Nate Holt's Blog

December 8, 2010

Tutorial – Automatic Wire Annotation from Schematic to W/D (Part 1) – AutoCAD Electrical

Filed under: Electrical, Tutorials — nateholt @ 2:48 pm

Annotation of panel wiring diagram representations with real-time schematic wire connection data.

Autodesk’s Nathan Eliason hosted a webcast earlier today that focused on AutoCAD Electrical’s ability automatically annotate panel layout or panel wiring diagram representations with real-time schematic wire connection data. I helped put the demo together and was responsible for real-time Q & A support while Nathan was “on stage”. 

Note: this posting is a summary of what Nathan covered in the first 30 minutes or so of his presentation.

A Quick Review

Let’s summarize what we saw in the first two or three panel-related tutorials back in June


Once the schematic creation phase is complete, AutoCAD Electrical extracts a list of schematic components for placement into panel layout drawings.  Users choose the panel location and a physical “footprint” representation of each device to be inserted into the layout and a “link” is automatically created between the device and its representation.  Any changes to the schematic or panel representation will update the other.  Non-schematic items like wire duct and mounting hardware can be added to the layout and automatically combined to create a “smart” panel bill-of-materials report.


Simplify panel layout drawing creation to reduce errors and ensure that all parts are placed, and drawings are automatically updated.

What do we mean by panel layout drawings being “smart”?  The layouts have a “smart” relationship with their control schematic counter-parts.

Consider this: The panel layout drawings are probably just one part of your overall electrical controls drawing package. The other very key part of the package is the electrical controls “schematic” drawings.

The electrical schematic drawings in your design define the interconnected wiring between control devices such as relays, pilot lights, switches, motor starters, I/O modules, and such. They might be drawn in a “ladder” format as shown here, or sideways ladders, or even drawn in more of a point-to-point interconnection style.

These schematics are actually quite “smart” all by themselves. With AutoCAD Electrical they can have automatically generated tag-IDs, child contact cross-referencing, automatic wire number assignments, various BOM reports, and on and on.

But, when panel layout drawings and associated schematics are combined in a single AutoCAD Electrical project, then the panel layouts get a big “Project IQ” boost from the presence of their schematics.

Item #5 is the one that is the main topic addressed in Nathan Eliason’s webcast 08-December-2010 and summarized below.

Schematic to Panel W/D Wire Connection Annotation

The panel layouts and the electrical controls schematics are tied  very closely together.  Let’s use one of the sample projects, “IECDEMO”, that installs with the product.

Here we have portions of three drawings shown below. There are two electrical schematics on the left and a small portion of a panel layout on the right.


The circled elements on the two schematics are related to the physical panel footprint symbol on the right.

Let’s use this simple example to show how the AutoCAD Electrical panel layout drawing on the right can be turned into a quick “wiring diagram”. What this wiring diagram will show is a listing, all in one place, of schematic wire connections that tie to this “-K14” motor starter.

Two things to check before we launch the wiring diagram annotation command. The first is this…

 1. Set the annotation format to include the pieces of information you want to see on your wiring diagrams.

This is set up as a project-wide default by selecting “Panel” –> “Configuration” on any drawing of the project. Here we’ve selected that we want wire number, destination component tag and pin number, and connected wire’s color/gauge layer name.

The second thing to check is the default text style and text size for the annotation. The command will default to whatever text style is set as “current” for the target panel layout drawing. Here we have text style “WD_IEC” and text height of 2.0 selected for our panel layout drawing.

 Now we’re ready to go.

Launch the “Wire Annotation” command as shown above. Select “Active drawing (all)” and hit OK.

You’ll see the annotation dialog pop up one more time. Confirm selections and hit OK.

In a few moments AutoCAD Electrical will have extracted the current state of the schematic wiring, sorted it all out, formatted it per your selection, and then pushed it out to each panel footprint symbol ( ! )


Now, the annotation comes in as an MTEXT entity located at the origin point of each footprint symbol (as shown above). You can move the MTEXT entity to a better position and it will then “hold” at that position when you re-run the command to freshen the connection data with edits made on the schematics.

Here we’ve repositioned the MTEXT annotation for the “-K14” motor starter.

Note that all the information on the portion of the schematic shown on the left-hand side of the screenshot has been automatically annotated on to the panel footprint representation… this includes the wire color/gauge layer names because we selected that option for the wire annotation format.

[Next blog posting… Part 2 – Creating and annotating separate wiring diagram layout drawings]

Other Panel-related tutorials:

Tutorial – Basics of ‘Smart’ Panel Layout (Part 1)  
Tutorial – Basics of ‘Smart’ Panel Layout (Part 2)  
Tutorial – Basics of ‘Smart’ Panel Layout (Part 3)
Tutorial – Mapping schematic components to panel layout – AutoCAD Electrical


1 Comment »

  1. Just watched the recorded screencast. Shame it didn’t concentrate more on creating a real Wiring Diagram, showing how all the components interconnect using that wire annotation, (which I would have thought is one of the best uses of the feature!).

    Comment by Pete Brown — January 18, 2011 @ 8:50 am

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