This is a quick three step AutoCAD Electrical tutorial. Due to the complicated nature of their job, electrical systems designers are always on the lookout for better and more sophisticated software. Luckily, Autodesk, a company famous for its design software, took note and created AutoCAD Electrical. Nowadays, this program is a must-have for electrical designers.
But like other software of its kind, AutoCAD Electrical isn’t easy to master. It has hundreds of functions and options and dozens of buttons, sliders, and menus. Of course, all that is there to help you work more efficiently, but it can look quite intimidating when you’re just starting out.
Now, we could let you figure everything out on your own. But instead, we want to give you a few tips to help you use AutoCAD Electrical to its full potential. So let’s get into it, shall we?
1. Displaying Wire Colour and Gauge Labels
When making electrical designs, you want everything to be labeled and clear at first glance. After all, your drafts will mainly contain wires, and those can get quite confusing without proper labels and colouring. Unfortunately, though, AutoCAD Electrical won’t automatically display these two features on the drawing. You’ll have to go ahead and turn them on manually.
And although many users may not know how to do that, it’s quite simple. Just open the Schematic tab and go to the Insert Wires/Wire Numbers panel. There you’ll find the Wire Number Leader drop-down list. Click on it and choose the Wire Colour/Gauge Labels option.
After that, you’ll get a dialog box with a few options. Click on Setup, and you’ll be taken to another dialog box — that’s where you’ll change and add labels. The first thing you’ll see is a list of wires you have. Select the one you want to label, and you’ll be able to modify its name and choose its colour.
Once that’s done, take a look at the Leader section under this list of wires. There you can change the text size, arrow size, and any other display properties. When you choose the settings that suit you, press the OK button, and you’ll go back to the first dialog box.
This box has a few more options to consider. For instance, you can choose to automatically align the text with the wire or place everything manually. Once you finish customizing, close the dialog box. Your electrical draft will update, containing all the changes you implemented!
1. Customizing the Tool Palette
If you use a specific set of tools over and over, it’s better to have them all in one place where you can easily reach them. Regular AutoCAD has the option to quickly customize the tool palette, but many people don’t know that AutoCAD Electrical offers it too. And it’s quite simple to do!
First, you’ll need to turn on the tool palette. There are several ways to do that, but the easiest one is just typing “TP” into the command line and pressing Enter. When the palette shows up, right-click on it and press the Customize Commands option. You’ll get a new dialog box that allows you to browse the command list. Search for the one you want to use, then simply drag it and drop it into the tool palette.
Now, let’s say you always need to use two types of wires when working in AutoCAD Electrical. To place those wires, you’ll use the command Insert Wire. However, that alone won’t give you the type of wire you want — you’ll just get the default one. What you have to do is take it a step further and customize the command too.
Luckily, that’s not difficult either. Simply right-click on one of the Insert Wire commands and go to Properties. You’ll be able to change the wire type there and rename the command to avoid confusion.
And finally, AutoCAD Electrical’s tool palette also allows you to group the commands any way you want. For instance, maybe you use many drawing tools and database tools, but you want these to be separate for convenience’s sake. Well, that won’t be a problem — simply make a new tab in your tool palette and name it as you wish. Then you can drag some of the commands there.
1. Placing Wire Number
Having wire numbers directly placed onto your draft definitely helps with the organization and understanding of the schematic. However, you can’t just put them wherever you want — you should make sure the numbers are neat, legible, and don’t distract from the draft.
Luckily, AutoCAD Electrical has several tools that can help with that. But before you get to those, you should know how to insert wire numbers in the first place.
First, go to the Schematic tab and the Insert Wires/Wire Numbers panel. Then, go to the Wire Numbers drop-down menu and choose to tag the wires. You’ll be given an option to tag all wires or only new ones, so simply select what you need. As soon as you do that, the numbers will be added to your draft.
Now that you have the numbers, let’s take a look at their placement. Is it clear enough for everyone reading the schematic? Could you change it and improve the legibility? If you believe you could, go back to the Schematic tab.
This time, you’ll need to go to the Edit Wires/Wire Numbers panel. You’ll find two useful commands there — Flip Wire Number and Toggle Wire Number In-line. Using the former allows you to place the number either above or below the wire. The latter switches from an in-line wire number to an above-line wire number.
And the rest is up to you. Test out different number placements until you find what works best for you. And don’t worry — these two commands can be used on individual numbers. Basically, using them won’t change the look of your entire draft, just the parts you select.
Get Professional Consulting Services for AutoCAD Electrical
Hopefully, this article brought to your attention some AutoCAD Electrical features that you weren’t aware of before. But of course, there are many more useful ones we didn’t mention here. After all, this software is rather complex, and it’s impossible to master it without some proper training.
But you might have already attended a course on AutoCAD Electrical, and now you’re just trying to expand your knowledge. In that case, we are more than happy to give you a hand. We offer professional CAD & BIM consulting services to help you overcome any issues with AutoCAD Electrical and master the software. Why would you struggle on your own when you can give us a call today?
This is a guest post by Nick Marchek, Building Information Modeling (BIM) Specialist at Microsol Resources, an Autodesk Platinum Partner, and based in the Philadelphia office. He provides consulting, training, technical support, model management, and implementation services to our architectural and building engineering clients. Nick is an Autodesk Certified Instructor and Revit Architecture Certified Professional. He received his Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in architecture from Pennsylvania State University.