Tip: AutoCAD Electrical Naming Convention and Family Codes

Posted on December 21, 2017 by Synergis’ Application Consultant, Todd Schmoock

AutoCAD Electrical has a specific naming convention when creating, and using, schematic symbols to enable some of its automation features to work.  The naming convention allows AutoCAD Electrical to know whether a horizontal or vertical symbol should be used, and what family category it is.  AutoCAD Electrical will place a horizontal symbol if you place it on a horizontal wire or a vertical symbol if you are placing it on a vertical wire.  It knows what the symbol is by reading the family code by how the symbol is named, and by a FAMILY attribute located in the symbol.  For example, a push button would be named HPB11.dwg, and has a family code value in the attribute of PB.  In this example, AutoCAD Electrical knows by the name it is horizontal because of the H, and knows it’s a push button because of the PB in the second and third position.  After placing the symbol in a drawing, and doing a catalog lookup, AutoCAD Electrical will go to the PB table in the database because of the family code attribute value.

Here is an example of the naming convention definition located in help:

Components – General:

Schematic components such as relays, switches, pilot lights, and discrete motor control devices (but not PLC I/O symbols) follow this naming convention:

  • 32-character block name maximum, first character is either “H” or “V” for horizontal or vertical wire insertion.
  • The next two characters are reserved for family type (for example, PB for push buttons, CR for control relays, LS for limit switches). A zero (0) as the second character of the family type (for example, a 0 in the overall symbol name) means that the symbol does not trigger a wire number change through it. (For example, T0 for terminals, W0 for cable markers, C0 for connectors.)
  • The fourth character is generally a 1 or a 2: 2 for child contacts and 1 for everything else (parent or standalone component).
  • If the symbol is a contact, then the fifth character is a 1 for normally open, 2 for normally closed.
  • The remaining characters are not specified. They are used to keep names unique.

As mentioned earlier, an attribute named FAMILY should be located in each symbol.  This attribute will allow the software to know what table to look up in the catalog database when adding manufacturer and part number information to the symbol located on the drawing.  For example, a FAMILY code of CR will open the CR (Control relays) table in the ‘default_cat.mdb’ database file.  Look up “Catalog table naming conventions” in help for more detailed information on this subject.

Since AutoCAD Electrical ships with predefined family codes in the default database do not randomly make your own family codes since the family code could already exist, or be added in a future release.  Also, if there is an existing family code you should use it.  Don’t make another family code that represents the same family that already exist.  Several years ago Autodesk announced they are reserving ZA through ZZ for customers to use for their custom symbols that do not fit in any of the family codes that ship with the software, and will never add these to the database in any future builds.  An example would be HZZ1_My Company Symbol.dwg.  This would be a horizontal parent with a ZZ family code.  Once the table is added to the database you can add the required part numbers and manufacturer information.

This document is just a brief overview of AutoCAD Electrical’s naming convention, and family codes.  Now that you have a basic understanding look up these subjects in the help files to get a more in-depth understanding of how you should be creating the schematic symbols, and using the family codes. Though it is not mandatory, using this naming convention and family codes for the custom symbols you create can take full advantage of the AutoCAD Electrical features.

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