Monday, August 25, 2014

Lego House

Last summer my son and I were watching BBC America where they where James May was wondering if you could build a real house from Lego. As a Lego fanatic my boy was enjoying watching them building a life size Lego building. I was enjoying watching them try to build a structural beam out of Legos. We didn't get to watch the end of the show so we didn't know if they he had actually built the house or not. Tonight I was surfing the web and found this article from Daily News where they shows a finished Lego building with running water.

Here is also a short video on youtube about it.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Opening Revit

When opening a Revit you would think that it was a simple click of the button.  Not so.

For all of us that grew up on Autocad we simply went to the folder where the Autocad file was and double clicked the Autocad file and Autocad would start up opening the file you clicked. So you would think that Revit would work the same way right?

Well not exactly

When you double click the Revit file it will open the Revit project just like Autocad, but there are some ramifications.

Back when I started using Reivt there was a problem when you opened a file using the double clicking method. It use to be if you double clicked the model it would open Revit in a Demo mode or View mode as it is now called. Autodesk has since fixed this issue.

If you double click on a model that has not been centralized there are no problems to this way of opening a Revit file.

If you double click on a model that has been centralized this is where the problems occurs. On a model that has been centralized there are two files that you can double click on, the Central model or the Local model.

When you open the central model not the local model you tend to take control of everything so no one else can do anything in the model. If you don't take control of everything in the model and someone else is working in a local model and they do a save to central your version will become out of date and when you try to save an error message will pop up telling you that you can't save to central and the changes you made do not get saved.

When you open a local file by double clicking you have good chance that the local file will get out of sync with the central file. If the local file gets out of sync with central file the changes you made to the model in the local file will not get saved back to the central model. This also happens when you open a local file from the splash menu. That is why it is always best to create a new local file every day.

So to make this long story short, open Revit, then locate and open the central model making sure that the local check box is selected when you open your project.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Autodesk Transfer Licence Utility

In my opinion the Autodesk Transfer License Utility is a frustrating tool. First off there really are no instructions on how it works. It is suppose to be so intuitive that my little dog is suppose to be able to work it.

You might ask why would you need to use this utility. The main reason you would use this utility would be if you are running a Stand alone license of an Autodesk products you may need to transfer your Autodesk license to a different machine.

So your next question is probably why would you need to transfer your Autodesk licence from one machine to another? In my case the answer to this question is:

  • Upgrade all of your computers from Windows XP to Windows 7
  • Something happens to the operating system and you have to totally reconstruct it
Now here is my story of using the Autodesk Transfer License Utility.
To use the Autodesk Transfer License Utility first you go to the Windows start-up menu and select the utility under the Autodesk folder. After clicking the program you will be prompted if you really want to release the Autodesk License on this machine. When you release the license on the machine the Autodesk products will no longer work on that machine unless you activate it on the machine again.

Now that you have released the licence you now have to activate it on the new machine. This is where my intuitive understanding of the program is wrong. When you first activate an Autodesk product you install the product, then start it up. After you start the product up you will be asked to activate it, so you click the button and activate it over the internet. But when you are transferring a license from one machine to another you can't think you are activating a new installation like you did when you first installed the product. Instead you have to install the Autodesk product on the new machine then use the Autodesk license utility in import the license, after you have done that then you can open the product with an active license.  

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Set the Revit Survey Point

I am the first to admit that I hate the shared coordinate system in Revit. It's almost as bad as the Autodesk License Transfer Utility(which I had to mess with this last week).

I've read countless blogs(see end of this post for a short list) as well as attended several Autodesk University sessions just to wrap my head around the concept behind the Revit Shared Coordinate system. At AU- 2013  David Baldacchino's classNavigating Through the Storm Using Coordinate Systems in Revit has been the best explanation of shared coordinates, that has helped me understand them.

I still try to avoid using Shared coordinates as much as I can, but I have a project right now where the client has asked us to have use shared coordinates, so that they can eventually put it in a campus model, and of course I said sure no problem, which I didn't think there would be that much of a problem. Once I figured out how to use the Specify Coordinates at Point command it wasn't really that hard, or at least the ramifications of using that command have not come back to bite me yet.

When I first tried to set the Survey point I came across the 5 mile limitation that Autodesk said they fixed.

From the survey the civil engineer gave me the four corners of the building based on the standards that the client required. I thought cool I'll just input one of the corners as the Survey point. No so easy though. After I unclipped the Survey point and input the north and east numbers as the Civil engineer gave me. ERROR ERROR. As soon as I did that I got an error message that said that the number had to be less then 30000 feet (5 Miles), and of course the number that the Civil engineer gave me was base on a criteria where the 0 north and 0 east is at one of the corners of the state so 5 mile number was actually more like 270 miles, which Revit didn't like.

Of course there were two things going wrong here. First is that Revit didn't like the input I was giving it, because it didn't want to move out of the 5 mile limit. The second was that it was moving the survey point some where other then the point it was at. What I wanted was to identify that point at the survey point that the Civil engineer gave me. This is where the understanding of the Revit command  Specify Coordinates at Point comes into play.

The Revit command  Specify Coordinates at Point let me do exactly what I wanted Revit to do in the first place without any error message.
Here is a step by step of how I used this command.

  1. Open a plan view 
  2. If Survey poin is not visible turn it on from the Visibility Graphics. (Survey point will be under the Site category
  3. Select the Survey point Icon.
  4. Click the paperclip icon to unclip the Survey point (unclipping will allow you to move the survey point)
  5. Move the Survey point to the location you want it to be
  6. Select the Specify Coordinate at Point command (find the command under the Manage tab)
  7. Click the point that you placed the center of the Survey point
  8. Fill out the dialog that pops up with the correct Survey coordinates 

Blogs Talking about Survey point in Revit
Understanding Shared Positioning in Revit
Shared Coordinates
Project Base Point Manipulation
Revit 2013 - Project Points, Survey Points, Revit Coordinates

Friday, August 8, 2014

Text Leaders in Revit

If you look to the side bar of this blog you will notice one of the things I have talked about the most about is Keynotes. Keynotes are far more intelligent then straight notes. Not to get into how keynotes keep a consistency to how the same notes are written from sheet to sheet(for that you can read older blog posts), but rather to talk about the text that is in Revit.

Over the years text in Revit has arguably been the one thing that people have been asking for to improvement for the most. Even as bad as the text function in Revit is there are some nice functions of text in Revit.

Text in Revit allows you to have multiple leaders from the same piece of text to do this with a keynote you have to use a hack where you add an arrow that is not connected to any thing. But I digress. Looking at the leaders of text we have a lot more control then when I started using Revit, or maybe I didn't notice till recently.

Placing an arrow there are two formatting choices
The first formatting choice is what kind of leader you adding to the text

  • None
  • Straight
  • Straight with a tail
  • Curved
The second formating choice is where the leader is placed next to the text

  • Top right
  • Middle right
  • Bottom right
  • Top left
  • Middle left
  • Bottom left

Friday, July 25, 2014

Lego Models

This post is not my normal thing where I talk about Revit or BIM, today I'm going to talk about Lego's.

Ever since my son was 3 or 4 we have been diving him Lego sets. I've always been so impressed with how focused he gets when he gets a new set to build. I found this cool web site called Brickset that allows you to create a database of Lego sets you own. The personalized database gives you a lot of stats about the Legos you own. In some ways I really like this data that it gives me, must be the BIM manager in me, but when it tells me that from all the sets my family equals over 23k pieces I almost don't want to know the estimate value of those pieces.  
Another thing that is nice is that from this website you can look up the Lego instruction manuals (or Maps as we call them). This is really good especially when the maps get misplaced, ripped, or just thrown away. But there is a functionality that allows you to look of maps of sets that you don't own and it tells you if you have the pieces to make the other set.

Earlier I was talking about how the database lets me see how many pieces my family has. You will notice that I didn't say how many pieces my son has. The reason for this is that we have gotten my daughter some sets, (which her brother puts together) but my Wife and In-Laws have gotten me some Architectural sets. With these Architectural sets I'm like Mr Business from the Lego movie and I don't let my kids play with them. 

The other day I was looking at the Lego Architecture site to see what I new sets they have to add to my collection, and i saw a Lego set that really made me laugh. It wasn't a set of any particular building, but rather it was a set of a bunch of random sized blocks that were all white. They called this set the Architectural Studio. This set is a study model set. When I was in architectural school I never would have considered using Lego's to build a study model, but now I think it would be a cool idea. I almost want to get this set to create some physical study models of some of the projects I'm working on.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Line Based Families

When talking about line based families here I am talking about detail components that are used instead of a detail line. Back in April of 2009 I wrote a blog Detail object vs Detail line starting to talk about this issue a little. Basically why would you use a detail object verses a detail line, comes down to keynoting. If you do not use the keynote system built into Revit and just use text notes to document your project you can probably skip this blog, but if you do use the Keynote system built into Revit keep on reading.

My firm has used a keynote system similar to the one that is within Revit well before we adopted Revit as our primary project documentation tool. So when we adopted Revit it was a simple transition for us. When our objects began to retain their keynote information it began to make the keynoting process quicker to on the proceeding projects. When we began to create standard 2d details in Revit we began to draw simple lines like we had when we were working in AutoCAD but we were having to use a lot of User Keynotes which would lose the intelligence of the object. Once we started to use Detail object that represented the detail we were trying to keynote we began to save some time in noting the project.

Since we began using Revit there has developed two schools of thought when developing these 2d details.
1st-Create a detail object for each keynote
2nd -Create a detail object that represents the line weight that you want to see and create multiple types to house the different keynotes.

Each of these different methods works, it all depends on your work flow.

If you decided you want to peruse the first option there is a company called ARCXL that has created over 120,000 families that could help you, check them out.