Here is tvCAD in action. There's no audio so you wont wake anyone sitting near you.
tvCAD makes cable schedules from your CAD wiring drawings, automatically and quickly and 100% accurately. The cable schedules can include connector and cable details as well as a changelog of what changed and when for each connection.
tvCAD is an alternative to ConnectCAD, VidCAD, D-Tools, Star Draw, Vector sketch etc. tvCAD is a direct replacement for ACNE but faster, modern, much easier to use and with more features, regular updates and Support.
How to use tvCAD: see the Help pages for a bit of a quick start and more screenshots. Here is my usual day-to day usage…
- Modify some CAD drawings
- Open the tvCAD application.
- If you have added any new drawings, just drag them into tvCAD’s drawing list from Explorer
- Click the big green Excel button (I made it green-for-“GO”)
- uh, that’s it. That’s all there is to it. Excel will open with your cable schedule in a few seconds. For a few hundred cables it takes less than 3 seconds.
Here are a few drawings, a cable schedule and a tvCAD project for you to download and check out. Have a look and see how it all works. How do I try tvCAD? To get your free trial, send me your email at the bottom of this page.
tvCAD Version 2 (aka CAD Reporter) is the next version in the works. CAD Reporter will be configurable to parse pretty-much any CAD drawing and produce reports (including cable schedules) in pretty-much any format you like (as long as it’s in Excel). tvCAD is ACNE-style CAD blocks only, with a few new extra extras like connector types and cable types added in. What’s an “ACNE” block? This …
Not your blocks? Don’t use blocks? That’s what CAD Reporter will do that tvCAD doesn’t do (yet). Please get in touch with me at the bottom of this page or email me (I’m Ewen and this is my site, build my email address with that info) so we can clarify what CAD Reporter needs to do for you.
tvCAD is for those of you who do their own CAD drawings (system wiring diagrams for Broadcast, IT, Production Houses, Radio Stations, AV facilities etc.) and want your computer do all the boring bits like working out cable schedules, tracking changes, finding errors, updating off-sheets, labels etc. tvCAD regards your drawings as your principal database, it doesn’t hold you to ransom with a database you’re locked out of and can’t even see, it’s all yours. If you take away tvCAD you still have all your drawings exactly as you made them, all of your reports, and all of your information, even your existing database is all yours. If you leave tvCAD you will just have to do all of the boring bits yourself and find all your errors yourself. The tvCAD database is a standard SQLite database. It’s your data, so tvCAD won’t hide it from you.
I have been working on tvCAD since before 2007 (yes, really, that long). I use it myself in my day-job as a CAD bloke. tvCAD has evolved a whole host of workflows and features in that time. It’s a very mature bit of software (more than 1,700 Git commits, if that means anything to you).
Does tvCAD need AutoCAD? Nope. tvCAD has everything built-in. You don’t even need Excel to create cable schedules, just to view them. I test new builds of tvCAD on an empty Windows installation, as well as every day in my day job.
Does tvCAD replace AutoCAD? ah, no. You still need your CAD to draw your drawings, tvCAD does all the boring bits you don’t want to do. tvCAD is a parser and report generator, not a CAD replacement. Your CAD doesn’t necessarily need to be AutoCAD – BricsCAD is the one I recommend these days, NanoCAD, Draftsight etc are all fine. If your CAD makes DWG files then tvCAD will read them.
So I need install SQL Server and blahblah DBadminAaahNoooo? Nope. That’s all built into tvCAD. There is no Database installation nor administration, it just works. You can take snapshots of the database with one click of a big, green button, and prune cluttered history, if you like. Or you can just pretty-much ignore it. You’re not locked out of your tvCAD database, you can query it to your heart’s content, if you wish to. tvCAD uses SQLite. Here’s a free SQLite browser I use all the time: https://sqlitebrowser.org/.
Some of those settings look a bit scary, do I have to work all that out myself? Nope, that’s what “support” means. I will set most of that up for you and provide ongoing guidance.
some things tvCAD has…
- for you: Knowledge Base (ok, I’m working on it!), Blog, email, Skype, Phone, house-calls by arrangement. “What the hell is this” questions answered asap.
- for the latest version of AutoCAD’s DWG format, or whatever CAD you use.
- Feature requests, bug fixes. tvCAD has a bug reporter built in so I get the details if something breaks.
- tvCAD.tv’s blog has a ton of unpublished blog posts queued up on all sorts tips for tvCAD and for AutoCAD, particularly the way we use AutoCAD. Coming soon to an Internet near you.
- You won’t need much in the way of training, it should “just work” but there will be plenty of help when you want it.
Drawing List Manager
- track DWG file moves, deletions, renames. (ok, ACNE users, all together: “YAY!”)
- quickly open drawings from the manager, just double-click
- drag-drop drawings into the window to add to the tvCAD Project
- I am pondering an option to continuously watch all the drawings for changes and check them when they change. Drop me a line of you want that.
Some Major New Features in tvCAD …
- different Cable schedule formats. In CAD Reporter this will be completely user-configurable. For now There are 3, including the official ABC Australia format
- fill in Cable Schedule information from missing offsheet connections with the actual offsheet information from the drawing.
- Cable types parsed from cable layer names
- Connector types parsed from connection attributes (see the block pic above)
- use the Attribute Prompt instead of the Tag in Cable schedules, or not – your choice
- choose which attributes to watch to register a change to a connection. tvCAD always tracks the current information, now you can decide when tvCAD tells you about a change.
- Equipment lists, exported to Excel
- hide or show future and/or deleted cables
- every cable has a changelog, a created date and a last-updated date that you can filter the cable schedule with.
- History: if you keep archived copies of drawings, tvCAD can parse your archives, match them to your current drawings and build a history of what happened in your drawings over time.
- Save and load Database (with the project) snapshots. This is handy if you want to experiment but keep a clean history in the long term.
- User Data. ACNE users called this “Back Annotation”. You can manually add data to a cable schedule and then tvCAD will assimilate your data into the database, preserving it for all future cable schedules.
- This the the scenario for the History Builder …
- You have multiple generations of backups of your drawings (or Autodesk Vault)
- You want to build a timeline history of what happened in your drawings
- tvCAD can sort through the archives, relate old versions to the current drawings and build a history of what happened over time.
Coming soon – these are features I am using working prototypes of in my daily work
- Automated Offsheets: tvCAD will find the information for your offsheet blocks.
- a Block builder. I already have a proof of concept block builder AutoCAD plugin that I use, email me with your feature requests for this. I will probably include the proof-of concept plugin in tvCAD’s first release. I can port this plugin to BricsCAD etc, email me if you want this.
- tvCAD has scope for time-saver CAD plugins. Some things I am actively working on are…
- You fill in the details, tvCAD makes the blocks for your drawings.
- I am already using a Proof-Of-Concept version of this myself. I think you will like it. I do. Pester me if you want it sooner rather than later.
- You fill in (or perhaps just right-click) the cable number(s), tvCAD generates the offsheet info from your drawings – AUTOMAGICALLY and accurately. See https://www.tvcad.tv/help/auto-offsheets/ for more on that. Trust me, it’s a killer feature. Coming soon!
Block library manager
- create / insert / update / replace blocks in a drawing.
- Rebuild an entire block library in a different style.
- This “nice to have” will be a future addition.
- for jackfield labels etc It looks up the information for the label automatically.
- for cable labels, printed labels with resistor-coloured cable numbers on Brady, Hellermann Tyton and other labels
- things that are “Pending Changes”, “as-built”, “tested”, commissioned” – a workflow engine.
- …well, whatever you want it to do, really. You’re paying for it so you get to ask for things. Those things get built for you and for what you need.
I’m sure it’s hard to picture what tvCAD is from this grocery list of some of its features but here’s what it does: tvCAD saves you time and effort and money! You do the CAD, tvCAD automates the boring bits. If you can do it then tvCAD can automate it.
www.CableSchedules.com is the next generation of tvCAD that will make Cable Schedules from your CAD wiring drawings. Head to www.CableSchedules.com for more info.
image courtesy of the awesome folk at gapingvoid art
tvCAD is Made in Australia by CAD bloke