I recently wrote a post about adding your own attribute templates for Symbol Builder. Based on that post a customer asked me to write about the larger workflow of adding content to AutoCAD Electrical. This is really a series of steps, which can include the following:
- Create your set of symbols
- Add the data to the catalog database
- Add your symbol to the icon menu and Catalog Browser
- Insert the symbol
In this post I will write about creating the symbols. In follow up posts I will cover the other steps.
Creating a Symbol Set
Creating symbols is tough to cover in an article because there are lots of options and variations. To keep it simple, I am just going to cover the basics.
Normally, I would create a new symbol by starting with an existing, similar symbol. But, for this post I am going to start with a rectangle drawn before starting Symbol Builder. You can draw the graphics for the symbol either before you start Symbol Builder, or while in the Symbol Builder environment.
Start Symbol Builder.
Since my symbol graphics already exist, I need to select them and define the symbol insertion point. If you are going to draw your graphics in the Symbol Builder environment, you can skip these steps.
- Click Select Objects.
- The dialog temporarily closes and you can select the objects that make up the symbol graphics. Once you press Enter the dialog displays again.
- Click Pick Point.
- Click the location you want to be the origin of the symbol based on your graphics. In my example, I would select in the center of my rectangle. Using a grid when you draw the graphics and select the origin can help get the exact size and location. The origin I select here becomes 0,0 in the Symbol Builder environment.
Select the appropriate attribute template for your symbol. You will probably want to create at least a horizontal and a vertical parent. This way you can control the location and orientation of the attributes when the symbol is inserted on a horizontal or vertical wire. Otherwise, if you only create the horizontal version AutoCAD Electrical rotates the symbol, including the attributes, when inserted on a vertical wire. For my example, I am just going to select the Horizontal Parent, Generic.
Once you click OK, you are in the Symbol Builder environment where only the objects that are part of your symbol are visible. If you don't see the Symbol Builder Attribute Editor palette you may need to turn it on.
Now you are ready for the main tasks when creating a symbol; adding the attributes and wire connections.
The attributes required for the symbol type you selected are in the top section and optional attributes are in the bottom section. You can add the attributes one at a time or pick multiple attributes from the list to add. Select the ones you want to add and click Insert Attribute.
The attributes are inserted with the properties as defined on the attribute template. For example, the MFG, CAT, and ASSYCODE attributes are set as invisible on the attribute template. I can change the properties before I insert them on my symbol, , or use the PROPERTIES command after inserting.
Look at the Help topic, About Schematic Attributes, to understand the many attributes used by AutoCAD Electrical.
Adding Wire Connections
AutoCAD Electrical uses attributes to define wire connections. When inserting these you can select from various styles which may include graphics. You may need to scroll down on the palette to see the Wire Connection section. Select the drop-down to see the default type.
The style labeled None includes just the wire connection attributes. The other styles include some terminal graphics along with the attributes. Click Others to see more options for inserting the wire connections.
Select a style and an orientation. Depending on the orientation you select, you will get multiple sets of wire connection attributes when you insert them.
You can select to insert multiple wire connections.
So now my symbol is starting to take shape.
It can look a little messy if the attribute names overlap. But, since the attribute names are longer than the values they will eventually hold, I am not going to worry about that.
Save the Symbol
The symbol is now ready to save. Click Done.
Some things to look at on this busy dialog:
Symbol name: A default symbol name is supplied, but it is a good idea to review this and see if you want to change it. See the help topic, About Symbol Naming Conventions, to see how the symbol name can affect the functionality. Since my symbol is the horizontal parent for the FC family (I will use this when I add the catalog data), I will use HFC1 for the symbol name.
Base point: You also might need to set the base point. This is the insertion base point for the symbol. It is normally set for the 0,0,0 of the symbol based on its location in the Symbol Builder environment.
Icon image: If you are going to add your symbol to the icon menu later, go ahead and let it create the icon image. This is not necessary if you are going to insert your symbol from the Catalog Browser. The Catalog Browser creates its own images directly from the symbol.
Errors: Finally, take notice if there are any errors found on your symbol. If so, click Details to see if those errors need to be corrected. Errors can include duplicate or missing attributes, wire connection attributes out of alignment for the symbol type, etc.
After clicking OK, I get the option to insert the symbol on my drawing. Once I insert it, I can see that is behaves like other symbols; it breaks wires that cross the wire connection attributes, it assigns a tag, and the dialog box comes up where I can fill in values for my other attributes. Success!
You will want to repeat this to build the vertical version of your symbol and any child symbols needed.
To see more about building your own symbols, see the Symbol Builder Tutorial.
In my next article I will talk about adding content to the Catalog Database as the next step in adding content in AutoCAD Electrical.