Mechanical Engineering Meets SOLIDWORKS Electrical Episode 1 – 2D Components

Article by Angus Hudson, CSWP updated November 9, 2017


Welcome to the first installment of this series detailing my hands-on experience with SOLIDWORKS Electrical! With a degree in Mechanical Engineering, extensive experience with SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD, and the knowledge that electron flow is not actually controlled by valves or a downhill incline, I considered my prerequisites met for taking on a basic electrical system design project. Luckily, with the full power of SOLIDWORKS Electrical at my disposal, I could not have been more correct.

Problem Definition

I recently moved into a new apartment, and in the process, acquired the equipment to set up an awesome home theater system. No longer would I be plagued by having to watch the Canucks or Netflix on a 22” screen with tinny stereo sound.

Home Theatre System

Home Theater System

However, with surround sound speakers, a dedicated AV closet, and several peripherals, cable management was a definite necessity. Enter SOLIDWORKS Electrical Schematic, the tool I needed to manage my wiring and cabling now, while also making it easy for me to add components later if I so choose.

The Components

The components and preferred connections were as follows. I chose to wire all the components to the AV receiver such that I had a single point from which to connect control everything.

  • Toshiba Regza 55” TV – HDMI
  • 3 region speaker bar – +/- Terminal Posts
  • 2 speakers on stands – +/- terminal posts
  • Microsoft Xbox One – HDMI
  • Google Chromecast – HDMI
  • Yamaha RX-V375 AV Receiver – Many

Attentive readers have probably noticed that I have not included a sub-woofer in this list. At the time of writing, this component is still on the “to-buy” list. The detailed connection information produced by SOLIDWORKS Electrical will clearly show me which connection points are still available, making it a breeze to add this part later.

You get a symbol! And you get a symbol!

The first step in the whole process was to set up my components in SOLIDWORKS Electrical. This step felt very similar to working with custom materials in SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD, and involved adding manufacturer’s parts to my library with relevant details such as dimensions, class, and the number/ type of circuits. By capturing this information on a manufacturing part level, it made it easy to maintain consistency across my components. If I was using standard electrical design components (and not those for my home AV project), it is very likely I could have leveraged SOLIDWORKS Electrical’s built in libraries, or online content, making this step unnecessary.

Batch Creating Circuits Allows for Fast and Easy Component Definition

Batch Creating Circuits Allows for Fast and Easy Component Definition

Adding circuits was one of the most important parts of setting up my manufacturing parts, as it would allow me to capture the relevant connection details. This was very easy to do for the Xbox One and Chromecast, as the only necessary I/O was the HDMI used to connect to the remaining AV equipment. However, for the receiver, this was a significantly more intensive process, which involved consulting my user manual to ensure I included all the different inputs and outputs. Part of my goal with this project was to make my system scalable, and therefore it was relevant to include this information now so that it could be used in the future. Luckily, the Add Multiple command made it easy to add all necessary circuits in one simple step, while making it easy to adjust the number of terminals in the circuit depending on if it was HDMI, Component video, or RCA audio.

The final step in preparing my components was to create the line diagram symbols I would use to represent them. Each symbol was built by duplicating the “Generic Frame” line diagram symbol from the built-in library, and then inserting an image of the component.

SOLIDWORKS Electrical Schematic

SOLIDWORKS Electrical Schematic uses the Same Drawing Tools as 3D CAD for Editing Symbols

Until Next Time

With all symbols and components ready for insertion, the preparation for creating drawing was complete. The SOLIDWORKS Electrical workflow made it very easy for me to set up my project with all the necessary pieces, while also providing me with the flexibility to customize symbols and components to suit my needs. Stay tuned for the next blog in this series, where I will put some mouse to digital paper and document the design and connections of my system. Until then, please don’t hesitate to contact us and discuss how SOLIDWORKS Electrical can assist your ongoing and future projects.

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Angus Hudson, CSWP

Angus is a Certified SOLIDWORKS Professional and Applications Expert, based in our Vancouver, British Columbia office.