Whiteboards: Digital Whiteboard for Design Review

A very cheap way to create an Interactive Whiteboard
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I've been all day looking for different options to create a sort of Project War Room feature with the intention of performing Drawing reviews digitally.

The idea is that since we are working on a high-rise tower with 40 storeys, soon there will be so many drawings to review that making it on paper will end up costing too much time. So the idea came to use a Design Review Program (I suggested Autodesk Design Review since what we will be reviewing are mainly 2D drawings) and use a big format interactive screen so different team members can markup drawings digitally. We want the process to be as similar as it would be doing it on paper, but doing it directly on the PDF files will allow us to speed up the review process a lot.

As mentioned, Autodesk Design Review is the software chosen so far (for 3D coordination and collision checks we are using Navisworks). We are still in the process of choosing the hardware that will allow us interaction with the software using fingers or virtual pens.

There are several options, from big format touch screens, to Touch Screen Overlays, Digital Whiteboards, and others. The most cost effective option is based on a project by Johnny Chung Lee, and it consists on using the Nintendo Wii Remote control (Wiimote) and an Infrared LED Pen (IR LED Pen). Although the idea didn't seem to be of the liking in the office for its sort of DIY approach, it is so cheap, that I am gonna try it for sure as soon as I have some time and I get the parts necessary. Below I am posting the video by Johnny Chung Lee describing the system. Promising!

If I manage to make it work I'll post a video of the results.

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SketchUp Plugins: Could this be the Future Grasshopper for SketchUp?

I can only imagine what this Plugin could do in the future...sort of Grasshopper for SketchUp
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Udi from ModelFunction has sent me a link to a Plugin he has released. The Plugin called ModelFunction aims to simplify the modelling when modifications of the model need to be done. If I understood it properly (I couldn't get it to run on my 64bit Windows 7) it allows to use instances linked to paths to kind of work on the "explicit history" idea similar (much more simpler for now) to what Grasshopper 3D does in Rhino. As I mentioned, I couldn't get it to work still, but there is a quick video from UDI to get a first idea of the possibilities. See it below.

The Plugin can be downloaded here. To install it simply run the .exe file. Apparently for now not compatible with mac or Windows 64 bit.

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SketchUp Plugins: Model Clean-Up

An excellent plugin to remove unnecessary edges and clean-up imported geometry by Thomthom.
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CLEANUP (tt_cleanup.rb): Thomthom has an excellent Plugin to clean geometry, unnecessary coplanar edges and other features. The thread at Sketchucation has excellent pictures that explain the functionality of the Plugin, so i'll skip repeating all of it. See the thread here. Here I'll show you just a sneak peak I have from trying the plugin.

There are other Plugins useful to Clean up your model. You can find them follwing this link.

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SketchUp Plugins: 4D Construction Simulation For Free

A free Plugin to simulate the construction process
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Not so long ago I posted on a couple of commercial plugins to simulate construction. recently I came across a free option that might help in the future simulate construction using SketchUp.

The Plugin is called onTime5D. On the video below you can see a very brief preview of its functionality. The plugin seems to be in process of development, you can follow up on this on the author's website.

I am adding this Plugin on the Previous post that can serve as a reference on the available SketchUp plugins for construction simulation.

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Book of the Month: Building the Empire State

Learn How the most famous Skyscraper was built. A must read to know how things can be optimized and sped up to the n power
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Thanks to last month's "Book of the Month" I came across this great book called "Building the Empire State" Edited by Carol Willis and based on notebooks from the 1930s describing the planning and construction process.

If you consider that still nowadays the Empire State is the tallest Building in NY (of course after the fall of the World Trade Center) and the 3rd tallest building in US, it is more and more impressive to read how the building was planned and built in no more than 22 months, and that actual construction time was 11 months.

or or

The book is an easy read. The first 46 pages describe the construction process, the next pages (47-187) are the reproduction of the Notebook from the 1930s that describes the construction of the Building. This notebook has no signing author, its a compilation of notes from someone or from several people working for Starrett Brothers and Eken, the general contractor in charge of building the skyscraper. Together with the scanned (or reproduced) pages of the notebook, there are pictures of the time portraying the different constructions systems, machinery, etc and explanations about them.

On the Next Book review, I'll be talking about the book "SketchUp 7.1 for Architectural Visualization: Beginner's Guide". A book about how toCreate picture-perfect photo-realistic 3D architectural renders for your SketchUp models.

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AutoCAD: Format your Fractions

Control how your fractions are stacked in AutoCAD texts
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Lazy Drafter just published a quick tip on how to format your fractions in AutoCAD. One of this little tips that in case you need to use it is really useful. Sometimes this little things are the ones that make us waste a lot of time because we do not know how to do it, si memorise this tip for the day you work with fractions in AutoCAD texts.

When typing fractions on MText, AutoCAD will rpompt you asking if you want to "Stack" the Fraction. If you say yes, then you will be able to select that fraction and modify the way it is Stacked. To do this, select the fraction, right click on it and Select "Stacking properties". See below.

With the different options you will be able to change the format of the fractions.

Via Lazy Drafter.

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Blog Recommendation: BIM ThinkSpace

A very very recommendable Blog to read about BIM on scientific way
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I seldom recommend Blogs by writing an entire post about them, normally I just link to some specific tip I found useful, but today it will be an exception.

Not so long ago I randomly came across, thanks to Google Reader, with the BIM ThinkSpace blog. This blog is a true gem for those interested on BIM from a, lets call it, scientific or scholarly point of view. Almost every post is well written, interesting and teaches you a lot about what I would call "BIM Theory".

It is not the typical blog where you will find Revit or ArchiCAD tips, it is much more than that. You will get a great insight on the WHY the transition towards BIM. What needs to be considered, what are the challenges of the future, etc. It is also not the typical blog where you subscribe and wait for regular short posts, it is more like a book on BIM Theory published online. The post frequency is scarce, but that is because the quality of the posts is incredible. A must read for those who want to understand BIM, not only do BIM.

These are a few of my favourite posts from the BIM ThinkSpace.

BIM Capability vs BIM Maturity

Efects of BIM on Project Life-Cycle

BIM Data Sharing methodologies

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Free Online Mindmap Creator

Mindmaps are useful to organise your thoughts, see a free tool that allows yo to create and share mindmaps.
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I've been using mindmaps more or less regularly for some months now. Mindmaps are a useful way to sort of write down your thought in a hierarchical way. Somehow is like creating an index with chapters and sub-chapters of your thoughts/ideas with the extra feature of being able to interlink them to show relationships. Probably the leading commercial mindmap tool is Mindjet's MindManager. I used Mindmanager for a while at work and works pretty good.

But this post is to talk about a free tool called MindMeister. The great thing of it is that has nearly the same features as paying apps (even it allows more freedom on where to place topics than mindmanager), it runs on the cloud so no need to install any software in your computer, and you do not need to go through a registration process, you can use your OpenID to log in. Excellent free tool. I would work a bit more on the connectors , since there seems to be no control over their shape, only over their color.
Even better, the ability to share the map with some collaborators who can edit it too or with the entire worldwide web makes it an excellent communication tool. Below you can see a map with some quick thoughts about the current topics at CAD-Addict.com.

via Carlos Camara.

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SketchUp Plugins: Make Fur / Grass

A Plugin to generate Fur / Grass with a lot of control.
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MAKE FUR (fur_en_v1_2.rb): Is a Plugin to create Fur / Hair or Grass created by tak2hata. It is very easy to use. See the following images.

Once you have installed the Plugin. Yo can access it via Right Click. Select a Face or a set of faces, Right click and select fur_1.2!. There are two options, a web dialog and an Imput dialog box. Either of them works very similarly. You can also access teh Plugin via the Plugins Menu.

You can download the Plugin here.

Via The Daily CatchUp

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SketchUp: Free Course Certificate

Get a 3D Design certificate with SketchUp for Free.
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I just got my "3D Designing with Google SketchUp" certificate for free at AECDaily. They offer a free podcast training and an online examination for free. If you pass the test, you'll get a certificate.

To access the podcast follow this link. If you are new to SketchUp better follow the podcast, if you are an experienced user, you might be able to take the test directly. Just be sure you review the PHOTOMATCH technique since they are quite a few questions about it.

via SketchUpLinks.

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Acrobat Pro: Turn Scaned Documents into Readable Ones

Turn scanned documents into readable (and searchable) ones with a built in function of Adobe Acrobat Professional
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This is again a bit far from the usual trend of posts, but bear with me, I've been doing a lot of writing and copy and paste lately, so not so much SketchUp and Revit fun for some days.
This quick tip is regarding scanned documents. Some times you might need to work with them. Someone sends you a scanned pdf and you wish you could use part of that thext without retyping it. Well you can with just a few clicks.
The tip is assuming you have Adobe Acrobat Pro installed. What you need to do is simply open the PDF in Acrobat Pro (not in Acrobat Reader) and go to Document --> OCR Text Recognition --> Recognize Text Using OCR. See the image below.

After clicking on it, we will get a screen that will let us choose the OCR Language. It is important to select the right language, especially for those languages with special caracters. My mother tongue, catalan has these characters for example: à, è, é, í, ò, ó, ú, ç, l·l. If you don't select the right language some of this characters will be interpreted wrong. Like for instance ó tends to be read as a number 6 if you leave English as a language when scanning in Catalan or Spanish.

The Output is here called "Searchable Image". This is actually a great feature, because it keeps the image almost intact, while allowing you to search for the document on a full text search query.

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SketchUp Plugins: Export 3D PDFs

Export your SketchUp models to 3D PDF format to share them with people that doesn't have Sketchup
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If you want to share your 3D model with someone that doesn't have SketchUp installed or you simply want to integrate your 3D model in a 3D presentation, you might be interested in this commercial plugin.
SimLab 3d PDF from Sketchup allows you to directly export 3D PDF from SketchUP. There is a free trial for 30 days. The license costs 95$.

Click on the image below to see a PDF created with this plugin

The free trial doesn't allow full control of the advanced features though. WIth a more complicated model, I also found some bugs (duplicated elements on the wrong position).

On the positive side, the plugin can export the section planes and it will add a buttpon to toggle them. So it really becomes like having sketchup (without editing tools) inside your pdf file. You can also select geometry and switch it off and on depending on what is it that you want to see.

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