Thursday, July 24, 2008

When is a Wall not a Wall?

When it's a roof !!!

Or how about a road?

Now I don't often have an original idea but I did investigate roads before I found that Odin had got there first and has some seriously good content available. at a great low price. I don't intend to be doing much on road's as I was just exploring to see what I could achieve (though the roads do belong on a subdivision plan I've done).

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Wall !! What is it good for?

Absolutely Nothi....... (sorry just watched Rush Hour 3 and couldn't help myself).

As you get into any CAD programs, the more curious of us often look to how far we can push the objects we are provided with. I have found the wall object has a few more uses other than for walls.

If we leave the idea that it's a wall and just think of it as a tool to create anything that is linear then we can think up any number of items. And don't forget that endcaps can resolve the ends and perhaps by using opening endcaps, a few other things as well mmmm...... have to explore that one!

This article is big so we'll split it up into modules but I include some taster pictures here.

Oh and I'm still to post an update on my pc upgrade. I ran benchmarks on the old system and am still to test the new one. I have four fans in my case and they seem to be running slower than they should especially the cpu fan so I am thinking I am a little under powered. However, seeing that the Core2Duo's are supposed to be very power efficient compared to the D805 it replaced, I am a little bamboozled. (I have a 430w ps).

I'll keep you posted.

Good Links

Have you registered with AUGI? (Autodesk User Group International) I must admit that after an initial looksee I have mostly ignored their site for a while but it has great info on it. At the moment there is a series on ACA that may be helpful to some on Structural Members. Have a look down the left hand side for the older articles. It has something on ACA every issue (monthly). You do need to register to see much older articles but it's well worth it as there is lots of other gear that will be helpful. As well they have their own NG specicially for ACA as well as ACAD etc.

Check them out. Joining is FREE!
(Dang! I can't remember what password I used! :-)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Chasing a Skirt -updated

I investigated the possibility of adding a skirting componant to my standard wall style. You can add skirting as a separate wall style on it's own cleanup group but that's a lot of extra work, though if you use ACA for quantities it's possibly worth it. Unfortunately such an idea gives you more work if design changes are made. So off I went looking for an alternative.

First I added a componant of about the right size which worked fine but then I wanted to have either a splay or a moulding profile, you know, to make the sections & renderings look elegant. Fine but what happens in a bathroom where you have no skirting. You can create another wall style copied from the first and remove the skirting but some walls have skirting one side only, other walls have no skirting at all and I really didn't like having essentially the same wall style repeated several times.

So I added two 0 width componants (sleeper componants) to both sides of the wall and applied profiles & found out I had to create a 2nd profile mirrored of the first to get the 2nd one to display correctly. So now I had to add 2 profiles to each wall and you can bet I got them mixed up and applied the wrong profile to each side more than 50% of the time.. Also using the PN I had the internal layout in a seperate element (it was repetitive) and the internal skirting wouldn't cleanup with the external. (see tips below)
Oh and back to applying a profile, it seems the applied profile doesn't obey priorities and/or cleanup rules and I ended up with skirting piercing clear thru the wall (I think this is a bug). See tips below. Maybe it will be a different solution for different projects – at least now I know some options.

Tip: Oh and unlike a body modifer, the position of your componant is important for a sweep as the insert point of your profile will correspond to the offset and ht of your componant (though you can edit that in the sweep section on your property pallete)

Tip: Did you notice that I had set a height for my skirting componants. When you sweep a profile, the height has no effect. Only the bottom elevation of the componant the profile is applied to.

Tip update: An applied profile will NOT obey priorities so it really only fully works if you accept a shape defined in the componants list (width & height) rather than apply a profile. Using it this way it is reliable and efficient - just not pretty. Your componant could also be a dado, or picture rail but they really need a profile don't they!

Tip update: If you do decide to use a profiled style, apply it to one and then use the 'Add Selected" on your right click to add the rest of your walls. (Sorry it won't help if you have already drawn the walls). That way the profile will already be applied and get's over the limitation of the tool pallete not being able to hold profiles. When you come to a bathroom wall that has no skirting, you can more easily remove the profile from a couple of walls rather than apply it to many.

Is it worth it for a skirting? Maybe not :-( If it had worked simply like I was hoping for! but I am sure you can apply these principles to something more worthwhile. Let me know what you come up with.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Wall - Sleeper componants (cont.)

A reader has asked me clarify the last article and give an example of how it can be used in the real world. Let's go back to an earlier example of adding a capping to a feature addition to a wall. I applied a body modifer and added it to an existing componant that had the same material as I wanted to add - red brick. But what if the addition needs to be in a new material not already part of the wall. Let's say I want the top capping rendered instead. So I need a componant with a render material assignment. So I add it to the existing wall style and make the width =0 so it won't show up on the regular walls.
(remember that this wall was for existing so iI haven't bothered with a cavity etc).
But when I apply the modifer to the wall and select the 'sleeper' componant, it comes alive and takes on the new material assigned.

You can of course have the added portion as a separate entity instead but this way, the material is controlled from & by the wall style which is logical because it's part of the wall. It moves with the wall.
The other big advantage is that you haven't created another wall style to have to maintain, keeping things simple. If you alter the wall style, this one wall won't be left out. On the General tab of the wall style, you may want to add an explanation just in case someone else works on the file.
Hopefully that's made it a bit clearer but I have at least one other example I will post that also can utilise the 'sleeper' componant.

Walls – Sleeper Componant

I've seen this used in various ways for various reasons and I think we can give the concept a name. If you have a particular addition to your walls that only occurs in some places, add a componant into your wall style and give it a 0 width. Say you have a corbel only appearing on the front of the house, or a feature niche in the entry, or a rendered feature portion on a face brick house. If you add a body modifier, you need to apply it to a componant in your wall style. If that componant has a 0 width, it won't appear until you 'awaken it' by adding the BodMod or applying a profile. Using this technique, rather than a special wall having to be isolated from the other styles, you can just add a 'sleeper' componant to the main style and 'awaken' it where & as required. Of course you may now have to adjust settings for that additional componant in several DispReps and also set your componant priority wisely.
You can now also control the material of this componant via the wall style rather than via a ME style or some other separate object.

WARNING: Be aware that adding a componant may mess with your endcaps. I don't often need them but if you do, push the sleeper to the end of the list & you should be ok.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Upgrading my PC

End of Tax year on Monday and I rushed out to buy the chip I had built my pc for - Core2Duo! finally! Currently at home I am running an overclocked Pentium D805 at 3ghz instead of it's regular 2.66. I was hoping for close to 4.0 but I didn't go for the full liquid cooling so I had to settle. I have got it to 3.2. As the C2D's run very cool, I am hoping to be able to get well over the rated 3.0ghz. I also bought 2Gb of RAM for $90Aus !!! Last 1Gb I bought was several hundred $$ so I was very pleased. Hopefully it will all go in and work first time!!

Just thought I would drop some tech hints as there are lots of misconceptions about hardware for Acad. When I rang the pc guy the first thing he said was "You can get a faster QuadCore for the same price". But if you peruse the hardware NG you will find some disappointed users who thought that the Quad was going to give them so much more. Truth is that Acad is STILL not multiprocessor aware, or at least not fully. Some activity can benefit from an extra 'core' but most things are single threaded. SO.. if you compare a Quad core running at 2.66 with a Dual at 3.0, guess which one runs Acad faster. Truth is lots of app's are not multi-processor aware. If you are downloading, encoding mp3's, and Acad'ing at the same time, you might like Quad. If you just want raw power then go with the faster processor. Acad will never look past the 2nd core. Not sure if Mental Ray is multi because if it is then it might make sweet use of a Quad core. Anyone?? --Word is Yes! So if you do lots of rendering then Quad can give you a decent return but your modelling work will be quicker with a quicker DualCore. Check this link to Shaan Hurley or Adesk.

Now if you are really serious you can look at the Xeon's but this is for home and I'm paying!

The other item is the Graphics card which is quite a sore spot because of a lack of clear information. Previously a high end Nvidea Quadro was the go for OpenGL performance but now in 09 they have introduced DirectX support so the games cards will give better performance for the buck! I have used a Quadro 1500fx 256mb and a mildly cheaper FX8950 512mb and I wouldn't move back to the Quadro. And that's using 06. So... go for a fast game card and it will do. Most of us can't run in hardware mode anyway so it's the cpu doing most of the work. UPDATED! In 09, a Quadro will be a massive waste of funds as it is more expensive and doesn't offer better performance (possibly poorer) than the game card using DirextX. In Vista your quadro possibly won't work at all as Vista won;t support OpenGL. Previously the ATI cards did not have as reliable drivers as NVidea but I haven't seen complaints for some time so they maybe they could be ok for Autocad. Stuart has sent me this link to a great read which perhaps indicates that I should be updated my GC as well :-),review-31046.html

Beef your RAM. WinXP Pro will only allow any one app to use 2gb max of RAM unless you enable the 3GB switch (Autodesk). 4Mb seems to be the maximum worthwhile for WinXP pro. As we move to 64bit things will change but that's another minefield (just ask James). Ram is probably a better upgrade than your graphics card unless you have a dog or shared memory graphics. RAM is faster access than hard drive and when your pc runs out of RAM to use, it starts using the hard drive and that slows things down. Do a Control-alt-del and have a look at the performance tab. Leave it open while you work and you can review how much Physical Memory (RAM) is being used. Your page file is your hard drive 'virtual' space and though it will use some regardless, you don't want it too active. If the line's not moving you are probably ok. If it's dancing, you need RAM.

This tab is also useful for seeing how much work your cpu's are doing. It will show each core and what is doing what. I should do some testing and observations before removing the D805 just to compare.

Another tip:

My 3ghz Pentium D805 is much slower than a Core2Duo at 3ghz. The AMD Athlons came up against the old Pentium4's and wipped them with slower clock speeds. Clock speed is NOT everything!

Oh... and any REAL techie's out there who want to correct me then please do so. Qualified hardware info for Acad is scarce and Autodesk have not been forthcoming up until recently where they seem to be making an effort to be more helpful.