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One-Line Diagrams: Creating Custom Blocks

Friday, December 11th, 2015

<– Return to main How to Use One-Line Diagrams article.

A number of different types of blocks are included in the default customization with our software. If you do not find graphics in our included blocks that you like, you can create your own.

Creating a Custom Block from Entities Inserted on the Current Drawing

The simplest way to create a block is to use the DM Electrical->Customization->Block Creation->Create One-Line Diagram Block from Entities or DM Electrical RT->Customization->Block Creation->Create Block from Entities command.

Before you run the command, draw what the block should look like in AutoCAD. You can insert a block to you have previously created or draw it from scratch.

Once the graphics look correct, run the command.  A dialog box with a bunch of options will appear. Let’s walk through what all those choices mean.

Block Drawing File Name: The name of the drawing file that will be created to store this custom block. Choose a name that is meaningful to you so you can remember which block is which.

Folder: By default, the block will be saved in your customization folder. Do not change this unless you have a good reason for doing so. If you do change it, the block needs to eventually end up in the AutoCAD support path for our software to use it.

Move Entities to Layer 0: If this box is checked, all the entities in the block will be moved to layer 0. Our blocks treat layers the same way as AutoCAD does. If you are unfamiliar with making blocks in AutoCAD, leave this box checked and it should work out. If you are experienced with making blocks and know what layers you want to use, you can uncheck this box and manually set the layers of all your entities.

Block Type: The type of block that you are creating. The type that is selected will control which block list it will be added to.

  • Distribution Equipment: Panels, transformers, and any other types of distribution equipment.
  • Branch Circuit Device: Equipment connections in Design Master Electrical. Not currently used in Design Master Electrical RT.
  • Feeder: Overcurrent protection such as feeders and fuses and any blocks inserted at the start or end of a feeder wire.
  • Meter: Meters.

Upstream Connection Points: The number of connection points for upstream devices. The upstream connection point is used for the default ending location of the feeder to the distribution equipment or branch circuit device. This field is disabled for feeders and meters.

Set it to None if the block will not be used for distribution equipment that has a feeder, such as a utility transformer or generator.

Set it to Two if the block will have two incoming feeders, such as a transfer switch or UPS.

Upstream Feeder Connection Direction: The direction the upstream feeder will come from to connect to the distribution equipment. It can come from the left, above, or below. This value is used during the Generate Riser command for the initial placement of the feeder. This field is disabled for feeders and meters.

Downstream Connection Point: Whether the equipment has a connection point for downstream feeders. The downstream connection point is used for the default starting location of any feeders leaving the equipment. This field is disabled for feeders and meters.

Downstream Feeder Connection Direction: The direction the downstream feeders will leave the distribution equipment. The can go to the right, to above, or to below. This value is used during the Generate Riser command for the initial placement of the feeder. This field is disabled for feeders and meters.

Create Slide: Slides are used in the dialog boxes to display the preview of what the block will look like. If this box is checked a slide will be created based upon the block automatically.

Block Color: The color of the block in the slide that is created.

Create record in project database: Whether the block is added to the list in the current project. Check this to be able to immediately insert the block in your project. Uncheck it if you do not plan to use it in your project and do not want to clutter the block list.

Create record in master database: Whether the block is added to the list in the master database. If this block is added to the master database, it will be included for use in all projects that are created after it is added. To add the block to other projects, you need to use the Copy Master List to Project command after the block is added.

Display Name: The name of the block to display in the block selection list. This name is the one you will actual select when you choose to use the block using our software.

After everything is set correctly, press OK to create the block. You will be prompted to select the entities to use in the block and specify the connection points if appropriate. The slide will be created and the records in the block lists will be added if requested.

Creating a Custom Block from an Existing Drawing

If you already have a drawing file for the block you want to use, use the DM Electrical->Customization->Block Creation->Create One-Line Diagram Block from Entities or DM Electrical RT->Customization->Block Creation->Create Block from Entities command to turn it into a block that works with our one-line diagram.

Open the drawing in AutoCAD and make sure it has all the graphics in it that you want to include. Then run the command to add some additional information for use as a one-line diagram block. You will be asked a number of questions about how the block will be used and for the locations of various connection points.

See this page in our documentation for a walkthrough of the prompts in this command.

Creating a Custom Panel Box

Distribution equipment can be inserted using a special entity we call a panel box. It is a resizable box that can have a bus bar and a few other graphics included in it. You typically want these panel boxes arranged the same for most of the panels in all your projects. You can use the DM Electrical->Customization->Block Creation->Create One-Line Diagram Block from One-Line Diagram or DM Electrical RT->Customization->Block Creation->Create Block from One-Line Diagram command to save a layout that you have created.

Before you run the command, insert a piece of distribution equipment using our custom panel box entity. Set the size and shape of the rectangle correctly. Turn the bus bar on or off as desired and locate the main disconnect. If you insert a meter on the bus bar it will be saved with panel box and inserted when it is used for other panel boxes. Insert all the labels that you want to have on the panel box. The location and settings for all the labels will be saved and used when it is used for other panel boxes.

Once the panel box looks correct, run the command. A dialog box with a few options will appear. See the Creating a Custom Block from Entities Inserted on the Current Drawing section above for a description of what each field does. The connection points fields are left out because those points are based upon the location of the bus bar in the panel box. The slide fields are left out because a slide is automatically created based upon the panel box.

After everything is set correctly, press OK to create the block. Select a panel box. You can also choose to select additional entities at this time. These entities will be inserted at the same time as the panel box. You can use these additional entities for graphics you want to include beyond the basic box and bus bar. For example, you might choose to select graphics that represent a ground wire.

Once you have selected all the entities, a custom block and slide will be created. The block is used like other custom blocks for distribution equipment. The difference is that when it is inserted, rather than being a block, it is converted to a panel box. Once it is inserted you can later modify the size or shape of the panel box if necessary.

Creating a Custom Block with Labels

Once you have created custom blocks, you can then arrange labels on them and save those for future use. Use the DM Electrical->Customization->Block Creation->Create One-Line Diagram Block from One-Line Diagram or DM Electrical RT->Customization->Block Creation->Create Block from One-Line Diagram command to create a custom block with custom labels.

Before you run the command, insert a piece of distribution equipment using the custom block. Insert all the labels you want to have on the custom block.

Once the panel box looks correct, run the command. A dialog box with a few options will appear. See the Creating a Custom Block from Entities Inserted on the Current Drawing section above for a description of what each field does. The connection points fields are left out because those points are based upon the setting you previously chose for the block. A new slide is created automatically.

After everything is set correctly, press OK to create the block. Select the custom panel. Once you have selected the block, a custom block and slide will be created. The block is used like other custom blocks for distribution equipment. The difference is that when it is inserted, labels will be included with the block. Once the labels are inserted, you can modify them using all our standard label commands.

Updating the Picture Displayed in the Dialog Boxes

The various Create Blocks command also create a slide file. The slide file is the picture that is used to display the block when it is selected in a dialog box. The slide file has the same name as the block file, but uses an SLD extension instead of DWG.

If a slide did not get created or you want to change what it looks like, you can use the DM Electrical->Customization->Block Creation->Create Slide or DM Electrical RT->Customization->Block Creation->Create Slide command.

Before running the command, use AutoCAD to draw what you want the picture to show. The slide will be a snapshot of what is currently on your drawing. Once you are happy with what is drawn, run the Create Slide command. Choose a name for the slide then draw a box around the area of the drawing to use for the slide.

To use the slide for a specific block, the slide file name needs to be the same as the block file name.

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