Step-by-Step: AutoCAD Tutorial / Shipping Container

THIS TUTORIAL is a brief introduction to basic modeling tools in AutoCAD. It leads to the creation of a simplified model of a shipping container.

F:~DocumentsTEACHING0_CURRENT232containerscontainer-12b L

1 SET UP YOUR PROJECT:

1.1 Open AutoCAD and begin a New Project.

Under the [Application Menu] (upper left hand corner of the screen), choose New Drawing; use the acad.dwt template.

1.2 Turn off the background grid.

Type GRID at the Command prompt, then type OFF. The background grid is a legacy feature from old versions of AutoCAD. Its spacing can be changed by typing GRID. The SNAP command is related although SNAP can be set to snap to off-grid points.

1.3 Turn off the Dynamic User Coordinate System.

Click repeatedly on the DUCS button below the Command prompt until you see the indication “<Dynamic UCS off>.” The Dynamic User Coordinate System is a feature which dynamically adjusts the XYZ coordinate system while you draw. However, its results are often unpredictable.

1.4 Set the drawing units to feet and inches.

Type UNITS at the Command prompt, then set the Length type to Architectural. Click OK. This setting changes how AutoCAD interprets the numbers and dimensions you enter. “Architectural” units mean feet and inches.

1.5 Set up the drawing layers.

Type LAYER at the Command prompt. This opens the Layer Properties Manager panel. Using this panel, click the New Layer button to create layers named GRID, WALLS, FLOOR, ROOF, and DOOR. Set each layer to a unique color. These layers will store the objects you build. Layer names and colors are arbitrary. In particular, colors should not be expected to bear any relationship to the material being represented. It is conventional to choose distinct colors to make it easy to visually discern objects in different layers.

1.6 Set the GRID layer as the current layer.

Type -LA at the Command prompt, then type S, then type GRID, then click Enter twice. The current layer will receive any newly created objects.

1.7 Turn on the ORTHO function.

Click the [F8] key repeatedly until you see the note “<Ortho On>” at the Command prompt. The ORTHO function is an on-off switch, constraining many of the drawing and editing tools to moving along the X-Y axes.

1.8 Turn on the OSNAP function.

Click the [F3] key repeatedly until you see the note “<Osnap On>” at the Command prompt. The OSNAP function is an on-off switch, constraining many of the drawing and editing tools to “lock” to predefined points in the model.

1.9 Set the object snaps.

Type OS at the Command prompt. Make sure that the snaps for Intersection, Endpoint, and Midpoint are highlighted. Press OK. Object snaps are user-determined.

1.10 Draw a base rectangle.

Type REC at the Command prompt. When prompted, enter 0,0 as the start point. For the second point, enter 38’4,7’5. This base rectangle does not represent a built component. Instead, it measures the distance between alignment holes in the shipping container.

1.11 Zoom out.

Type Z at the Command prompt, then type E. At this point, the model should look like the diagram below. This keyboard command quickly zooms to show the entire model.

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2 CONSTRUCT CORNER BLOCKS:

2.1 Navigate into 3D modeling space.

Type 3DO (3D-Orbit). Use the left mouse button to pan and rotate the view in 3D space. Up until this point, you have been working in 3D space but viewing it in a 2D view (plan view). The 3DO tool allows you to navigate in 3D space.

2.2 Set FLOOR as the current layer.

Type -LA at the Command prompt, then type S, then type FLOOR, then click Enter twice. The current layer will receive any newly created objects.

2.3 Zoom in on the lower right-hand corner of the base rectangle.

Spin the center wheel on the mouse, or type Z at the Command prompt and click two points to define a zoom window. Zooming in gives you the ability to work with greater precision.

2.4 Begin to build a box at the intersection of the gridlines.

Type BOX. Hover the mouse over the corner of the rectangle until the Intersection indicator appears. Click the mouse button. The BOX command builds solid rectangular boxes.

2.5 Complete the box.

To complete the base of the box, type @7,-6.5. For the height, type 4.5. At this point, the model should look like the diagram below (zoomed-in view): The @ symbol tells AutoCAD to use “relative coordinates” for the base of the box.

Print

2.6 Move the box into the correct position.

Type M at the Command prompt. Select the box by clicking on its edge. Click [Enter] to complete the selection process. When prompted for a base point, click anywhere in the drawing window. Move the mouse in the positive Y-direction and type 3. Click [Enter]. Repeat this procedure, moving the box 2.5 inches in the negative X-direction. This step shows that it is sometimes much easier to construct AutoCAD objects in a temporary, incorrect position, and then to move the objects into their permanent, correct position.

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2.7 Zoom out.

Type Z at the Command prompt, then type E. This causes AutoCAD to display the entire model.

2.8 Mirror the box to the opposite side of the rectangle.

Type MI at the Command prompt. Click on the box to select it. Press [Enter] to complete the selection process. When prompted to select the first point of the mirror line, hover the mouse near the midpoint of one of the sides of the base rectangle. Click on a midpoint of the side. For the second point, move the mouse and AutoCAD will preview the mirrored location of the corner box. Click to complete the command. When prompted to erase the source objects, type N. The MIRROR command reflects objects through a line.

2.9 Mirror two boxes to the opposite side of the rectangle.

Repeat the previous command, but select both corner boxes this time.

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3 CONSTRUCT THE FLOOR:

3.1 Build the floor.

Type BOX. The base of the box should coincide with the outside, top corners of the corner boxes; its height is 2”.

4 CONSTRUCT CORNER POSTS:

4.1 Set the Visual Style to Conceptual.

Type VISUALSTYLES. In the resulting panel, double-click on the Conceptual preview. Visual Styles control how AutoCAD displays objects.

4.2 Set WALLS as the current layer.

Type -LA at the Command prompt, then type S, then type WALLS, then click Enter twice. The current layer will receive any newly created objects.

4.3 Zoom in on the lower right-hand corner of the base.

Spin the center wheel on the mouse, or type Z at the Command prompt and click two points to define a zoom window.

4.4 Build the front corner post.

Type BOX. For the first corner, click on the corner of the floor. Type @-9.5,2. For the height, type 7’7” (seven feet, seven inches).

4.5 Zoom out.

Type Z at the Command prompt, then type E.

4.6 Zoom in on the lower left-hand corner of the base.

Spin the center wheel on the mouse, or type Z at the Command prompt and click two points to define a zoom window.

4.7 Draw the outline of the rear corner post.

Type PLINE. Click on the corner of the floor to begin drawing an outline of the corner post. Refer to the diagram below for dimensions. For each new point, move the mouse in the direction you want to draw, and type the distance. Press [Enter] to complete the outline. The PLINE command creates a “polyline” (a single object consisting of multiple straight or curved segments). In AutoCAD (as distinct from Rhino), a PLINE must be on a single plane. A closed polyline can be used as the base for a solid extrusion, as shown in the next step.

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4.8 Extrude the outline vertically to create the post.

Type EXTRUDE. Click on the outline of the corner post to select it. Click [Enter] to complete the selection process. For the height, type 7’7” (seven feet, seven inches).

5 CONSTRUCT THE SIDE WALL:

5.1 Set a plan view.

Type PLAN. Press [Enter[ to select the Current option. The PLAN command will show a plan according to the currently defined coordinate system (“UCS”) – by default, showing a plan view of the xy plane.

5.2 Begin the centerline of a wall panel.

Type PLINE.

5.3 Complete the centerline.

Click on a point away from the shipping container to begin drawing an outline of the wall panel (we will move the panel into position later). Refer to the diagram below for dimensions. For the first segment, begin at the left, move the mouse to the right, and type 1.5. For the second segment, type @3<330. For the third and final segment, move the mouse to the right, and type 1.5. Again, in this step, we are creating an object in a temporary, incorrect position, so that we can move it into its permanent, correct position later.

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5.4 Offset the centerline to create the edges of the wall panel.

Type OF. Type 1/16 to set the offset distance. Click on the polyline you just drew, and then click once above it. Repeat the OF (OFFSET) command, but this time click below the line. The OFFSET command creates a copy of the original object, “offset” by a specified distance.

5.5 Erase the original polyline.

Type E. Click on the original polyline to select it. Press [Enter] to complete the selection process.

5.6 Join the edges of the wall panel.

Type L. Draw a line at each end of the panel outline to “cap” it.

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5.7 Combine the segments into a single polyline.

Type PE. Then type M for Multiple. Draw a selection window around the entire outline of the wall panel. Press [Enter] to complete the selection process. When prompted, type Y to convert the selection to polylines. Finally, type J to join the segments into a single polyline. The “fuzz distance” is 0’-0”. Press [Enter] or [Esc] to complete the command. The PE command (Polyline Edit) has several options, including the option to join previously unconnected segments into a single polyline. However, the unconnected segments must have aligned endpoints.

5.8 Navigate into 3D modeling space.

Type 3DO. Use the left mouse button to pan and rotate the view in 3D space. 3DO (three-dimensional orbit) is a fundamental command for navigating three-dimensional space in AutoCAD.

5.9 Zoom out.

Type Z at the Command prompt, then type E.

5.10 Extrude the outline vertically to create the wall panel.

Type EXTRUDE. Click on the outline of the wall panel to select it. Click [Enter] to complete the selection process. For the height, type 7’7” (seven feet, seven inches).

5.11 Move the wall panel into position.

Type MOVE. Click on the wall panel to select it. For the base point, click the back corner of the panel. For the second point, click the corner of the corner post. Refer to the diagram below to see the correct position.

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5.12 Mirror the panel.

Type MI. Select the wall panel. For the first point, click a point on the end of the wall panel. For the second point, move the mouse and AutoCAD will preview the mirrored location of the wall panel. Click to complete the command. When prompted to erase the source objects, type N.

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5.13 Array the panel.

Type -AR. (Note the dash before the AR.) Select the two wall panels and press [Enter]. For the type of array, type R. For the number of rows, type 1. For the number of columns, type 40. For the distance between columns, click on points A and B in the diagram above. The -AR (Array) command is used to make multiple copies of a single object, according to defined rules.

5.14 Zoom out.

Type Z at the Command prompt, then type E.

5.15 Zoom in on the lower right-hand corner of the container.

Spin the center wheel on the mouse, or type Z at the Command prompt and click two points to define a zoom window.

5.16 Fill the gap in the wall.

Use the BOX command to build a box filling the gap between the final wall panel and the corner post.

6 CONSTRUCT OBJECTS AT TOP OF WALL:

6.1 Zoom out.

Type Z at the Command prompt, then type E.

6.2 Copy the corner blocks to the top of the wall.

Type COPY. Select the corner blocks (from the FLOOR layer). Copy them vertically so that they are set on top of the corner posts.

6.3 Change the layer of the copied corner blocks.

Type -CH (Note the dash before the CH). Select the two corner blocks you just copied. Type P for Properties, then LA for layer. Type WALLS to assign these objects to the WALLS layer. Finally, press [Enter] to complete the command. The -CH (Change) command enables you to change properties of an object, such as its layer, color, linetype, lineweight, and so on. (Keep in mind, however, that properties such as color and linetype are usually set as BYLAYER so that they can be controlled on a global level.)

6.4 Zoom in on the top of the left end of the wall.

Spin the center wheel on the mouse, or type Z at the Command prompt and click two points to define a zoom window.

6.5 Draw a rectangle on top of the corner post.

Type REC. Refer to the diagram below to locate the rectangle correctly. (Click on the corner points marked A and B.) This rectangle will be used in the next step as a base for the top rail.

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6.6 Build a rail along the top of the wall.

Type BOX. Begin the box by clicking on the corner point marked C in the diagram above. For the second point, zoom in on the other end of the wall, and click on the point marked D in the diagram below. For the height, type 4.5.

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7 MIRROR OBJECTS:

7.1 Zoom out.

Type Z at the Command prompt, then type E.

7.2 Draw a temporary mirror line.

Type L. Draw a line from the midpoint of one of the short sides of the floor, away from the shipping container. (We will erase this line later.)

7.3 Isolate the WALLS layer.

Type -LA. Then type OF. Then type * (asterisk). When prompted to turn off the current layer, type N. Press [Enter] to complete the command. Isolating a layer sometimes makes it easier to work.

7.4 Mirror the objects in the WALLS layer.

Type MI. Draw a window around all of the objects in the WALLS layer. For the first point, click a point on the end of the temporary line you just drew. For the second point, move the mouse and AutoCAD will preview the mirrored location of the objects. Click to complete the command. When prompted to erase the source objects, type N.

7.5 Restore the previous layer settings.

Type LAYERP. LAYERP (Layer Previous) restores the previous layer settings.

7.6 Erase the temporary mirror line.

Type E to erase the temporary mirror line.

8 CONSTRUCT THE REAR WALL:

8.1 Zoom in on the left side of the shipping container.

Spin the center wheel on the mouse, or type Z at the Command prompt and click two points to define a zoom window.

8.2 Rotate the view so you are looking at the back of the container.

(Refer to the picture below.) Type 3DO. Use the left mouse button to pan and rotate the view in 3D space.

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8.3 Build a rear wall.

Type BOX. For the first corner, click on a point away from the shipping container (we will move the box into its correct position later). For the other corner of the box base, type @1,-6’6. For the height, type 7’7.

8.4 Move the wall into its correct position.

Type M. Select the rear wall and set it in place, so that its outer face aligns with the midpoint of the corner post as shown in the figure below.

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8.5 Zoom in on the top of the rear wall.

(See the diagram below.) Spin the center wheel on the mouse, or type Z at the Command prompt and click two points to define a zoom window.

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8.6 Draw a rectangle on top of the corner post.

(See the diagram above.) Type REC. Refer to the diagram above to locate the rectangle correctly. (Click on the corner points marked A and This rectangle will be used in the next step as a base for the top rail.

8.7 Build a rail along the top of the rear wall.

Type BOX. Begin the box by clicking on the corner point marked C in the diagram above. For the second point, zoom in on the other end of the wall, and click on the point marked D in the diagram below. For the height, type 4.5.

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9 CONSTRUCT THE ROOF:

9.1 Zoom out.

Type Z at the Command prompt, then type E.

9.2 Zoom in on the right side (the front) of the shipping container.

Spin the center wheel on the mouse, or type Z at the Command prompt and click two points to define a zoom window.

9.3 Build a rail across the top of the door opening.

Type BOX. Use the points on the corner boxes to set the dimensions of the box base. If you use the points at the top of the corner boxes, you can set the height as -4.5 (negative 4.5) and the box will fit between the corner boxes as shown in the diagram below.

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9.4 Set ROOF as the current layer.

Type -LA, then type S, then type ROOF, then click Enter twice. The current layer will receive any newly created objects.

9.5 Zoom out.

Type Z at the Command prompt, then type E.

9.6 Outline the roof.

Type PL. Trace the outline of the roof opening between the top rails on all four walls. Press [Enter] to complete the outline.

9.7 Isolate the ROOF layer.

Type -LA. Then type OF. Then type * (asterisk). When prompted to turn off the current layer, type N. Press [Enter] to complete the command.

9.8 Extrude the roof.

Type EXTRUDE. Select the outline you just drew and use -1 (negative 1) as the height.

10 CONSTRUCT THE DOOR:

10.1 Restore the previous layer settings.

Type LAYERP.

10.2 Set DOOR as the current layer.

Type -LA, then type S, then type DOOR, then click Enter twice. The current layer will receive any newly created objects.

10.3 Rotate the view so you are looking at the front of the container.

(Refer to the picture below.) Type 3DO. Use the left mouse button to pan and rotate the view in 3D space.

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10.4 Build the first door.

Type BOX. For the first corner, click on a point away from the shipping container (we will move the box into its correct position later). For the other corner of the box base, type @1,3’9-1/2”. For the height, type 7’7.

10.5 Move the door into its correct position.

Type M. Select the door and set it in place, so that its inner face aligns with the point marked A in the figure below.

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10.6 Mirror the door.

Type MI. Select the door and mirror it around the midpoint of the shipping container floor. The model is complete.

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