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             Rating                           3D Printed Track and Turnouts
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41st message | this message only posted: 4 Jan 2016 19:33
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from:
Nigel Brown
 

 

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Martin Wynne wrote:  I wonder how many Templot users do have 3D printers or intend getting one?
Hi Martin

I'm interested in 3D printing, mainly because it looks to be a means of creating bits and pieces in 3mm/ft which aren't there at the moment. The idea of taking say a drawing of a dome or chimney and being able to convert it into something printable is enormously attractive, particularly for the more uncommon prototypes I'm thinking of.

However, I'd almost certainly use Shapeways (or other similar services), partly because I think they can afford a much higher quality printer than I could, and it would save me a lot of time, and probably money, going in that directive. Today's home printer could be junk tomorrow. I'll stick to working out the software :)

Cheers
Nigel

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42nd message | this message only posted: 4 Jan 2016 23:23
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from:
Andrew Barrowman
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Martin Wynne wrote: Hi Andy,

Many thanks for that.

It seems that adding and aligning the chairs is a tedious process?

One which Templot might possibly be able to do itself? Then you could create one-off 3D files to print any template in a full track plan, rather than a few fixed turnout sizes.

It would likely need a "shove chairs" function similar to shoving timbers to resolve any conflicts, such as replacing an ordinary chair with a bridge chair where needed. Which means the chairs would also need to be visible on the trackpad.

So the first question is -- are your chairs in a format which will import into Templot using the existing DXF import function (in the background shapes)?

Is it possible you could send me, or attach here, a DXF file containing just one of your chairs? I can then experiment with getting Templot to include it in the DXF export. Preferably the file would be in the DXF text format, rather than binary, so that I can read it. I can probably convert it if not.

What I'm still very hazy about is how we get from a drawing in TurboCAD to something a 3D printer can use? I've been reading that the STL format is many years old, dating from before 3D printers became generally available, and is generally regarded as too low in resolution for them?

Does your printer lay the filaments in horizontal sections, i.e. everything at one Z dimension in one go, and then step up to the next section and repeat? Or does the head move in 3 dimensions simultaneously, laying down flat angled faces for example? I spent years programming for that sort of thing in CNC milling using ball cutters and special-profiled D-cutters, but I'm thinking 3D printing is not quite the same. For example is a round filament the only option? I can see that in some applications a nozzle which extruded a flat strip might be more useful, especially if could by done at an angle from a swivellable nozzle, adding a K dimension to the X,Y,Z.

I can see that I am going to have to get one of these 3D printers and experiment before I can make sensible changes in Templot.

I have found this before, no amount of asking folks or reading docs gets me enough information. For example making Templot dpi-aware for hi-res tablet computers. The only way I could do that was to get one and try it. It was a lot of work, and expensive, but I'm very pleased with the result. But there has been minimal feedback on the subject. I wonder how many Templot users do have 3D printers or intend getting one?

regards,

Martin.
Hi Martin,

Three bolt attached. It's the only format that TurboCAD allows me to save it in. Probably binary, but I don't really know.

The reference point should lie at the intersection of the two lines floating beneath the solid body. That should put the bottom surface of the rail 1.8 mm above the bottom surface of the 1.2 mm thick timbers on my prints. BTW, this chair works with SMP Code 75 BH rail, but it might need to be adjusted for BH rail from other suppliers.

It's not too terribly tedious to position the chairs on the template, but it would be interesting to see if it could be automated. It might depend on whether or not you want to completely eliminate the CAD step. If a CAD step was retained, one way to accelerate the process would be to put dummy "blocks" in the 3D DXF from Templot. There would be different dummies for the various chair types. They would only need to be positioned and oriented correctly.

TurboCAD lets you select a block in a model then replace it and all the other blocks of the same name with a different block. With that method it would not take long to populate a template with the desired set of chairs and it would be independent of gauge, scale, clearances etc.

If the CAD step was to be eliminated, I think Templot would need to include a similar feature that allowed the user to include a library of chairs that Templot selected from and positioned in the 3D model. I don't think a "universal" set of chairs will work too well. For example, if you were building 7mm turnouts (which I think is a really great application for 3D printing) you would probably want to include a lot more refinement than it is possible to include at 4mm scale; to some extent the chairs have to be designed to reflect the limitations of the printing process and print medium at the desired scale.

There are a few more steps involved to print a CAD model. I'll list them the way I happen to do it:
1. Create the 3D model in native TurboCAD format.
2. Save the TurboCAD model as a STL file. (It's really a bunch of models in their desired relative overlapping positions.)
3. Import the STL file into Netfabb Basic - it repairs any holes and other issues and creates a single surface model in another STL file.
4. Import the repaired STL file from Netfabb into a slicer program, in my case SLIC3R. This takes the STL file of the model and slices into layers which are exported as a G-code file to drive the 3D printer.

Yes, the printer prints a single horizontal layer (slice) at one Z axis height before moving on to the next layer. The layers are usually all the same thickness, but they do not have to be.

It is possible to generate custom G-code that does it differently, but I suspect that would be a major undertaking. The big issue with additive printing is ensuring that a layer fuses properly with the previous layer. That's difficult enough in a single plane. Doing it in 3D motion is probably not impossible, but I suspect it would take a lot of experimentation to get satisfactory results.

I probably only answered half your questions, so keep asking!

Best,
Andy



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Attachment: Chair1.dxf (Downloaded 79 times)
 
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43rd message | this message only posted: 5 Jan 2016 06:34
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from:
Martin Wynne
West Of The Severn, United Kingdom



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Andrew Barrowman wrote:I probably only answered half your questions, so keep asking!Hi Andy,

Thanks for the file.

It is indeed in the text version of DXF so I can read it, thanks for that. (If you change the file extension to .txt you can read it in Windows Notepad or wherever.)

Unfortunately I haven't been able to extract anything meaningful from it. I tried opening it in half a dozen programs, and the only one which would even look at it was, er, Templot. :)

I used the DXF import in the background shapes (you saved it in INCH units), and got this:



but no sign of a chair.

It also included a cross-hairs target mark at (67000, 21486) mm which as you can imagine caused some indigestion. But even after removing that, the file still won't display anything in any other software. Which is puzzling because they ought to display at least the above, if Templot can. :?

It does include a chunk of unreadable code at one place in the file, which means nothing to me.

I know I am a long way from being up to date in CAD software, but even the latest eDrawings2016 displays only a few single dots.

Is there any way you can save it in a format I can use? For example after selecting DXF file type in the TurboCAD save dialog, can you click the Setup button and make these settings:



Reading your description of the post-processing which these files need before they become usable on the 3D printer, it seems this whole process is still a long way from being very user friendly?

regards,

Martin.

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44th message | this message only posted: 5 Jan 2016 07:15
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from:
Andrew Barrowman
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Attached version might be better. I removed the junk that was in a 2-D page tab and set the origin to something more sensible.

This is what I see when I use setup (I didn't even know it was there!) Does any of it look helpful? It does not mean much to me.




Yes, the process isn't exactly "shake and bake", but the additional steps are quite mechanical and require little concentration.

ab

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45th message | this message only posted: 5 Jan 2016 07:32
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from:
Andrew Barrowman
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Ah! I can see it using eDrawings viewer. It's in the bottom right-hand corner. There are some dots in the file that need to be eliminated.
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46th message | this message only posted: 5 Jan 2016 10:06
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from:
Charles Orr
Leicester, United Kingdom

 

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Hi Martin,

I have a Rep Rap Pro Omerod which I built from a kit.

It took some time to set up but generally produces acceptable prints.

I am going to get a Maker Bot Replicator 2 very soon.

This the one that MERG uses to produce some of its kits.

Best regards

Charles
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47th message | this message only posted: 5 Jan 2016 10:20
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from:
johnbirch72
 

 

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Nigel
I would certainly stick with outside printers for 3D work now. I use Chris Ward (http://www.cwrailways.com) who produces good results and tends to be cheaper than Shapeways with faster turnround which removes a lot of frustration.
John
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48th message | this message only posted: 5 Jan 2016 11:28
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from:
Martin Wynne
West Of The Severn, United Kingdom



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Andrew Barrowman wrote: Attached version might be better. I removed the junk that was in a 2-D page tab and set the origin to something more sensible.Hi Andy,

Attached version? Did you forget to attach it?

In the setup, please can you try ticking these options:



It may announce that what you have can't be saved in that format, but it's worth a try.

I'm intending to get a more up-to-date CAD package so that I can make sense of all the 3D printer stuff which is now available.

I do have DesignSparkMechanical, which is free software from RS Components (a big electronics distributor in the UK) intended for rapid prototyping for 3D printing. It can open and create STL files -- this is your STL file:



 http://www.rs-online.com/designspark/electronics/eng/page/mechanical

Be warned, the download is a massive file -- 467 MB.

It declares itself "unlicensed" to open DXF files, but it is willing to save to DXF. :?

So I can possibly extract the chairs from the above and get them into DXF.

Thanks again, I will do a bit more experimenting.

regards,

Martin.

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49th message | this message only posted: 5 Jan 2016 15:34
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from:
Andrew Barrowman
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Well I thought I had attached it :) Trying again.....

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Attachment: Chair2.dxf (Downloaded 70 times)
 
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50th message | this message only posted: 5 Jan 2016 16:11
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from:
Martin Wynne
West Of The Severn, United Kingdom



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Andrew Barrowman wrote: Well I thought I had attached it :) Trying again.....Hi Andy,

That's great, many thanks:




Hopefully I can get Templot to insert it in the DXF output where required.

It contains this chunk of code which means nothing to me, but hopefully if inserted "as-is" it will work. Any idea where I should be looking to discover how to decode this?



Now to conduct some experiments -- I may be some time... :)

edit: well this is a start:

 http://help.autodesk.com/view/ACD/2016/ENU/?guid=GUID-19AB1C40-0BE0-4F32-BCAB-04B37044A0D3

regards,

Martin.

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51st message | this message only posted: 5 Jan 2016 16:19
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from:
Andrew Barrowman
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Hi Martin,

First screen grab is chair2.dxf viewed in eDrawings.

The chair is in the bottom right hand corner. I think the five dots in the upper left hand corner could be elements of a 3-D axes indicator. I can reload the dxf file into Turbocad without a problem. The dots are not graphic elements in the file.

The second grab is the zoomed in view of the chair.

I tried saving a version with the settings you suggested, but the chair is not visible when I view it in eDrawings. I've attached that version (chair3.dxf) to this message.

ab

 



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52nd message | this message only posted: 5 Jan 2016 16:22
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from:
Andrew Barrowman
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Snap!

No clue at all about the junk I'm afraid. I've never even looked in any of the files.
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53rd message | this message only posted: 5 Jan 2016 16:28
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from:
Martin Wynne
West Of The Severn, United Kingdom



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Andrew Barrowman wrote: No clue at all about the junk I'm afraid. I've never even looked in any of the files.I don't think it is junk, I think it is your 3D data. :)

Many thanks for the second file. Now I can diff the two and discover how to set the DXF version number in the exported file, to match the above "junk".

At first sight the two files are very similar.

Thanks again,

Martin.

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54th message | this message only posted: 5 Jan 2016 23:14
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Martin Wynne
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Hi Andy,

First signs that this might work. :)  A couple of your chairs in Templot's background shapes:



Templot wouldn't import your DXF file. But it would after I opened it in my old copy of TurboCAD and saved it again.

The first task would seem to be to get some radiused corners on these 2D chairs. There is already a dialog for some chair data -- it has been in Templot for about 15 years and never yet used, see

 real > chairs / baseplates > chair / baseplate data...

Click the ? info buttons for some notes about each dimension. :)

regards,

Martin.

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55th message | this message only posted: 6 Jan 2016 00:20
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from:
Andrew Barrowman
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Hi Martin,

For the sake of drawn appearance you might radius the corners, but for printing at this scale it's a waste of time, it's only going to make the stl file even bigger, and that slows down the pre-printing process, a lot. (I know this first-hand.)

The printer automatically puts a radius on the corners.

I'm interested to see if you can insert a "blocks" into the template. I'll send you a file that includes a few examples in a bit.

Best,
ab
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56th message | this message only posted: 6 Jan 2016 19:41
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from:
Martin Wynne
West Of The Severn, United Kingdom



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Andrew Barrowman wrote:For the sake of drawn appearance you might radius the corners, but for printing at this scale it's a waste of time, it's only going to make the stl file even bigger, and that slows down the pre-printing process, a lot. (I know this first-hand.)

The printer automatically puts a radius on the corners.
Hi Andy,

I was thinking that the presence of the sharp corners in 2D might be a factor when shoving chairs to avoid conflicts, for example:



(That is from Len Newman's P4 templates, which are available as downloads to Scalefour Society members. I'm currently working to get these usable in the background shapes as metafiles.)

I'm thinking that we are going to need 2 linked chair objects. One in 2D to see and shove on the trackpad and use in 2D DXF exports, and one suitable for 3D printing to include in 3D exports (DXF or STL).

regards,

Martin.

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57th message | this message only posted: 6 Jan 2016 21:20
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from:
Andrew Barrowman
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Hi Martin,

I see what you mean. I actually allow the 3-D chair models to overlap slightly if they are too close :) But it would be nice to see the most realistic chairs on the templates. Printing for 7mm scale (or greater) could take advantage of a lot more detail.

"I'm thinking that we are going to need 2 linked chair objects. One in 2D to see and shove on the trackpad and use in 2D DXF exports, and one suitable for 3D printing to include in 3D exports (DXF or STL)."

Yes, I think you are correct. I'm a bit concerned that, if Templot produces an STL file for the printer, Templot is now to a great extent responsible for the results. I would suggest you don't provide that option until you have tried a bit of printing yourself.

Initially I'd suggest DXF output only. That's why I'm interested to see if Templot can output chairs as correctly positioned and oriented blocks. That allows a user to easily substitute their own chairs in CAD. The Templot "chair" could be a simple box shape.

The blocks might only need to be two dimensional representations in the template. I'm trying to see if that's possible, but so far I don't have conclusive results.

Best,
ab
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58th message | this message only posted: 6 Jan 2016 21:29
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from:
Andrew Barrowman
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I should have said "see if I can export and import blocks in DXF format" I'm trying to get TurboCAD to do it, but no luck so far.
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59th message | this message only posted: 6 Jan 2016 22:18
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from:
Martin Wynne
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Hi Andy,

I feel that I'm sinking in a sea of file formats. :(

This is your DXF file. At present Templot can't import anything from this:




This is the result of opening it in TurboCAD and saving it in R12 version of DXF:



Templot happily imports this using my original 15-year-old code. Also, the file doesn't contain anything which I can't read.

From TurboCAD I can export this in 3DS format, which looks identical, and there are some online tools for converting 3DS to STL. However, when I tried them the results look nothing like a chair. :?

I'm not planning to create STL files in Templot. But what I would like to find is a simple path from the DXF files which Templot can export, to STL files (or some other format related to 3D printing). As I recall you are doing that via TurboCAD? However my old copy of TurboCAD won't save in STL format.

regards,

Martin.

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60th message | this message only posted: 7 Jan 2016 02:17
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Andrew Barrowman
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Hi Martin,

Here is a very basic DXF file. It seems to be compatible with TurbocadPro16 and TurbocadDeluxe21 both for reading and writing. The file consists of two "blocks", a 2D rectangle block and a 2D triangle block.

If it's possible to insert some copies of these into a DXF template at various locations and with various alignments, and they survive as identifiable blocks when I import the DXF into Turbocad, I should be able to immediately substitute 3D chair blocks at the same locations and with the same alignments.

If that does not work, we might be up a gum tree :)

Cheers,
ab



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Martin Wynne
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Andrew Barrowman wrote: Here is a very basic DXF file. It seems to be compatible with TurbocadPro16 and TurbocadDeluxe21 both for reading and writing. The file consists of two "blocks", a 2D rectangle block and a 2D triangle block.Hi Andy,

I'm not clear what you want me to do with this file? :?

It won't display in my old copy of TurboCAD, nor import into Templot.

However, I managed to get it into Templot by:

1. opening it in ProgeCAD Smart
2. saving in DXF R14 format
3. opening that in TurboCAD
4. saving in DXF R12 format with exploded blocks
5. importing into Templot:



What now?

This is what I'm seeing in Edrawings, and also in ProgeCAD Smart:








regards,

Martin.

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62nd message | this message only posted: 7 Jan 2016 08:18
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Martin Wynne
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p.s.

I can also get it into Templot by exporting from ProgeCAD as an EMF metafile, and importing that into Templot as a picture shape:



From which I can probably extract the metafile records, which could then be included in the DXF export.

(This is what I'm currently experimenting with for the P4 templates which I mentioned earlier.)

Martin.

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63rd message | this message only posted: 7 Jan 2016 16:38
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Andrew Barrowman
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Hi Martin,

Sorry it's getting so complicated.

I found some info on blocks here

http://www.autodesk.com/techpubs/autocad/acadr14/dxf/blocks_in_dxf_files_al_u05_c.htm

I can see these block structures in the last file I posted, so that is at least something.

What I hope we might be able to do is get Templot to produce a DXF file that has simple two-dimensional "blocks" positioned on the template at the places where chairs should be located. Each type of chair (3 bolt, bridge, check, etc, etc) would be represented by a unique two-dimensional block in the DXF exported by Templot. (If I understand correctly, they don't even need to be different shapes. Each type just  needs to have a unique block name.) The rectangle and triangle blocks I included in the test file are just examples of two-dimensional blocks that we might use for testing purposes. There is no reason to use them if you can produce blocks in the template by another method.

If you can create a DXF in Templot with the 2-D blocks at the correct locations on the timbers it is very simple to substitute the actual 3-D chairs in TurboCAD for the 2-D blocks in the DXF imported from Templot. In Turbocad I can replace all the blocks with a particular name with blocks of another name with a couple of keystrokes.

Hope this makes a bit more sense :)

Andy

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Andrew Barrowman wrote: What I hope we might be able to do is get Templot to produce a DXF file that has simple two-dimensional "blocks" positioned on the template at the places where chairs should be located. Each type of chair (3 bolt, bridge, check, etc, etc) would be represented by a unique two-dimensional block in the DXF exported by Templot.Hi Andy,

That's exactly what I have been working on today. :)

I have concluded that these "block markers" can't be easily included in the background shapes or loaded via the DXF import.

They need to be something separate, generated by Templot itself, and included in the DXF export. This requires a new layer in the DXF export, so will need some work on the DXF export code (which I haven't looked at for years).

I have dusted off (literally) my 1985 AutoCAD User Handbook and been re-reading the chapter on generating DXF files. :)  The block information is substantially the same as in your link, but thanks for that.

If I don't need to include in the export any previously-imported complex 3D data, the whole process moves up several notches on the doable scale. So I hope to have something you can try fairly soon.

regards,

Martin.

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Andrew Barrowman
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Great! Thanks.
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Hi Martin

As I mentioned, I have TC16Pro and TCdeluxe21. They don't have compatible native file formats, but they can exchange files in DXF format. I have attached the DFX for the latest version of the RMweb rendering without the rails but including webs to attach the timbers. I think I still need to adjust a couple of chairs for 1.3 mm check rail clearance, but it should be OK otherwise.

TCdeluxe21 is available in the US for $70 from CAD and Graphics at the moment (there is also later version available for a bit more). This file should be editable in TCdeluxe21, and it TCdeluxe21 can output STL files.

There seem to be a large number of duplicated blocks with auto-generated name associated with this file, but the ones I produced seem to be there too.

There is also an free evaluation version of TCdeluxe available, but it may have restrictions.

Hope this is helpful.

Andy

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Andrew Barrowman
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Mind how yo go with that file. It has some issues when open it in TCdl21
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Andrew Barrowman
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Attached is a partial turnout with some blocks representing different chair types. It's in Turbocad Deluxe native file format (produced on version 21).

Please change the file extension back to .TCW before attempting to use it. (I changed the extension to .ANY to upload it.)

As it's a slightly tedious process to convert the chairs from Turbocad Pro into this format I have only converted a few of them so far. Please let me know if you are using Turbocad Deluxe and I'll convert the rest.

Andy

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Martin Wynne
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Hi Andy,

You have lost me again. :?

Currently I am working in Templot to create "chair markers" represented by primitive rectangle outlines on Templot's own output.

In the DXF file they are exported as inserted blocks, which can be replaced with proper chairs by editing the file in a CAD program.

The blocks will be named to match the prototype REA chairs, "S1", "L1", "M1", "P", "1.P", "2.P", "CC", etc., to allow editing with replacement blocks.

As such, I don't need you to send me anything.

With the best will in the world, I can't sensibly attempt to write my own export function to output a modern 3D-modelling CAD format, it would take up all my time for months. I have been looking at OpenSCAD:

 http://www.openscad.org

and I may be able to get Templot to export a suitable script, and/or include a copy of OpenSCAD within Templot itself to create such files.

My TurboCAD is version 8 from 2001, it won't open this latest file. Does it contain anything I need? I do have a later version of ProgeCAD, which works with AutoCAD DXF and DWG files up to 2007, but won't open TCW.

regards,

Martin.  

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Hi Martin

Sorry for the obfuscation :)

You can safely ignore that file. I posted it in case you or anyone who is following along wanted to try the block manipulation/substitution method using TurboCADdeluxe.

If you download the evaluation version of TC you could use it to test block substitution from a DXF produced by Templot, but that is not essential at all.

Cheers,
Andy
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Hi Andy,

I'm very impressed with the way you have converted Templot's native 3D export with hollow rails:




to a full bullhead section:




Is there anything Templot can do to assist that?

Also, obviously for 3D printing it needs some webs between the timbers. That could be implemented in the DXF quite easily by exporting the rails additionally as a thin layer at the base level of the timbers. Is that how you are doing it?

regards,

Martin.

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Hi Martin,

Actually, I don't use the 3D DXF export. I only use the 2D export.

I used the "sweep" function in TurboCAD (only available in the expensive Pro version unfortunately) to create the rails. The function works by sweeping a profile along a line, or in this case, a polyline. I reference the rail profile to the gauge edge of the rail in the 2D export from Templot, invoke the function, and presto-chango!

One thing that would help would be if the gauge lines were represented as continuous polylines in the DXF. At the moment they are a series of discrete lines which I have to join into a polyline before I can run the sweep. That's the only thing I can think of.

You may have noticed I make no attempt to plane the switch rails. I just let them merge with the stock(?) rails. If we wanted to get fancy I suppose we could swing one of the points and plane the rail by taking a slice off it in Turbocad.

At the crossing Vee I just merge the two rails then slice off the overhangs. You can see how the web under the nose is missing leaving the nose unsupported! (I also knocked a piece off the Vee to blunt it a bit :) )

If you wanted to go to the trouble, the unsupported nose could be fixed by providing sweep lines on the template that replicate the bends you use to make Vees using your bend, solder and file method.

To add the webs for printable turnouts, I deleted the rails (obviously) and added webs using the same method that I used to create the rails, only this time sweeping the profile of the web along the gauge polylines. IIRC, I had to slice off some extraneous bits under the wing rails.

Everyone is likely to have their own ideas about how wide and thick webs should be, and even where to position them. For example, I could print them as very thin layers that filled the entire space between the rails (almost like a sheet of paper) then just put the ballast on top, so I'm not sure you should go to the trouble of adding 3D webs or even 2D webs, but if you do, try to make them single entities so they are easy to delete or reposition in CAD.

To some extent the same thing applies to the timbers. I don't remember what the issue was, but I ran into problems trying to use the 3D timbers from Templot. Again, everyone is likely to have different ideas about how deep they should be. I know the "real" depth in Templot could be set to produce the desired dimension, but it takes me a bit of mental gymnastics to get there, and I'd still have to measure the depth in CAD to make sure I didn't muck it up.

If the timbers in the 2D exported Templot DXF are closed polylines, it's really very simple to extrude them to the desired height in Turbocad. It only takes one click on each timber. It might be even simpler in other CAD software.

Even if the timbers are not closed polylines, it takes very little effort to overlay them with a "rotated box" by snapping on three of the corners.


Hope some of this makes sense.

Best regards,
Andy
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Hi Andy,

Thanks for the detailed reply. :)

I'm a bit concerned at the amount of work needed on Templot's DXF export before it can be used for 3D printing. Obviously for commercial printing of fixed turnout sizes, that doesn't matter too much, you have to create the printer file only one time.

But most users of Templot create a track plan in which all the templates are different, each to be 3D printed only once. I'm also hoping that whatever post-processing of the DXF is needed can be done by users in free software. We won't be much further forward for most users if it needs an expensive CAD package.

How long does it take you to convert a Templot DXF file into a file usable on the 3D printer?

At present not all the lines in the file are exported contiguously, so creating polylines from them could be tricky. For example both ends of a timber are exported before the sides. But creating polylines from the rail edges should be doable.

You can see the order of exported entities by importing Templot's DXF export back into the background shapes. If you click in the shapes list, you can run up and down the list by holding down the up-down arrow keys on the keyboard, and watch each entity being highlighted in red:



which may help you to see what's happening in the file.

regards,

Martin.

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Currently I am working in Templot to create "chair markers" represented by primitive rectangle outlines on Templot's own output.
That would be a neat feature of it was on the template output. , it would add chair placement for modern functional chair based turnout construction.

Dave
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madscientist wrote:That would be a neat feature of it was on the template output, it would add chair placement for modern functional chair based turnout construction.Hi Dave,

Yes, it's intended that they should be on the printed template.

The problem of course is they get covered over when the timbers are fixed over them. :?

Which means printing a duplicate template as a reference. In which case you may just as easily refer to the excellent Exactoscale templates, which are far more detailed.

It will be possible to change the dimensions of the chair markers to represent different prototypes, but only as simple rectangles at this stage.

regards,

Martin.

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Ah! Thanks Martin. I'll take a look at that.

I've never timed myself adding the 3D elements to the template, and, as it's still a bit of a "work in progress" I usually find myself tweaking the process or elements as I go along.

I estimate it should take about 30 minutes. Of that, the biggest chunk is snapping and aligning the chairs on the template. The next biggest time consumer is probably getting the chairs around the "frog"" sorted. I don't have models for all the possible crossing angles, so I make the chairs out of several components. That time could be eliminated if I took the time to create a comprehensive library of chairs for the common crossing angles.

If you can get the chair markers to work that would make a huge difference. You could stop there for now. All the stuff about creating polylines might be nice to have, but it's non-essential. There are plenty of other very fast CAD methods that can be used to add the webs, and it's unlikely that sweep will ever be available in a low-end or free CAD product, so I would not worry about sweep lines for now.

Same applies to the timbers. I think the current 2D versions are just fine.

One small thing - I don't want the non-gauge side of the rail on the template. It's a nuisance when I am trying to snap the chairs to the correct intersection. I eventually figured out how to get only the things I want in the DXF, but it took me quite a while, and I've probably forgotten how I did it by now. If there was some sort of canned profile for the DFX it would help. Maybe there already is and I just don't know how to do it :)

I'm not sure about freeware CAD programs. I've tried a few and I thought they were all horrible. Whatever CAD is used, it will have to support Blocks. If there is a freeware version that does that it might be OK for populating the template and generating the .STL I'll poke around a bit and see what I can find. Some of the free versions are really evaluation versions that put limits on the number of elements in a model. That would be a big problem here.

TurboCAD deluxe isn't free, but it's not terribly expensive at $70, but it could be a bit off-putting for many people.

Please holler if I have not made myself clear. I blame the Scottish/American accent.

Best,
Andy

PS - If I had the frog chairs all sorted out and you can get the block markers into the DXF, I think the CAD time would only be around ten minutes.
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Andrew Barrowman wrote:One small thing - I don't want the non-gauge side of the rail on the template. It's a nuisance when I am trying to snap the chairs to the correct intersection. I eventually figured out how to get only the things I want in the DXF, but it took me quite a while, and I've probably forgotten how I did it by now.Hi Andy,

program > generator > generator settings > rails > rail head gauge-faces only menu option.

Then program > generator > rebuild all background menu item.

Same process to remove the outline extension marks on the timbers.

If there was some sort of canned profile for the DFX it would help. Maybe there already is and I just don't know how to do it :) Yes, your generator settings can be included in your program preferences, and you can create several different preferences files, with or without these or other settings, as you wish:

program > main program panel, then preferences > begin saving preferences... menu items.

But please read the notes.

n.b. warning to beginners -- don't include the generator settings in your program preferences until you know what you are doing. :)

regards,

Martin.

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Many thanks Martin. That will help a lot.
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Hi Andy,

I thought you might like an update on this. I have got the bare bones working, but there is still a lot to do before we have a usable new function with the multitude of different prototype chair sizes. It needs a new data structure just to contain them all. Plus new "shove chairs" functions to make them adjustable on each timber.

This below is with equalized timbers.



Which means it will be possible only to include a basic experimental output in the next program update, otherwise it will be delayed for months. I know for DXF substitution you need only the block markers, but the chair outlines are needed so that you can see what you are doing. And everyone else can see them. :)

regards,

Martin.

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Hi Martin,

Thank you for the update.

Please don't hold up the next release for this :)

If you can include the single block marker that is oriented correctly at each rail gauge-line/timber center-line intersection, that will still be a huge step forward.

What I would do with it then is to import a 2D Templot dxf into cad and substitute three bolt chairs for all those markers. From there it is really simple to highlight, for example, all the chairs that should be check-rail chairs and substitute those for the three bolt chairs, etc., etc.

If you have a sandbox version that I can somehow access, I'll be happy to test it for compatibility with cad applications.

Thanks and regards,
Andy

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