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Frequently Asked Questions

This document answers common questions that AutoCAD Electrical users have asked product support and on the AutoCAD Electrical Discussion Group.

User Interface
I toggled the AutoCAD Electrical toolbar off. How do I get it back?

Select Projects > Toolbars. Select any of the AutoCAD Electrical toolbars to display.
I had to switch my screen resolution to 640x480 and my AutoCAD Electrical toolbar disappeared. What happened? Your AutoCAD Electrical toolbar is probably floating in space beyond the right-hand side of your screen. Go back to the higher resolution, dock the toolbars along the left-hand side of your screen, and then switch back to the lower resolution. What is a Tool Palette? This tool is similar to toolbars in that it provides quick access to AutoCAD Electrical commands. The AutoCAD Electrical palette includes Schematic, Panel, Wires, Conversion, Tag Schematic, Link Schematic, Tag Panel, and Link Panel tabs. Select Tools > Tool Palette Window to turn on the visibility of the tool palette. Can I modify the AutoCAD Electrical menus and toolbars? Yes. Select View > Tooolbars to open the Customize User Interface dialog box. You can customize user interface elements such as workspaces, toolbars, menus, shortcut menus, keyboard shortcuts, and so on.

Drawing Format
Can I use my existing drawing format and title block with AutoCAD Electrical? Yes, your existing drawing format automatically becomes AutoCAD Electrical compatible upon insertion of an invisible block WD_M.dwg. Various AutoCAD Electrical settings are stored as invisible attribute values on this block. When you invoke an AutoCAD Electrical command and it does not find this invisible WD_M block on your drawing, the command pauses and prompts you for permission to insert the block automatically. Can AutoCAD Electrical be used in paper space? Yes, but you cant split the AutoCAD Electrical smart wiring and components between paper and model space. They all have to be in one or the other for AutoCAD Electrical to work correctly. When I create a new design in AutoCAD Electrical, can I copy and paste from old drawings? Yes, in fact, AutoCAD Electrical provides tools such as Save Circuit, which saves a circuit to the icon menu for use in any project. When inserted, the circuit updates component tags, wire numbers, and even cross-referencing when applicable. In addition, AutoCAD Electrical automatically renumbers your wires and devices based on the new projects configuration.


I have customers who require us to use specific layers and colors. Is this easy to do with AutoCAD Electrical? Yes. The flexible configuration of AutoCAD Electrical software makes it easy to conform to customer standards. In AutoCAD Electrical, you have full control over layers.

Library Symbols
Why are there two versions of each symbol, one starting with H and the other with V? When AutoCAD Electrical prepares to insert a component, it reads the orientation of the underlying wire. If the wire is horizontal, the H version of the symbol is inserted. If the wire is vertical, the V version is used. What symbol orientation is the default when a symbol is inserted into empty space? The default orientation is consistent with your drawings default ladder rung orientation. The H horizontal symbol is the default for vertical ladders with horizontal rungs. The V symbol becomes the default for horizontal ladders with vertical rungs. If AutoCAD Electrical detects an underlying wire opposite the default orientation, the symbol flips to the opposite orientation. I already have my own electrical symbols. Does AutoCAD Electrical include tools to convert standard AutoCAD blocks to intelligent AutoCAD Electrical symbols? Yes, AutoCAD Electrical has a built-in utility called the Symbol Builder that automates the process of converting your existing blocks. The Symbol Builder walks you through placing certain attributes on your blocks to make them intelligent symbols. Can I add custom symbols to the Insert Component icon menu? Yes, you can easily customize menus in AutoCAD Electrical. The Icon Menu Wizard walks you through the process. Can I use AutoCAD INSERT to insert schematic components? Yes the component is still smart and works with the AutoCAD Electrical features. The downside is that the parts and pieces of the component are not moved to the various layers and any underlying wires will not automatically break and reconnect.

Can a project have different quantities of ladders on different drawings of the project? Yes, they can even be of different widths, lengths, rung spacing, positions, and orientations. Can I have both a vertical ladder and a horizontal ladder on the same drawing? Yes, in some cases it is possible to have both but with line-reference based numbering, it is risky. AutoCAD Electrical may become confused as to which ladder a component or wire is to be a member of. With the X-Y grid or X-Zone referencing mode active, this problem does not exist. How can I find the next available line reference number for a new ladder on a new drawing? AutoCAD Electrical does this automatically. It scans your project set and displays the next available number as a default. You can override it if you want. How do I create the line reference numbers without the ladder? Select No Bus on the Insert/Edit dialog box and insert the ladder, or insert the ladder with the line reference numbers. Use the AutoCAD Erase command and carefully delete the ladder leaving the line reference numbers intact. Can my line reference numbers include leading zeros and alpha characters? Yes, leading zeros and embedded alpha characters are supported for line reference numbering.


Catalog Files
Can I have just one catalog table for everything? Yes, create a single catalog table within your Access catalog database file called MISC_CAT. For each new project you create, on the Project Properties > Project Settings dialog box, select Always use MISC_CAT table. Can I have a project-specific catalog file? Yes, create a catalog file called <projectname>_cat.mdb in Microsoft Access format. AutoCAD Electrical looks for this file in the same directory as the projects .wdp file. Copy the default_cat.mdb supplied with AutoCAD Electrical, or use it as a template for your new table format. Can I add more manufacturers and catalog information to the catalog database? Yes, the catalog database is a Microsoft Access database and can be modified on the fly in AutoCAD Electrical or in Microsoft Access. Note that Microsoft Access is not required to add or modify components in AutoCAD Electrical. How do I integrate internal part numbers into AutoCAD Electrical? Each catalog entry has 3 user fields that are commonly used for internal part numbers. The internal part numbers can then be displayed in any applicable report, such as a Bill of Materials (BOM) report.

Project Files
Does removing a drawing from a project file actually delete the drawing? No, it only removes the drawing file name from the list carried in the projects .wdp file. Can two projects reference the same drawing file? Yes, there is nothing stopping you from doing this, though it can lead to conflicts if both projects try to modify the same drawing with some project-wide tagging or cross-referencing function. Do all drawings for a given project have to be in the same directory? No, drawings can be from anywhere such as multiple drives and subdirectories. Can I have both panel layout and schematic wiring on the same drawing? Yes, AutoCAD Electrical inserts both its non visible WD_M block (for schematics) and WD_PNLM block (for layout) on the drawing. Where are my project files stored? Project files default to the directory pointed to by your project subdirectory (given by the WD_PROJ setting in your environment file). This is not mandatory. When you create a project file, you can save it to any subdirectory. In some cases, you may want to store them in client-specific subdirectories to take advantage of the AutoCAD Electrical ability to access client-specific catalog files and library symbols.

Can AutoCAD Electrical be used on my old, non intelligent schematic wiring diagrams? Yes, some of the packages drafting and editing features can probably be used on your existing drawings, even those created by other products or converted from other CAD systems. Can my customers and vendors view and modify my AutoCAD Electrical drawings using standard AutoCAD or AutoCAD LT software? Yes, AutoCAD Electrical creates native AutoCAD DWG files that can be viewed and modified using AutoCAD or AutoCAD LT.


What happens to all my AutoCAD drawings and LISP routines? Because AutoCAD Electrical is completely integrated into the AutoCAD environment, most custom LISP routines work with AutoCAD Electrical just as they did with standard AutoCAD software. AutoCAD Electrical includes tools to convert standard AutoCAD drawings into intelligent AutoCAD Electrical drawings.
Does AutoCAD Electrical work with Autodesk Inventor software? Because AutoCAD Electrical drawings are standard DWG files, they can be brought into the Autodesk Inventor environment to be included as part of the design. In addition, you can export wiring information directly from AutoCAD Electrical into a format that automates the cable and harness design process in Autodesk Inventor Professional.

Does AutoCAD Electrical work with EDM or PDM systems? Yes, AutoCAD Electrical works with data management systems in a fashion similar to AutoCAD software. How is intelligence stored in AutoCAD Electrical software, for automatic report generation and so forth? Since AutoCAD Electrical is completely integrated with AutoCAD software, the intelligence is stored in the AutoCAD drawing, mainly in the form of attributed blocks. Because intelligence is stored in the drawings and not in a proprietary database, you can send drawings to customers to open and manipulate in standard AutoCAD or AutoCAD LT software without compromising drawing integrity. If I am not familiar with AutoCAD is it difficult to learn AutoCAD Electrical?

No, AutoCAD experience is helpful, but it is not necessary to be successful with AutoCAD Electrical. The Getting Started guide provides a great introduction to AutoCAD Electrical.

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