Learning AutoCAD

Splash AutoCADOkay, so now I own AutoCAD, now what? I got an e-book from the iBook store to get me stated and I asked the guy who did our floor plans and he told me to use Lydia.com and spend 20 hours going through the tutorials and I would know it. So I started with the book and watching the videos AutoCAD has embedded.

So one thing I read was that in ¬†AutoCAD all drawings are done in 1:1 scale. The program I have used for a very long time is MacDraft and I have made many drawings with it. But there I would set a scale at the outset to make sure the drawing would fit on the paper I was going to eventually print on, like 1/4″ = 1′. Now I can see the advantage to this, not having to think about scale while drawing, just draw if it’s 2 inches long or 2 miles long, no worries.

40 foot line

My 40 foot line

So after a couple of days of playing with it I felt I was ready to try something, like a simple floor plan. I wanted to layout this transmitter room I’m working on, how much room is around the transmitter, where transformers are and electrical panels, like that. So I type the “LINE” command, click and give it a direction and type 40′. A line shoots out to the right and goes off screen, I zoom out.I zoom out all the way and still the end of the line is off screen. I reposition the canvas and still I an not see the end of the line. Now wait one moment, they design bridges and buildings with this thing and I can’t see a 40 foot line?

I try lots of things but none of them work, I search on the web, I watch tutorials and read my e-book but I still can’t see the end. This is nuts I think. Now a lot of the searching is about scales and scaling, I’m still new to AutoCAD. Then I try a different search term “autocad why my 40″ line goes off sheet” and I found my answer.

My first AutoCAD drawing

My first AutoCAD drawing

The screen needs to be refreshed, apparently AutoCAD only holds so much of the screen in memory and when you need to see more you have to give it the command “REGEN”, now when I zoom out I can see the end of my line. So I draw a 100′ line and then a 1000′ line and a 5,000′ line and a 10,000 ‘ line, and I can see the end of them all because I used the REGEN command whenever I needed to expand the canvas. Okay now I can draw my floor plan, as simple as it may be.

In AutoCAD scaling is done when you print, thats when you need for it to fit on a page, they use something called “paper space” to scale a drawing and even cooler is “viewports” that allow you to open a window of any size or shape onto your drawing and zoom it within it to show detail. In the past I had to redraw the part I wanted to show in detail, but not now.

I will keep you informed as I progress.