Monday, November 25, 2013

2013 Gift Guide for Engineers

Looking for holiday gift ideas for CAD users and engineers? The holiday season is right around the corner and it’s never too soon to start thinking about what presents you are going to get your friends, family, or coworkers. To help you out, I’ve made a list of items I think would be very useful or exciting for your fellow CATIA users. Some of these items I use on a daily basis and others are things that are on my own personal wish list. Enjoy and feel free to suggest items by leaving a comment below!

CATIA Programming Books

  • VB Scripting for CATIA V5: How to program CATIA macros by Emmett Ross. The first book to teach you how to program macros for CATIA V5 with no prior programming experience required. Download it instantly here.
  • CATIA V5 Macro Programming with Visual Basic Script by Dieter Ziethen. Shows you, step by step, how to create your own macros that automate repetitive tasks, accelerate design procedures, and automatically generate complex geometries. Filled with full-color screenshots and illustrations, this practical guide walks you through the entire process of writing, storing, and executing reusable macros for CATIA V5. Nice alternative to Emmett's book but more expensive.

Programming and Other Books

  • Mastering VBA for Office 2010 by Richard Mansfield. Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is the language used for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access. This complete guide shows both IT professionals and novice developers how to master VBA in order to customize the entire Office suite for specific business needs.
  • Excel 2010 Bible by John Walkenbach:This is by far the best Excel book I have ever found for anyone who uses Microsoft Excel spreadsheets on a daily basis.

Other Tech, Gadgets, and Toys

  • Google ChromeCast HDMI Streaming Media Player. Stream YouTube videos right to your TV using your smartphone, tablet, or laptop!
  • R/C Helicopter. This Brand New 3 Channel mini rc helicopter is the world's newest, most durable and stable helicopter. The item comes with the latest gyro system for precision control. The metal frame has proven to withstand dozens of crashes.
  • LEGO Mindstorms EV3 31313: Create and command robots that do what you want. Includes 3 interactive servo motors, remote control, improved and redesigned color sensor, redesigned touch sensor, infrared sensor and 550+ LEGO Technic elements. Intuitive software (PC and Mac) with icon-based drag-and-drop programming interface Control and command your robot with the enclosed remote control or download the free app for your smart device.
  • HDMI Pocket Projector. Projects up to 1080p HD images up to 60" diagonal. Rechargeable and portable. Connects via HDMI to most smartphones, tablets, computers, video players, cameras and more.
  •  Breaking Bad: Complete Series. All seasons plus tons of amazing extras for the greatest show on television. The episode titled "Ozymandias" is my favorite episode of any TV show I've ever seen.

Amazon Prime

I highly recommend joining Amazon Prime. If you order something off of Amazon on average once per month then it pays for itself, or if you're ordering a bunch of gifts this holiday season it probably will too. The FREE two day shipping is awesome and everything I've ordered really has come in two days or less. You can also stream movies, TV shows, and get a Kindle book every month. Great alternative for Netflix or Hulu and well worth the investment in my opinion. Cheers!

What's on your 2013 holiday wish list?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

How to hide CATIA geometry with a macro

Use selection method to select a piece or pieces of geometry in CATIA. You can do this by searching for name or by type. Now you can use the code below to hide or unhide the geometry in CATIA.


Dim visPropertySet1 As VisPropertySet

Set visPropertySet1 = oSelection.visProperties

VisPropertySet1.SetShow catVisPropertyNoShowAttr

‘alternative method: VisPropertySet1.SetShow 1




Set visPropertySet1 = oSelection.visProperties

VisPropertySet1.SetShow catVisPropertyShowAttr

‘alternative method: VisPropertySet1.SetShow 0



To learn more try this free CATIA macro exercise to search by name.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

How to Reorder Drawing Sheets in CATIA V5

One of the most asked questions I’ve seen on various CATIA forums is: How do you reorder drawing sheets in CATIA V5? Many times when dealing with a large CATDrawing with multiple sheets, the sheets are typically not in any logical order, which can get quite confusing. The best thing to do is rearrange the drawing sheets in a logical order, and not just rename them. If you want to reorder the sheets in V5 R17 or lower then you are stuck doing it the old fashioned way: cut and paste. Don’t worry, this method should still keep any links to CATParts or CATProducts, simply select the sheets in the order you want, cut, then paste as specified.

How to Reorder Drawing Sheets in CATIA V5

Fortunately, if you are using R18 or higher you now have access to a handy Reorder tool. Select the drawing sheets you want to rearrange, right click, go to Selected Objects, then click Reorder (as shown in the picture). If you hover over the sheets an arrow will appear. That’s how you reorder drawing sheets in CATIA V5.

Here’s a good video tutorial on the drawing workbench in CATIA.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

How to count individual parts and display userforms

Many designers are wondering  how to count the number of unique parts in a CATIA assembly (not including instances of a part) with a macro and how to display the result with a VBA user forms. Emmett Ross decided to combine these topics into one tutorial and took it up a notch by making it a dynamic userform as well. This new VBA macro to be run on an assembly to display in a userform:

  • the total number of components
  • the total number of assemblies
  • the total number of parts
  • the total number of UNIQUE parts
The next part of the userform is dynamic, meaning its size changes and is dependent on the number of subassemblies in the master assembly. A new label is added to the form for each product which displays their name and the number of child parts for each.
Confused? Here's a short video to show how this works (and there's a link to the code in the video's description):

Have you ever used a dynamic form before?

Monday, May 13, 2013

How to Convert PDF to AutoCAD

One question many CAD users ask is if there is an easy way to convert PDF to AutoCAD format. Well, now there is an easy, and best of all, FREE solution for you. PDFAutoCAD is a free PDF to DWG  and DXF conversion for AutoCAD-designed PDFs.
pdf to autocad

Some of its distinct features are:
  • High quality conversions with lines, arcs, scale presets and texts preserved, and no need for further touch-ups.
  • Files of up to 40MB can be uploaded and converted quickly.
  • All uploaded user data, including emails, is deleted in accordance with their privacy policy.
  • Everything is free - they support themselves via ads on the homepage (please, don’t be confused by them).
I've used this site myself and find it very useful. Check it out here.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

3D Boat Design Software

3d boat design software
I recently found a nice 3D boat design software to help you design anything that floats. If you have ever wanted to design a boat yourself then this is the program for you. 3DBoatDesign is a versatile CAD software package that is easy to use yet also powerful at the same time. Some feature of 3DBoatDesign include enhanced hydrostatic calculations, easy 3d scaling, rotating, and moving, hull sculptor, resistance calculations and more!

3DBoatDesign is to boats as NoLimits Simulator is to roller coasters - simply the best available software to everyday consumers and affordable too!
cad boat design

Download 3D Boat Design today and starting designing the watercraft of your dreams!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Drafting and Dimensioning in Solid Edge Tutorial

Ally PLM has created another wonderful Lunch Bytes Solid Edge video tutorial. This time the topic they cover is Solid Edge drafting, dimensioning, and annotation tips and tricks. More detailed topics include how to create drawings in Solid Edge, how to create a quicksheet template, how to add different views, how to create dimensions and annotations, how to make sheet metal callouts, and more. Watch this awesome Solid Edge tutorial below:

Thursday, March 7, 2013

How to Hide Axis System in CATIA V5

My colleague Emmett Ross recently put together a new video tutorial explaining how to hide axis systems in CATIA V5 with a VBA macro. In this lesson you will learn how to:

  • Hide all axis systems (or other geometry)
  • Search by name or by type
  • Use the CATIA Visual Basic help file
  • Use the object browser
  • Set a product to Design Mode

Check it out below and subscribe to Emmett’s new YouTube channel – I hear there are going to be more good CATIA macro tutorials coming out soon!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Android Application Programming Basics

Android Application Programming Basics
Today I’m going to share a few of my notes about Android Application programming basics. Recently I’ve been trying to learn how to program Android applications. This post is not directly related to CAD but I will hopefully one day be creating some Android applications for CAD users.

Android Programming Acronyms
  • SDK = software development kit
  • DP = density pixels
  • IDE = Integrated Development Environment
  • UI = User Interface

Android apps are written in Java. I think it’s much harder to learn than writing macros for CATIA V5. When you write a macro, you can type up the code in a simple text editor and it is read top to bottom like a book. When writing code for Android applications, code must be inserted into at least three different locations within the Eclipse IDE software.

Pages or screens in Android apps are known as Activities. An Intent is a communicator with another application and you use it to change screens. To create a new activity right click on package: New>Class. Give it a name and set Super class as Activity, which will be a java file. Each activity needs a layout file (.xml) created by going to New>Android xml. Name it file_name.xml. Xml is a way to organize information with structure (as opposed to just using a text file). The xml file is used to organize the layout and properties of all the text, input boxes, buttons, images, etc. Buttons use a method called OnClickListener.

Alright, that might have sounded confusing to you, especially if you’ve never programmed before, so I’m going to leave it at that for now. Would you like to learn more about Android application programming? Please let me know and I will write more detailed posts. I’ve recently created two Android applications and they are available in the Google Play store for Free here.

In your opinion, what are the best CAD apps out there?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

CATIA Macro Flowchart

catia macro flowchart
You may have noticed the Delete Deactivated Features CATIA macro I’ve linked to in the downloads page. It’s a CATScript my good buddy Emmett Ross of scripting4v5 wrote. He recently created a new article about how to start programming a custom CATIA macro from scratch. He lists several important questions you need to ask yourself before diving into the coding work. One question is: What is the step by step process of the macro going to be? He suggest writing a flowchart, sketch or map. He’s allowed me to share a flowchart he made of his Delete Deactivated Features macro. It’s basically a decision tree. The first branches are actually the error handling: if the active document is a part go down one root if not, go down the other. I highly recommend downloading the code and comparing it to the pictured process map to see exactly his thought process in creating the macro.

How do you plan out your macros (CATIA or otherwise)? I'd love to hear about your planning process!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

CATIA Lego Training Download

I’ve long looked for a good LEGO CAD program and today I’ve finally found one. John B Cearns, founder and
owner of Solid Engineering Solutions, has created an outstanding exercise to help students learn how to use CATIA’s Assembly Design workbench while being super fun at the same time.

While building the Lego model you’ll learn how to use catalogs in CATIA to create different Lego blocks in 3D. Not all the parts required to make the Four Wheeler and Rebel Wrecker are present in the CATParts folder. There are 72 parts missing from this folder but they have provided 12 tabulated parts for you to use to easily create the missing 72 parts. Step by step instructions are provided in the documentation for both sets.  The Four Wheeler contains 102 different parts and the total parts are 338. The Rebel Wrecker contains 123 different parts and the total parts are 468.

catia lego model

The free download contains all instructions necessary to assemble the Four Wheel and Rebel Wrecker. Or, if you just want to build the physical Lego sets you could just do that as well using these instructions. Get them here:

After you have created these two CATProduct models, there is a wealth of Kinematics joints you can perform on them: Revolute Joint, Cylindrical Joint, Spherical Joint, Rigid Joint, Universal Joint, Gear Joint, Cable Joint, and Rack Joint. The Lego parts also use a relation law created by a Multiple Value User Parameter to define the color: PartBody.Color = PartBodyColor.

This exercise is a great example if you want to use CATIA or other CAD software as a Lego design software. Many different bricks can be created from the template of a few using catalogs. All around, I highly recommend checking out this tutorial because, as I said, it is a lot of fun and very educational too (and it's free)!

Download the Lego CAD files and instructions here:
Please note: CATIA V5 R19 is required.