24 Dec 2013

Christmas Modelling Challenge

Christmas Modelling Challenge
Once in a while you get asked to model an object in 3D which at first appears easy but then proves to be problematic. Then on the flip side you get an object that at first appears very complex and transpires to be far simpler to model than you initially thought.

I will leave you to decide which category this next shape falls into but your Christmas challenge is to model the following:


Modelled in Autodesk Inventor by Peter Barker
It is called a ‘Mobius Strip’; it’s quite an interesting and also curious shape because it only has one surface and one edge.

Good Luck and have a good Christmas.
Peter Barker

17 Dec 2013

Microsoft offering around 150 free e-books

If you have a hankering to learn SQL Server,  Visual Studio, SharePoint Server,  Office, Windows, or virtually anything that Microsoft develop then Eric Ligman, Microsoft's Sales Excellence Manager has a treat for you on his blog.

For the princely sum of zero pounds and zero pence, there are 145 (I counted them) individual files available for download in a variety of formats to cater to your preferred method of media consumption.

If you were looking for something to occupy your time while eagerly awaiting an appearance from Santa this Christmas, I think Microsoft have you covered.

Scroll down his blog for the full list.

13 Dec 2013

Nvidia Maximus - for all your rendering and simulation needs

Another month, another graphics card solution from nvidia.  If you are embracing simulation analysis in your design workflows but are spending far too much time waiting for your solutions to finish and release your system back into a usable state, nvdia have an answer.

This time they've brought out technology that should catch the eye of most designers and engineers in the field - a single-system solution for combining rendering capability with simulation analysis in the form of a dual card set-up known as NVIDIA Maximus.

Making use of an nvidia Tesla card to take the brunt of the computational work in your system, you're free carry on your design work with the additional power of the Quadro card.  Exploring further design ideas while your first iteration is being solved in the background is an extremely productive way to work, and may help alleviate your growing addiction to coffee breaks.

The hardware is backwards compatible with existing machines and the official marketing page (linked above) provides system designers with enough information on how to implement this technology.  It may  be an idea to use it in conjunction with something a little more beefy than a Celeron.

As yet we don't have specific performance graphs of Autodesk software, but as soon as I can convince one of the Micro Concepts shareholders to buy me a package for the office, I'll get my excel spreadsheet out and start number crunching with the Tesla, and posting pictures with the Quadro.


12 Dec 2013

The Wolfram Language - trivialising programming languages

Wolfram Alpha is a search engine that offers up results based on calculations and general knowledge.  It can handle any complex mathematics that you throw at it and can give you a variety of answers when your query is ambiguous.  The programming behind it is impressive, and it's the evolution of that code that has led it's creator, British scientist Stephen Wolfram, to announce what he claims will be a new unified language of programming and computation in the form of the Wolfram Language.  

"A new level of computation"

His ambition is for this language to be integrated across all forms of computing so that the massive web of algorithms contained within may handle everything that humans require as output: " laying out graphs or doing image processing or creating user interfaces".

He aims to reduce the knowledge required for programming to simply being able to understand a native language.  By using natural expressions and syntax, the automation of tasks and creation of content would become trivial, and the entire world of programming would open up to anyone with access to a computer.

It's quite a bold claim that critics of his controversial book A New Kind of Science may be quick to denounce.  But if successful, it will change everything we do with computers and consequently our way of life.

You can read his entire announcement on their company blog.


10 Dec 2013

Augmented Reality technology round-up

Augmented Reality is the term for overlaying computer generated imagery with the real world, accomplished by projecting graphics on to a real-world view.  The technology exists on phones and tablets already, but the real goal is have it projected into your field of view.  Fighter pilots have been using bespoke AR for decades but as of yet the consumer market hasn't been gifted with such technology although that is set to change.

The technology garnering the most attention of late has been Google Glass, and the company have just announced the option to buy a development kit of the for a mere $1500.  This is seen by many as the first giant leap for consumers into the world of augmented reality, but Google themselves have stressed that this is mainly a piece of hardware for recording the world as you see it, mixed with notifications and google search functionality.  Their website shows the  premise of navigation and language conversion but without stereoscopic vision and a lack of graphical power, the results may never reach the quality that you see simulated in computer games and movies.

However, there are other devices on the horizon which promise to accelerate us into this new era of visual communication I'll have a look at some of these concepts below.

On paper these appear to be the most promising.  The possibilities addressed in their concept video are mind-blowing although you may not want to wear them outside of the house.  Not only do they project 3D images on to the inside of the glass, there is a built-in 3D Kinect-like sensor to determine close vicinty positions which means you can actually interact with the real-world and virtual-worlds as opposed to only receiving information.  If the technology can do half of what is shown - playing virtual chess with a friend, facial recognition of business associates, and instant transition from 3D modelling to 3D printing - then they are worth a purchase at less than half the price of Google Glass.

This product is a little more niche, and uses completely different technology to achieve the augmented effect.  They are being developed for virtual table-top gaming (the kind you see beardies playing in the Games Workshop stores in town).  Instead of projecting images on to the inside of the lens, they project information to a reflective screen which is then picked up by the glasses to provide high definition images.  This definitely limits their application, and unless 3rd party developers decide to expand the functionality then these may not become as mainstream as other offerings.

The company developing these, Vuzix, have already released a virtual reality version (1200VR) so have experience in designing hi-tech glasses for the consumer market.  It's not clear how much support these have for consumer or industrial markets, but their striking design should leave it clear to on-lookers that you're not sporting them for the sake of fashion.

If looking trendy is more important than experiencing the most cutting-edge technology, then these are possibly for you.  Very similar to Google Glass but the projector and lens has been designed to blend in better with their frame.  Function hasn't entirely been sacrificed in favour of form and the company lists services that are at least on a par with the offerings from Google Glass.  How they fare in the long-run against Google and their apparently limitless research budget remains to be seen.

Not much information on these as of yet but they look quite striking.  More details were apparently revealed at November's Tokyo Motor Show but little has surfaced.  Either way, these are no doubt designed with driving in mind, so we they may offer navigation potential.


6 Dec 2013

Factory Design Utilities Service Pack 1

There is an update available for Factory Design Suite 2014's Utilities over on the Autodesk website right now clocking in at a modest 33MB.  Please note that you must install SP1 for Navisworks before installing the utilities service pack.

Autodesk_Factory_Design_Utilities_2014_Service_Pack_1.zip(zip - 32927Kb)

As always, please consult the readme before making any updates to your software

4 Dec 2013

Simulation CFD 2014 Service Pack 2

This one has been available since September, but is worth highlighting for those new to the software.

"A service pack (SP2) has been released for Autodesk Simulation CFD 2014. This marks the second update available to Simulation CFD 2014 and can be applied without SP1 being install on your computer. In this service pack various defects were resolved. In this solution article you will find more information covering the highlights of the service pack, the patch file, and links to the release notes."

32-Bit Installer (.msp ~55 MB)
64-Bit Installer (.msp ~63 MB)

As always, follow the Release Notes before upgrading.

Highlights of Issues Addressed in this Service Pack:
  • The Thermal Comfort topic in the Help documentation was clarified to indicate that running radiation as a “0-iteration” analysis after the simulation is complete can improve accuracy in some cases.
  • The Simulation CFD launch command does not appear in the SolidWorks 2013 user interface.
  • The transient harmonic boundary condition does not produce the correct results distribution on the applied surface. 
  • The UGNX CAD Connection license is not being checked out correctly when launching from UGNX into Simulation CFD.
  • The average temperature reported on a Summary Part in the Decision Center is incorrect and different from the value reported in the Parts dialog box and in the Component Thermal Summary (CTS) file.
  • Absolute Pressure is displayed incorrectly when solid parts are included within the simulation.
  • The Help documentation contains an incorrect description of the path needed to manually configure the Simulation CFD launcher in UGNX.
  • A simulation that contains periodic boundary conditions exits unexpectedly and fails to complete.
  • Simulations that contain distributed resistance surface parts and are run with an analysis length unit other than meters do not predict the correct operating pressure for the fan
  • Locally installed Help documentation does not load on XP.
  • When opening a Simulation CFD 2013 Design Study file that was created on a non-English OS into Simulation CFD 2014, the localized string for “CAD Volume” appears as garbled text.
  • A particular Design Study causes Simulation CFD 2014 to crash when the simulation is opened after having finished running. 
  • In a design study containing multiple scenarios, right click on a non-active scenario, enable Adaptation and set the Solver Computer to Local. A crash occurs when activating this scenario after the simulation is complete.
  • Simulation CFD crashes if no solver computer is selected prior to clicking Solve to start the simulation. 
  • The indicated progress percentage is incorrect for a transient simulation that includes multiple inner iterations per time step. The indicated progress percentage can surpass 100%.

Inventor 2013 templates overwritten on application options import

An issue with Inventor 2013 templates has appeared where the custom templates you create are being overwritten by the factory set defaults when you import application options.

One option as a protective method is to set your template to Read Only, however this is not ideal for those utilising custom templates on a network.

A simple workaround is to set the default template located on you local drive (the default template). However in the project the template would continue to be set as the shared templates folder.

This set up should prevent your custom templates form being mistakenly over written.

Step one is to access your Application options in Inventor - under the file tab make sure the default template is using the path way to your local drive. It should be like the following explorer link:
C:\Users\Public\Documents\Autodesk\Inventor 2014\Templates
Or follow the folder options on the right hand side of the image above.

Step Two is to make sure your Project templates folder is directed at the custom templates located on your network drive. The project setting overrides the setting in the application options.

Also if you find other times that your templates are overwritten this will often come about by changing the default template settings in the application options or in the start up screen. If you already have your templates created and set correctly then there is no need to change this option.

2 Dec 2013

How to remove Autodesk 360/Sync

Autodesk 360 with Sync is the integrated cloud hosting synchronisation tool automatically installed now with many of the Autodesk applications. This gives great versatility to share and synchronise documents around multiple locations while keeping everything in sync. Even your AutoCAD settings and profiles can be synchronised so you can easily move from one machine to another and retain your familiar settings and interface.
If however you don't want this functionality and want to remove it from your system it can appear to be a problematic program to remove.  Once on your system it appears to grow roots, purely because it is integrated in all the Autodesk applications,  and can not be removed until all other Autodesk products are gone.

In order to remove the program however you can modify a registry key.  Open REGEDIT from the Run menu and browse to:

HKLM\Software\Autodesk\Autodesk Sync

and delete the key for "Installed Products"

Autodesk 360 can now be uninstalled from Programs and Features.

Before you do though we would encourage you to try it out. It's a great tool for sharing and collaborating and Autodesk 360 is continually being enhanced and enriched with new functionality.

28 Nov 2013

Autodesk University 2013 - Live Streams

This year's Autodesk University runs from the 3rd to 5th December and is being hosted in Las Vegas.  As most of us will be unable to be there in person, there will be live feeds streaming from the event to your browser of choice.

There are several keynotes and classes on offer covering a range of products and some of them shouldn't be missed including the opener from CEO Carl Bass, and CTO Jeff Kowalski discussing trends in design and technology.

Kean Walmsley will be covering reality capture in with Kinect and AutoCAD of which you can get a sneak preview of on his Through the Interface blog.
The ubiquitous AutoCAD 'evangelist' Lynn Allen will be demonstrating 60 tips in 60 minutes, and you can catch her AU 2013 primer presentation on YouTube right now:

The complete list of available streams can be found here.  I'm sure you won't want to miss any of them and given they'll be going live at USA Pacific Time (-8:00 GMT) you won't be irking your boss while on the job.

21 Nov 2013

Industry 4.0

Over 200 years ago the steam engine and mechanical power revolutionised the world and brought around the industrial revolution (glamorously portrayed in last year's Olympic Games opener in London).
The ability to effectively harness electricity then enabled mass production, and more recently the advancement of electronics and IT systems has further enhanced industry.  These 3 stages are soon to be succeeded by a fourth leap in industrial technology, known in Germany as Industry 4.0.

RFID chips, wireless communication, PLM software, and intelligent systems are on the increase in production facilities, and it is the goal of Industry 4.0 to have all of this technology tightly integrated with a view to comprehensive automation of the entire production cycle.  As with the previous 'ages' the crossover to 4.0 will be a steady process and isn't likely to be fully visible for another 40 years.

Smart communication between production life cycle stages remains the key challenge.  It is doubtful whether Bluetooth or wireless network types in their current forms can cope with the intensity of communication required while remaining highly stable.  The sheer volume of bespoke machinery that is supplied from a wide variety of manufacturers means that introducing new standardised communication methods will need to be addressed by an international organisation to prevent another format war.

In this respect, Germany has set aside €200m for industrial associations and research bodies, and the US has promised up to $1b.  It is hoped that governments will push for the introduction of better data transmission infrastructure that will support the increase in IT communication requirements.


Installation issues with Microsoft .NET Framework (error: 1603)

We've received a few support calls of late where Microsoft .NET Framework has interfered with the installation of Autodesk products.

e.g. "2013/4/4:16:35:22 PC Install .NET Framework Runtime 4.0 Failed Installation aborted, Result=1603"

This can be .NET 4.5 or previous versions and may be related to corruption.  Corrupted frameworks will render you unable to uninstall them from Add/Remove Programs.

This tool over at Download Crew will enable you to get rid of the framework of your choosing, and then allow you to proceed with your product installation.


18 Nov 2013

VRED - a new member of the Autodesk family

VRED is a high quality CGI rendering package that is used for concept visualisation and marketing promotions.  The software is akin to showcase in it's purpose but brings a whole host of production features and editing control to the table.
It comes in 3 versions: VRED, VRED Design, and VRED Professional.

A full feature comparison of the various versions of VRED available alongside Showcase Professional can be found here and make sure to watch some samples of it in action

12 Nov 2013

Autumn's Tablets

Have you joined the tablet revolution yet?  If not, now is as good a time as any with new offerings from every major player in the market.  There are brand new releases covering each format; iOS, Windows 8, Android 4.3, and Kindle's new Fire OS.

But which one to choose?  There's an article over at engadget that lists them side by side.  It's aimed at consumers rather than professionals, and consequently favours Apple.  You'll have to make your own mind up if you intend to use it for business.

8 Nov 2013

Glow-in-the-dark Pavements

A new material developed by a company called Pro-Teq creates a glow-in-the-dark effect when it is applied to a surface.  The first application has been used on a 140m stretch of Christ's Pieces pathway in Cambridge to great effect as you can see in the image below.

The surface looks impressive, but the luminosity is questionable as this
photo is over-exposed as can be seen by the bicycle light trails

The liquid material is enriched with luminous particles and once a protective layer is sprayed over the top, the result is an anti-slip surface which emits light based on the amount of solar energy captured.  The company states that customers have a choice of size and colour, and that the material is environmentally-friendly and aesthetically pleasing.

The nightly longevity of the effect is as yet unknown, so if you've had a night out on the town in Cambridge please take a trip down and let us know if the lights are still on.

6 Nov 2013

GrabCAD - over 100k models to download

We posted a couple of years back about the launch of the GrabCAD community, where you can share and download models of everything from cars to gears, and animals to aliens.  Their library now holds over 100k+  models in total across various CAD formats.

While not everything is useful for engineering, there are still some good reasons to use the community.
You can:

  • View the model browser of a part you need to design and get tips on methods and technique 
  • Supplement an animation with extra background models (remember to give credit)
  • Test out your new 3D printer with something quick and easy
  • Use test geometry to run through your simulation package
  • Test the import functionality of your CAD application by downloading non-native models

    4 Nov 2013

    Modular Phone Handsets

    In the mobile phone world, the term 'upgrade' currently refers to exchanging your handset for a new one (and extension of your mobile contract for ~2 years), but Dave Hakkens has been hoping to bring the meaning more in line with computer terminology with his Phonebloks concept:

    When I first saw this, I appreciated the nobility of the idea but felt a little dismay as it is something I thought would be hard to convince the mobile manufacturing industry to get on board with.  I saw it as the type of concept that makes for great BBC viewing when it is trashed and thrown out of the window in the Dragon's Den.

    However, Motorola has just announced a new project called Ara which is the realisation of exactly what Dave proposed.  The vision is to do what Android has done for the software industry and bring open source modular hardware customisation to the smartphone market, and allow users to control the style, cost, and performance of their phones as they see fit (and ultimately reduce the size of hardware graveyards).

    Stay tuned for an alpha release of the MDK (Module Developer's Kit) this winter.

    31 Oct 2013

    Revamped Wiki Help Site

    The Autodesk Wiki Help site has had a major overhaul and is now faster, more streamlined, and brings a new visual style which closer matches the theme of the main Autodesk site.  The information contained within is now more up-to-date for your 2014 products and services.

    Do bear in mind though; while it can provide information on tools and techniques, it still can't solve your problems - unlike us here at Micro Concepts.

    If you have a support contract with us, do remember to give us a call on 01223 716 214 if you encounter any issues, or if you just need clarification on any of the advice listed on the wiki site.

    29 Oct 2013

    Inserting Inventor DWG views into AutoCAD

    When you open an Inventor DWG in AutoCAD, it opens in Layout view.  If you would like to work on it in Model space, you can do so with the DDINSERT command.

    1) Open the Inventor DWG in AutoCAD.  It will open in Layout view.

    2) From Model space, type DDINSERT.  The Inventor drawing should automatically be selected.

    3) Choose which view from the drawing you would like to insert from the drop-down Name menu.

    4) Adjust your insertion and scale settings

    28 Oct 2013

    Windows 8.1 incompatability

    Windows 8.1 is not fully supported by Autodesk software at this time.

    From our tests so far, and from the official Autodesk blog, Vault is not compatible with the new operating system update.  We were successfully able to load our clients, but not the server.

    However, there are fixes for AutoCADAutoCAD Eletrical and AutoCAD Mechanical available now.

    If you use Vault then we would advise waiting for more information from Autodesk before updating your operating system to 8.1.

    21 Oct 2013

    Printing Line Weights in AutoCAD

    A simple tip for AutoCAD users:

    If you are looking to print the correct lineweights you have applied to your drawings there are a couple of methods you can follow.

    The first is to make sure the LWT (line weight) button is turned on below your command bar at the base of the window, this will allow you to view line thickness in the created drawing before going to your plot options.

    The second option can be accessed through your Plot Options in the print menu:

    To access the extended menu click on the extension arrow highlighted by the green box in the figure below. Here you can change your Print Style (for colours use acad.ctb and for black and white use monochrome.ctb).

    The next option is to make sure "Plot object linewights" is ticked on. (Highlighted in the blue box). Ticking this will create realistic lineweights on your printed drawing. 

    17 Oct 2013

    Tips and tricks for Windows 7

    TechRadar have an excellent guide on tweaking Windows 7 to accomplish things you do faster and easier, or even to do things you didn't know were possible.

    Some of my personal favourites are as follows:

    1. Problem Steps Recorder

    Type PSR in the start menu search box.

    This very useful tool takes a screenshot for each mouse-click you make, and generates a report containing those actions and images so that others can read and help diagnose any issues you may be having.  Even better, it is a great tool to aid in creating How-To's and training documentation.

    7. Calculate more

    Click on the View drop down menu in Calculator to access a range of tools to aid in things unit conversion and mortgage evaluation.

    22. Explore God Mode

    This is like the entire Control Panel and it's sub-options expanded into one large list.
    Create a folder and rename it to: God Mode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}

    24. Display the old taskbar button context menu

    Hold shift while right-clicking on your open taskbar programs to view the old context menu.  Useful for restoring a window that has stopped responding to left clicks on the taskbar.

    52. Minimise quickly with shake
    While holding the left mouse button on a program's title bar, shake it to minimise everything behind it. This can be useful when you are writing an e-mail with, for example, Outlook and you want to add attachments by dragging and dropping files from your desktop.

    93. Close with middle-click

    Use the middle mouse button while hovering over the mini-view of a window on the task bar to close it.

    Check out the rest of the article for other tips that you might find useful.

    14 Oct 2013

    A Legendary Van

    It started its production in 1950 and was called the 'type 2' very adventurously named after the first production model - the 'Type 1.' In case you hadn't guessed it is the VW Transporter or more commonly known as the camper. The Camper or "Hippie Van" is famous for its days in the raging sixties and its colourful nature.

    The small van started life with a flat four, 18kW, air cooled boxer engine mounted in the rear of the wagon (much like its predecessor Beetle). As I'm sure you're all aware that mounting an air cooled engine in the rear of the cab as its downfalls..... to the point they had to completely discontinue one version of the 30kW engine. They did in the 90's while being produced in Mexico (since Germany halted its production in the late 60's) produce a water cooled  1.8 Litre 4 cylinder engine. It was in the end emissions laws that force the most recently produced campers to all be built with water cooled engines. The engines only ever really reached the steady heights of 67kW but they were always concentrated on achieving torque.

    Regardless of its popularity, engine problems and less than sober occupants falling out they are about to cease production in the very last Type 2 factory. After 63 years and over 10 million units produced world wide the factory in Brazil is to cease production due to more stringent safety regulations (something about air bags and antilock brakes......). However as many cars now find themselves in scrap yards having achieved their end of life quotas, its a pretty certain fact this Van will be around for some time to come.

    10 Oct 2013

    Simulating and saving cash

    CFD (or Computational Fluid Dynamics) is another rapidly growing simulation environment that is being utilised with ever increasing popularity in the engineering world. This cost and time saving facility is a base of numerical solutions that allow users and their companies to build environments simulating fluid and heat flow.

    As you can imagine in certain industries, (Oil and gas for instance) testing for miles of transportation piping networks would be colossal in terms physical practice. CFD simulation packages however enable us to develop and apply physical changes without increasing labour, material usage and that ever increasing importance of lowering carbon footprint.

    Autodesk is running a competitive Simulation CFD package, after consuming Blue Ridge and developing the program  further (previously known as CFdesign), this product is now fully available and from recent use I can confirm it has an easy to use interface with fully developed numerical solutions to manufacturers problems. 

    I spent less than 5 minutes knocking up a simple Aerofoil, of which I saved and placed into Simulation CFD as a parasolid.xt. After getting to know the software and applying the correct parameters I had a fully working model that was showing vector displacement, ribbon flows and aerodynamic forces working on the aerofoil. This aerofoil above was run using external incompressible flow. 

    Autodesk website has a fairly extensive list of tutorials that are easy to run depending on your modelling skills:


    8 Oct 2013

    Woodwork for Inventor

    Have you heard of the Woodwork for Inventor add-in yet?

    This powerful upgrade to Inventor brings custom functionality for the design of furniture, cabinets, and joinery with specialist commands and environments such as edge banding, veneer directions and CNC preparation.

    Graham Mansfield will be hosting webinars where you can tune in and see the software in action, so head on over to the site and register now:

    Woodwork for Inventor Webinar

    In the mean time, you can view a selection of videos listed on our main page

    7 Oct 2013

    Bamboo biking

    New bicycles to the market can range from the out rightly ludicrously priced high spec Time Trial bikes seen in the pro racing environments right through to the 60 tonne steel things that sit on 2 random springs and end up collapsing with every pedal stroke. 

    One bike that has entered the market by storm is some thing I became aware of while at Oxford Brookes University utilises some thing different; Bamboo. Bamboo is a grass that grows quickly, and after being cut down has little problem regrowing. 

    Some small facts that accompany the material are such that it can absorb 5 times more CO2 and expel 35% more Oxygen than similar vegetation. Now you may think to yourself that this is just going to fall apart, but quite the contrary - they are fully built to British Standards and offer and extremely comfortable ride utilising its formidable absorption qualities. The bikes have even been tested and monitored using fatigue testing and extensive use of FEA. These bikes have been used in Alpine races right through to every day commuting.


    Inventor Tip - Indented Parts List

    Peter Barker - Micro Concepts Ltd

    It used to be the case in previous versions of Autodesk Inventor that when you placed a parts list on to a 2D drawing of an Inventor assembly the parts list could be edited and there was a little plus next to the sub-assemblies so that they could be expanded (or not) as desired:

    There is indeed still an option to place a parts list in this fashion and the name hints at its history: Structured (Legacy).

    This then shows what I would refer to as an indented parts list:
    So that’s great if you know you want to do that as you place the parts list onto the drawing but what if you decide to do so after you have placed it? You can’t edit the style of the parts list right?

    Ok so just delete it and re-place it but of course this problem is exacerbated if you have placed the balloons because they will need to be deleted too.

    If you have placed a Structured parts list (not legacy) and now you want to create an indented parts list do the following:

    Right mouse click on the parts list and select Bill of Materials.

    The Bill of Materials window will launch, in this window select the Structured tab. And from the View options drop down list select ‘View Properties’.

    In the Level drop down select ‘All Levels’.

    OK the structured properties dialogue box.

    Select Done on the BOM Dialogue box.

    Double click the parts list in the drawing and you should now have the ‘plus’ signs next to all the sub-assemblies so that they can be expanded.

    4 Oct 2013

    Autodesk Labs - Project Chronicle

    If you have a need to capture interface workflows from within Autodesk products for the purposes of training or as webinars for your clients, Project Chronicle is now available on the Autodesk Labs website.

    It combines video and audio capture with a timeline which displays the specific command clicks, dialogue box, file, and product used at each point in time, in sync with the video's playback.

    There is a site dedicated to publicly available user created Chronicles here which already has around 600 uploads already, but users can also upload private Chronicles to keep their information and know-how to themselves and their organisation.

    Project Chronicles will be available as a free download until 1st February 2014.

    Inventor Tip - Rotate Leader Text

    The Format Text dialogue for Leader Text can be quite misleading.  There is an apparent option to rotate the text, but it is  always greyed out.  This is because the form of the dialogue mirrors the standard Text dialogue box where it is an actual option.

    In order to rotate leader text you need to edit the Dimension Style

    Leader text alignment is not controlled by the Leader tree in the Styles Editor, but is found in the end tab in the Dimension tree:

    Change the selection of the Leader Text Orientation drop-down box to "Aligned", as shown in the picture above.  Remember to save the style, and save it to the library if you want to use it globally across Inventor.

    Now when you place a leader, make sure you place at least two line segments after the insertion point, as it is the end vertex of the second segment that can be used to rotate the leader text into the desired position:

    This method should suffice for most situations, but if you require more options then look into creating a Sketched Symbol in your drawing, and save it to the template if you wish to re-use it across new drawings.

    Peter Barker also reminded me to mention that whilst this works for leaders there are similar settings available to rotate text for Linear, Diameter and Radius Dimensions as shown in the following image.

    3 Oct 2013

    Inserting drawings into older Autodek software

    On a day to day basis on the support Help desk at Microconcepts we get a fair few people asking how they can transfer or save their Inventor files in older versions of software. For example using Inventor 2013 and you need to open the drawing in AutoCAD 2012. 

    From the Inventor idw, we can go to 'Save Copy As' via the 'Save As' tool in the Inventor home button. Now making sure you've selected the correct file format. If you move the cursor over to 'Options' on the bottom right hand corner of the 'Save Copy As' window and left click. 

    Within Options you will be presented with pull down box options. Select the box under file 'File Version' in here you can select the software format you need that pre-dates the Software you are running. 

    Mapping AutoCAD Block Attributes into Vault

    In Vault, when you want to map properties from an Inventor file into Vault, it is a simple case of selecting that file at the mapping stage and choosing from the list of properties which are then populated in the Import Properties dialogue.

    With AutoCAD block attributes, it's not so straightforward.  For these, you have to index them first on the ADMS console, which effectively requires access to your Vault server.

    On the ADMS Console, go to Tools > Index Block Attributes

    Create a New entry and give it the exact name of your AutoCAD block.  Here we are entering "Title1-1" which contains no link to any AutoCAD file - it is just a reference for now.

    Adding an index for a block called "Title1-1"

    Once you have the index in place, Vault will then be able to extract attributes from any AutoCAD file with a block which has that name, as properties.

    On the Vault client, go to Tools > Administration > Vault Settings > Behaviours tab > Properties button

    From here, either edit or create a new property and ensure it has an association.  It doesn't have to have the same name as the block but for clarity we have done so in this instance:

    At the Import Properties stage, when you select the AutoCAD file containing the block, this window will now become populated with the attributes contained within.

    2 Oct 2013

    Inventor 2014 Service Pack 1

    The first Service Pack for Inventor 2014 is now available for download:

    Inventor2014_SP1_x86.msp (49272Kb)
    Inventor2014_SP1_x64.msp (93768Kb)

    Some of the issues addressed in this update (please consult the Readme for the complete list):

      Autodesk Inventor Professional 2014

        Cable & Harness
        • For some particular dataset, after placing a nail board view of a Cable & Harness assembly in a drawing file, Inventor unexpectedly exits when you close the drawing file without saving and then closing Inventor.

        Stress Analysis
        • Contacts in solids and faces at vertices are identified as face-face contacts. 
      Autodesk Inventor 2014

        Assembly Modeling
        • Cannot make a weldment iAssembly material valid as a weldable material. 

        Design Accelerator
        • Bolted connection does not update automatically when you repostion its location by changing the placement sketch point.

        Part Modeling
        • In the Insert iFeature dialog box, the help button is disabled if the iFeature is created with a legacy localization build.
        • iPart members do not show sketch and block definition.
        • iPart created from a feature with no dimension generates empty children.
        • When you measure distance in an iPart member, on the context menu Select Other is grayed out.
        • Mass calculation fails for a part that uses unpatched Rhino surface data.
        • ... more in the Readme

        • Cannot switch on and off the visibility of a sketch block when you edit the sketch.
        • Cannot create a coincident point when you attach a line to a projected point.