SOLIDWORKS Electrical Schematic is an incredibly useful tool. Seriously, if you haven’t checked it out, you should. I assume if you’re reading this it is because you’re already elbows deep in the software. If not, there’s still a lot you can learn here. In this article, I am going to share some interface tips and tricks that will hopefully make your interaction with the software even more beneficial.
Note to Mechanical Guys: Bear in mind that Electrical Engineers develop an ingrained discipline to draw in a very specific manner. Their lines (wires) are always horizontal and vertical. They space connections points (circuits) with the same spacing across all their blocks. This is to make their work easier and faster. When we come along to ‘help’ draw electrical drawings, let’s spend the time to understand this and maintain consistency. If we don’t, we may be creating more work for them or for ourselves.
I’m going to focus the section labeled D in the graphic below; called the ‘Status Bar’ in the SOLIDWORKS Electrical Interface.
Let’s talk about the options here that will help you work faster and more efficiently in SOLIDWORKS Electrical.
- GRID: This turns your grid on and off. It will look like a dot matrix.
- Note: the grid will only show within the drawing space.
- Personal preference will dictate if you want this off or on.
- To adjust the spacing for the grid, this will be in the ‘Drawing Parameters’ dialog box. This is accessible by simply right clicking on that status bar or from the ‘View’ tab> ‘Parameters’.
- Grid Spacing options can be unique for each drawing ‘type,’ which means it may vary when switching from a Schematic to a Cover Page.
- ORTHO: This turns a trap on that fixes pointer movement on X or Y. This doesn’t directly affect your most common Electrical tools, such as ‘Draw Wire.’ These objects will be forced to be horizontal or vertical. It does affect your interface behavior when drawing lines.
- Ortho ON: lines are forced to be horizontal or vertical.
- Ortho OFF: Lines can be at any angle you draw them.
- Why does this matter? If you are creating custom symbols, title blocks, 2D footprints, etc. you most likely want this behavior ON.
- SNAP: Forces your cursor to snap to preferred locations.
- The snap spacing can be the same or different than the grid. It is recommended it’s some factor of the grid spacing so objects/wires/lines, etc. sit on a grid.
- This will help you ensure wires are quickly ‘connected’ aka touching. This is a parametric Electrical project for your Design Rule Checks, automated From/To Tables, equipotential propagation. To function correctly, wires must connect to each other and to components.
- LWT: Stands for Line Weight Active: This shows or hides various line thicknesses.
- OSNAP: Not to be confused with SNAP.
- This stands for ‘Activate Object Snap-On.’
- Many objects, such as symbols, have very specific points with special functions. A simple example would be a line has two endpoints and a midpoint. A more applicable example here would be all electrical symbols out of the box have ‘connection points’ that represent circuits.
- Turning this option on will allow users to automatically snap to these points.
- At first, users may think turning this on is a huge benefit. However, all symbols out of the box are drawn with: consistent spacing, the grid is turned on by default so symbol insertion is neat, and SOLIDWORKS Electrical’s powerful auto trim tools when drawing wires over connection points truly make this option redundant in most case.
- Enabling this option is highly useful in these scenarios:
- Users do not use grid and snap when placing symbols.
- Insertion of custom symbols where circuit/connection points where not evenly spaced or located in off snap locations.
- We recommend that all users work a majority of the time with SNAP on. This makes working with others on shared projects highly effective.
- Keep snap and grid spacing at some factors with each other.
- Remember these other tools, what they do, and how to access them quickly (keyboard shortcuts, View> Parameters or Right Click on the status bar). You may be surprised that toggling this off and on while you work might save you a lot of time and effort.
SolidWorks Electrical Cursor
You probably don’t think about this much but let’s take a minute and consider how we can adjust this to help our workflow.
Also, another interesting detail, see that box at the center? The area that it covers is considered a selection area. So, anything that box is sitting on top of when you click will be selected. My preference is to make the box a bit smaller. This allows me to evaluate visually what I’m selecting and to have more control.
The crosshairs …. Oh, those crosshairs… They would be so useful to help me line up wires and components within the SOLIDWORKS Electrical interface if they were only longer. My preference is to make them the length and width of the entire graphics area.
As you have probably already guessed, this tip is to show you how to change the size of the pick box and length of the crosshairs. These options will be found under Tools> Interface Configuration> Graphics Options. The below screenshot shows you the default options for the new installation.
My recommendation is to change ‘Pickbox Size (pixel)’ to 5, and ‘Crosshair (% of screen size)’ to 100. Give it a try! If you don’t prefer it, change it whatever you like!