SolidWorks Electrical: What’s In the Black Box?


What's in the Black Box

What’s in the Black Box?

Let’s discuss how to represent certain objects in a SolidWorks Electrical schematic as a “Black Box.” A black box is a generic schematic symbol which can be used to represent any device or apparatus, acting as a time saving feature where a new unique symbol is not required or there is no time to create one. Black boxes are rectangular and can have editable pins associated to them. Once a black box has been created on the fly, it can then be added to the symbol database for reuse across the company.
In this case let’s create a black box that represents a drive.

What's in the Black Box

In the above picture I have four wires and a circuit breaker. I want to create a symbol for a motor drive but do not have one in my symbol library. So the Black Box comes to the rescue. Simply by drawing a box over the wires, the connection or “pin” points are automatically created as shown below.

What's in the Black Box

Also notice that SolidWorks Electrical is keeping track of this black box as a “Component.” This is an object on the schematic that will now show up on the Bill of Materials and Manufacturer information can be associated with the drive from our Manufacturer parts database built into the SolidWorks Electrical application. Or this can be done on the fly by associating the real world terminal descriptions on the drive. So in the above picture it assigned pin numbers, but I can change these numbers to logical pins like the pin for ground or L1, as shown below.

What's in the Black Box

What's in the Black Box
As you can see, the terminal identifiers show up on the schematic itself and they are also part of the component object in the database. The wires that connect to the drive also are aware of this fact and from to lists can now be automatically generated.

What's in the Black Box

The table on the drawing is showing the Wire Number as well as the Origin and destination of each of the wires. These can even go to other pages of your schematic with great ease, but that will be the topic of a future blog article.
The above events may seem trivial to create in SolidWorks Electrical, but doing something like this in other 2D CAD systems, even ones created especially for Electrical Engineers, can be an hours long process. The video below show more detail on creating black box symbols and then adding them to your library for future use.


Michael LaFleche is Regional Technical Manager at CAPINC, a SolidWorks Value Added Reseller with locations across New England. He is a regular contributor to their CAPINC University blog.

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CAPINC was founded on one core principle: Provide the best solutions and services to assist our customers in designing and developing better products. CAPINC provides premier solutions and services in New England to assist our customers in accelerating their design and development process for better mechanical products. Our award winning technical support team is comprised of industry experts with hundreds of years of combined practical experience in mechanical design, design validation and analysis, product data management, and technical communication. We are the award winning 3D solutions partner offering SolidWorks software and training, and the entire Stratasys line of 3D printers and production systems. For more tech tips and blog tutorials check out CAPINC's blog and videos.