Way Smoother Parametric Helix Tool

This is a Revit 2010 parametric helix family for you to download and abuse. It's good for about 3 full rotations (1080 degrees) before you start having and visible artifacts. You can think of this in some ways as another basic sketch tool like the ones you have in the draw gallery. Just as you would draw an arc, put a profile on it, and make a sweep, you can use this to draw a helix, host profiles on it, and make forms. This includes being able to make in-place sweeps in the .rvt environment of whatever category you want.
To operate, load the mass family into a project and you get a single model line curve. Select the curve and manipulate the 4 parameters to determine the angle of rotation, start and end radius, and height of your helix, either with the shape handles or numerically. You can then use the line for making sweeps and blends or whatever else you fancy. Or you can create geometry IN the family and place complete and flexible forms in the host file.

I won't do a tutorial for how to make this one, but just show the basic principles. If you're curious, you can dissect the family and expand on it if you want more rotations or other functionality. The basic principles are ones that Matt Jezyk and Phil Read started using years ago to make rotated floor plates for tall buildings and has been adapted by others for many other purposes. This family reduces the methodology to a basic geometric primitive that you can use for whatever purpose you like: buildings, ramps, shock absorbers, whatever.

The basic building block of this family is a line that has a vertical offset parameter and a horizontal rotation. I've placed a point on the end of the line and set it to be visible just to make the start and end easier to identify.

The height and rotation of the line is driven by an integer value, so the higher the number, the higher the line and the farther it is rotated. Additionally, the length of the line varies according to the same integer. This allows the length to expand and contract depending on where it is in the helix.

This line is then loaded into a second mass and 17 instances are placed in the same spot. After assigning an integer value 0 through 16, each instance rotates and raises to it's unique placement in the family

The endpoints are sewn together using a spline by points model line. The loaded line family then has it's visibility parameter set to off, so only the spline will show when it is loaded into a project. You can increase the "resolution" of this family, how closely it creates a perfect circle, by adding more lines and increasing the integer value of each, but with 16 increments it's pretty damn round through 3 rotations.

Make Good Stuff!


Troublemaker . . .

Dave B at do-u-revit just clued me into this one. Bimtroublemaker is going to be interesting, and makes me think it is time to step up my movie making skillz. Be the first person in your office to subscribe.
Who is this mystery Reviteer?


How to make a smooth helix

[Edit: While this is an effective method described here, I also have a new an improved version posted here]
Another repeat question: "How do I make a smooth parametric helix in Revit?"

Here's a quick (2 minute) video. The basic principle is to make a rig with a controlled vertical offset and rotation, and then hang your geometry on it. In this example I use a rectangular form to create the rig, but you could use just about anything.

Suggested listening: Pour Una Cabeza
[Edit: While this is an effective method described here, I also have a new an improved version posted here]


Paul Aubin in da Haus

This past week I was lucky enough to share my veal pen (well, it's sort of a veal suite really) with renowned author and educator Paul Aubin . His books on Mastering various Revit and Autocad flavors have become the standard texts for Architects and Engineers around the world. Now he's branching out to DVD tutorials too.

It is becoming a tradition here at the Factory that somewhere in the pre-beta phase of the Revit release cycle Paul will come hang with us software analysts and help kick the tires on the upcoming release. Very beneficial for everyone. We get direct feedback from someone who is out in offices and classrooms on a daily basis and Paul gets some deep dive exposure to the new features and functionality before most of the world.

Along with a bunch of fine Revit datasets, Paul had a great little Autocad Architecture file that we sent to the 3d printer.

A capitol from Michelangelo's the Piazza del Campidoglio.

The printer works by laying down a thin layer of gypsum powder, then drawing a horizontal slice of your geometry with a binding agent. It does this repeatedly until it has built up the geometry in the middle of a pond of unglued powder, which gets vacuumed up and recycled. There is always something magical about digging the chunk of virtual-made-solid out of the machine. This time there was a little more magic, as the machine broke down and we couldn't operate the vacuum to suck out all the excess material. So we were up to our elbows in unused powder excavating the artifacts. It felt very classic and archaeological.

Thanks for all the help this week, Paul!


Planar Panels & the 3 Point Invisible Workplane Hack©

I've been waiting for an excuse to demonstrate my 3 Point Invisible Workplane Hack© and here it is! Some weeks ago (yes, sorry I haven't been posting . . . Like everyone else, I have been huddled in the fetal position, rocking back and forth and weeping, following exposure to Alex Roman's The Third and The Seventh) I did a post on 2 ways to create curtain panels by pattern such that the panels were always flat. But they both suck.

Before we begin, a word on quadrilateral panels. I love 'em, you love 'em, and you know the contractor loves 'em. But doggonit, they just don't want to stay flat on a curved surface. Triangles are nice, always flat, but you'll spend a fortune because you need to use so much structure to make your curtain system. Not to worry, we will put the triangular peanut butter right INTO your quadrilateral chocolate.

So, in this video I will show how to conjure the legendary 3 Point Invisible Workplane Hack© and harness it's mystical powers to make a four sided panel that will have a clean connection to neighboring panels. Download the file from here.

Buildz Planar Panels & the 3 Point Invisible Workplane Hack from Zach Kron on Vimeo.