Monday, February 14, 2011

Getting on the bus, Part 2...Carmel Software apps!

Got my ASHRAE Journal today, and found an ad from Carmel Software ( I knew about these guys from days gone by in the AutoCAD MEP content days, so I thought I'd check their site out. And if you still think you're only going to keep doing things the same way you have for the past 50 years, here's a couple of neat new apps.

First up is the HVAC Duct Sizer app for phones that are using the Android OS:

This app calculates the duct size for a single run, so it's similar to Trane's ductilator. Sizing is calculated by airflow or dimensions.

Another cool app for the iPhone is the HVAC Ultimate Toolkit - which contains a ton of apps for load calcs, duct sizing, pipe sizing and's the aggregator of a group of several HVAC apps:

So now, you can do your calcs on the run...and if you need a custom family, they can make it for you, too!

Nice...BIM goes another step towards mobile...and for those who don't know, Carmel Software is who writes the same apps that are built into Revit MEP 2011!

later - David B.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What drives a successful BIM project...?

I've spent the past few weeks developing a project that Autodesk will be using for the 2012 release of Revit MEP. It's always an honor to be asked by Autodesk to contribute in various ways to help the cause, and have done so over the past several years. This year was different, since it was the first project since I'd left the reseller channel. And there were definitely some things that I learned - while most of what I used to advise people about in regards to implementing the software, take on a different perspective when it's your company doing the work.

The first thing I learned was how quickly you can get outside of how Revit works, to try to get work accomplished. The instant response to go with what you know, and what worked for you in the past. I should have know better, but I caught myself making mistakes I used to fuss at my clients about...and that was an eye opener.

It happened when we were working to layout one of those common things that Revit doesn't handle well - placing air terminals directly against a main duct. Automatic layouts work best when you have both a main duct and a branch - but don't work at all without instinct had us skip the step of defining the system before we added the duct - and it caused us a little havoc. Without getting into trouble with my NDA, I would say that Autodesk handles this better in the next release. But the point is that I didn't follow my own rules, and it bit us.

The other aspect of a BIM project that is absolutely critical is communication and coordination. Without this on any project, it's a disaster when it happens. The tendency is to blame the software when it's really our own bad habits that cause the problem. If you don't understand how something works, don't be afraid to ask - I'm having to do that every day as I re-learn design practices and techniques. I understand users being embarrassed if they can't do something, but not asking and doing something wrong is far worse. Swallow your pride - it's a lot cheaper that overrunning a budget. Believe me - I'm learning to put my hat in my hand...

The original design was a great example of how communication can also get boggled - the original design was done in an earlier release of Revit, and the engineering in AutoCAD MEP. We also had PDF's of the construction documents, and the biggest problem were differences between the architect's locations for MEP fixtures and the engineer's locations. We wound up going by the PDF's and not the CAD/BIM model...which demonstrates that no matter how good you may be at either of these programs, if you don't communicate and review your doc set, these errors can bite you on a project. It helped us develop some new methods of creating our models and sharing our work, even beyond the single model idea - and how important it is to assign a task such as a lighting layout to one person. That person owns that aspect - and it should not be split between an architect and person does the model and the work, and you don't have this type of error.

But the most important thing I've learned is that doing your homework is absolutely essential. When we had a friendly debate a piece of equipment that was part of the original design, but one of my team members didn't know it existed. At least I had the PDF's of the technical specs and dimensional data to make my case. There was time spent changing a design that didn't need to happen, all because of an unwillingness to accept that something might be different than what we know.

And in BIM, everything is. You have to be willing to get outside the box - do things differently - ask questions - be humble, but be learn, to change your ways. It doesn't matter if you're a newly graduated intern or a 40 year engineer. The day you stop learning is the day you need to retire, so don't be afraid to challenge yourself.

And the project? It turned out pretty cool - with a few exceptions (lights being different between the engineer and the architect, a few discrepancies in how the project was to look and feel, etc., the building is a great representation not only of a good BIM model, but a nice efficient design that works. I'm looking forward to getting some feedback once the dataset is released - just another way to learn!

Now get out there, talk to your co-workers and partners...and starting improving your BIM techniques and communication today!

Later - David B.

Time for an update...

Hope you like the changes...trying out the Template Designer for Blogger - nice little tool that gives you a lot more options...nice!

Later - David B.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

How do you turn off that default zone in a schedule?

I was working on my spaces and zones, and wanted to do a zone summary schedule. Moving along at my normal pace, I created the schedule and noticed the default zone was still listed. I posted this as a defect, but then got a suggestion from one of the Autodesk folks - use a filter...duh...should have known that one.

I edited the schedule, and set the filter for Name, and then told it to include zones that did not contain the word Default. Bang - no "default" zone in my schedule.

Sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees...

later - David B.

By gosh, get on the bus...

Working on my project for Revit MEP - first it's good to see just how many fabricators have gone out and made their Revit MEP content, and are finally getting on the BIM wagon.

To the rest of you - what are you thinking?

Here's my shout-out today - went looking for a small, under the sink tankless water heater - checked out Seek and the big boys...and nothin'. So I changed my search to instant water heater, and found these guys,
Chronomite -

Easy to use - go to the product page, and there's the link to download the RVT file. And it's not just a converted SKP or SAT file, but a real honest-to-god RVT model with MEP connections. And I didn't have to spend a half hour scrounging through 50 links to find the Revit models, as I did with several other "mainstream" manufacturers.

Somewhere in the middle, the industry is making the moves - but when the smaller companies like this, which can be "fleet on the feet", and make their product easily accessible to the next generation of designers (which will be the Revit users of the future - and now) - the big guys better watch out.

Just because you were successful doing things before the recession doesn't mean you'll still be successful in the next paradigm. The engineering product companies that understand how to take advantage of the "green" movement will be the successful capitalist of tomorrow...

Off my soapbox and back to the model -

Later - David B.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Getting panels to include patterns in a plan view in Revit MEP

We like for our 120/208 panels to have a crosshatch pattern, and the 277/480 panels to be do this:

Open your panel family - from the Family Types dialog, add a new parameter named Panel Voltage. Set this to the main voltage (120V or 277V).

Load the family into the project, then go to Visibility Graphics for the electrical view. Create a view filter that looks for a specific property of the panel, such as the Panel voltage parameter you made in the family - set it to look for an exact value that matches what you set in the family pick the 120v or 277v subcategory. Once you define the filter, add it the view - under the Patterns column, select override - make sure you check the box for visible, and then set the color and pattern you want to use so the equipment is "hatched". You might have to adjust the space of the pattern to get what you want, so make sure you duplicate an existing pattern and work from the duplicate.

later - David B.

Too many Revit Sections Views...can give you heartburn!

Don't create a ton of sections in your Revit model if you're trying to just work out layouts - instead, create a few working sections, then move them around the model as needed to help you see what's going on vertically. This will help with system performance, and keep the model from having too many views - that get a bit confusing...only keep section views that you're going to use in your construction documents.

Also, make sure that you create view templates for your section view that matches your plan views - and keep them in your template for safekeeping!

later - David B.