May 13, 2011

Revit 2012 and the 3D Mouse

One of the new features with Revit 2012 is the compatibility with 3DConnexion 3D mouse. To be honest, I was apprehensive. I’ve heard great things about the 3D mouse, but I get motion sick if VTENABLE in AutoCAD isn’t set to 6. So, I borrowed one from my husband, who uses Solidworks (imagine our dinner conversations). Anyway he kindly lent me his SpacePilot Pro.

It was very easy to download the driver and they have a tutorial on using the device. Once you go through the tutorial you can practice with the game at the end.

Setting up the Pro is very easy, the buttons can be assigned commands easily. Since I am only testing I didn’t do any modifications to the default commands. The LCD screen allows you to view incoming mail from the mouse and open Outlook from the mouse and you could even get RSS feeds from Autodesk.

The biggest issue off the bat was that I had to use my left hand to run this mouse, but since it’s a new technique, it wasn’t hard and I have my typical mouse for my right hand. Looking at my desk you would wonder what I am doing with all of this equipment, the mice, the iPhone, the iPad, second monitors and laptop – my desk looks like a first-rate technology store.

Inside of Revit I was really amazed how quickly I was able to move through the model. Using the View Cube in Revit the model sometimes goes out of view. With practice use of the 3D mouse you can keep the model in view and stay focused on the area of interest. To me it really had the feel of the avatar inside of Navisworks (without the ability to walk).

Another thing when using a 3D mouse and Revit is that when using 3D orbit, you can select an element and that element becomes the pivot point for the rotate. You have to use the standard mouse to select the element and then the 3D mouse to continue the movement. This is not as big an issue as I thought. First, the 3D mouse moves you through the building with such ease (after much practice in my case) that the selection of an element is almost a non-issue. Second, you fall into a new workflow process quickly that using both mice isn’t a liability. What did I like best? During my learning curve I kept losing the model in the 3D view – there is a button on the 3D mouse that goes directly to the 3D home view. Not to mention that The Pro has buttons that will FIT and go to FRONT and ISO with one button. I can see how this can improve productivity.

The Pro is not meant for travel and I doubt the smaller travel version would even be something that I would travel with. Not due to the size, but who wants to travel with two mice?

Since this is not my mouse I will have to return it and I will do this begrudgingly. Within 2 hours of setting up the mouse and using it in Revit MEP I wonder “Where has this been all my Revit life?”

Lana Gochenauer, LEED AP,
MEP Solutions Application Specialist

Lana has a wealth of real world experience, having used Autodesk products on projects from hospitals to universities, restaurants to corporate office headquarters, from strip malls to tenant fit-up. Most recently she focused on coordination drawings/models with MEP contractors, and fabrication from the model. Lana successfully ran her CAD business and worked as the CAD manager for an international MEP engineering firm in Seattle. Lana is a Certified Autodesk Trainer and NECA certified electrical estimator. Currently pursuing her MBA in Sustainability and based in the Ideate ATC in Seattle, Lana provides training and services for AutoCAD MEP, Autodesk Revit MEP and Autodesk Navisworks.

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