Are you just targeting a north American audience? European, British and other countries use different shapes and sizes of socket outlets and switches.
Initially yes. Once I’ve got the plugin working reasonably well I can begin adding in additional standards and geometry for other countries.
Why not simply provide a strategy whereby users can add their own geometry and standards. This would not only Internationalize the plugin but it would also future proof it without burdening you to to it all yourself.
If I can make it work that way I agree it would be much easier on me. I will see what I can come up with. This plugin is still very much in the conceptual stage.
The primary objective right now is to provide a way for users of the Medeek Wall extension to quickly and easily insert standard (NEMA) electrical outlets and switches into their wall panels.
I have a fairly good idea on what is needed to accomplish this and I think in about a weeks time I should be able to quickly hammer out underlying architecture to bring this plugin to fruition.
Of course the devil is always in the details and there will be many customizations and additional parameters that will be need to be added once a few users have put the initial BETA plugin through its paces.
The prototype toolbar:
I may also add in a (horizontal) move tool/icon, which may be easier than manually moving the electrical components.
First look at the draw switch menu:
Currently there are no advanced options but I am including that parameter since I am almost 95% sure that something will come along that will dictate the use of this parameter.
This plugin seems fairly basic when compared with the other plugins but I may be missing some additional parameters here.
Medeek Wall Plugin
The draw tool is now working and able to insert switches on both sides of the walls:
Now I just need to work on the edit menu and global settings.
The outlet module will be almost identical to the switch module so once I have the switch module done it is just a matter of copying and pasting and making some minor edits.
The Wall Plugin will require a minor edit to retain the electrical groups, this means that previous versions of the Wall Plugin will not work with the new Electrical Plugin.
Will this ultimately produce an electrical plan view with symbolic representations and wiring lines?
I haven’t given much thought to wiring lines yet but I will be adding the 2D symbols at the floor level for the electrical plan.
Drawing the wiring lines should be easy enough in a 2D app including Layout if the symbols are already there.
That is kind of my thinking as well. Alternatively one could even draw the connecting lines between the symbols in regular old SketchUp (not layout) but again that does not require any special tools or plugins, in my opinion.
I think the key thing is that the plugin allows the user to insert switch, outlets and eventually other fixtures and then automatically populates the model with the appropriate electrical symbols (on the 2D electrical layer).
What do we want these electrical symbols to look like?
Simple lines or filled in faces?
Here is a first look at the switch symbols, I’ve shown them drawn at 4.5" in height but I’ve set it up so that the symbol height can be determined by the user in the global settings and everything (symbol spacing etc…) should scale appropriately.
Also note that the symbols are with the switch group so when you move the switch in the wall the symbols move with the switch.
The symbols are also placed on the electrical_2d_layer by default (again user definable in the global settings) so they can easily be toggled on or off.
Looking good. I don’t see any reference to it on your web site. Any idea when you might make it available?
None yet, after I’ve spent a couple more days ironing out the kinks I’ll put up the web page and links and also setup the Account Manager.
It may be a week or two before I release it to the public. I want to make sure it is decently solid and not going to crash anyone’s model. So far it seems pretty stable, and quite honestly is actually quite fun to use, what little I’ve used it.
I like to turn off the gypsum layer when I’m positioning switches so that I can butt the switch enclosure right up against the studs. The control key allows one to toggle the justification (left, center, right).
I’ve got the camera algorithm working nicely so you just simply face the side of the wall you want to place the switches into and start dropping them in. The tool is persistent (until you hit the space bar) so you can easily navigate to another wall and continue to install switches.
I’ll probably need to add a few more icons in the toolbar. Off the top of my head I’m thinking about:
1.) Service Panels: These are typically 14.5" in width and fit nicely between 16" on center studs
2.) Exterior Service and Meter
3.) Additional Faceplates/Media Outlets: CAT5/6, Coax, Telephone, etc…
Another can of worms would be light fixtures. I’m not quite sure I’m ready to jump into that one just yet. There are so many variations on light fixtures that I would certainly need to make it so the user can create their own light fixture components that then can be used by the plugin.
Hit me up with any suggestions while my focus is on this plugin. In about a week I’m back onto the Wall Plugin and its massive todo list.
I think you need only to do a ceiling light box and recess cans. The user can put their own light fixtures. Also with the ceiling box they can put their ceiling fans. We will also need wall boxes for lights over vanities.
As can be seen in the image below a gang of switches can all be different types:
In the image below I’ve turned on the “Labels” for the switch boxes. The Switch (box) name can be edited in the switch edit menu for each switch:
With weatherproof switches I will need to have a different faceplate but for now it will default to the generic toggle switch.
Tomorrow I will spend a few minutes and model up a low poly version of the Leviton Decora switch and outlet series and then we will have at least two options for switch and outlet styles.
Similar to the Wall Plugin the labels are assigned by default to the Dim3 layer and can be toggled separately from the symbols, or be turned off completely in the global settings.
With wall boxes what are the most commonly used types? I’m thinking Carlon boxes.
Carlon is certainly the most commonly used plastic boxes and most likely used residentially. For steel boxes Raco and Steel City have about equal market share in the US.
Here’s a small monkey wrench for you: I’ve seen small bathrooms where there are switches (light, exhaust fan) and GFI receptacles in the same box.