For Beginners: LDCad 1.5 Part Bins for EV3 Education 45544-1


For Beginners: LDCad 1.5 Part Bins for EV3 Education 45544-1
#1
For Beginners: LDCad 1.5 Part Bins for EV3 Education 45544-1, Part 1 of 6

I'm volunteering in a classroom that uses the Mindstorms EV3 Education kit 45544-1 and I'm making MOCs for advanced students.  I need building instructions and am using LDCad to create the LDraw model.  LDCad is an impressive part editing program!

As Philippe Hurbain has pointed out, the ability of LDCad to present six different part bins organized by type (for example beams, connectors, pins, etc. from the same set) makes the building process fast and intuitive.

I tried to use BrickUtils as described in this thread and got thoroughly confused.  It's probably a wonderful application, but as a novice I couldn't get anything to work, and had no idea how to proceed.  So I decided to follow Roland's LDCad online documentation and do some trial & error analysis.

I'm going to show I got the part bins to work, in excruciating detail, for any other LDCad novices who want to enjoy the building features of LDCad and need help with the part bin configuration.  All the files shown in screenshots below are available for download at the bottom of the last post.  Use this example to create your own part bin configurations for your favorite sets.

I'm breaking it up into six segments so corrections and comments from experienced users will be easier to manage.

For this exercise, the goal is to have two part bin options for the EV3 kit:
--- a single EV3-Edu part bin with all the parts in one bin.  It's configuration is associated with the name "EV3-Edu" as described below.
--- six part bins with similar parts together like beams, pins, axles, etc.  The configuration of these six bins is associated with the name "45544-1-sorted" as described below.

The EV3-Edu kit consists of a tub with the large parts, plus a red tray with thirteen bins for the small parts and a guide to which parts should go in which bin.  We want each of our six LDCad part bins to be one or more of these bins.

On a Windows 10 system, the image below shows where the LDCad 1.5 "partbin" folder is located, under C:\Users\Walt as shown.  The LDCad 1.5 installation creates and populates the "default" folder.  We don't want to change the "default" folder because it might be overwritten by LDCad upgrades.  We want a parallel folder with a person's name so it's clear that it isn't part of the official installation.  I chose to name it "Walt's Parts."

Edit the "sysRoot.pbg" file to add "Walt's Parts" as shown.  When you launch LDCad 1.5 and click the up arrow in the Bin Selection window, you will now see pictures corresponding to each of the two folders.  LDCad 1.5 goes into those folders and finds corresponding images (described below) to make the selection choices clear.  This pattern will repeat in the examples below:  LDCad 1.5 opens things listed in <items> to locate pictures to associate with those items. 

Walt


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RE: For Beginners: LDCad 1.5 Part Bins for EV3 Education 45544-1
#2
For Beginners: LDCad 1.5 Part Bins for EV3 Education 45544-1, Part 2 of 6

Each folder under "partBin" needs a "root.pbg" file.

Looking at "root.pbg" in the "Walt's Parts" folder, note the "picture=Me2.png" image reference which was used by LDCad 1.5 to associate this folder with a recognizable image in the screen shots above as specified in the "sysRoot.pbg" file.

The "root.pbg" file is shown below.  Note an important difference between this "root.pbg" file and the "sysRoot.pbg" file shown above:  sysRoot.pbg <items> are folders, while root.pbg <items> are someName.pbg filenames without the ".pbg" extension.  The fact that there is a "45544-1-sorted" sub-folder is of no concern to this "root.pbg" file.  It's only looking for ".pbg" files to process.

The LDCad 1.5 result of this "root.pbg" file is also shown.  Each of the "root.pbg" <items> has an image using the same name.  There's an image "EV3-EDU.png" of an EV3 brick and LDCad 1.5 found a part bin group "EV3-Edu.pbg", so LDCad floats a down arrow over the image.  Same with "45544-1-sorted.png" and "45544-1-sorted.pbg."  Edit note: since original posting, I added a third part bin group so there is an extra image.

For our first goal of a single part bin with all the parts in one bin, EV3-Edu, we are done with the folder configuration work.  The contents of "EV3-Edu.pbg" finishes that first goal as shown in Part 3 next.


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RE: For Beginners: LDCad 1.5 Part Bins for EV3 Education 45544-1
#3
For Beginners: LDCad 1.5 Part Bins for EV3 Education 45544-1, Part 3 of 6

The image below shows what happens when you click the EV3 brick image and LDCad processes the "EV3-Edu.pbg" file.  The Bin Selection window populates with the <items> from the "EV3-Edu.pbg" file which is also shown below.  Note the picture reference to the "EV3-Edu.png" image which was used by "root.pbg."  I chose "sortOn = none" because I wanted to list the parts in the same order that the sorted bins will come in.  But you should experiment with other options if you are more comfortable with other arrangements of the parts.  Just remember, it's all one LDCad part bin.

Also shown are the seven lines from "EV3-Edu.pbg" that correspond to the parts shown in the LDCad 1.5 Bin Selection screenshot.  Each line references an LDraw ".dat" file which is used by LDCad to generate the image, plus the color information for the color of the part used in the EV3 kit, plus the count of those parts in the kit, which shows in the upper right corner of the image for each part.

The "45544-1-sorted.pbg" file is for the second goal of having six LDCad part bins that sort the parts by type, described next.

Walt


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RE: For Beginners: LDCad 1.5 Part Bins for EV3 Education 45544-1
#4
For Beginners: LDCad 1.5 Part Bins for EV3 Education 45544-1, Part 4 of 6

In the screenshots below, we're still in the "Walt's Parts" folder, now looking at "45544-1-sorted.pbg."  It's the same pattern as before.  Note the "picture=45544-1-sorted.png" line that displays the red tray as a clue that this is for the sorted bins, as used by the "root.pbg" file.  

In this file, the <items> are filenames without the ".pbg" file extension.  And as before, LDCad gets the images shown for all six ".pbg" files by opening what it finds listed in <items>.  For example, LDCad finds "tub.pbg" in the "45544-1-sorted" sub-folder and within "tub.pbg" gets information for showing an image for that bin, in this case the image of the ultrasonic sensor.  And because LDCad found "tub.pbg" it floats the down arrow over the image of the ultarsonic sensor.

Walt


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RE: For Beginners: LDCad 1.5 Part Bins for EV3 Education 45544-1
#5
For Beginners: LDCad 1.5 Part Bins for EV3 Education 45544-1, Part 5 of 6

Finally, the contents of one of the six desired part bins, this one "tub.pbg."  For this file, the "picture=" line has no entry.  Instead, LDCad 1.5 provides the "mascot=" feature, which allows you to specify one of the <items> and LDCad will use that item's LDraw ".dat" file to generate the image chosen to represent all the items.  "95652.dat" is the LDraw file for the ultrasonic sensor.

In this same manner, the six ".pbg" files allow the one hundred types of LEGO pieces in EV3-Edu to be subdivided by type; in this bin you only have to sort through eighteen pieces to find what you are looking for, and it is already in the correct color.

Walt


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RE: For Beginners: LDCad 1.5 Part Bins for EV3 Education 45544-1
#6
For Beginners: LDCad 1.5 Part Bins for EV3 Education 45544-1, Part 6 of 6

The fruits of your labor in installing and configuring all this:  when you work on an EV3-Education MOC, start by clicking the tab for bin 1 and work your way down from the top Bin Selection option until you find the first of the six groups.  I like to start with the "tub.pbg" that has the EV3 brick, the sensors, etc.

Click the second Bin Selection tab and choose the Gears group, click the third selection tab and choose the Connectors group, etc., until you have all six groups available via the six tabs.  It only takes a minute to set up, but makes the MOC building fast and intuitive.

Hope this helps other beginners get a head start on learning LDCad.  Comments and corrections are welcome and expected.  A zip file with the contents of the "Walt's Parts" folder is too large for this Forum to accept as an attachment, so I'll try putting in on some sort of Google site with a link to the zipped file.

Walt
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RE: For Beginners: LDCad 1.5 Part Bins for EV3 Education 45544-1
#7
For Beginners: LDCad 1.5 Part Bins for EV3 Education 45544-1, Epilog

Having the part bins set up made the learning curve for LDCad a lot easier.  I then figured out how to use LPub3D.1.3.4 to generate the building instructions I wanted.  

The robotics students study line/edge following using the standard robot described in the EV3-Education kit which has "wheelchair" steering with one motor on each side.  Students who finish that challenge early are going to be given a different configuration robot:  a front motor assembly that drives the robot and a sideways mounted motor to steer by turning the whole front assembly.

The robot only uses one piece that isn't part of the EV3-Edu kit: a thin wheel with a hard rubber tire that I can buy at BrickLink for about $0.25.  It's part 3482c03. 

LDraw file generated by LDCad 1.5 and building instructions below.

Building Instructions

Walt


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.ldr   Power Steering-LDraw.ldr (Size: 7.39 KB / Downloads: 3)
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RE: For Beginners: LDCad 1.5 Part Bins for EV3 Education 45544-1
#8
Hi Walt.

I can't see the screenshots, so I can't be sure exactly what your setup is, but from your text it sounds like you're only using one part bin. It's possible to add a second (or third, or more) parts bin panel, so that you have an extra six (or twelve, or more) bins to use.

Owen.
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RE: For Beginners: LDCad 1.5 Part Bins for EV3 Education 45544-1
#9
(2016-08-12, 23:47)Owen Dive Wrote: Hi Walt.

I can't see the screenshots, so I can't be sure exactly what your setup is, but from your text it sounds like you're only using one part bin. It's possible to add a second (or third, or more) parts bin panel, so that you have an extra six (or twelve, or more) bins to use.

Owen.

Hi Owen,

Sorry I didn't reply sooner;  I've been out of town all weekend.

As mentioned in Part 1, I wanted one setup with all the parts in a single bin, plus another setup with all the parts split up into six bins.  

I use the six bin setup and it makes finding parts very quick.

But if you wanted part 32054 - Technic Pin Long with Friction and Stop Bush and looked in the Pins bin and couldn't find it because LEGO thinks it belongs with Axles and Bushings per the suggested sorting that comes with the 45544-1 kit, you could just use the Filter for "32054" in the all-in-one-bin and find it.

Some people may find it easier to just do a quick visual scan of the images at:
Rebrickable and do a quick Filter in the all-in-one-bin.

What do you see instead of the screenshots?  This is my first post to this Forum so I just assumed that the screenshot images would be seen by everyone OK.  I'll snoop around for a FAQ about where to host images and fix it.

Walt
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RE: For Beginners: LDCad 1.5 Part Bins for EV3 Education 45544-1
#10
(2016-08-15, 3:08)Walt White Wrote: Hi Owen,

Sorry I didn't reply sooner;  I've been out of town all weekend.

As mentioned in Part 1, I wanted one setup with all the parts in a single bin, plus another setup with all the parts split up into six bins. 

What do you see instead of the screenshots?  This is my first post to this Forum so I just assumed that the screenshot images would be seen by everyone OK.  I'll snoop around for a FAQ about where to host images and fix it.

Walt

Right, but my point was that if you wanted to use more than 6 different categories, you can. You can add another whole part bin window, which gives you six more bins, and you can have two of them displayed at the same time. In my setup, I have a window (6 bins) for studless technic, another window (6 more bins) for studded technic, and a third window (for a total of 18 bins) for everything else - which I mostly use for submodels and misc. non-technic parts. I just wanted to make sure you knew you could do that.

Instead of a screenshot, I see "Image: " then a filename, surrounded by [].
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RE: For Beginners: LDCad 1.5 Part Bins for EV3 Education 45544-1
#11
(2016-08-15, 7:27)Owen Dive Wrote: Right, but my point was that if you wanted to use more than 6 different categories, you can. You can add another whole part bin window, which gives you six more bins, and you can have two of them displayed at the same time. In my setup, I have a window (6 bins) for studless technic, another window (6 more bins) for studded technic, and a third window (for a total of 18 bins) for everything else - which I mostly use for submodels and misc. non-technic parts. I just wanted to make sure you knew you could do that.

Instead of a screenshot, I see "Image: " then a filename, surrounded by [].

Thanks for the info.  I didn't realize that you could have multiple part bins open at the same time.

I'm digging out my Great Ball Contraption modules to test and pack for Bricks By the Bay in Santa Clara, California this weekend, so will get back to LDCad late next week.

Walt
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RE: For Beginners: LDCad 1.5 Part Bins for EV3 Education 45544-1
#12
(2016-08-11, 19:02)Walt White Wrote: Walt 

Thanks , this is very close to what I was looking for. I am completely new to LDraw and LDCad and hence need to ask you some dumb questions 

a) Are all the parts from BOTH the Lego EV3 Mindstorm Core Set (45544) and Expanded Set (45560) included in the latest LDCad software version ? 

b) Would the LDCad software allow the kids to integrate all the parts and create their model designs through the LDCad Editor interface ... would this show them step by step assembly of the model as well ? 

I would love to get a chance to talk to you on phone if possible. 


Regards
Ankur Gupta
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RE: For Beginners: LDCad 1.5 Part Bins for EV3 Education 45544-1
#13
Quote:a) Are all the parts from BOTH the Lego EV3 Mindstorm Core Set (45544) and Expanded Set (45560) included in the latest LDCad software version ?
As far as I know, yes, all the parts for EV3 Edu set and expansion are available in LDraw.

Quote:b) Would the LDCad software allow the kids to integrate all the parts and create their model designs through the LDCad Editor interface ... would this show them step by step assembly of the model as well ?
Yes. But you need to manually add step instructions (LDCad allows to do this easily) where needed to be able to see the model step by step.
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RE: For Beginners: LDCad 1.5 Part Bins for EV3 Education 45544-1
#14
(2016-09-07, 18:28)Philippe Hurbain Wrote:
Quote:Philippe - thanks - are there any published instructions for me to follow to include the EV3 Core and Expanded Set parts into LDCad that you know of ?
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RE: For Beginners: LDCad 1.5 Part Bins for EV3 Education 45544-1
#15
The parts are in the general database of parts you install with the program.
If you want to have them available in a separate bin for each set, search the forum to learn about pbg files (part bin group)
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RE: For Beginners: LDCad 1.5 Part Bins for EV3 Education 45544-1
#16
(2016-09-08, 6:41)Jetro de Château Wrote: Jetro - Thanks , but how do I search / find the parts in the LDCad UI.  I am not able to see a part search option ?
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RE: For Beginners: LDCad 1.5 Part Bins for EV3 Education 45544-1
#17
I suggest you go to the website of the author (http://www.melkert.net/LDCad) and read the documentation (you can find all the links in the left-hand pane of the website). Start at "Getting Started" to make sure you haven't missed any important steps to make sure everything will work properly and then work your way down the list.
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RE: For Beginners: LDCad 1.5 Part Bins for EV3 Education 45544-1
#18
(2016-08-11, 19:02)Walt White Wrote: I'm going to show I got the part bins to work, in excruciating detail, for any other LDCad novices who want to enjoy the building features of LDCad and need help with the part bin configuration.  

I tried to use BrickUtils as described in this thread and got thoroughly confused.  It's probably a wonderful application, but as a novice I couldn't get anything to work, and had no idea how to proceed.  So I decided to follow Roland's LDCad online documentation and do some trial & error analysis.

Walt - For your information, my BrickUtils fork was written to generate a single type of LDCad part bin - Sets.

Perhaps this is why it was confusing to you? 

You can see my new walkthrough post on how to use BrickUtils to generate a set part bin.

The efficiency advantage of creating a set part bin is the model editor will isolate only the parts needed for the set s/he is modeling which saves a great deal of time over having to search across the entire LDraw part library.

Cheers,
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