Thursday, March 31, 2011

Family Abuse - Curtain Panel By Patterns Edition

I cut my teeth in this BIM thing using Architectural Desktop (ADT).  I loved that program a lot.  I still have a real fondess for it, but that's a moot point for this column.  At my first AU conference, i saw a presentation about using RAIL objects to model any type of repetitive, linear element.  I loved the concept and quickly started playing around.  But all that is old news now...

I struggled for a while trying to figure out how i could use the same "RAIL" logic of modeling repeating linear elements in Revit.  It seemed to me that the rail tool in Revit is a bit more rigid in what type of objects it accepts....maybe i am not looking close enough...and then one day POW! It hit me like a bolt from the blue.  CURTAIN PANEL PATTERNS could be the way!

First thing I did to test out this theory was to create a reference line CURVE BY POINTS and then hit the CREATE FORM button to give myself a surface.  I divided the surface and it looks like this:

Because i made sure to use a Reference Line, I can grab any of the driving points and adjust the curve manually later.  These points could also be parameter driven if you want that kind of control.

The next step involves creating a Curtain Panel Pattern based upon the RECTANGLE template.  Zach and Robert Manna did a great presentation at AU last year that involved a good discussion on how to control the behavior of the reference points.  You will need to understand this behavior in order to make this type of model work.  Go download the handout here:

Au Bon Panel: Baking Your Own Adaptive Components and Panels with Revit

The bit I am concerned with starts on page 6.  Have you looked it over?  Good.
In this case I am making a linear canopy.  I like using nested objects so I went ahead and made a generic mass to act as the repeating vertical element.  2 things to notice in the image below:

1) The object is being built in plan.  This is because of how i planned to mount it on the reference planes in the curtain panel.  The lesson is that in this exercise UNDERSTANDING YOUR HOST PLANES, HOST POINTS AND ORIENTATIONS ARE CRUCIAL!!!

2) The top mass is transparent so you can see the line work I drew.  These lines will control the shape and location of my glazing panels and horizontal mullions.  Its easier to set up any desired sectional parametric relationships hereTrust me!

Now if you have read Zach and Robert's Handout, you will be very clear of about whats going on in the picture below.

1) I set up the offsets for the reference points as they describe.
2) Then i connect the offset point to the adaptive point upon which it is hosted with a reference line.
3) Host a point on that reference line
4) Host my generic mass on that point, in proper alignment.
5) Create reference lines on any section guidelines and create desired horizontal forms.
6) Try again because I did it wrong the first time (repeat as needed)

Load that into the curved surface family, apply it to the divided surface and once you have done it all properly... you'll get this:

When I did mine, i noticed that the end pieces looked funny.  That condition went away when i adjusted the border tile settings:

And once you get it sorted in 2d, you can pull the curve's driving points vertically....

Download the family here:
Curtain Panel Canopy Model.rfa

And the stage is now set for The REVIT ROLLER COASTER Plug-in...I hear its in the works for the 2013 release...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Degrees, Diameters and Exponents

"%%D Doesn't Work!!!!"

I can hear the converts from AutoCAD chuckling....

I have been perplexed for a long time about how to get different symbols to come up in my Revit annotations.

The degree symbols, diameter symbols, exponents, greek characters.

The other day i finally got off my lazy but and did a search.  Google sent me to Revit City and I found this a forum post on how to do it:

Forums >> Revit Building >> Technical Support >> how to type degree symbol in text

To check the mapping on your machine, go to your START BUTTON and follow this:

Its takes you to the character mapping set and you'll get this panel:

and this...

and this...

Mapping is indicated in the bottom right corner and I am a happy man...

Yeah i know its old news but cut me some slack, i am still pretty new to the party...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A strange error with divide surface by pattern

Found this the other day while screwing around.

Fist I'll make a sexy, dynamic surface.

Then I'll divide it up using the DIVIDE SURFACE tool.

Then I'll insert 2 solid forms, cut and create 3 surfaces.

Now, I can assign different patterns to left, center, right surfaces.

I can even flex the form a little bit and retain the multiple patterns.

But if i delete the cutting form, or try to flex too far, it loses be careful!

Monday, March 7, 2011


Do you work for a company that has more than one office?  Do you occasionally need to collaborate with those offices using the same Revit Central File?  Then it's time to:

We can't get enough production staff in Singapore for the project I am presently working on so we have had to engage workers located in our Australian offices.  That did not go well at all.  Our central file lived on a server in Singapore and the lag times involved with users synchronizing over the Wide Area Network (WAN) were absolutely crippling us.

At AU last year, I had heard rumblings about a recently developed piece of software designed to address this problem.  I did a little research and the trail led to Robert Manna.  He taught a class on it last year and presented a wealth of info about using Revit on a WAN.  He was VERY helpful in briefing me on the solution.  You can get at his EXTREMELY HELPFUL PRESENTATION FROM AU HERE.

This is the simplified explanation:

The master model is moved up to a CENTRAL SERVER.  Each office location then sets up a LOCAL SEVER.  The LOCAL and CENTRAL SERVERS talk to each other all day long through the WAN.  Individual users then sync their models to their office's LOCAL SERVER through the Local Area Network.  User don't have to interact with the WAN and everybody is happy.  It works pretty sweet.

It took a bit of effort because the company I work for has a pretty complex network security system and uses multiple DNS addresses for our different locations.  We received some excellent support from Autodesk in getting the system up and running.  RS uncovered some open doors in our system and i think we found some unknown bugs in RS from the process.  Many thanks to anyone from ADSK who helped out.

Its free if you are on subscription and if you work for a firm which uses Revit in more than one office, you need this tool at the ready in your arsenal.  period.  no excuses.  Charlie sez PLAN BETTER, and i think it applies here!