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AutoCAD Essentials is a multi-part series that takes a more modular approach to this massive program, used for everything from 2D and 3D CAD design, drafting, and modeling to architectural drawing and engineering projects. In this installment, author Jeff Bartels concentrates on the particulars of creating basic geometry in AutoCAD, including assigning imperial or metric units of measurement, using object snaps to control accuracy, and drawing and transforming basic lines and shapes. The last chapter in the course tests your newfound skills in a short project.
After jumping in and out of the Object Snap menu several times, you may be wondering if there's a faster way to select object snaps. In this lesson, we'll look at how to set Running Object Snaps. On my screen, I have some abstract geometry. Let's say that all of these three-sided objects represent unfinished squares. To close up these shapes, I'll need to use the Line command and I'll have to select a lot of end points. I'll start by launching a line and then I would like to create my line segment from the--Shift, right-click to bring up the Object Snap menu. I'll choose endpoint and I'll snap to the endpoint of this line. I will then Shift, right-click, choose endpoint, and I'll snap to the endpoint of this line.
When I'm finished, I'll press Escape. I'm sure you'll agree that opening the Object Snap menu for every object snap can be a little tedious. Instead, what I'm going to do is pick a couple object snaps that I use frequently and I'll set those as Running Object Snaps. This way AutoCAD will always attempt to snap to my most-used coordinates. To enable Running Object Snaps, click the Object Snap icon in the Status bar. Note that you can also toggle this mode by pressing F3. Now that I've turned the tool on, I'd like to take a look at the current settings. To do that, I'll right-click on the icon and choose Settings. Here I can see a list of all of the available object snaps. From here I will select two, maybe three object snaps that I use regularly. This way AutoCAD will automatically look for these snaps without the need for the Object Snap menu. Let me mention that I typically limit my Running Object Snaps to three.
Choosing more than this can actually make it difficult or confusing to select specific object snaps onscreen. I'm going to choose Endpoint, Midpoint, and Center as my favorites, and I'm going to deselect all of the others. When I'm finished, I'll come down and click OK. Now that I've enabled my Running Objects Snaps, I'm going to try and close these shapes again. I'll launch the Line command, and as I pass my cursor over the geometry, notice that AutoCAD is looking for midpoints, endpoints, center points, whichever coordinate happens to be closest to my cursor. So to close this shape, I will just click the endpoint of this line and then I'll snap to the endpoint of this line. When I'm finished I'll press Escape.
I will then press my spacebar to go back into the Line command. I'll snap to this endpoint and this one and I'll press Escape. As long as I'm creating geometry, maybe I'd like to create line segments that connect the centers of all these circles. I'll launch the Line command and then I can create this geometry as fast as I can select the circles, because AutoCAD is automatically looking for center points. Now that we can understand how Running Object Snaps can make us more efficient, let's use them to recreate a small drawing. I'm going to start by launching my Line command. I'll start right over here to the lower-left of the part. And I'm going to pull to the left, I will toggle the Ortho mode on, and I'm going to type a distance of 3.2.
I'll press Enter. I will then pull up a distance of 1.5, Enter. I'll come back to the right. 3.2 units, Enter, and then I'll come down and choose Close to finish the shape. Next, I'd like to create this vertical line that divides the part. It looks like it falls right in the middle of the geometry. So I'll launch the Line command, and I will snap to the midpoint of this line. Fortunately, I have a Running Object Snap set from midpoint. I'll draw this line to the midpoint of the other side. Next, I'll create the remaining vertical lines.
It looks like these guys measure .2 units apart. To construct this geometry, I'm going to create my own object snaps. I'll do that by launching the Circle command. I'll create my circle from the endpoint of this line, no Object Snap menu necessary, and I'll give the circle a diameter of .2. Now I have intersections that I can use to start each of my two lines. I'll go back into the Line command. I'll create the first line from the--Shift+ Right-Click--intersection. I do not have a Running Object Snap for intersection. I'll snap to that coordinate, and I'd like to draw this line--Shift+Right-Click--perpendicular to the other side. I'll press Escape when finished. I will then press the spacebar to relaunch the Line command. I will create this one from the--Shift+Right-Click--intersection of the other side, and I'll draw this perpendicular to the opposite edge. Now, let's create the circle on the left side. It looks like this circle is centered within that shape, and it looks like the circle has a radius of .15.
One way I can find the center of this area is by launching the Line command, and I will construct my line from the endpoint of the upper-right corner to the end point of the lower-left. I can then create a circle from the midpoint of this line. I'll give this circle a radius of .15. Let's do the same thing on the other side. I'll launch the Line command and I'll go from the lower-left to the upper-right, and I'll press Escape. I will then launch the Circle command, I'll draw this from the midpoint of this line, and I'll press Enter to create my circle the same size as the last one.
Next, we'll create this circle in the upper-right corner. I know a couple things about this circle. One, it's center point must fall on this diagonal line somewhere. And two, its center measures .35 units away from the right edge. Once again, I'm going to create my own object snap. I'll do that by launching the Circle command. I'll create a circle from the upper-right corner, and I'll give this a radius of .35. I will then launch the Line command. I'll draw a line from the--Shift+ Right-Click--intersection of the circle and the straight line, and I'll draw this-- Shift+Right-click--perpendicular to the opposite edge. When I'm finished, I'll press Escape. Where these two lines intersect, that must be the location of the center of that circle. I'll launch my Circle command and I'll draw this to the intersection of those two lines. And we'll give it a radius o f .15. All right, one more circle left. Fortunately, I can use my last circle to generate the location of the next one. I'll do that by launching the Circle command.
I will create a circle from the center of this circle and I'd like its radius to pass through the center of the last one. This intersection represents the center of my final circle. So, I'll press spacebar to relaunch the Circle command, I'll create my circle from the intersection of these two entities, and I will give this circle a radius of .15. Finally, I'm going to clean up some of the sketch geometry. I'll do that by selecting each of the objects I'd like to remove. And then I'll press the Delete key to erase them. As you can see, Running Object Snaps make us more efficient when selecting coordinates in a drawing. Just remember that for best results, limit your Running Object Snaps to three and choose the rest as needed from the traditional Object Snap menu.
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