Tutorial 1 – Basics

This lesson gives you the basics of creating schematic diagrams in connectCAD – how to make devices and how to make connections between them.

Create a new document from the connectCAD template

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Go to the File menu and Select New…

In the Create Document dialog, choose the “Use document template” option and select the connectCAD2015.sta template. You now have a blank document containing all the resources needed ready to begin your first schematic.

Using the standard template is optional, but it is a good starting point because everything is set up and ready to go. As standard, connectCAD works in millimeters. Later on we will explain the steps needed to change to inches if that is your normal way of working.

Basic concepts

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Before we start let’s review some basic connectCAD concepts. The starting point of most systems design projects is some kind of functional block diagram. We call these schematics. They can be basic conceptual drawings to begin with and evolve into more detailed drawings as decisions are made. Schematics show the way equipment is connected to form a system, and comprise the folowing elements:

  1. Devices – these are the bits of equipment you want to connect up e.g. cameras, mixers, amplifiers
  2. Sockets – these are the connectors on devices – e.g. the Antenna input of this satellite receiver.
  3. Circuits – these represent the cables you need to make to carry signals from one device to another. Here we are connecting the HD1 output of the satellite receiver to the HD/SD1 input of this video processor card.

Now let’s see how to create a device.

Creating a device 1

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  1. Make sure the Constraints Palette is set to Snap-to-Grid only. This makes sure that everything you draw is on the grid
  2. Select the Vectorworks rectangle tool
  3. Draw a rectangle

This is the outline of your device. But to make this into a device you need to give it a name . Here’s how we do that.

Creating a device 2

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Now select the device outline rectangle you just created. With the device outline selected, right-click in the drawing area and select Make Device from the dropdown menu.

Make Device is also available in the connectCAD / Drawing menu.

Creating a device 3

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In the device setup dialog you can enter all the details of your device if you know them. But all you have to do right now is give the device a name. Devices in connectCAD should have unique names. If you make two devices with the same name, connectCAD will assume you are referring to the same physical piece of equipment.

So now you’ve named your device, press OK and let’s see the result.

Creating a device 4

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Here it is, a basic device with a name. Now we need to add some sockets.

Adding an input 1

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Select the socket tool and click on the left hand edge of the device.

Adding an input 2

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In the Socket Setup dialog you can enter all the details of your socket. Again the only thing you have to do right now is give it a name. Socket names must be unique within devices. connectCAD would get very confused if you have two sockets with the same name (so would your installation crew ).

So far so good

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Now what about outputs?

Different kinds of sockets

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If you press and hold on the Socket Tool icon, a set of four sub-tool pops out. These give you all four possible orientations of sockets – Left, Right, Top and Bottom. You use the corresponding tool to add a socket at any edge of your device.

We’ll now take the Right Socket Tool and add an output to our device. Conventionally we draw signal flow from left to right, so inputs are normally on the left side of devices and outputs are on the right. (connectCAD lets you break these rules if you need to.)

Adding an output

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We take the Right Socket Tool. Click on the right-hand edge of our device, and give our socket a name. You’ll notice that the left and right socket tools preset the dialog to the normal defaults. i.e. left sockets are INPUTS named IN, and right sockets are OUTPUTS named OUT.

And here is the device

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Our device has an input and and output. Nothing to connect it to yet…

Now it’s your turn. Create another device like this one, with a new name.

Well done !

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Now it’s time for our first connection.

Connecting 1

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  1. Select the Connect Tool
  2. Click on the output of your first device
  3. Move the cursor away towards the second device

You’ll notice two things here. First of all a blue line extends from the socket to the cursor. This is an interactive preview of the path your circuit will follow on the drawing. Secondly, (4) the Message window pops up showing the name of the device and socket you are connecting from.

Now move the cursor over to the input of your second device.

You’ll see that the cursor gets bigger showing you that a socket has been detected. And in the Message Window you can see the names of the input socket and device.

All you need to do to finalise the Circuit is to click.

Let’s see that in action…

Your first Circuit

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You’ve just made a connection between two devices. If you look over at the Object Info Palette you can see that connectCAD knows all about this connection. The Circuit object figures out what it’s connected to and gathers all the properties of devices and sockets.

Your turn…

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Try connecting up the output of the second device to the input of the first, like this.

Use the Connect Tool as before, but this time try clicking on empty space in the drawing as you move the cursor. You’ll see how Connect lets you route your Circuits intelligently. Don’t worry if it all looks wrong, just finalise the circuit and delete it, or hit the “q” key while you’re still in “blue line” mode to stop connecting.

Practice this a few times and you’ll see how easy it is.

It’s a wrap

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Definitely time to take a short break before we move on. But before we go let’s just see what we learned:

  1. How to make a Device
  2. How to add inputs and outputs to a Device
  3. How to connect up two devices

In the next tutorial we’ll shift gears and start to draw a bit faster.

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