolt holes thereby ending any possible future use.

TWO-TON ENGINE HOIST: A tool for testing the maximum tensile strength of everything you forgot to disconnect.

RADIAL ARM SAW: A large stationary power saw primarily used by most shops to scare neophytes into choosing another line of work.

CRAFTSMAN 1/2 x 24-INCH SCREWDRIVER: A very large pry bar that inexplicably has an accurately machined screwdriver tip on the end opposite the handle.

TROUBLE LIGHT: The home mechanic's own tanning booth. Sometimes called a drop light. It is a good source of vitamin D, "the sunshine vitamin," which is not otherwise found under cars at night. Health benefits aside, its main purpose is to consume 40-watt light bulbs at about the same rate that 105mm howitzer shells might be used during, say, the first few hours of the Battle of the Bulge. More often dark than light, its name is somewhat misleading.

PHILLIPS SCREWDRIVER: Normally used to stab the vacuum seals under lids and for opening old-style paper-and-tin oil cans. Can also be used and the name implies, to strip out Phillips screw heads.

STRAIGHT SCREWDRIVER: A tool for opening paint cans. Sometimes used to convert common slotted screws into non-removable screws.

HAMMER: Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadays is used as a kind of divining rod to locate the most expensive parts adjacent the object we are trying to hit. Can also be used to make gaping holes in walls when hanging pictures.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Controlling What Table Is Selected For Catalog Lookup

Seen this before? My symbol is a push button so why doesn't Electrical automatically go to the push buttons? What actually drives what table is used?

The catalog database has many different tables. AutoCAD Electrical determines which table to use based on either the block name or the value contained in the WDBLKNAM attribute in the block. WDBLKNAM takes precedence over the block name. If no attribute named WDBLKNAM is present, AutoCAD Electrical defaults back to the block name. Either way, the following rules apply. For this test lets assume the block name is HPB12_Stan:

  1. The leading direction character is removed (H or V) and the database is searched for a table named PB12_Stan.
  2. If no table was found and the name is longer than seven characters, Electrical will begin removing characters from the right side until only seven characters remain. In this example, the tables PB12_Sta, and PB12_St would be searched for in descending order.
  3. If no table was found, Electrical searched for the family specific table. The family is based on the 2nd and 3rd digits in the block name.
  4. If no family specific table was found, Electrical checks the projects properties so see if this project allows searching the miscellaneous table. If so the MISC_CAT table is used.
  5. If all of these methods fail, the search ends and Electrical prompts the user to begin a new table for this new component type.
    • Here the user must choose between making a new table based on the family, (2nd and 3rd digits) or making a new table based on the block name.


Note: Be sure to include an H or V in the front of the value used in the WDBLKNAM since the same rules apply. Using LT1_Test will take you to the T1 (Terminals) table because in step 1 the first character is removed.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

INST & LOC Codes Honor Wildcards When Searching

imageThe Footprint_Lookup database, as well as the _Termprops, and _Pinlist tables all use wildcards. But did you know you can use wildcards when referencing the Installation and Location Codes? This is actually quite useful information and will give you a new level of control with reporting.

For example, I marked all components on the machine with a Location Code of MACHINE. I can easily create a BOM of all components used on the machine by putting MACHINE in the Location Code when running the report.

However how to I generate a report of all components that are NOT on the machine? Well one way would be to enter ALL the Location Codes used in the project separated by comas (excluding MACHINE of course). OR simply enter ~MACHINE.

The wildcard ~ as a prefix means "not MACHINE." So this will give the same report as the one listed above but is a much better method. Easier and much cleaner!

Now lets add to the scenario by adding several machines. I now have MACHINE1, MACHINE2, and MACHINE3 in my project. Using wildcards I can easily and quickly report all components used on all machines by using the code MACHINE#. The wildcard # will match any single numeric digit in its place.



So what all wildcards are there? Here's the list.
# (pound)  -  Matches any single numeric digit
@ (at)  -  Matches any single alphabetic character
. (period)  -  Matches any single non alphanumeric character
* (asterisk)  -  Matches any character sequence, including empty ones, and it can be used anywhere: beginning, middle, or end.
? (question mark)  -  Matches any single character.
~ (tilde)  -  If it is the first character in a pattern, it matches anything except the pattern.
[...]  -  Matches any one of the characters enclosed.
[~...]  -  Matches any one of the characters not enclosed.
- (hyphen)  -  Used inside brackets to specify a range for a single character.
, (comma)  -  Separates two patterns
` (reverse quote)  -  Escapes special characters

The last one, ` (reverse quote), would be necessary had I named the machines location MACHINE#1, MACHINE#2, and MACHINE#3. When reporting Electrical will see the # in MACHINE#1 and try to fill it with a number. So when sorting be sure to add the reverse quote like this... MACHINE`#1. Or for our example above, we wanted all machines the code would be MACHINE`##.

Putting a Twist on the Twisted Pair Symbol

This just in... "How to I push the height of the twist to the outside of the other wires?"

                image               image

This symbol is parametrically driven. When inserting it asks UP/DOWN or RIGHT/LEFT. After finding the next wire it then draws poly lines showing the twist. It's a little tricky. If you window select, you can see there is a little block between the broken wires. This block is HT0_TW or VT0_TW. It consists of only invisible attributes and no geometry.

Find these blocks in the default library, copy them to your custom library, and then modify the ACE_OFFSET attribute. A negative number will stay inside the original lines and a positive will push outside. Be sure to include the + or - in front of the offset distance you desire.

imageGreat question! I had a ball trying to figuring this one out.  

Friday, October 5, 2012

Displaying Catalog Numbers On The Symbol

imageYesterday a user asked me how to display catalog info on the symbols. Easy simply set the Invisible property on the CAT attribute to No. Then position and resize it as needed. However this user also wanted the Multiple Catalog entries to display as well. So if a contact block was added to this symbol it would display under the wire as an addition number.

Well the short answer is the attributes in question are named CAT01, CAT02, ect. Pictured below is my new exploded symbol with a now visible CAT and then I added CAT01, CAT02, and CAT03.

Now to place the block and add some catalog information.
image  image

And here is my new catalog info on the print...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

AutoCAD Electrical 2013 Service Pack 1 Released 

Service pack one was released yesterday. It includes the AutoCAD service pack 1.1. This service pack fixes my last post's issue! Listed below are the other addressed issues.


  • Dialogs disappear off the screen if displayed on non-primary monitor.

Insert/Edit Components/Footprints

  • %U tagging format results in incorrect component tagging for drawing wide update.
  • The Insert Component Icon Menu fails to get back to the default state after inserting the Pneumatic, Hydraulic or P&ID Components.

Project Manager

  • The Preview in Project Manager does not display for the drawings saved in AutoCAD 2013 Drawing format.
  • Apply Project Defaults does not work when a single drawing is selected in Project Manager.


  • Poor Catalog Lookup performance in a shared environment.

Terminal Strip Table Generator

  • New drawings created after running Terminal Strip Table Generator report are not added to the Project Manager.


  • Wire Numbering state cannot be changed in Create/Edit Wire Type dialog.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

AutoCAD Electrical 2013 Hangs or Locks Up (Project Wide Dialog - Surfer)

I fought with this in my last class and now ran into a support case with the same issue. What's the problem? 2013 seems to lock up anytime the Project Wide or Surfer dialogs open. The Ribbon grays out and nothing seems to work... until you press Esc. Then everything seems fine again.


The problem is the Project Wide "Select Drawings" and Surfer dialog were at some point moved to a second screen.

image     image

imageI called Autodesk Support and was told this is an issue they are aware of. The problem has been fixed and they are expecting it to release with SP1 later this month. Until then, use keyboard shortcuts to move the dialog back on your primary screen and it will stay there. Place it back on your secondary screen and the next time the dialog is called for it will open off screen again.

Press and release Alt then the down arrow followed by M and then the down arrow again. This will stick the dialog to your mouse. Move the dialog back onto the primary screen. It will stay there.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Where Does The wd.env Path Get Set?

The wd.env file is the heart and soul of AutoCAD Electrical. Without it, Electrical won't even load. This file stores default paths and the search order for most of Electricals commands. Note that the project property paths take precedence over the paths in this file.

The default location is ...\My Documents\Acade{version}\AeData. But what if you wish to move it to a network location? Enter the wd_load.lsp file. The wd_load.lsp file is stored in C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Acade{version}\Acade. This file is only read when Electrical is started. Within this lisp file is a variable named GBL_wd_DocSetWDBase. This variable defines where Electrical looks for the wd.env file.

The easiest way to switch from a local wd.env to a networked one... rename the local one wd.env.OLD and make sure the network path is listed as one of the the AutoCAD Support Paths. Restart Electrical and verify that its looking to the network.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

PLC Cards Randomly Adding Additional Lines

While creating some custom PLC cards they suddenly started randomly adding and trimming lines inside the module. Very strange. Some drawing they would work fine on and others would do this.


I could find nothing on the forums about this but I finally figured it out. I was inserting the PLC with a scale of 1, however the some of the drawing properties had Scale set to "Inch scaled to mm."


What made me start looking at insertion scales? The insertion X was HUGE.


It should look more like this. I hope this helps some someone else.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Mass DWG Save-As Back To An Older Release

imageThis question came up during a support call. Thinking this had to be a common request I immediately started looking for a LISP of some type. The caller mentioned the Autodesk site said something about DWG True View doing this. I would have never thought of turning to a viewer for a mass converter.

However here it is...

Drawings can be added from several folders at once and then saved in place or to a predefined folder.
Select the version to save back to and press Convert
There are several predefined conversions setup but you can create your own as well. Here are the options for setting up a custom conversion style.image

Monday, June 11, 2012

Using the Wire Gap Feature In Place Of From/To Arrows

Today imageI ran across an interesting use abuse of the Wire Gap feature.

AutoCAD Electrical supports "gaps" in crossing wires. The way this works is that each side of the broken wire has an Xdata (Extended entity data) pointer that points at the handle of the other side. AutoCAD Electrical treats it as a continuous unbroken wire even though it is in two pieces.


So knowing this, you could set the Wire Cross Style to Gap and then break the wires into two pieces solely for the propose of manually moving the one half somewhere else on the same sheet. Wire numbers and wire reports would continue to function correctly.  

Since this is a good bit of work we can simply use the Check/Repair Gap Pointers and choose two wires that are already in position. This accomplishes the same task but is much quicker.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Where are the 2 Pole Components?



The icon menu has single and 3 pole components but where are all the 2 pole components? If this is something that you only need occasionally, the easiest way to a 2 pole is to simply place a 3 pole and use Delete Component on the unnecessary component.




imageHowever if you use many 2 pole, or if you need to create new icons that are 2 pole, you should know how multi-pole components work. First of all, they are NOT special symbols. A script runs placing a parent symbol, asking a direction, then places child type components on wires it finds. Finally a Dash Link Line is placed between the components.

So if you want to create a NEW multi-pole symbol create a parent and child symbol and then add a new "Command" to the icon menu using the Icon Menu Wizard.

The command is wd_3unit followed by a space and then the parent symbol name.


See the dialog below for my new 2 Pole Circuit Breaker. The command is wd_2unit. Oh and I made a new icon using MS Paint.


Friday, May 11, 2012

Mass Changes to Source/Destination Arrows

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I am working on a series of posts that start out with the basics of the Title Block Update utility and then takes it to the next level with some customizations. I am also working on some Electrical topics for this years AU. With all that going on, this question came in and I decided it would make a perfect quick post. You know... just so you know I'm still alive.

"Stan if I have a project with a source and multiple destinations, can I just change that source arrow wire number and have it change throughout the project?
Ex. Change source 122 to 24vdc and all destinations change also."

The source arrow receives its wire number from the wire it is attached to. If you want to change the wire number then simply find the wire number on that wire and change it. The source arrow will push it through to all destination arrows. However I don't think the wire number is what's being questioned. I think the real question is, can you change the actual CODE and have it push across to all destinations. That answer would be NO. Once you change the source arrows code it is no longer tied to any of the destinations. The link is broken.

So what to do? Instead go to the Import/Export tab and select Export To Spreadsheet.image

From the Export to Spreadsheet dialog choose "Wire number signal arrows." Make sure to export the entire project since this will affect many drawings. Save the Excel file out and open it.


Here you can change the SIGCODE and the DESC1 attributes at a mass level. Do a Find and Replace on the SIGCODE column as needed. Then save the Excel file and Import it back into the project.



Shout out to Bill Balogh for the great question.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Know It. All. - Virtual Event 

The event is over but you can still view my presentation on YouTube.

What's New In AutoCAD Electrical 2013

Friday, April 27, 2012

Adding the Express Tab to the Ribbon

From the Windows Uninstall dialog.
Select AutoCAD Electrical and press Uninstall/Change


Press the Add or Remove Features button

Press Next twice and at this screen be sure Express Tools is checked.

Press Update.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Out of Work? 

This is similar to a program Autodesk offered a year ago to help individuals get training for a new career. If you know someone who is out of work send them to this site. Student copies of anything Autodesk along with Training and Support! You do have to qualify to get into this program.


Always QSAVE, Always QSAVE, Always QSAVE

Is it just me or does the Always QSAVE button not do anything? It may suppress the dialog for THAT operation but as soon as you use a command again... there it is again!

After tearing into the .env file many times I can't believe I overlooked this line.
Great post Jared. I hope you don't mind me sharing it.

Hidden Wires and Wire Numbers

Recently I had someone ask why their wire numbers went crazy when wire layer visibilities were turned off.

The image on the right shows the wires and numbers as they should appear. The image on the left has a Wire Type layer named Invisible turned OFF.

It looks great until the Wire Number command is run again. The script seems to ignore the hidden layer and adds a lot of extra wire numbers.

My guess is the Auto Wire Number script is only looking for visible layers.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Changing a Ladder Reference Style Project Wide

The ladder reference style set in the properties only affects NEW ladders. How does one update existing ladders to a new style?

In this example a user wants to change the ladder reference style from the default "numbers only" to "sheet and numbers." The plan is to eventually change the order of the sheets. These changes should force all components, ladders and wires to update with the new page numbers.


Monday, April 9, 2012

More AutoCAD Electrical 2013 New Features!

Here are a few other new features. If you missed my earlier post of new features its here... AutoCAD Electrical 2013 New Features - Post 1

An Apps Store!

You can install Autodesk Exchange Apps and other 3rd party Apps for your products. Clicking the button opens your web browser to Autodesk Exchange Apps Store When this was posted there were over 50 apps listed and 28 of them were FREE!.

Select the app you want and press install...

The Plug-Ins tab displays the Autodesk Exchange Apps that are currently installed.

List of Manufactures included with 2013
image image  image  image

List of Symbol Libraries included with 2013
AS (Millimeters)
GB (Millimeters)
IEC Legacy (Millimeters)
IEC-60617 (Millimeters)
IEEE (Millimeters)
JIS (Millimeters)
JIC (Inches)
NFPA (Inches)


Updated Autodesk's Cloud Services Commands

The Online tab will end up receiving its own blog post as some point in the near future. Shown here is a comparison between the Electrical 2012 and 2013 Online tab. It has never been easier to share and collaborate with engineers.



Command Line Update

This is really a core AutoCAD change but it affects the Electrical user as well. To see more about this update see John Hackney's post about it here...