Tinndahl’s Tips from The Train: Features and Assemblies

When working in SOLIDWORKS (or any CAD program, for that matter), it is better to work smarter, not harder.

In my first article, I discussed how you can customize your user experience, to help you achieve just that. Within the next article, I started the creation of a box for a visual representation of a chess clock, using many of my favorite tips and tricks for sketching.

In this article, I am going to modify the layout, as well as insert it into an assembly to finish the representation.

Changing the Design

Most of us have been here: The design is finished, and the model is finished. However, the engineer has just a few changes. “You don’t mind, do you?”

In this case, the engineer wants to change the design of the top of the case and sends you his two suggestions.

If I make the original line a construction line and the arched line a “normal line,” I get an error on my fillets.

Which is why I am going to use the Replace Entities command.

To start, select the original line. For the replacement, select the arched line. Make sure that the original line is not deleted, but rather made into a construction line, and that you have checked off “make contour.” Then, press “OK.”

The fillets work again as intended.

However, if the designer has created a line with more segments, then the “Replace entity” is not supported.

I could, of course, use the segment as I demonstrated in the last article. However, for this I am going to use split entities instead, for the purpose of demonstrating how they can be used.

With the sketch active, go to Tools > Sketch tools.

In here you will find the Split Entities tool. Select it and click on two places on the sketch line, then right click and select “OK.”

After this, you can use the “Replace Entity” tool. One thing to keep in mind is that you have to press OK after each replacement and activate the tool again.

Instead of selecting the tool again, I want to repeat the last command. By using the default keyboard shortcut Enter, I can quickly use the Replace Entity tool on the last two segments.

One often overlooked use of the Replace Entity tool is with the Text tool. When creating text within a sketch, the best way to place this is by using a construction line and making this the base for the text. Then you can measure the construction line as needed.

If you use Replace Entities within the text sketch, you can quickly move the sketch from one construction line to another.

Going back to the model, press OK and the model has changed. Since new faces have been created, the fillets are no longer valid.

If I hold down CTRL and drag the fillet to one of the edges or faces, a new fillet is created with the settings from the original fillet.

If CTRL is not held down, the fillet will simply be moved from one part of the model to another.

Time Me, Please

In this section, the clock will be assembled. As stated earlier, the clock is merely a visual representation, but that does not mean we should not play around a bit.

There are switches in a clock that turn the timer on and off. By using Section View, I can look within the model and select the components I want.

First, create two mates that link the top of the left switch to the top of the plate and the bottom of the switch to the bottom of the top plate.

 However, I am going to make sure that there is a checkmark in the “for positioning only” box which is found within the options, in order to ensure that the mate is not created and I still can move the components freely.

On the first switch, I am going to select the circular edge of the switch and the circular edge of the left hole while holding down the CTRL key.

When it comes to mates, I am going to select the circular option and ensure there is a checkmark in the “lock rotation” box.  

Another option when mating two circular entities is to turn on the “View temporary axis.” Go to View > Hide/Show and select “Temporary Axis” or select it in the HUD display.

Hold CTRL and select the two axes you want to mate.

Now select the coincident mate.

You can use these two methods to mate circular entities and both of them are usable. However, you can only lock the rotation with the concentric mate.

Now I want to limit the movement of one of the switches. I start of by selecting “mate” and “advanced mates.” Next, I select the width mate.

The width mate gives me the option to set a minimum and maximum distance. I am going to set the minimum distance to be 0 mm and the maximum distance to be 20 mm.

If I decide to move the switch, it can only move within this range.

As you may or may not know, when you turn off one timer on a chess clock, the other one begins. I want to show this by having the two switches moving according to each other.

To do this, I first create a section view again in order to ensure that I get can get to the faces I want to reach. Press “Mates” and “Advanced Mates,” then select the cylindrical face of the two switches and select “Linear/Linear Coupler.”

The “Linear Coupler” mate ensures that the two components’ movements are linked. In this case, I want the move ratio to be 1:1, but it is possible to change this.

The arrows show the direction that the components move.

Then I press OK, and when I move one of the switches, the other moves in the opposite direction.

Next, I want the hands on the clock to move just like a real clock: If the second hand moves 60 turns, the minute hand moves one complete turn (1 hour) and the hour hand also follows the movement of the minute hand.

To do this, I have to make sure that the hands are attached to the clock face.

I press “Mates” and “Mechanical Mates” and press the “Gear mate.”

I start by selecting the minute hand and then the second hand and set the exchange rate to 1:60. This means that whenever the minute hand moves one unit, the second hand moves 60 units, and vice versa.

Using the mechanical mate again, I repeat the process. This time I select the minute hand and the hour hand, and set the scale to 1:12.

You should now be able to create the movement of the clock.

Making it All Work

Now that the clock is all together, let’s look at the chess board and add the pieces.

Each of my chess pieces has been created with two different materials: maple and oak. Looking at it, I can see that all the maple pieces have been placed and now I want to place the oak pieces.

To begin, select all the pieces, hold down CTRL and drag them into the workspace.

Next, I am going to select all of the newly inserted components, hold down SHIFT and right click on one of the components to change the configuration.

Finally, I will press the mates button and press the “Multiple Mates mode” button.

Next, I select the chess board in the first entities to mate.

Then I select the bottom of each chess piece.

Press OK.

Once this is done, I have all my pieces placed on the board and I can start to put them in the proper location.

Another, much faster way to to do this is to use the Mirror Components function.

Here are the steps to do so:

  1. Select the plane you want to use.
  2. Select the pieces.
  3. Press the green arrow.

In the next screen, you get the option to orient the components individually. You will get a preview of their orientation.

You also have the option to create a mirrored version of the component and save that as a separate file.

After the mirror has been created, you can select all the new pieces and change the configuration.

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