Version 2.20  (Released 3/19/14)

 Version History


This module provides an easy way to create steel beams (including arched or sloped beams), tags, and beam schedule, using AutoCAD Architecture (ACA) or MEP. This module provides not only the beams, but the MVBlock (tag), Property Set Definition, and Schedule table style. All this is contained in one dialog, accessed by one command - no need to access various palettes and ribbon tabs. This module may be used with or without the KCS Productivity Pack for AEC.

Steel Shapes

All AISC structural steel members found in the ACA Structural Member Catalog are included here.

Beams created by this module, with the exception of arched beams, are exactly the same as those created by standard ACA if you were to go through all the steps involved in doing so. This module greatly simplifies the process. Select the beam you need, specify the Top Of Steel elevations, and click Add Beam to draw it. Width and Depth of the selected beam are shown for reference. Length may be or drawn on screen, as you would a line or a wall, or may be pre-specified.

Arched beams may be specified by either the Radius, if known, or the Spring Height. Arched beams are very difficult to create in standard ACA, but here it can be easily done.

Steel Beams for AEC - main dialog

Match Existing Beam

This button allows you to select a beam already placed in your drawing. The dialog will re-display with its shape selected (with the correct tab and group selected), and also with the placement options set to match the selected beam. 

Placement Options

Several options govern how a beam is placed at Add Beam

Length Options
A beam may be drawn from point to point on screen, like a line or wall, or you may preset it to a desired length. In this case you will be prompted for the starting point only, and then the direction. If preset, the length is the horizontal run distance (even if the beam is sloped), exclusive of any extensions. With either method, the point(s) you specify should be the bearing points (normally the outer surface of a supporting wall or other support) - extensions (if specified) will be added outboard of these points.

Straight or Arched Option
The beam may be straight or arched by specifying either the spring height or radius, whichever you know at this point. Note that the schedule will always indicate the radius, regardless of which method was used to specify the arch. 

Sloped Beams
Beams may be sloped by changing the Top Of Steel (TOS) for End 2. This may be done directly, if you know what it should be, or you can input either the pitch or slope angle. Note that a preset length (run) must be specified

End Cuts
Sloped beams and arched beams may be cut Square or Plumb as required. (Does not apply to straight horizontal beams.)  Note that the beam length takes the plumb cut into account. Also note that if plumb cuts are specified for an arched beam, ACA will not draw them as plumb cut; however, the program recognizes them for the schedule,  and it takes them into account in calculating the length.

Extensions are measured horizontally from each bearing point, and are added outboard of these points. This applies whether you have specified a preset length or are drawing the beam from point to point on screen.

Add Hip/Valley

This button allows you to place a hip or valley, using the specifications currently entered. That information will be transferred to a secondary dialog and applied to Surface 1, where you can confirm or revise it. Although not absolutely necessary, we recommend that you preset the length and determine the TOS beforehand. If the two surfaces are to have a different pitch, the preset length and pitch at this point will become the horizontal run and pitch for Surface 1. If Surface 2 is to have a different pitch, its run will be adjusted to match the TOS.

Steel Beams for AEC - Add Hip or Valley


Tags may be placed on beams automatically as you draw them, or they may be placed on beams already drawn by using the Add/Update Tags button. It does not matter if the beams were created by this module or previously in ACA, provided they are actually Beam Structural Members - not some other object being used to represent beams. 

Tag numbers are incremented automatically for each unique beam, with respect to its physical properties and its elevation. Every time a beam is tagged all previously tagged beams are checked, and if a match is found, that number is used for the current beam. Thus different lengths of the same beam shape get different numbers, and different elevations of the same beam also get different numbers.

Previously drawn beams may be copied, moved in elevation, and stretched in length before tagging. However, if you change one of multiple beams that are already tagged, you should re-tag it to avoid having the same number for two different beams. You can update the tag by simply tagging it again. 

The Tag Beams Automatically option will speed up your work when placing new beams and is recommended, unless you want more control over which beams get what numbers.

Note that the beams, tags, and schedule must reside in the same drawing. 

The Schedule

The Steel Beam Schedule is an ACA Schedule Table Style created specially for this module. Text styles used are the same as used by ACA in other schedules and may be easily modified by the STYLE command according to your preferences.

To create a schedule, once you have placed and tagged beams, click the Add/Update Schedule button and place it as desired. If you later add more beams, they can be added to the schedule in three ways. If the Update Schedule Automatically option in turned on, the beam will be added to the schedule as soon as it is tagged, whether tagging it automatically as drawn or afterwards. This option is recommended, along with Tag Beams Automatically, unless perhaps you have a very large number of beams and experience a delay for each addition. If this is the case, you can turn this option off, and simply click the Add/Update Schedule button to update the schedule. (Note that Update Schedule Automatically is disabled if Tag Beams Automatically is turned off.)

Bearing Height is a result of the Top Of Steel minus the beam depth, and then rounded down to the nearest inch. This provides space for shimming, per standard practice. If both ends of the beam are at the same height, TOS and BRG HT for END2 will be blank, for easier reading.

New for v2.10: A direction arrow is also placed near the tag for all beams. This is to provide orientation in the field for any beams having precut openings or any other non-symmetrical features.

Note that for arched beams, the radius is given here regardless of whether it was specified by Radius or by Spring Ht, as needed for fabricating the beam. Note also that the length given is the arc length of the beam.

Modify Existing Beams

This button will allow you to modify the properties of an one or more existing beams to match the style, TOS, and arch properties (if any), as currently set in the dialog. The beam will retain it's endpoints, except as modified by the current TOS setting. Any preset length in the dialog will be ignored.

Steel Beams Dialog Control     

The ACA functionality used by this module to create an arched beam displays a dialog box that does not need any input in this context, but has no means of being suppressed. To avoid confusion and extra clicks, we provide an external utility that dismisses this dialog automatically. You will see it on screen briefly before it is dismissed - this is normal. The name of this utility is Steel Beams Dialog Control, and you will see it in your Windows taskbar. It is automatically activated by this module whenever needed, and may be exited whenever you wish.


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Version History

2.20 - Revised for R2014 and ODCL, schedule improved, end bubbles eliminated.

2.10 - Revised for R2013 and ODCL, direction arrows added

2.06 - Misc bugfix

2.05 - Misc bugfix

2.04 - Misc bugfix

2.03 - Misc bugfix

2.02 - Misc bugfix

2.01 - Revised for MEP compatibility

2.00 - Many features added, including sloped beams, arched beams, and all AISC steel shapes

1.00 - Initial release