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Topic 13: Importing Coordinate Data

Below are screen-shots from a video tutorial I did back in 2006 for some fellow students working on an SAE Aero Design. The purpose of this tutorial is to demonstrate how to import a curve generated from Cartesian coordinate data.

Programs Used:

1. Cam Studio -
- A video capture program. This is very useful for capturing video tutorials.
2.Microsoft Text Editor
3.Microsoft Excel 2003
4.Solidworks 2006: Student Edition (essentially Solidworks 2005)
-I purchased this from when I was in school. The license only lasted for two years, but it wasn't very expensive and I think it paid for itself.

Interesting Notes:

1. The data must be in a form that Solidworks can read.
2. It is helpful to pass the coordinates through Microsoft Excel, or Calc.
-----These programs are extremely helpful when adding units or converting formats. To do this, go into the number format and add your units in quotes. (Example: 0.000"in")
3. I also found it helpful to import closed curves as two parts, so nothing weird happens at boundaries that are supposed to be sharp. Open curves don't typically need this extra attention.


Finding the data:

Navigate to the UIUC Airfoil Coordinates Database and download your favorite airfoil.
*Note: This step may be skipped if you already have your Cartesian coordinates from some other data collection system.

Importing and Formatting the Data:

Open the file with Microsoft Text Editor
*Note: The file extensions for these particular files is *.dat. If you right click and select "open with" then custom, you should be able to select notepad.

Step3: Delete the header information and save as text. The airfoil in this picture is in two sections, the lower camber and upper camber.

Step4: Open Excel, select the Data menu, select Import External Data, then select Import Data and navigate to your text file.

Step5: Select "Fixed Width", and separate the columns. You can also accomplish this by importing the file with tab-delimited, space delimited or comma delimited, depending on how your file is formatted.

Step6: Your data should now be in an X and Y column in Excel. If the data is 2 dimensional, create a third column of zeros (or whatever offset distance you want). Solidworks requires the data in 3D coordinates.

Step7: Highlight all of your coordinate data and format the cells. Select custom formatting and select your significant digits, followed by your units in quotes. (EXAMPLE: 0.000"in") Solidworks requires a units suffix.

Step8: Save this file as a .txt file (TAB Delimited)

Steps in Solidworks:

Step9: Open Solidworks and create a new part.

Step10: Select Insert, Curve, Curve through XYZ points.

Step11: Select Browse, change the filetype to .txt and select the formatted file that you saved. The data should now be imported, and you should see a curve on the screen.

Step12: You can use this curve for lofting, or you can open a sketch and project the curve for editing.


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