• Blog posts


    by Dennis Collin

    Helix 1.png

    Tool palettes have been a feature within AutoCAD for almost twenty years. They provide an easy to customise environment to access conventional and dynamic blocks, hatch pattern fills routines and command macros.

    For most AutoCAD functions like lines, circles, blocks and hatches, a user simply needs to define a ‘library file’ and save it to a suitable location.

    Helix 2.png

    Fig 1. Creating a custom block palette.

    Create a sample element and copy and paste, or drag and drop each element onto a palette. This process can also be done with blocks using AutoCAD’s Designcentre environment.

    Helix 3.png

    Fig 2. Creating a line shortcut command on a tool palette

    The Helix object doesn’t work in the same way and refuses to be dragged or pasted onto the tool palette. However, a workaround solution exists!

    Drag a conventional line element to the tool palette and then edit the resulting icon properties with a right mouse click.

    Helix 4.png

    Fig 3. Changing the command string to use the Helix function.

    Disable the dropdown list function and access the command string entry, replacing line with helix.

    To provide standard values for bottom and top radii and height values utilise standard command line string codes to achieve custom results.

    Helix 5.png

    Fig 4. Custom icon properties using Helix command with additional command line options.

    As well as drawing a helix, the backslash symbol, ‘\’ works an awaiting user input. The Semicolon ‘;’ represents a return key action. Using these symbols along with specified sizes results in an easy-to-use command macro, minimising user input.

    The Helix tool lacks an icon, but one can always be created via a suitable graphics package and saved to a small PNG or similar file. A contrasting image can be assigned to each of the dark and light environment themes.

    Helix 6.png


    Fig 5. Specifying a custom button icon for the Helix command macro.

    Customising AutoCAD and configuring the software to needs is one of the topics that we can cover on our more advanced or intermediate courses. For more information on the courses that we offer visit https://training.cadline.co.uk/ or ask a question on the sites’ chat facility where a member of the team will be able to help.