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Feeder Drafting Techniques

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017

Tips and tricks for drafting feeders on one-line diagrams in Design Master Electrical and Design Master Electrical RT.



Hi, good afternoon. This is David Robison with Design Master software. We’re going to be doing a training on feeders for one-line diagrams today. We’ll be looking at how you can manipulate your feeders, the commands we have available for getting them in the right spaces, arranging them, making them look nice, just kind of the features we have for working with feeders.

First thing I want to do is I’ve got a one-line here, just some panels laid out for us to work with. If I go take a look at a feeder and I click on it, you’ll notice that the feeders have a number of grips on them. So you can use these to move the feeders around.

If you select the middle grips, it’ll move the line kind of back and forth. It’ll keep it as a straight line. If you select one of the corners, it’ll move the two edges connected to that corner. So we have those grips there. There’s also a grip for the feeder ID. Sometimes it ends up right on top of the other grips here.

You kind of have to move things around to get to the right one. But you can move the feeder IDs. If, when you’re moving the feeder itself, you run into the feeder ID or any of the other graphics, we will move the graphic and do our best to relocate things, but you know, you might need to, at that point, then make adjustments. If I take a look at one of these other feeders, you know, we have also the grips for moving the overcurrent protection both up and down on the line.

The overcurrent protection also has this grip here, which is used just to flip the side of the feeder that that graphic is displayed on. So if you want to adjust that, you can move it back and forth like that. On these vertical feeders, you’ll notice…let me check to make sure this is set how I think it is.

It is. All right. So there’s a number of…this vertical feeder, when they first come in, they actually come in as three pieces. So there’s a piece here at the top, a little horizontal piece that’s actually zero length, so you don’t even see it, and then another piece here.

So when you try and move things around, particularly like this overcurrent protection, there’s a little spot there where actually it’ll just kind of jump back and forth because there’s another segment there and so it can’t go in the middle of it. And so if you see that happening, that’s just why it can’t go there because there’s this extra little piece. If you move the panel, the reason we do that is so that when you move the panel and pull it over here, we have, basically, this extra segment to have the feeder arrange itself nicely.

So if you do have a feeder, again like this, where it is hitting that middle section and you need to get the overcurrent protection in there, you can grab that. Typically, actually, it’s probably simplest if you pull it out. You can either get rid of this if you know it’s just going to be a vertical section or pull this whole little piece down, straighten it all back up and then you can get your overcurrent protection down a little lower.

So just be aware that that’s happening, that that’s how we do our initial generation of those feeders, and that’s what you need to do to get things done, to move around nicely with them. And as you saw when I moved the panel, the feeders are linked to the panels so that when you move the panel, it does pull the feeder along with it.

So if you move just the panel, it will pull the connected endpoints of that feeder. What’s a good panel of this? Like, for example, pull this transformer, it’ll pull both the feeder feeding it, and the ones leaving from it so they’ll pull the connected feeders on both sides. You can also move the feeders themselves using the standard AutoCAD move command.

When you do that, we will leave the start and the endpoints where they are, and just move the rest of it. So if I pull this whole thing down here, you know, the start and the end stage where they were, and we pulled basically this segment and then some of the labels around as well. So just be aware that is how that command works with moving of the feeder itself.

So if you want to pull the feeder and the panel, when you do that, we’ll move this end and this segment this end back here is actually going to stay where it is. So if we pull it over here, it pulls just that horizontal piece and then the portion connected to the panel. So if you do need to move things around, you can kind of play with whether you want to move the panel or a feeder or both of them together to get things arranged how you want on your drawing.

We do our best when we generate things to put the feeder in a reasonable spot and we try and make it easy with the grips and the move command to arrange things. There are times, however, where you just want to redraw the feeder that it’s not in the right spot and, you know, is messing with the grips so there’s going to be more work than it’s worth.

So we have the redraw feeder command. So this is a redraw feeder on the RT toolbar in our electrical for AutoCAD, the redraw feeder commands’ here because it commands all the buttons of the same. The RT toolbar has the labels on there, so they’re sometimes a little easy to see.

So we’ll pull off the RT toolbar. You run the redraw and it will ask you to select…you can either select the feeder itself or the panel that you want to draw the feeder for. So if, for some reason, you’re missing the feed entirely and you say I want to redraw the feeder for this panel, you can just select panel, and then it’ll prompt you to redraw the feeder.

If you select the panel, it actually is going from the downstream to the upstream panel is the direction it’ll draw from. So it’ll highlight this panel here saying, “I’m going from here.” And then it’ll highlight this panel here saying, “I’m going back to there,” it’ll give you kind of some directionality of which way it’s thinking you’re going to draw this feeder.

So we can draw it backward like that, and it will also prompt you for the location of the overcurrent protection. You can either locate it in a specific spot. If you press Enter, it’ll put it in a default spot, the best it can come up with. And then the same for the feeder ID, it’ll give you a chance to locate that or you can press Enter and it’ll put it in a default location.

There’s a…So if you select the feeder, you’ll see that it’s drawing from the upstream to the downstream. So the direction you draw, depending on what you’re practicing with down at the command line, it does give you an option to reverse that direction. If you actually wanted to draw from this panel back, you could do R for reverse, and you’ll say, “Okay, I’m drawing from here instead.”

And then there’s a couple of other options at the command line that you should be aware of. There is the option to offset from another feeder, and so if we press O for offsets, it’ll ask us what feeder we want to have off to start this feeder offset from.

I can select this feeder here, and then it wants to know do we want to be on this side or this side. I select over here, and it’ll select a point in our standard feeder offset distance, which we’ll look at in a moment, but it has a standard distance it’ll offset the feeder from there so you can line things up with a consistent spacing.

You can then draw from that point, or you can actually do an offset again. So if we do O, if we do…yeah if we do O, then it turns on some snaps so that if we move close to this feeder, you can see that we actually get this snap point, the little green thing that’s going to show up here.

So if I move my cursor close to the sphere, it will snap to that point and be nicely offset from there. And then when I come over here, again, we have our feeders being arranged at a nice consistent distance from each other. We’re connecting to this panel here. If we do just F for finish and press Enter, it’ll do a nice connection to the top of that panel, it’ll kind of trim everything up and then get a nice connection to the default connection location there.

Let me put those labels on there. There’s one more option that it has, and that is, for the first point of the feeder, there is a used default starting point. So if you press D for default, it’ll choose a point on the the bus bar connected to the other panel where it thinks, “Ah, this is a good default spot.”

In this case, this black thing over here, not the best choice. On the other hand, if I reversed that, and I was starting from down here and I used the default point, it nicely grabs in the middle of that panel, so it can grab a nice default location for you. Now, and that’s to help you get everything connected, and again, looking nice when you’re you’re drawing in your feeders.

There is a question in the chat box. Can you turn off the feeder tags? And the answer to that question is yes, you can. That is, under options, there is a…in the one-line diagram section insert feeder IDs inside feeder lines.

The default setting for that is yes, and so they’ll include those feeder tags. If you don’t want them, you can change that to no, and then it will not include them. You will have to, after you do set that to no run an update to update everything on your one-line diagram and it’ll pull those feeder IDs off. I’m going to turn the back on just so that we have them as we’re doing our other commands because most people typically have those on, but you have the choice to include those or not include those, depending on what you like to do for labeling your feeders.

In addition to redrawing the whole feeder, again, we have the grips for moving it around. There are times when you need additional points to draw your feeder, to get it routed nicely.

You can use…these commands here we have an ad segment to middle, ad segment to end, and remove segment command that will add an additional segment to the feeder. So if we add in segment to the middle, it’ll ask you to select the point on the feeder, and it won’t look like anything happens though you do see some additional grips that were added.

Basically we have another segment right here, it’s a little zero length piece. So now if we pull the rest of this off, we can take that piece and it’s basically broken in half, and we have a horizontal segment going between those two vertical pieces on that feeder line there. There is also the ad segment to end. If you run this command, select the feeder near one end or the other, and it will add another segment, as you can see down at the end of the feeder.

So if you want to add something to the end, you could do it that way. Well, this whole feeder have it look something like that. And then finally, there is the remove segment where if you want to get rid of a segment, we select this segment here, it’ll get rid of this one, and then it’s…it also has to obviously get rid of the other vertical piece, and kind of square that whole thing up.

So those are the commands that we have for adding and removing segments to a feeder that’s already inserted on the drawing. The other next set of commands are these ones for arranging feeders that are on the drawing.

We have the align command, the offset, and the swap. These take the feeders and kind of match them up nicely, if they’re already on the drawing, so that everything looks nice. I’m going to redraw this whole thing as a riser because some of these commands are a little more useful when we’re looking at a riser.

At least I have some better examples to work with. So for a riser, say, we take this whole section here, and I’m going to move all of this down. So we’ve got this feeder, and obviously, we don’t want to be going up and down, that’d be looking a little silly.

We can run this command to remove that segment. And now, maybe instead of coming all the way over here and coming down, we actually want to match this one up so that we come over here and go down at the same spot as this one where it’s going up. So we can run the align command, and when you run the align command, you select the feeder that’s in a good spot…so you’ll say, “Okay, we like where this segment is, and we want to match this feeder segment up with it.”

And it’ll pull that feeder segment over. In this case, that feeder ID is having a little trouble, so we’ll want to pull that to a better spot, but it’ll match those up so that those are going up and down on the page in a nice vertical line there. So that’s the align command. We also have the offset command, and this will take feeders that are on the drawing and offset them nicely, and it’s the specified distance that we’ve got for the feeders.

So if we look at this whole arrangement here, and we say, “I, you know, this piece we want to pull the whole feeder up here because we want to have a little more space for some other notes.” And now we want to have everything else lined up nicely with that feeder that we pulled up there. We can run the offset command. And here we say, “Okay this segment is in a good spot.”

And let’s choose this segment to offset from it, and then it wants to know which side we’re offsetting if we’re going above it or below it. I’ll select below it, and it’ll match that one. It’ll then prompt you to select additional segments, and it’ll just kind of keep going down the line. So if you have a whole run of feeders like that, you can select them all and it’ll lay them all out nicely for you. The distance that is chosen for that offset, because it didn’t actually even ask us how far away, is set in options using the feeder offset multiplier.

And that’s currently here set to .3, and that’s going to be in terms of distance, that’ll be the distance on the printed page between your feeders. So that’s .3 inches. So if you have tenth-inch text, it’s going to be, you know, three times the height of your text basically, because it’s .3 or three tenths.

So if we want to have a bigger spacing because you want to be able to fit more notes in there, you can increase this. And then any new feeders that you insert are going to use that offset. It won’t touch anything that’s already on the drawing. So if you make that change, you might have to go back and make some adjustments, so it’s not something you want to constantly be changing in the course of a project.

You also kind of want to, you know, figure out what your stick end is just going to be for your company and have it set once. So if we change that, we can run the offset command again, select that same feeder, and then select these other feeders and offset them. And they’re there now offset by that larger distance.

We do also, during the offset command, have the option to set the distance. So you can press D at any point and you can tell it how far apart you want the little feeder. So if we specify a smaller distance like that, we can offset them at that smaller distance. So you can override it during the command, if you want to.

The final feeder arrangement command is the swap command, and this will take two feeders, the start of the feeder and swap them. So if I run the swap command here, it’d actually swap the two segments.

So if I select this segment here and this segment here, it swaps them. It actually travels along the feeder swapping them until it kind of gets to a point where they cross over. And then it doesn’t cross swap them at that point, so the feeders stay connected to the same location. But now if we wanted to, then, we could pull this panel over here, if you wanted to rearrange things.

That would be the way you can rearrange those two panels so that when you swap the feeders everything gets rearranged nicely and then you move the panels to their new location. The two other commands are the insert break and the remove break. So when you have feeders that cross over each other…we don’t have any shown here.

I’ll pull this feeder back up here, so when they cross over each other, when you run the updates, we will insert the feeder breaks automatically. So we’ll see that these feeders are crossing and we’ll do the breaks for you. If you make adjustments to your feeders, you’ll see that those breaks do not update immediately, because if they did, the next question you would ask is, “Okay can we have that happen less frequently because it takes a little time to do the calculations to figure out where those brakes go.”

So it’s better to do it just during the update command. So when we run the updates, it’ll update those breaks again. So in general, when feeders are crossing, we’ll handle the breaks, you don’t need to worry about it. There are times when you want to specify a break for some other purpose, if you want to put in some other notes there. Or very commonly, if your one-line diagram is very large and you want to spread it across multiple sheets, you can do it all in one diagram in AutoCAD, but just in a different location.

I could, for example, say, “Hey, let’s take this whole section here and let’s move it way off in space so we can have one sheet down here showing this portion of the one-line diagram.And then we could do another viewport, another ex-ref, where we’re showing just this portion of the one-line diagram.” So you can have it across two different sheets if it’s a particularly large one-line diagram.

But when you have that, you’ll have these feeder lines running off the edge of your page, and that starts to look a little bit messy. And that’s where the feeder break can come in, where you can insert a break and we’ll put a break in both of those. And when you put in those custom breaks, you actually get grip points, and so you can stretch this whole thing down and stretch this one up here, grab the right grip point.

So you can you can stretch those points like that, do the same thing with this other one here. Where did my break go? You know, there’s a little bit of drafting involved here. Obviously, you can get it arranged nicely. So we have, you know, it’s still connected, it still knows that this feeder is the same feeder across both of these pages.

You can put a little, you know, break and a note using standard AutoCAD continuing on the other sheet. When you update it, it’ll still all look nice, but that way you’re not running off the end of your page. So that’s a common use for the insert break command.

And then if you change your mind and you pull things back together, we have the remove break command, which really enough will remove a break. So you select that point on the feeder somewhere near the break, and it’ll remove the closest break that it finds. The final command we have for our feeders is the insert feeder command.

This allows you to just insert a feeder on the drawing not connected to anything else in the database, purely for drafting purposes. We don’t have any way to insert just like your spare breakers and whatnot. You do have to insert those manually. This will allow you to do that. It’ll be using the same set of layers and everything else.

I’m going to expand this panel so I’ve got space for another feeder. I can then run the insert feeder command. It will ask you for the piece of equipment you’re putting the feeder on, and then it’ll ask you for the graphics to be used on the feeder. If you want to have an overcurrent protection block, if you want to have a block at the start or the end of the feeder, and the layer system to be used.

So we can choose whatever block that we want there. And then it works the same as the redraw command, where you’ve got the same options for offsetting or using the default location. Here, if I use the default location….Oh, I was hoping it would pull down off of that other one but it’s not.

So I’ll run that command again. And we will do it offsets from this feeder, and then we can just put in another feeder here. And then, you know, you’ve got that feeder, you can label it however you want. If you do our insert and modify labels command, if it has a spot for a couple of labels, it doesn’t have any other labels pulling from the database because we don’t have this linked to anything in the database.

So that’s purely a drafting command. So if it’s actually, you know, you don’t have to kind of keep track of it, just labeling a spare or anything on the project, you do have to kind of manually keep that coordinated. The layering is controlled by the circuit that the feeder is on and the feeder is representing.

Within our Revit add-in, we have a simple change layer system command. If you run that, you can select the feeder and you can assign it to an existing layer. So they all come in new by default. You can swap to existing, and that’ll get you a different layer system, if it’s an existing feeder.

In our AutoCAD-based software, we do have that same change layer system command, so you can change it there. It’s also controlled by the…in a couple of other places, as well because it shows up in a different couple of other places in our AutoCAD software.

If you go to the circuiting dialog, you can select one of your panels, select the circuit and then you can set the layer system there. So if you change it here, it will update when you update the one-line.

So if I change this to existing, I’m not even sure what feeder that is, but when we run the update we should get another one changing to the existing layer system. Yeah, it was this one down here. So you can make the change in the circuiting dialog if you want to do it. And if you do it there, it will update. When you put a label on the feeder…we will snap to the feeder nicely for you.

So we’ll put the feeder size on here, so if we’re just moving around, you can place it wherever. If you get close to the snap to it, it will be nicely offset, either above or below it. If you go to the vertical piece, we will snap vertically. If you don’t want that, you can turn it off by pressing S for toggle snap to the feeder. Either on or off, press S.

And now, when you get close to the feeder line, it’s not going to be snapping to it and you can place this wherever you want to. So if you’re snapping and you don’t want to, just press S and it’ll turn that off and then you locate this wherever you want. When you use grips to remove the labels, they’re going to snap automatically. And there is no way, with the grips, to turn that off, just because you don’t really have the option so that you do when running other commands.

So if you’re trying to move the labels that are in there, and it’s snapping and that’s frustrating you, stop trying to use the grip for a moment. And we have the move label command. There you can select the label. Again, it’s going to snap by default, but now you have the option to press S for snap, and to turn it off.

If you turn it off while it’s vertical, it’ll actually end up vertical, so you don’t always want to do that. If we turn the snap off now, it’ll turn itself off nicely, so you can locate it wherever you want, and so on. It will snap, and you can turn that snap off when you need to. You can also turn it on in Option so that rather than snapping to the feeder line, it will be…labels will be inserted inside the feeder line.

So the option is insert labels inside feeder lines. We can change that from no to yes. And now when we move this label here, you’ll see that it’s snapping to the middle of the feeder line, and it breaks the feeder. Pull this ID out of the way. So you can see there, it nicely breaks the feeder with that label inside of it.

And then we can pull that. If you pull it outside with the right grip, it’ll just, you know, put the feeder back together and pull this label outside of the feeder. To change the graphics that are used, we have the change graphics command that allows you to turn a feeder ID on or off for a specific feeder.

So if you have them turned on but for a specific feeder, you know, for example, this one that’s an existing feeder, if we set that to no, it’ll turn off the feeder ID so we don’t want to label this feeder because it’s already existing and we don’t want it showing up on the scheduler or being labeled like that. You can do that. You can also change the overcurrent protection block.

So we can set to using our default value right now. We can change it to “Use a different block.” And then we have the “block it start a feeder” and “block it end of feeder.” For some feeders, some people have additional blocks, additional graphics connections that are being made, and you can draw that graphic and then add it as block to the start or the end of the feeder.

None of these blocks are really that appropriate for that purpose, but I’ll throw two blocks on there just to show you how that works. So when you run that command, it puts those blocks on there. You can’t move them. They’re just always at the very start and very end. You can’t split them back and forth if they have the toggle.

So you can flip the side that they’re on but they’re otherwise just fixed at the start and the end. So if you have some additional graphics you want to show, you can use that command. There’s a question. Can you change the sequence of the info in the feeder later label? For example, put the conduit size last?

We have some options for changing the format of the feeder call-outs. Our default is conduit size, hotwire is the neutral, and then the ground. Within Options, we do have those choices if I can figure out where they are.

It’s not one-line diagram-related because the feeder ID show up in a lot of different spots. So bear with me while I find it. I think it’s under home, run, and loops. So we have hot or neutral first. I’m actually…no that’s the…I think that’s stick marks. Ground… yeah this is all stick marks here.

Give me just a moment to figure out where these options are. We have a lot of options. I do know we have an option to move the conduit to the front and the back, and to make some other changes there as well. Here it is. It’s going to be other circuit load types and wire sizes.

Display. Conduit location is specifically what was being asked. So we have the option for the conduit location for the start of the wire call-out or the end, so you can basically move that back and forth. So we can put that on the end of the wire call-out. And then, when we run the update, it’ll move the conduit size to the end of the label there.

Or it won’t, and so we’ll have to do a couple of other tweaks to get it to actually update. Let me see if I can get that to update. So there it is, at least showing up at the end, and it’s not the kind of setting you want to flip back and forth on in the middle of a project.

You typically have a standard, and you set it at the beginning and then everything works out fine. There’s probably a couple of other of buttons to press on, maybe run a coordinate to get everything to update. But you can move the conduit to the end of the call out there. We were looking at the feeder graphics. So we saw how you can put them at the start and the end.

For the overcurrent protection, that graphic, the graphic that’s used is kind of, it’s pulled from various spots. It kind of starts in a more global spot and then you can kind of, at each level, override it. So in the Options, we have the default overcurrent protection block.

That’s down here. So the default block that’s used for circuit overcurrent protection, in this case, actually is currently set to none, So you could have no overcurrent protection and override it, or you could set it to a specific block and it’ll pull from the list of breaker blocks. Then for each panel…in the block settings, we have two overcurrent protection block values.

One’s for the upstream overcurrent protection, and one is for all of the circuits on the panel. So, if we set the upstream, this’ll override whatever is set on the upstream panel. So you can set what overcurrent protection block this one’s going to use, a circuit breaker or a fuse. And they can also change what’s going to be used for everything connected to the panel.

In that way, for example, if we’ve got this switchboard instead of these circuit breakers, and we want to use fuses, we can more easily make that change. We’ll select that switchboard. We can change it from this circuit breaker to a fused switch, for example.

And when you run the update, it’ll actually see the new blocks being used and it’ll update all of those with that different block. So that’s the default block that’s going to be used, if it hasn’t been set differently for that feeder. And then you can, for each specific feeder, set a specific block, which is where here, we’ve specifically set that one to use this breaker with the dots, which is why that, you know, is overriding it.

So we have the option to use the default or to override it with another value. So we can override it with the breaker, with the dots there. And I think I have covered everything we needed to look at for feeders.

Are there any questions on it? I see a question. Can the software insert ground graphics? No, it can’t. I looked at what people did for grounds, and it’s really all over the place in terms of the documentation people do.

And we decided that we really couldn’t come up with anything better than draft it yourself using standard AutoCAD. That that’s actually probably the best solution. So we just left it there. We do have, in some of our graphics… you know, for example, if you take this transformer, we do have some of them that have grounds included.

So you can, if you know what your grounds look like, and you include it as part of your default graphics, you can include them that way. So that’s an option that you have. But if you have more complicated grounding situations, you just draft that in using standard AutoCad. Can the ground size be inserted as a label? We do not track that ground size, and that is something that we could and probably should and someday eventually will do, where we’re keeping track of the ground size and then we can label it for you.

We don’t, so that has to be inserted as a separate label right now. But that is something that we’re aware of that we should do, and we just don’t yet. Another question that came in. We’ve been playing with creating custom one-line blocks, but we lose any dynamic controls when we put the blocks into Design Master.

Is there a way to add stretch grips, or is there anything like that in the works? So yeah, we don’t support dynamic blocks with our one-line drafting here currently. It’s not something we are actively looking at. I’m going to make a note to take a look at it for you. I don’t really know what is going to be involved with that.

I’m not sure how feasible that will actually be to support. Just because of the underlying technology we have for everything else, getting dynamic blocks to work with them is going to be a little bit of work. So no, we don’t support it, maybe in the future, but I wouldn’t expect anything soon.

Question. Will you eventually go through the process of exporting and importing one-lines into Revit? Maybe in a future session. Are you thinking about actually getting the DWG file back into Revit for publishing purposes there? Or are you thinking about going from your Revit model into AutoCAD and taking your updates from Revit and getting them into AutoCAD?

And I’ll actually just answer both of those. For going from Revit to AutoCAD, yeah, whether or not the DM file needs to be created. So creating the panels in Revit and then exporting to AutoCAD and then back into Revit. So you’re looking for basically the whole round trip thing.

We’ve not specifically talked about going from Revit to AutoCAD, but we could do that. I will make a note of that as a future topic. And I know we don’t talk about going from AutoCAD into Revit, and that’s something I’ve actually been doing some research so that I understand that process better.

Once I understand that, I probably will do some sort of training on that as well. We do have a series of videos and tutorials on the one-line diagram that do talk about going from Revit to AutoCAD. So if you go to our website, under support articles, we have…this is just…it’s just kind of like a running stream of articles.

So you might have to dig back to find one. But if you go back, we have this whole section of one-line diagram articles. If you click on any of those, there’s then a link to the main list of all of our one-line diagram articles. And this first link here, “Create your One-line Model,” talks about specifically going from Revit linking things and going into AutoCAD.

So if you click there, there’s basically a section on using our AutoCAD software, and a section on using our Revit software. You’d want to go to “Create your One-line Model,” in Revit. And here it talks about creating your panels, creating your AutoCAD project and exporting from Revit and then importing into AutoCAD.

So it walks through that whole process. It’s got videos where we’re showing you how it works. I’m going to copy and paste that link to the chat box there. So you can click on that and it should pull it up in your browser. You can save that for review later, after the training. So that does specifically address that, not in one of these sessions, but with some of our other documentation.

And then the linking from Revit back to AutoCAD, we don’t have anything on that, that’s just standard Revit stuff. But I do plan to do a little more research myself on that so I understand it better so that then we can share that. Thank you for coming out for training, and we look forward to seeing you next week or next month.

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Training Recording: New Electrical 8.5 and Electrical RT 1.3 Features

This training shows you the new features introduced and improvements made in Design Master Electrical 8.5 and Design Master Electrical RT 1.3.


Training Recording: One-Line Diagram Options

This training video teaches you how to customize your one-line diagram using the Design Master Electrical Options menu.


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