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Re: TurboCad

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I, too, am a one man office and have been using AutoCad since 1986 and use it 
for virtually *all* drafting.  I have never regretted not having to lean over 
a drafting board any more.

I am self-taught by studying the book, "Using AutoCad," first before I bought 
AutoCad to see what it was like and then the edition covering the version of 
AutoCad that I bought.  This was supplemented by subscriptions to Cadalyst 
and Cadence magazines, which nowadays are not directed towards the novice.  I 
never took any formal courses in AutoCad as it seemed that they all stressed 
using a tablet and puck, which I never bought, or using the on-screen menu, 
which, if I had to use it, I would have stayed with manual drafting.

Dennis Wish said,

>>Scale comes into play when you start to add text and dimensions. You can 
imagine being above a full size building and trying to read a 3/32" tall text 
laying on the ground - can't be done in our older age. Therefore, we enlarge 
the annotations in our drawing to fit around the full size home and be 
visible if we were floating above it.

We start by enlarging the sheet boarder so that in 1/4" scale a 24"X36" sheet 
become 96'-0" X 144'-0"  (a scale factor of the inverse of 1/4 or 4 times 
12). The text gets blown up by the same factor (3/32" Text times 48 or 4.5 
inches). Every little tick mark or dimension is also scaled up to 48.

If this is not adequate to fit on a 24x36" sheet and it is necessary to 
reduce the scale to 1/8", the scale factor will double to 96 times the actual 
dimensions. Text increases to 9", the sheet border increases to 192' X 288'.<<

Text and dimensions are the hardest thing to use with AutoCad as everything 
you draw is "full size."  As such, your lettering has to be scaled up so that 
it will reproduce on the drawing sheet the size that you want it.

I do the sheets in a different manner than Dennis Wish does.  Since I will 
rarely have *all* details on one sheet at the same scale, I have my 
"prototype" drawing sheets "real-sized."  Details are not "drawn" on the 
sheet, but in separate files, and "XREFed" onto the sheet.  (I will usually 
do this *before* I have entered any lettering or dimensions.)  When XREF asks 
for insert point, I hit "S" for scale, and use the inverse of the scale, 
i.e., 1/96 for 1/8" scale, 1/48 for 1/4" scale, 1/12 for 1" scale, etc. (I 
have a "cheat sheet" on the wall next to my computer).  (If you don't like 
the size of the detail with respect to the sheet, every time XREF asks for an 
insert point, you can hit "S" and change the scale again.)  I do all 
lettering for the detail in the detail file (drawing) not on the drawing 
sheet although I have, in the past, experimented with doing all of my 
lettering on the drawing sheet (didn't really work out good for me that 
way).  Changing the scale *after* you have done lettering/dimensioning 
affects the lettering/dimensioning size on the drawing sheet, a real drawback 
for AutoCad.  I have LISP routines that I wrote that will set the text size 
and dimension variables once I decide on what I want the scale to be.

Get the largest size monitor that you can afford.  Although I use a 15" 
monitor, I would really like to have a 19" or 21" monitor.

If you have a diazo machine for convenience printing or check prints, it will 
quickly become useless as you run "check plots" instead of check prints.  
(Translucent plotter bond is actually less expensive than print paper.)

Things that I *really* like about AutoCad:

1.    I no longer have to lean over a drawing board.

2.    Pieces of lead don't get caught under the straight edge and make a nice 
mark on your drawing, usually across a very intricate detail.

3.    XREFed details can be moved around at will on the drafting sheet, or 
even moved to another sheet, if needed.

4.    It erases quickly and cleanly!

5.    Instead of making a sketch of a detail in your calcs, you draw the 
detail on the computer and XREF it at an appropriate scale to a calc sheet.  
It is drawn once and can also be XREFed to the working drawing sheet.

Things that I *don't* like about AutoCad/Cad drafting:

1.    Text and dimension size/scaling cannot be easily adjusted if the scale 
of the detail is changed.

2.    Because you are ZOOMing all the time, you lose sense of how your sheets 
are progressing towards completion.

3.    Pen plotting is subject to skips and ink drying up in the pens and you 
have to keep a sharp eye out for these.

4.    Text is the slowest thing to plot on a pen plotter.  If you have a lot 
of text, such as notes, it is better to use a word processor and sticky-backs.

Hope this helps.

A. Roger Turk, P.E.(Structural)
Tucson, Arizona