Fast and Easy VR in eDrawings 2019
SOLIDWORKS 2019 makes it easier than ever to experience and review your designs in virtual reality, thanks to the new Open in VR functionality included in eDrawings Professional 2019. In a previous blog (found here), we discussed some of the amazing uses of extended reality (XR) in the world of 3D CAD and engineering. Today we are going to take a more focused look at how to get started examining your models in virtual reality using eDrawings 2019.
The new File>Open in VR functionality has been developed specifically to work with the HTC Vive and HTC Vive Pro headsets. The eDrawings team will eventually develop its viewer to support additional headsets, but for now you’ll need an HTC Vive or HTC VivePro headset (see Figure 1).
In addition to simply owning the HTC Vive headset, you’ll need to get it up and running. This means running any required hardware updates on the headset and confirming that the current configuration of your computer can support the HTC Vive VR experience as shown in Figure 2.
A good way to confirm that everything is configured properly is to log into the Steam VR lobby. This lobby will look like a nice wood-floored room with a sliding glass door leading out to a mountaintop overlook. Once you log into this lobby you can test the tracking of your headset and your controllers. You’ll also see feedback indicating that all the elements of your VR system have a strong connection. In the image above, you can see that the headset, both controllers and both sensors are shown in a solid green fill. This lets you know that everything related to the VR system is up and running properly. You are ready to move on.
FILE>OPEN IN VR….is missing?
The next thing you want to do us jump into eDrawings 2019 and launch the command File>Open in VR.
Upon examining the eDrawings setup, we see that the File>Open in VR command is not present (see Figure 3). This is actually to be expected. Since most users won’t have an HTC Vive headset installed and configured, the eDrawings team decided to exclude the Open in VR functionality from the default setup of eDrawings 2019. So,you simply need to create a new environment variable in Windows 10 to turn on this functionally as shown in Figure 4.
To add this new environment variable on a Windows 10 computer, simply follow these steps:
- Close eDrawings 2019.
- Go to the Windows 10 command bar and type “Environment Variable.”
- Press Enter to open the Advanced tab of the System Properties in Windows 10.
- Click the button at the bottom of the screen for Environment Variables.
- Click the button for New, in the upper section of this box (User Variables).
- Add a new Variable Name by typing the following: ED_RS_ENABLE_VR.
- Add a new Variable Value by typing the following: true.
- Choose OK to add this new Environment Variable.
- Choose OK to close the main Environment Variables window.
- Choose OK to close the remaining System Properties window(s).
- Restart eDrawings 2019.
We now see the File>Open in VR command in eDrawings shown in Figure 6.
Opening Files in VR
After choosing File>Open in VR, you will be presented with a standard Open dialog box. You can browse to any SOLIDWORKS PART or SOLIDWORKS ASSEMBLY files as shown in Figure 7. Note that when you are opening files in VR, you are working with native SOLIDWORKS files, and not eDrawings files (.eprt and .easm).
To ensure the best results, you should open these files in SOLIDWORKS 2019 before opening them in eDrawings VR. You should ensure that all of your models have been properly converted up to the SOLIDWORKS 2019 format and that none of the files contain errors. In addition, you can use this opportunity to ensure that the orientation of the model is ideal for VR. There will be more on this topic a little later in the blog.
Adjusting Settings in the VR environment
The file is now open in eDrawings, but you aren’t yet viewing the file in VR. Before you proceed, you can adjust some settings for the VR environment as shown in Figure 8.
From these settings, you can adjust things like what the sky should look like as shown in Figure 9.
And you can also adjust what the floor of the VR environment looks like as shown in Figure 10.
Last, you can adjust the brightness of your scene. This can be useful if your models look too dark, and you are unable to see certain details as shown in Figure 11.
For your assembly, you can use the settings shown in Figure 11—a daytime sky and a concrete floor.
How Do the Controls Work in VR?
If you click on the button for Controls, you will see a nice guide for how to navigate the eDrawings 2019 VR experience (see Figure 12).
As you can see from Figure 12, once you enter the eDrawings VR experience, you can move around (or Teleport) by pointing to your destination and then pressing the large center button on the controller (button #3). You can pick up and examine parts by squeezing the button on the rear of the controller (button #1). And you have some additional options to move, rotate and scale parts within the VR environment.
Jumping into VR Mode
Now that your headset is configured and working, your model is loaded, and you understand the controls, you’re ready to examine your model in VR. You’ll start by clicking the button for Play as shown in Figure 13.
After you press Play, you can put on your headset and begin experiencing your model in virtual reality (see Figure 14).
Starting Position in VR
Your starting position in eDrawings VR will be determined by the location of the Origin in your original SOLIDWORKS model. Because of this, it is often beneficial to create a simple assembly with the model in the desired position for the VR experience. You can see in Figure 14 that you have created an assembly with one single component (the subassembly of the truck) and that this component has been positioned to provide the desired starting position in VR as shown in Figure 15.
Teleporting in VR
In Figure 15, you can see that each of our controllers will have a “laser” coming off of it in VR. One laser is green, while the other is blue. You will primarily use the controller with the blue laser in eDrawings VR. If you point this blue laser to a desired location and press button 3, you will be teleported to that location (see Figure 16).
In Figure 16, you can see that we pointed the blue laser to the ground, near the rear of the truck, and then pressed button 3, which teleported us to the rear of the truck, allowing us to examine what the truck might look like to a car that is following behind it.
Moving Parts in VR
Next, you can point at the rear door of the truck and hold down button 1 to drag this part away from the assembly. This will enable you to get a look at what’s going on inside of the truck model. If you let go of button 1, the door will return to its original location. If you press button 3 while holding down button 1, the door will remain out in space. This will allow you to teleport inside of the truck (see Figure 18).
A Few Final Things to Examine
Now that the rear door of the truck has been removed, you can point the blue laser inside of the truck and then press button 3 to teleport inside. You can take a look at the aesthetics and navigation of the truck’s interior. It looks like some of these boxes may be blocking the side doors.
Lastly, you can teleport back outside of the truck to get a feel for how the other side of the truck will look (see Figure 19).
Since you can walk around (or teleport around) the truck, you can decide on the most appealing size, position and color for your logos.
One of the hottest trends in engineering is working with your models in XR—or extended reality. By examining your models in virtual reality, augmented reality or mixed reality, you can give your design teams and your customers new and exciting ways to experience your products.
It really doesn’t get much easier to experience your models in VR than by using the new File>Open in VR command in eDrawings 2019. Your SOLIDWORKS native Part and Assembly files can be opened and examined in a true 1:1 scale in virtual reality. You can teleport around the models, move components away from one another, and get a true feel for the aesthetics and functionality of your designs—like never before.
About the Author
Toby Schnaars is a Certified SOLIDWORKS Expert from Philadelphia, Pa. He has been working with SOLIDWORKS software since 1998 and has been providing training, technical support, and tips and tricks since 2001.