Notes on the December 2006 Meeting

As befitting the final meeting of the year, Mark commenced with a review, not just of the past year, but of the “golden days of drafting,” before CAD. We all had a good old time reminiscing when a mouse was filled with vinyl dust, you controlled lineweights by adjusting the screw on your dip-in pen and when you washed out old linen drawings to make excellent irish linen handkerchiefs.

The main presentation for the evening was yours truly, Peter Godfrey, who presented a session on dynamic blocks. These are a recent arrival in AutoCAD and it is worth exploring their benefits.

As you might expect, dynamic blocks are a form of the ordinary blocks which we have been using for years. So, before we get to dynamic blocks, we need to understand regular blocks. We started by recapping the basics of making and using ordinary blocks.

As a form of reusable linework and other content, blocks have been around since the very early days of AutoCAD. We looked at making and using blocks, attributes, defining the insertion point. Also, more advanced issues such as the effects of drawing entities in blocks on layer 0, with properties BYLAYER or with properties BYBLOCK

We looked at an example of a furniture block (chair). See what happens when you alter the properties of the entities which make up the block.

The DIVIDE and MEASURE commands can be used to space out blocks along a line or polyline. The BATTMAN command is used to update changed attribute definitions in a block.

So, we come at last to Dynamic Blocks. Would you believe that early versions of dynamic blocks actually were in old AutoCADs. They appeared as associative dimensioning and hatching. Dynamic blocks are basically an extension of these concepts, to include graphical data that can change appearance in different insertions of the same block.

An example of aquarium plinth detail was shown to illustrate a dynamic block application. This is a detail which repeats but with different sizes and dimensions and is ideal for this. There are problems in using associative hatching and dimensions, which may be the result of the way that dynamic blocks are implemented in AutoCAD and that they can “fight” with each other. We heard about some techniques you can use to minimise these problems.

Finally, we looked at how to actually go about creating a simple dynamic block: in this case a table that can stretch. The table can grow and shrink in preset sizes and can even be driven through a catalogue-like pulldown to select the model of table.

Next month, we’ll revise the main points and look at some more uses and capabilities of dynamic blocks.

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