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Messages - Medeek

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Its funny how some of my best thinking is done when I am doing totally unrelated tasks.  While I was cleaning out my garage and mini-van on Sunday afternoon I slowly started working out how to handle ceiling mounted light fixtures, almost unconsciously before I was aware that I was working on the problem.

After giving this topic a rest for a few days and then revisiting it again this evening it is now clear to me that in order for this to work properly I really need a "Story" or "Levels" module or plugin that actually works across all of the plugins.  This Levels module is also needed for the other plugins in the mdkBIM suite, especially in relation to estimating.

This becomes critical for the electrical plugin because when you start placing fixtures into a ceiling you need to know where the floor is in relation to that ceiling.  Or to be more precise you need to know which floor to assign the light fixtures to so that the 2D symbols are drawn at the appropriate Z height and hopefully are at the same level as the rest of the electrical symbols for that level (ie. wall mounted electrical fixtures), regardless of the ceiling height.

If the absolute Z height of the Level is changed then the 2D symbols assigned to it will need to move up or down to make the adjustment.  The easiest way to do this is to place all of the 2D symbols (ceiling light fixtures only) in an over arching group that is separated from the separate light fixture groups themselves.  When the Level Z height changes you only need to move this main group and not each 2D symbol.

The potential downside with this particular system is that if you manually move one of the light fixtures in the X-Y plane or laterally then the 2D symbol does not follow it and is out of sync (out of position).  The way around this problem is to possibly setup an observer so that if a ceiling fixture is moved the 2D symbol is simply deleted and redrawn.  When a ceiling fixture is deleted a similar situation occurs, however the symbol will always belong to the appropriate main group and have a tag (instance name) that matches the ceiling fixtures so that it can be easily purged from the main group.

The draw tool will not only be looking at the group (ceiling group) but also at the face when placing the fixture.  The exact point selected on the face will determine the actual placement of the fixture.  The height parameter (fixture to floor distance) as it is currently defined has no meaning and will be greyed out however for certain suspended fixtures it can be used at the "suspended height" thereby determining the height above the fixture to place the junction box within the suspended ceiling.

There is quite a bit to consider when it comes to ceiling mounted fixtures, I'm sure I haven't considered every possibility yet and there may even be a fatal flaw in some of the organization explained above but at least I wanted to get some of my thoughts down in writing before they evaporated away like a morning mist under the noon-day sun.

It might be useful to have a button somewhere in the global settings that allows one to reset all of the settings to the initial installed settings, essentially reset the entire plugin with a single action.

Any thoughts on this?

I think a few settings such as the serial number one would not want to reset.

Version 0.9.1c - 02.19.2019
- Enabled the ability to draw low voltage outlets, load centers and light fixtures with any wall geometry (removed the dependency on the Medeek Wall extension).

The plugin is now fully independent of the Medeek Wall extension and can function as a standalone extension.

Version 0.9.1b - 02.19.2019
- Enabled the ability to draw outlets with any wall geometry (removed the dependency on the Medeek Wall extension).

There is always more that can be done. Just remember though I am juggling four different extensions now, single handed and each one is very deep (and broad). So my time to devote to any one plugin or request is becoming much more selective.

If you would like to have a feature added I need more details:

1.) Most common configuration and manufacturer.
2.) Some indication of how much this feature would be used (does it fit the 90% rule).
3.) Commercial or Residential application.

Tutorial #1 - Extension Overview:

Footnote:  The bug encountered at the 16:00 min. mark has been identified and corrected.

Version 0.9.1 - 02.16.2019

- Enabled the ability to draw switches with any wall geometry (removed the dependency on the Medeek Wall extension).

I've been blasted with emails the last couple of days requesting that I make the plugin work with any walls, so I figured I might as well see if I can make this happen.

This is largely experimentally at this stage since dealing with random (walls) geometry can be a bit tricky.

I've only enabled this feature with the Draw Switches tool for now.  Once I am satisfied with its performance I can easily migrate it to all the other tools. 

The wall must be a group, and its faces must be only one level deep, not nested group within group.

Please download this latest release and attempt to break it, let me know your findings.

Version 0.9.0b - 02.15.2019
- Added additional Carlon and Raco octagon boxes into the Light Fixture module.

Per customer request I've added some additional electrical boxes. 

The full list of junction boxes available for light fixtures is:

Junction Boxes: Carlon (B518, B520, B620H), Raco (111, 112, 119, 128, 146, 164, 175, 177)

The reason I have to add these boxes in is because I need to hard code in the dimensions so that the plugin knows what the width is when the box justification is toggled to left or right.  Its not a big deal, it only takes me a couple minutes to add in a new box and its dimensions.

If you have a particular box or light fixture you would like to see added please let me know.

As far as other international standards (British, France, South Africa etc...), I would be excited to add these in as well but I don't have the time or the energy to model up quality, low poly models of typical boxes, faceplates and electrical components.  If you would like to see these added to the plugin I would need to have low poly models provided to me.

There are a couple issues with embedding electrical components into unknown walls:

1.)  The Z height problem:  Since I am trying to track the height of the switch or outlet I somehow need to know where the floor is located, not absolute as much as where is it inside of the group that contains the wall geometry.  The reason for this is that the edit menu will allow the user to change this height and without knowing where the floor height is there is no way to know the height of the switch or outlet.

2.)  The other issue is rotation about the Z-axis, so that the electrical component is facing outward regardless of which side of the wall it is on.  With my own Medeek wall panels this problem is easy because the groups origin and axis are always positioned a certain way with regards to the wall, hence I am able to determine or specify a "wallside" for a given electrical component and then offset it accordingly based on the wall construction (stored attribute library).

Medeek Wall Plugin / Re: Development and Updates for the Medeek Wall Plugin
« on: February 14, 2019, 11:59:35 am »
Version 1.0.4 - 02.14.2019
- Added logic to the final assembly routine to allow for electrical components (Medeek Electrical) to be retained within wall panels.

Previous versions of the Wall plugin will not be compatible with the new Medeek Electrical plugin.  You will be able to create electrical components but as soon as you rebuild or modify a wall it will blow away all of your electrical components.


Version 0.9.0 - 02.14.2019
- Created the Medeek Electrical Plugin, utilizing SketchUp's Ruby API.
- Added tools to create switches, outlets, low voltage outlets, load centers and lights.

Download the BETA version here:

Just a reminder that this plugin is currently dependent on the Medeek Wall extension to function.  Also a new version of the Wall plugin is required in order to retain the electrical components within the wall panels.  The upgraded version of the wall plugin will be released later tonight.

Items needing further attention:

- Ceiling light fixtures.
- Parametric ability (edit menus for all fixtures).
- Combo switch/outlets 
- Estimating
- Ability to use the plugin with any wall geometry (non-plugin dependent)
- Link to purchase plugin within Account Manager (currently only a TRIAL version is available)

Pulling the global settings together:

Outlets tab:

The estimating piece will be after I release the BETA. 

I'm almost ready to put this new plugin out there but I'm waffling on whether to spend some additional time on the draw tool and see if I can't make the plugin work with any (wall) geometry rather than just limiting it to an add on for the Medeek Wall plugin.

First look at the output of the Light Fixture Module:

The plugin allows you to drop your own light fixtures into the library sub-folder so you can have as many custom light fixtures as you like (and I don't need to spend anymore time modeling things up).

The fancy ext. wall lantern shown was simply downloaded from the warehouse, minor edit to make sure the origin of the file was in the correct place and then dropped into the light_fixture sub-folder.  I will not be including this fixture in the distribution simply due to its size (1.2 Mb).  However I will include some basic lampholders like the Leviton 49875 shown.

Another thing to note, since the light fixtures are custom I will not be attempting to apply any material or color to them.  For that reason there is no need to explode the component into a unique group. 

I will add some additional simple light fixtures and junction boxes as time allows or as requests are made.

Currently the light fixture tool is limited to wall mounted fixtures.  I am still contemplating how best to deal with ceiling mounted fixtures and what type of system/organization to employ.

Electrical boxes for light fixtures:

I'll start with the simple nail mounted 3/0 and 4/0 boxes (Carlon B518 and B520).  I should also add the hanger bar variants as well but I'll need to purchase a few more samples from the local hardware store first so that I can create semi-decent models.

Just a reminder to everyone that is following the development of this plugin:

This plugin is an add-on plugin/extension.  In other words it currently only installs switches, outlets, low voltage outlets and panels into the walls that are created by the Medeek Wall extension.

At some point I may attempt to extend it to allow for operation with any solid walls but for now it is limited to working with the geometry created by the mdkBIM suite.  There are a number of technical issues/reasons for this which I will not delve into at this time.

Since it is not a stand alone plugin and is dependent (currently only on the Medeek Wall extension) I will probably not charge as much for it if it were a standalone extension.  As such I am thinking about $20.00 USD for a permanent license with a $10.00 USD renewal for upgrades.

Eventually it will be packaged with the mdkMEP suite but for now it is a standalone purchase and separate from the mdkBIM suite.

It will eventually include its own estimating module which again is separate from the Medeek Estimator (Wall Plugin).  I really haven't gotten that far yet but I will solicit feedback from the user base of this plugin once I release the BETA and determine how we want to put that together.

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