Friday, 15 October 2010

We need Scale

We needed to get an appreciation of the scale of each compartment. To do this I used Excel, but first I found a top elevation photo of a narrowboat. I then created a number of worksheets in Excel and named them:
  • Top elevation (my main worksheet)
  • Roof (so I could see the vents, etc)
  • 240v and 12v Sockets
  • Lighting
  • Heating
  • Power calculations etc
Then I adjusted the rows and columns to the same width to provide me with electronic graph paper. I then inserted the the top view photo of the narrowboat I’d found into each of the Excel worksheets.  By stretching the photo to length and width against the scale I had created I was able to produce an overlay of our boat dimensions.  Next, I needed to erase the existing information inside the outline of the photo so all I would see was the actual top elevation outline of the shell.  I did this by drawing blank boxes over the top of the photo so only the outline of the hull could be seen. Then by using the symbols function in Excel I was able to draw in all the cabinets, fitting, wiring, heating, etc. Moreover I could group the finished shapes to create each compartment which I could then drag and drop. Excel gave me a 2D drawing of the boat and greatly assisted in the planning.  We moved the compartments around experimenting and considering the advantages and disadvantages of different layouts until we found a layout we both agreed on.
The problem with the 2D drawing was lack of perspective. 3D would be better.  I then came across SketchUp, a free 3D CAD program from Google. Using SketchUp I was able to complete a 3D drawing of the boat. I could spin, turn, tip, and zoom in and out. It was even possible to take a virtual tour through the boat. SketchUp allows the user to export their 3D drawing as a 2D JPG file.
Port Side
Looking from starboard
Starboard Side
Looking from port
As I experimented with SketchUp I learned to draw other parts of the boat.   

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