Block Scaling too Large

One of my colleagues reminded me of an age old problem I have encountered several times and never got to the bottom of, when inserting a block it scales to a strange size and doesn’t fit to the page.

This turns out to be yet another setting between the “American Imperial” measurement system and the “International ISO Metric” measurement that exists in AutoCAD.

It turns out that changing MEASUREMENT setting to 1 (metric), from the default of 0 (imperial) only changes the way hatches and linetypes scale and not the inherent way the drawing works. The underlying unit scale of the drawing is governed by other setting. So old drawings created when out-of-the-box AutoCAD defaulted to imperial might still have all the old settings.

DWGUNITS command line options
DWGUNITS command line options

The option in question is DWGUNITS. It appears that the default is 1, which is inches. This is why a block drawn in a drawing using DWGUNITS of inches is inserted into a drawing set to mm scales to a differing scale!

As an aside DWGUNITS also sets linear display precision, which is also set by LUPREC.

The options after DWGUNITS is typed appear in a pop-up command line box for easier reading, they are as follows:

Unit for length:
This is the overriding base setting between metric an imperial, here we note that the original setting was 1 for the block template and we changed it to 3, which is the system we use in the office.

Linear display format:
This changes the output reading for items like DISTANCE from 2000.000(decimal) say to 2.000E+03 (scientific). I find the decimal easier to read so we will select 2 here.

Linear display precision:
This governs the number of decimal points in the output reading for items like DISTANCE. 0 gives a measurement of 2000, 1 results in 2000.0 etc. I tend to leave this at 3, but this is personal preference. (LUPREC system variable also changes this setting, and is also found in the dialogue box after typing UNITS, found under menu –> FORMAT –> UNITS).

Scale objects from other drawings upon insert:
This is the one that makes the drawings scale from one unit set to another. I have left this as YES as it will highlight any other blocks and drawings that might not have been set to mm in the first option. Otherwise the block will be inserted without scaling and the error persists.

Match INSUNITS to drawing units?
INSUNITS is another option to scale BLOCKS on insert. It is best to say yes here so they do match, otherwise errors could occur!

Scale objects in current drawing to reflect change in units?
This one you need to say no to. The reason being is that you have drawn a line that is 2000 units long, and in this case before changing the DWGUNITS this would have been interpreted as 2000 inches. AutoCAD can scale the drawing (which is sometimes useful when say changing from a drawing that was actually drawn in inches to metric) however in this case you want to preserve the “2000 units” as 2000 and just change the unit type from inches to mm.

Then the drawing and block drawn in the drawing will be compatible with other drawings drawn in mm.

Please note that DWGUNITS and UNITS are completely different commands.

Please also note the DWGUNITS command is undocumented in AutoCAD both 2013 and 2014 help, it might be present in previous versions but probably need to go back many years to obtain anything!

XREFs and Layers

A colleague of mine was struggling with numerous issues when using XREFs. The two main ones where having multiple Layer States with XREF prefixes that couldn’t be removed and the other was not wanting to see the XREF layers.

Layer States Dialogue for no XREFs does not work with Ribbon pulldown
Layer States Dialogue for no XREFs does not work with Ribbon pulldown

The first issue was frustrating as whilst there is an option to disable these is in the layer states manger dialogue, checking the box does not disable them in the Ribbon pulldown. Duh. So the solution ended up being, delete the layer states in the XREF.

The second issue was easy to solve as AutoCAD has this feature built-in and it works! It works with both the Layer Pulldown, Layer Palette and Classic Layer! Wow!

Layer Drop Down showing XREF layers
Layer Drop Down showing XREF layers

This is how to remove XREF layers from these palettes. You will need a filter (yup AutoCAD has layer filters!)

Layer Pallette indicating the filter section
Layer Palette indicating the filter section

On the panel on the left, click XREF, this will now show the list of layers for the XREF. Click on the checkbox below that states Invert Filter and voila, you have a list of layers without XREF layers within.

Rotate Angle for Manual Rotate

One of my colleagues just asked, where is the dynamic feedback for the rotate angle when using rotate.

I played with the setting for a bit and discovered that angular information is not available during rotate! How dumb is that?

There is a work-around though. Go to Drafting Settings (right click on OSNAP, OTRACK etc, they all bring up the same dialogue, just on a different tab) then go to POLAR TRACKING and set the Increment Angle to 1 and the Polar Angle measurement to last segment.

Polar tracking option for 360 degree angle feeback
Polar tracking option for 360 degree angle feedback

Now when rotating you will see 360 degree information, useful for rough rotates by eye.

Remember to change these back after your rotate command! Thinking about it, it is probably possible to turn this into a script and button so that you have a “Rough Rotate” command.


Rotating LT

One of my colleagues asked this morning how to easily rotate the view (and UCS) to help with drawing, now in full version of AutoCAD this is simplicity itself.

Rotate from Viewcube
Rotate from Viewcube

Just click on the arrows above the Viewcube to rotate the view and UCS simultaneously.

In AutoCAD LT this is more difficult, you can either use one of several command line methods, either using PLAN or UCS by object etc.

OR, this method seems to be easier (though it needs a little setting up). And here is how to do this.

Firstly, AutoCAD (LT) 2013 seems to come “out-of-the-box” with certain Panels turned off in the Ribbon. One of which is the UCS coordinate panel (why would they do this?) on View Tab.

Turn on coordinates panel.
Turn on coordinates panel.

Click on the View Tab and then right click anywhere on the panels below, then go to Show Panels, Coordinates. Now you have the coordinates panel which should have been there in the first place.

Secondly you need to make sure the view rotates with the UCS when you change the UCS. To do this click on the little arrow to bottom right of the Coordinates Panel, this brings up the UCS options box, Click “Update view to Plan when UCS is changed.” Click OK!

Enable Plan to Rotate with UCS
Enable Plan to Rotate with UCS

Now we are ready to go! (Phew!)

Rotate about the Z axis
Rotate about the Z axis

Click on the drop down menu which has Axes and a rotate arrow. Click on the Z icon and voila you can now rotate around the Z axis and the drawing will follow. The default selection is 90 degrees so hitting enter after clicking will rotate by 90 degrees.

So now its “one click and enter” to rotate the view and UCS in AutoCAD LT versus the “one click” in full version, hopefully a simpler method than all the command line options!

Phantom Drive in the Cloud

A slight tangent on my usual posts, but today I noticed that I had a 2nd hard drive in my Windows Explorer that I knew did not exist. This phantom drive turns out to be a mapped drive for AutoDesk Cloud Sync (360)! I think this came from a Beta version of AutoCAD that I have now uninstalled but my AutoCAD 2013 is still using Cloud Sync! I had no idea this was even running. Very annoying. Its been syncing data that I didn’t even want to be copied to the cloud.

This article showed me that I could find out what the Phantom drive was by running “SUBST” from the command line (CMD.EXE) in Windows 7. The results of this were as follows: (xxxx indicates personal info removed)
Z:: => C:UsersxxxxAppDataLocalAutodeskAutodesk

That means, Z drive is actually a folder which is my AutoDesk sync folder. Hence the hard drives were identical in properties. Confusing.

Solution: Sign out of Autodesk 360. Drive and syncing stop. Awesome!


Plotting in Style

Lineweights and plotting has always been a bit tricky with AutoCAD. Then they added named plot styles and confused it a little further. A while back they added lineweight by layer which really negated the need for plot styles altogether. I have never really understood the use for named plot styles (STB) as they just name a line thickness as “thick” or “road”. But this would be apparent from a decent layer naming system as you have a layer called “road” with the line thickness set in the layers dialogue.

But sometimes someone sends you a drawing using a named plot style without the plotstyle and as its vastly quicker to set up a CTB than a STB (for me anyway) I like to convert them. To do this type CONVERTPSTLYES and then accept the the changes. This is not really an undo-able thing so save before changing!

Really Sketchy Design

AutoCAD apparently does not support visual styles in 2D. Whether this is intentional or not is debatable but you cannot apply the sketchy style to a 2D drawing to get a “sketch”. It doesn’t work, it doesn’t plot. Not particularly helpful.Though I should have realised this as the icon cue for the style is in 3D. Oops.

Visual Styles Pallete (Acad2013)

But apparently you can use Impression to create sketchy drawings.

Thank you to Alexander for the answer to this.