New in R108: More benefits from your favourite electrical cad software

Dividing electrical schematics into sub panels

When working on larger projects, there may be a need to design circuits for multiple panels, and Electra now comes with an easy way to organize sub panels into a single project.

Sub panel symbol on electrical stencil

One of the first thing you will notice when updating to R108 is the new sub panel symbol in the JIC or IEC stencil. To divide your circuits into sub panels, simply drag the sub panel symbol onto your drawing and drag handles to encapsulate your circuits.

Encapsulated electrical circuits on sub panel

You can choose any name for your sub panels, simply select the sub panel symbol and type away. If you have multiple circuits over multiple pages that makes up a sub panel, you can drop multiple sub panel symbols and name them the same. For example, you can have a sub panel on page 1 called "Remote Panel #1" and also a sub panel symbol on page 3 with the same name. There are no limits to the amount of sub panels you can have in a drawing, so drop in as many as you like.

Choosing a sub panel to automatically generate panel layout

Once you're ready to generate panel layout, the Generate Layout window will show a list of panels that you can select to generate. You may select the default panel or any sub panels, and therefore allow you to generate multiple panels faster and easier than ever before.

Reusing generated reports

Previously, when generating reports inside a drawing, Electra will always ignore reports that is already on your drawing, and produces new reports. With the R108 update, you get a choice to generate new reports, keep or remove old reports, or reuse old reports. This makes it very easy when you have reports on multiple pages that is already sized and formatted, and Electra will let you reuse them without the need for more work.

Reuse existing reports when generating reports in Electra

Automatic propagation of formatting for wires

Users of Electra has enjoyed automatic wire number propagation for a long time, and with this update, automatic propagation also applies to formatting. For example, if you have set a wire to be thicker or to another color of your choice, when a wire is connected, the new wire will automatically get the same formatting applied. This works for line weight, line pattern, line color, font, font color and font size, making it extremely easy to change wires to any formatting and have it automatically propagated without additional work.

Automatically propagated formatting for wires

Renumber LadderZones over multiple pages

When dropping LadderZones on a drawing, users are supposed to renumber them as the electrical circuit design progresses. But sometimes, there is a need to insert pages with more circuits, and with the R108 update, renumbering LadderZones over multiple pages is now a breeze. Click on the Electra tab | Tools | Renumber Ladder Zones and you will be presented with the dialog below:

Renumber electrical circuits on Ladder Zones

Choose which Ladder Zone to start renumbering, and Electra would automatically do the rest. Multiple ladder zones will be renumbered according to pages, and for each page, left to right and top to bottom. For example, if you have 2 Ladder zones on page 1, and another 2 on page 2, they will be renumbered to 100, 200, 300 and 400 respectively according to their page and location on each page.

Once the ladder zones have been renumbered, Electra will also automatically update all symbols and wires on the ladder zones to follow their new numbering. This is extremely powerful in the sense that Electra allows users to renumber electrical ladder circuit diagrams over an entire drawing, with just a few clicks.

Setting wires as jumpers

Also included in R108, is the ability to set wires as jumpers. On a schematic, you may use wires to indicate a connection, but physically, the same wire may be a jumper on your terminals. Select the wires you want to set as jumpers and click on Electra tab | Tools | Set Wires as Jumpers. Once done, you will be able to generate a bill of materials (BOM) with jumpers and can use the Manage Component window to set the brand or the layout symbol to be used as a jumper during panel layout.

Setting wires as jumpers

Adding spacers to rails

On our updated Layout stencil, users may notice a new spacer symbol which is used to space components on rails. For example, you may want to place some contactors and relays on your rail, but separate them with some spacing. With the new spacer symbol, you can now do so easily. As with all our layout symbols, simply drop then on a rail and they will be automatically placed on the rail. To resize the spacer, simply click on it and drag on its handles.

Spacer symbol automatically placed on a rail

Visio shortcuts you may not know about

If you're doing electrical circuits with Electra, chances are, you'll be wanting to get it done real quick. Here's a list of shortcuts that'll help you work even faster.

Mouse wheel Quickly zoom in and out using the mouse wheel
Press CTRL + Mouse wheel to zoom in and out.

Mouse wheel Quickly scroll vertically or horizontally
Just scroll the mouse wheel to scroll vertically, and press SHIFT + mouse wheel to scroll horizontally.

Pointer tool Pointer tool
Press CTRL + 1 to revert to pointer tool.

Text tool Text tool
Press CTRL + 2 to select the text tool.

Text Block tool Text block tool
Press CTRL + SHIFT + 4 to select the text block tool.

Save tool Save document
Press CTRL + S to save your document.

Save As tool Save As
Press F12 to save your document as new.

Duplicate tool Duplicate shapes
Press CTRL + D to duplicate selected shapes, or press CTRL + mouse drag to duplicate and position.

Group tool Grouping shapes
Press CTRL + G to group selected shapes.

UnGroup tool UnGrouping shapes
Press CTRL + SHIFT + U to ungroup selected group.

Send to front tool Send to front
Press CTRL + SHIFT + F to send the selected object forward.

Send to back tool Send to back
Press CTRL + SHIFT + B to send the selected object backward.

Rotate shape clockwise tool Rotate clockwise
Press CTRL + L to rotate the selected object to left.

Rotate shape anti-clockwise tool Rotate anti-clockwise
Press CTRL + R to rotate the selected object to right.

Flip vertical tool Flip vertical
Press CTRL + J to flip the selected object vertical.

Flip horizontal tool Flip horizontal
Press CTRL + H to flip the selected object horizontal.

Undo tool Undo
Press CTRL + Z to undo the last action.

Redo tool Redo
Press CTRL + Y to reverse the last action.

Proudly created with the help of Tammy Wong.

Introducing Electra Symbol Search

Barely 30 days has passed since we released Electra E7, our brand new electrical, pneumatic and hydraulic CAD software and boy, have we got an update for you. The inspiration came from Eric at Double L who complains that Visio’s default shape search is unwieldy to say the least, as you would need to enable Windows Indexing Service and searches only the symbol name or prompt, and only on local drives, and not network drives. Can we do something to search these symbols correctly?, he asked. Errr…. we’ll try.

How to use Electra symbol search.

With this update (R101), when you open a new electra drawing, you will see a symbol search icon as shown below:

Electra symbol search icon

NOTE: If you are opening an older drawing, you will NOT be able to see this icon, until you have saved and re-open the same drawing.

Once clicked on symbol search, the search dialog will pop up as shown below:

Electra symbol search dialog

You can select to place search results in as many new stencils as required, which means you do not have to search repeatedly for the same thing. You can also save these stencils, so that you can work and organize your symbols the way you want, without the need for repeated searches even across projects.

How it works.

  1. Electra symbol search works on open stencils only, primarily because of speed considerations. Which means, if you want Electra to search your stencils, you must have it opened on your current drawing. You may need certain stencils on one project and other stencils on another, and since Electra only search open stencils, it will therefore only return symbols that you are currently interested in, and ignore the rest.
  2. All open stencils will be searched, irrespective of stencil file locations, be it on a local drive or a network folder that you have shared with your colleagues.
  3. Before searching for your symbols, Electra scans all open stencils and place search data into a database called “Search.accdb” that’s placed on the same folder as Electra6.mdb, your main component database, wherever you have set your database to be.

    How Electra symbol search works

  4. Each stencil’s last edited timestamp will be checked so that only recently updated stencils get scanned, while previously scanned stencils will be skipped. This ensures that Electra symbol search is really fast and speedy.
  5. Because the search database is placed on the same folder as your main Electra database folder, if you have set up a network folder to share databases, symbols and templates with your colleagues, this means even faster symbol searching as an update to the search database by one user, will mean an update for all users, without the need for re-scanning.
  6. For each keyword you search for, Electra will attempt to find the keyword in the following fields:
    • Master Name, Master Prompt, Master Keyword, Symbol Name, Symbol Reference, Symbol Description

    Electra symbol search fields

  7. The fields above are way beyond what Visio is capable of searching, and hopefully should serve our Electra users far better.

How to customize Electra symbol search.

If you wanted to mark certain symbols with your own keywords for faster searching, simply enter them in “Master Keyword” as follows:

  1. Right click on your stencil and select “Edit Stencil”.
  2. Right click on the symbol you wanted to modify and select “Edit Master”, then “Master Properties”.
  3. Simply key in your custom keywords and click OK.

    Customize Electra symbol search through keywords

How to maintain your search database.

As time progress, your search database will be filled up with stencil data. Some of these stencils may be deprecated and no longer used. To clean up and clear your search database:

  1. Click on Electra tab | Document Options | Miscellaneous | Clear search database.

Final words.

The entire process is pretty fast, and searches more extensively than normal Visio would, so please do give it a try and let us know if you have any comments or feedback. Thanks, Eric.

Prepared and proudly coded by Chan Pooi Kuan.

"Operation must use updateable query" error

Recently we tried to update our installer software, which unfortunately caused the installer to fail to set file permissions correctly during installation, and thus generated a "Operation must use updateable query" error. We have since fixed this, so please delete the C:\Program Files\Radica\Electra folder and re-download the installer to reinstall again, and the installer will set the correct file permissions to ensure smooth operations. Sorry for the inconvenience.

New in R219 & R220: Improved exporting to AutoCAD DWG and DXF.

It has been a while since we have blogged, so without further ado, the below are the list of benefits that have changed for these two releases:

  1. Automatic shape highlighting when double clicking on terminals.
  2. Automated terminal highlighting when double clicked.
  3. Smarter wire links.
  4. Updated wire links will now automatically pop up the pairing window if you have not paired the wire links. Once you have paired them, double clicking on them will let you jump to whatever target you're linked to.

    Smarter wire links that jumps when paired.
  5. Improved and automated exporting to AutoCAD DWG and DXF formats.
  6. Although Visio comes with built-in AutoCAD DWG and DXF exports, unfortunately it is limited to a single page export and fraught with rendering errors. After prolonged testing, we're happy to release tools that will allow users to export the entire document, without rendering errors.

    Accessing DWG and DXF exports.

Also included in these release, a host of updates and fixes that makes using Electra so much more easier. If you have no already, head on over to // to download and run the update installer.

Proceed with caution on the new Visio 2013.

After testing Electra on the new Visio 2013, we are happy to report that Electra works extremely well with one single major caveat. Files that are saved in Visio 2013 will lose all functionalities, irrespective of whether if you save them into Visio 2013's new macro enabled xml format (.vsdm) or the older (.vsd) format. This is because Visio 2013 has a bug (confirmed by our correspondence with Microsoft), that causes all password protected macro documents to be unable to save properly without losing all macros (non password protected macros are not affected). So, in effect, this affects all add-ins, not only Electra.

As usual with Microsoft, we have no idea when this will be fixed, but we are not going to hold our breath until then. We felt that we owe our customers more speed and transparency, and have taken a few active steps, so that you can proceed with using Visio 2013, but with caution. Therefore, if you insist on using Visio 2013, here is what you have to do to ensure your files are saved properly without losing Electra functionalities:

How to use older drawings in Visio 2013.

All older drawings made using Electra will have their macros password protected. To save properly, you will need to use the following steps:

  1. Open your older drawing in Visio 2013.
  2. Press F11 to open the Visual Basic Editor.
  3. Click on “View” and select “Project Explorer” as shown below:
  4. Open VBA Project Explorer
  5. On the “Project” panel, double click on “Electra_Template” as shown below:
  6. Electrical Software Template
  7. You will be asked for a password, and if you don’t have one, please do email us at [email protected] and we will be glad to supply you with a password.
  8. Right click on the “Electra_Template” and select “Electra_Template Properties” as shown below:
  9. Template Properties
  10. Click on the “Protection” tab:
  11. Protection Tab
  12. Uncheck “Lock Project for Viewing”, delete password for “Password” and “Confirm password”:
  13. Protection Settings
  14. Click “OK” and close the Visual Basic Editor then save your drawing.

Essentially, you will have to unprotect your older drawing for it to save properly without losing Electra functionalities.

How to start a new drawing in Electra.

If you have not done so, please go to our Support page and download the latest Electra update (R219). After installing this update, the “New Electra Drawing.vst” template will be essentially non protected, and all files created using this template will not have problems saving in Visio 2013.

We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience, and will keep all of our customers updated on this issue as soon as we get some news.

Compile Error after Windows Update on Jan 10th, 2013

Update 3: We have confirmation that the below will solve this compile error problem.

Update 2: We are still awaiting some confirmation, but we believe the below will solve this problem:

  1. Re-download the Electra software (release or trial) and re-install Electra using the latest version.
  2. Remove .exd files and re-start Electra. More information on how to do this is available here: //

Update 1: At this stage, it seems only Visio 2007 has problems, and Visio 2010 with Electra is working fine.

Unfortunately, after this Windows update, Electra has been broken again. We are throwing all our resources at this at the moment and hope to have a solution soon. New updates will be posted here in this post, so we would recommend NOT updating Windows at this stage.