Ribbon Cable: Part 2, Create and Edit Ribbon Cable
This is the second in a set of three Skill Builders. In this Skill Builder you learn how to create and edit ribbon cable using a simplified sample model. This Skill Builder also contains tips and tricks, located at the end of the Skill Builder. To complete this Skill Builder you need the connector that you define and author in the first Skill Builder.
Expected completion time for this Skill Builder is 20 to 30 minutes.
This Skill Builder is intended for use with Autodesk Inventor 2008.
Set your active project to tutorial_files.
Open Enclosure_Assembly.iam, located in the Cable & Harness folder.
Click File > Save As. Use Enclosure_Assembly_tutorial.iam for the file name.
Redefine the default isometric view, as shown in the following image.
Place ribbon_cable_connector_tutorial.ipt into the assembly. Tip: If the connector part is open, you can quickly place the connector: activate the graphics window for the connector, and then drag the top-level browser node of the connector into the graphics window of the enclosure assembly.
Constraint the connector to the female half of the connector.
Expand the browser node for the Ribbon Cable sub assembly, and then drag ribbon_cable_connector_tutorial:1 into the ribbon cable sub assembly.
Edit the Ribbon Cable subassembly. Notice that one ribbon cable connector (D-Sub Ribbon) is already located in the cable subassembly.
Click the Create Ribbon Cable tool .
Select the start connector.
In the Create Ribbon Cable dialog box, ensure 1 is selected in the Start Pin menu.
Select the end connector.
Ensure that 28AWG_10Con is selected in the Name menu.
At this point, the software automatically draws a spline from the two connectors and an outline of the ribbon cable previews. You are still in spline creation mode.
- If the location and orientation of the connectors, relative to the ribbon cable spline, is such that the specified ribbon cable could not realistically join the connectors, the ribbon cable outline will not preview.
- The Rendered Display and Centerline Display tools on the standard toolbar control how the ribbon cable is rendered. This example uses Rendered Display.
For this particular sample you specify two more spline points to complete the spline. You use one to specify a fold location and the other to add a control point to edit the cable twist.
Select the housing face as shown in the image to set the next point. A point is added to the spline.
Select the housing face as shown in the following image to set the second point near the end connector.
Right-click and select Finish.
Pause the cursor over the first spline point you created and select Create Fold. An indicator appears, attached to the point, to provide feedback as to the orientation of the fold. You refer to this indicator to align the fold relative to model geometry.
In the Create Fold dialog box, select the Shaft button . You use this control to specify the orientation of the shaft portion of the indicator. Select a straight edge or flat face on the connector. If you select an edge, the shaft aligns parallel to the edge. If you select a flat face, the shaft aligns normal to the face.
Select the Arrowhead
. Use this control to specify the orientation of the arrowhead portion of the indicator. Select an edge or face. The indicator should match the following image.
Ensure that the Single Fold button is selected.
Click OK. A single fold is added to the ribbon cable creating a right-angle direction change.
Note: Two points are added automatically to the spline to fully define the fold geometry. The added points are not editable – their positions are determined automatically as a byproduct of the size of the ribbon cable and orientation of the fold.
Depending on where you clicked to place the first spline point, the point, and therefore the fold, may not be aligned laterally with the center of the pin row. In this example, the point is displaced to one side of the row. Depending on the amount of offset, this may be acceptable. If not, you can align the point to the center of the pin row.
Pause the cursor over the fold point and select 3D Move/Rotate.
In the 3D Move/Rotate dialog box, click the Redefine alignment or position button .
Select the triad sphere, and then select the work point on the connector. The triad relocates to the work point.
Select the green arrowhead and drag the triad approximately 0.9 in from the work point.
Select the blue arrowhead and drag the triad approximately -0.3 in (negative 0.3) from its current location.
In this example, the ribbon cable interferes with the housing around the second intermediate spline point. Use the 3D Move/Rotate tool to move the point.
You can edit the twist of any intermediate spline point, unless the point has been consumed by a fold. Right-click the spline point and select Edit Twist. Drag the twist arrows. Alternately, you can right-click the twist arrows and select Enter Angle to specify a precise angle. In this example the twist control is rotated 10 degrees.
Note: Use the Plus and Minus keys (+ and –) to adjust the size of the twist control.
Right-click and select Apply.
Return out of the cable subassembly.
Save and close the assembly.
This is the end of the workflow portion of this Skill Builder. You can work through the third Skill Builder in this set to increase your skills with ribbon cable creation and edit.
The following sections list various tips, tricks, and guidelines intended to make your work with ribbon cable more efficient.
Defining ribbon cable
You can quickly define new ribbon cable in the Cable & Harness Library.
- Right-click a ribbon cable in the browser and select Edit.
- On the Cable & Harness panel bar, click the Cable & Harness Library tool.
- Select Raw Ribbon Cable from the drop-down menu.
- Select an existing ribbon cable definition in the dialog box browser.
- Click the Copy tool.
- With the newly-copied ribbon cable selected, click the Edit tool. This puts the library into edit mode for the selected cable.
- Edit the copy using the controls on the General and Custom tabs. Edits are applied when you click Save.
When you define new ribbon cable, the following characteristics must be defined:
- Number of Conductors
The following characteristics are optional:
- Part Number
- Core Size
The Width must be >= Number of Conductors * Pitch but <= Number of Conductors + 1 * Pitch.
The Height must be <= Pitch.
Choose a distinctive color for Conductor One so that it contrasts with the color of the ribbon cable body. This provides visual clarity as you track the path of Connector One through folds, from connector to connector.
Do not set the Number of Conductors as 1 or 2.
Creating ribbon cable
Before you can create ribbon cable, the assembly must contain connectors that have been authored as ribbon-type connectors.
When authoring a connector, it is a best practice to make the Pin Orientation normal to the outward direction.
You can use a formula to define Embedded Length but it cannot be a negative value.
To quickly place an occurrence of a connector in an assembly, drag the top-level browser node of the connector into the graphics window. Ensure that the connectors are nested under the browser node for the cable assembly.
The first connector placed in the graphics area is grounded. To move or adjust the connector, clear the Grounded status.
You can set default values for the ribbon cable in the Harness Settings dialog box. For example, you can change the default spline point offset from 0.1 to 0.5.
In the Create Ribbon Cable dialog box, the Start Pin drop-down menus list all connector pins. You can use these menus to select a start pin other than the start pin defined during connector authoring.
To create the ribbon cable path, first select the Start and End connectors, click OK in the Create Ribbon Cable dialog box, and then select surrounding geometry to define intermediate spline points.
After you have created the ribbon cable, you can insert additional points to further define and refine the ribbon cable path.
This tip describes the logic that sets the initial, default orientation of the fold indicator.
The arrowhead portion of the indicator points toward the next point on the spline path.
The shaft portion of the indicator lies on a plane as defined by the selected fold point, the previous spline point and the following spline point.
The default fold type is single fold and the default direction is Original Spline Left. Typically, it is best practice to use these default settings to avoid sweep failures.
Editing ribbon cable
You can use the Edit Ribbon Cable dialog box to select different Start and End connectors, edit outward directions, start pin, orientation, and so on. To activate the Edit Ribbon Cable dialog box, right-click the ribbon cable definition (nested under the Ribbon Cables browser node), and then select Edit Ribbon Cable.
To increase the size of the Twist Control tool press the Plus key (+). Press the Minus key (-) to decrease the size.
You can create a color style to make the ribbon cable appear more realistic. Use the normal method to create the color style, and then select the color style from the Ribbon Body menu in the Cable & Harness Library dialog box.
To edit the shape of the ribbon cable path, use the various context menu commands, such as 3D Move/Rotate, Redefine, Delete, on the spline points.
The following lists common causes of sweep failure.
- The outward direction and the direction of pin orientation are not set properly during connector authoring. Author the connector again, using the correct direction and orientation.
- Connectors are placed too close to one another. Adjust the position of the connectors.
- The orientation of the connectors relative to one another is not set properly. Adjust the position and orientation of the connectors.
- The width of the ribbon cable is too large compared with the size of connectors and distance between the connectors. Decrease the width of the ribbon cable or specify a different ribbon cable definition.
- The position of work points consumed by the ribbon cable is set such that the ribbon cable cannot render. Select a new position or edit the offset of the work point.
- The direction of the fold is not set properly. Try a different fold direction.
- Folds are too close to one another. Adjust the positions of the fold points to increase the distance.
- The twist of the ribbon cable is not set properly. Adjust the twist.