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Productivity, Back in the Day
I swear that 16 button puck that came with my 12X12 digitizer was the key to
productivity in AutoCAD, for me, back in the day. If someone out there knows of a 16 button
mouse, please, send
me the info on it.
Every now and then when I’m scanning the CAD newsgroups I come across a thread
about the good old multi-button digitizer puck.
The thread usually expands with
past digitizer owners commenting on how nothing beats the puck and wishing there was
a replacement in the form of a mouse, and, mouse users noting how they have
customized their pointing devices by combining mouse buttons with the “ctrl”,
“alt” and “shift” keys to produce multiple tasks.
I’ve tried this too, but I
still prefer the puck over multi-tasking with a mouse any day.
After all, I
don’t need to use 2
hands with a puck like I would if multi-tasking with a mouse
and keyboard. Less work = more productivity.
It’s not like I used the digitizer for actual digitizing very often; it was that
puck! I loved that puck! Zoom window, zoom previous, zoom extents, pan, erase,
ortho, snap, coords, properties… and so on, were all available with 1 click. And
I didn’t have to look at a screen to pick an icon or “alt”+”shift”+”right-mose
click” to use a command. My hand had those 16 button babies memorized.
Unfortunately for digitizer users, for whatever reason, we have been left by the
side. I had so many problems with drivers and connectors I just plain gave up on
using my old digitizer.
I’m sure if I bought a new one I wouldn’t have a problem
with compatibility, but I don’t need the whole digitizing package. Just
that glorious 16 button puck!
And if I did need to digitize something I would probably insert a scan into my
AutoCAD drawing and perform onscreen digitizing
(see article below).
So now I follow more of the norm with my AutoCAD pointing device and use a 3
button mouse. The IntelliMouse Explorer; with 2 side buttons that are great for
internet surfing (forward and back buttons).
I’m used to using the mouse now,
but if they ever come out with a reasonably priced 16 button mouse, I’ll be the
first to order.
So onto this month’s AutoCAD Tips...
Onscreen Digitizing and Scans
Onscreen digitizing and tablet digitizing (see digitizer in above article) are
both useful methods of transferring existing data into CAD format. Often time’s
clients will send us scans of existing plans that need to be
converted to CAD format.
Scans are basically raster images, such as JPEG, GIF and TIFF files, that have
been created by using a large format scanner.
These files can inserted into
AutoCAD and used as an overlay to show existing plan information. The existing
information can then be traced or digitized directly from AutoCAD.
These scans are often received by us via e-mail, uploaded to our FTP site or
burned on a CD and couriered or mailed to us.
Now and then clients will
occasionally send hard copies (paper drawings) of the existing information and
we will scan the paper drawings ourselves.
Once we receive this information we
determine the best method to convert the data based on the client’s
requirements, the extent of the data to be converted and the condition of the
existing scans or original hard copies.
From my article above you can probably guess that our firm prefers onscreen
digitizing over tablet digitizing.
employ raster to vector conversion
methods which utilize specific conversion software – but I will save that type
of conversion for another article.
I can hear some of you asking, “How do you specifically utilize the scan within
AutoCAD”? Good question :)
Attaching the Scan to Your Drawing:
1. Type Image or IM at the command prompt
2. The Image Manager box will pop-up
3. Pick Attach
4. Another box will pop-up and from there you will be able to search your
computer or network for the location of your scanned image. Once you have found
the scan, highlight it and pick Open.
5. Another box will appear that enables you to specify the insertion point, the
scale and the rotation angle of your scan. If you know these values enter them,
otherwise leave the default values in and click OK.
You should now
see your scanned image in your drawing. If you don’t, try zooming
to the drawing’s extents.
If you inserted your scan at a specific scale, insertion point and rotation
angle then you are ready to start your onscreen digitizing. But chances are that
when you receive scans from an outside source you will probably have to scale
the image to suit.
If your company or another company you know of needs some assistance with
or could you some additional
CAD Services, icadtec.com will be more than happy to give
you a call.
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Here’s the way I like to do it:
1. Look for a couple of reliable dimensions on the scan. Use the Distance
command to determine the length of the dimension within your drawing.
2. Once you know the true length you can then scale the scan up or down to suit
Send the Image to the Back
One thing you might notice when tracing your scan in your AutoCAD drawing is
that you may start to loose track of what you have been digitizing.
because the scan needs to be sent to the back of the drawing so everything else
will appear on top.
Think of it like using tracing paper. Where the scan is the
object you are tracing and the tracing paper is where you will be digitizing. If
the tracing paper is underneath the scan then you won’t see it. But if it is
above the scan you will.
So use the following procedure to make sure your scan
is behind everything else
(sent to the back):
1. Choose the Tools pull-down menu
2. Select Display Order
3. Pick Send to Back
4. Pick your scan (near an edge)
Drawing at an Angle
There are different ways you can draw at a certain angle. Specify polar
settings, utilize snap settings, set angle by UCS, and so on. Most of these
involve knowing the angle at which you want to draw beforehand.
The method I prefer is "picking" an object to specify the angle. Most of the
time when I need to draw at a certain angle, there is an entity in the drawing
that is already drawn at that angle. So instead of “listing” the object to
determine the angle and then specifying it using one of the methods above, I use
a quicker method.
Let’s say the existing object, at the desired angle, is drawn at 27 degrees. The
way to snap to this object is:
1. First select Tools from pull-down menu
2. New UCS
4. Choose the existing entity that is drawn at 27 degrees.
“Clickity click, Barba trick”! Your crosshairs have now been rotated to 27
See you next time :)
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