Nate Holt's Blog

February 9, 2011

Extending AutoCAD Electrical to 4-pole Breaker/switch Dynamic Inserts (and beyond)

Filed under: Electrical — nateholt @ 11:12 am

The icon menu component insertion tool can be easily customized to extend quick pick and dynamic insertion of multi-pole devices of pole counts beyond AutoCAD Electrical’s 3-pole default.

Normally, to accommodate a circuit breaker of more than three poles, you pop in the 3-pole breaker from the stock icon menu pick and then manually add in to more single child breaker poles.

But let’s say that we routinely need to insert a 5-pole circuit breaker…

Would be nice to just hit a button…

Here’s a step-by-step sequence showing how to add a new button to the icon menu for a 5-pole circuit breaker.

Step 1 – Determine the parent and child symbol names needed to build the breaker.

Just insert a 3-pole breaker from the icon menu somewhere in space on the drawing.  Then use any block/attribute editing tool or the AutoCAD “LIST” command to get the block name of the top symbol (the parent)…

… and the block name used for the 2+ child poles.

Step 2 – Launch AutoCAD Electrical’s Icon Menu Wizard tool.

 Select “Schematic” and hit OK.

Step 3 – Drill down to the Circuit Breakers / Disconnects icon menu page. This is where we’ll add our new 5-pole CB icon.

Okay, here we are at the desired page… dealing with breakers and switches.

Fill in some data on the form for the new icon…

… the dialog below shows the standard commands available for the icon menu. Pick on the 3-pole parametric build option (even though we want 5 poles). Hit OK.

This brings us back to the previous dialog below but has filled in the “Command” edit box with command name WD_3UNIT. Here is where we trick AutoCAD Electrical to insert five poles (1 parent + 4 child symbols). Type in the parent symbol name (from step 1 above). Type in the child symbol name four times. Put a space between each symbol name as shown below.

Hit “OK” and “OK” to get all the way out of the Icon Menu Wizard tool.

Step 4 – Let’s try it! Hit the normal “Icon Menu” icon to insert components. Drill down to the Circuit Breaker page. There’s our new icon. Pick it.

Select and pop into the bus…

… and use the same icon to insert into vertical bus…



  1. I think we should define vertical blocks after WD3_UNIT command…? I notice that it will not work on vertical wires if we define HCB1 as a parent and HCB2 as a child…

    Comment by Marko Kokkonen — February 10, 2011 @ 4:15 am

  2. The command should work for vertical versions of the symbols as long as the symbol names are EXACTLY the same as the horizontal symbols EXCEPT for the first character. In the example, the symbol names were “HCB1” and “HCB2”. If your library has “vertical” versions “VCB1” and “VCB2”, then this command should automatically default to the “V” vertical versions if you pick on a vertical wire for the 5-pole insertion.

    Comment by Nate Holt — February 12, 2011 @ 5:27 pm

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