25 Apr 2014

Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems

In F1 one of the technologies uses is the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems) also known as Hybrid Power System. The KERS are used within the automotive racing industry in order to reuse the kinetic energy under braking. This recovered energy is then stored in a flywheel or high voltage batteries. This is why when the system came into F1 the engineers were all spotted wearing protective gloves when attending to the cars. These systems are now also incorporated into public transport (such as the Cambridge Passenger/Commercial Vehicle Kinetic Energy recovery System.

KERS has tended to be at the higher end of the Motorsport industry, however now seems to be slowly moving towards making road going cars more green. GKN is to acquire the Williams Hybrid Power and re brand it as GKN Hybrid Power.

This change could offer up to 30% reductions in emissions simply by harvesting the energy that is lost through heat under braking. Another great example of how an often scrutinised sport is really the driving force and leader for what we may next see in our everyday cars (Perhaps not 120kW of addition power though)! 


Williams F1 have also been utilising Autodesk Simulation CFD motion to great use on the aerodynamics of the vehicle. Check out the improvements to the software in the 2015 release.


23 Apr 2014

Speedback GT

David Brown Automotive, a company started by the British entrepreneur David Brown one time owner of Aston Martin and Vosper Thornycroft shipbuilders has unveiled their next creation: The Speedback GT

As you'll all see it's fairly pretty and I wouldn't complain about owning one, although I may need a second job as at £1.5 million its not cheap!! The car is hand crafted and built in Britain by the Coventry based company, the chassis and power train both coming from the Jaguar XKR. David Brown believe that the success of the XKR credentials make it the perfect match for the Speedback GT where reliability is paramount.

Those who enjoy their cars will see a history of classic cars incorporated into the design. DB are keen to once again reintroduce a vehicle into the British line up of 'high quality, automotive coach building.'

The Important bits:
5.0 V8 510 Supercharged
Capacity (cc) 5,000
Maximum Power EEC-PS (kW) 510 (375)
Maximum torque EEC-Nm (lb. ft.) 625 (461)
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Performance & Economy
Acceleration 0-60 mph (0-100km/h) 4.6 (4.8) seconds
Top speed mph (km/h) 155 (248)
Combined mpg (l/100km) 23.0 (12.3)
Carbon dioxide emissions (g/km) 29

22 Apr 2014

3DS Max Design 2013 Update 6

This is a cumulative update for 3DS Max Design 2013 so you may install from whichever version you currently have.

The download and readme can be found here:

Inventor 2013 SP2 Update 5

This update is again, cumulative so go straight to this if you do not have Updates 1-4, but ensure you have SP2 installed.

The download and readme's can be found here:

3DS Max Design 2014 Service Pack 5

3DS Max Design 2014 is now at SP5.

Please note: you will have to uninstall any beta or RC versions of 3DS Max from your system before applying this update.

The file can be found here:

Vault 2014 Service Pack 2

Service Pack 2 for Vault has been released.
Do not install this if you are on Vault Subscription Release 1, see this blog article.

Ensure you thoroughly read the readme before applying this update, which can be found here:


Inventor 2014 SP1 Update 3

Another cumulative update for Inventor 2014 SP1 i.e. if you don't have Update 1 or 2 yet you can ignore them and go straight to Update 3.  You do need SP1 installed, however.

The download and readme's can be found here:


AutoCAD 2014 ViewCube hotfix

There is a hotfix available for issues with the viewcube appearing on the output when plotting to PDF/DWF.

This applies to all versions of AutoCAD including Mechanical and Electrical.


Micro Concepts TLA 2014

The dates for this year's Technical Learning Academy have been finalised and we'll be hosting our day sessions in an area near you throughout May and early June.

Make sure you sign up for one of the following days:

13th May 2014 – Northampton
14th May 2014 – High Wycombe
15th May 2014 – Norwich
20th May 2014 – Duxford
21st May 2014 – Duxford
22nd May 2014 – Duxford 
5th June 2014 – Bristol

The TLA events are hands on days for Micro Concepts subscribers, with the exception of the 22nd which is an open day for non-subscribers.
We will have a range of topics covering product updates, how-to's and best practice techniques and as always you'll be able to ask questions and get answers from the team.

Get in touch with Andy Rogers if you would like to book a place.  They are limited so make sure you get in quick.

Quantum Levitation

What happens when you take a type-II superconductor place it above a magnet?  It becomes pinned in mid-air and will stay there until it is reoriented.
What happens when you place it below a magnet?  It becomes pinned, upside-down.

If you place it on a magnetic track, the superconductor will follow the track when an external force is applied, and continue to follow it until it loses its superconductivity (due to temperature) or until air resistance slows it down.  This works upside down too.  The disc in the video below can lift objects 70,000 times it's own weight which means that this particular disc could lift a small car.

This phenomenon is known as quantum locking.  A property of type-II superconductors is that they try to rid themselves of magnetic fields, but they can allow concentrated flux lines to pass through at certain points which are proportional to the material and the area.  This effectively pins the superconductor and allows it to levitate.

Boaz Almog gives an excellent TED talk on the subject.  Check it out here


18 Apr 2014

MatWeb the materials database resource

MatWeb is not a new website but we are receiving more requests for places to find materials databases for use in your various CAD packages.  With the increasing uptake of simulation software there is a growing demand for easy access to established material properties.

MatWeb has datasheets for over 100,000 metals, plastics, ceramics, and composites that are categorised according to name, properties, and also trade name.  The site offers premium services, one of the benefits being that you can export those directly into your software package.

Whilst it is not universally complete it is one of the best resources that exist on the web to date, and if they don't have what you are looking for then its best to get in touch with the material producers directly.


14 Apr 2014

Vault WG/Pro 2014 update paths

Updating your Vault server and client is always something to plan in advance, especially the server as it will take the Vault offline while it upgrades and then take time to migrate your databases to the latest version.

If you are running Vault Workgroup or Professional and are using, or intend to use the Subscription Release, then the latest service pack offerings from Autodesk should be handled with slightly more care than usual.

The following upgrade path is advised:

Vault > Vault SP1 > Vault Subs1 > Vault Subs1 SP1

You should ignore Vault SP2 completely where the Subs Release is concerned.

If you are not on subscription, or do not want to use the Subs Release, then the standard path of SP1 then SP2 will not be a problem.

A tip is not to launch the ADMS Console until you have applied all updates.  Launching mid-way will require a separate migration for each stage.


10 Apr 2014

Installations and You, 2015

It is that time of year again!  The 2015 product releases are starting to trickle out on the subscription site, and many of you will be taking advantage and adopting early.  Whether you are keen to try out the new features, or just to take comfort in being at the latest version, it will pay dividends to pause for thought and consider the following before your itchy trigger mouse finger tries to cash cheques that your smooth-running design office can't handle.
Backup your data

Firstly, the Vault.  This is the most important one not to get wrong.  The potential for unexpected downtime while efforts are made to restore functionality is fairly high, and there is the possibility of data loss.
Pose these questions to yourself, or the IT individuals involved in your upgrade/install:

- Do you have experience with the installation or upgrade of Vault and are aware of the potential pitfalls?
- Have you read the installation guide, cover to cover?  There's a lot of content in there and it is all important.
- Do you have an understanding of how Vault relates to SQL Server?
- Do you know the part that IIS plays in your set-up?

If you answer no to any of these questions then you need to either put in some time to understand what is required prior to your install, or get an experienced professional involved.
Backup your data

When it comes to Inventor, there are some important aspects to consider particularly when upgrading.  Backing up your Application Options is just the tip of the iceberg:

- Do you know which resources are shared on your network and how to back them up?
- Do you understand which non-shared resources get completely replaced during an upgrade and how this might affect your projects?
- Are you aware of the migration process in its various forms?

Then there is licensing.  Do not mix up single and network at the install - a mistake here will likely lead you to reinstalling the entire suite (the registry can be modified instead but only if you are confident in knowing which keys to change, and this has to be done for every individual application).
Backup your data

- Do you have your new license file, with the correct server information?
- Do you need to upgrade LM Tools?
- Can your clients communicate with the license server and do you know how to diagnose if they can't?

Micro Concepts support line will be available to offer advice on any specific queries you have with your installation.  If you are certain that you want to proceed on your own then we would advise clearing up any gaps in your knowledge before you do and give us a call to run things through.
Backup your data

Unfortunately what we cannot do is guide you step by step or run installations remotely.  This is due to the length of time the actual installation process takes and this can become much longer when issues arise, the diagnosis of which is compounded by the sheer number of variables that could be the cause.  For Micro Concepts to be involved any deeper than an advisory role it is necessary to arrange a site visit.  If you choose to hire the services of another contractor, make sure you confirm with them that they absolutely know what they are doing!

Finally:  Backup your data!

8 Apr 2014

Gartner's Technology Hype Cycle (2013)

As seen in last month's issue of Develop3D, the Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies is a chart which sets human expectation of work-in-progress/theoretical technologies against time.  It aligns them along a path which enters several stages of hype, peaking then troughing, until a "plateau of productivity" is reached.

Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2013:

Some of these should be easily recognisable, some of them not so much.  The website isn't friendly for casual reading so for that reason here is a summary of all the technology in the chart:

Bioacoustic Sensing - the transmission of sound through e.g. skin and other organic matter.  Disney demo'd this recently, but it's not clear if this was just a concept or actual proof
Smart Dust - tiny microelectromechanical systems that can relay sensor information to a network
Quantum Computing - using quantum states of matter as the binary method of computation
Quantified Self - related to mobile health monitoring, this is the quantification of our daily lives in terms of energy consumption, oxygen absorption, etc
3D Bioprinting - the 3D printing of biological materials, most significantly human body parts
Brain-Computer Interface - a means of interacting with machines through brain communication
Human Augmentation - the use of technology in our bodies to improve physical or mental capability
Volumetric and Holographic Displays - help me Obi Wan, you're my only hope
Electrovibration - electrical stimulation of metals to replicate the feeling of textured materials
Affective Computing - essentially a form of AI, where a computer system can empathise and respond appropriately
Prescriptive Analytics - synthesizing data of potential situations to predict outcomes in business
Autonomous Vehicles - cars that drive themselves
Biochips - biological processing units for, among other things, disease detection
Neurobusiness - "Neurobusiness is the capability of applying neuroscience insights to improve outcomes in customer and other business decision situations"  In other words, mind-reading for profit.
3D Scanners - like Faro, devices to generate a 3D model of real-world scanned data
Mobile Robots - robots, that are mobile.  These are in contrast to fixed, industrial robots
Speech-to-speech Translation - instantly translating your native tongue to another's with electronics
Internet of Things - things that you never thought needed to be connected to the internet, connected to the internet. e.g. fridges, heating & lighting systems, cupboard stocks, etc
Natural-Language Question Answering - computational answering of questions posed in the human native tongue.  Similar to what Steven Wolfram is trying to achieve
Big Data - data which is too large to analyse by traditional database management systems e.g. 1EB (exabyte) which is equal to 1 billion GB
Consumer 3D Printing - 3D printing for the home, MakerBot is leading the way in this field
Gamification - to make games out of non-entertainment based activities to aid in problem solving
Wearable User Interfaces - smart watches, augmented reality glasses
Complex Event Processing - the analysis of smaller events to determine the larger driving force and use this information to make predictions or assess risks and threats
Content Analytics - essentially a computerised form of extracting the pure meaning from empirical records which contain subjectivity and nuance
In-Memory Database Management Systems - holding and working with entire databases in the RAM of the computer
Virtual Assistants - professionals who work from home with access to a company's IT infrastructure
Augmented Reality - overlaying a user interface over the physical world e.g. windscreen dashboards in cars, but also glasses
Machine-to-Machine Communication Services - machines collaborating with other machines in industry - see Industry 4.0 on our blog
Mobile Health Monitoring - e.g. heart rate monitors on mobile phines
NFC - near field communication.  A chip to communicate with a radio network when in close range, without the need for power
Mesh Networks: Sensor - piggy backing off the public to create a daisy chain of internet communication
Cloud Computing - computing, but not on your local machine
Virtual Reality - see Oculus Rift for a modern example, which has just been bought by Facebook (where is the dislike button?)
In-Memory Analytics - the analysis of large volumes of data/statistics in RAM instead of hard disk
Gesture Control - using physical gestures as a user interface.  Leap Motion is a (poor) example
Activity Streams - the cross-implementation of user activity e.g. Facebook newsfeeds across multiple sites
Enterprise 3D Printing - superlative 3D printing including more hazardous methods not suitable for home use
Biometric Authentication Methods - the use of human biological information as passwords e.g. iPhone finger scanner
Consumer Telematics - integrated information systems in vehicular transport e.g. fuel stations on a satnav
Location Intelligence - gathering information based on geography to provide business opportunities and information
Speech Recognition - recognising voice input.  Google Now gets my Scottish accent, so this has definitely plateaued
Predictive Analytics - assessing future risks/opportunities based on historical data (just like the "algorithm" in the latest Captain America movie)


2 Apr 2014

SSD prices gradually falling

I've done quite a few installs since joining Micro Concepts.  Whenever I'm asked about hardware upgrades, I advise on solid state drives, aka SSDs.  These are the single best upgrade you can get for your machine right now as they affect the speed of the entire system from booting up in record time, to loading applications not only quickly, but numerously - it is possible to load up every application you use on a daily basis quicker than it would take for just your background apps to finish loading on a normal mechanical hard-disk.

In spite of this, I've yet to see anyone using these drives in business.  Well now is as good a time as any.  The prices of the drives have dropped by about 1/3 in the past year and it's possible to pick up some of the more reliably rated brands for the same price their lesser rated peers cost this time last year.

Micro Concepts advises a minimum of 128GB, with 256GB recommend.  This is based on the sizes of the core Windows operating system, the upper limit of a Product Design Suite install (ultimate), your other applications, and enough room for your data.  Even if you have a roaming profile that houses your data we always recommend your Vault workspace is kept a folder in the root of C:\

Right now Samsung are offering up to £50 cashback on their EVO series.  These are reputed to be one of the fastest and most reliable drives on the market, and means you can get as much as a 1TB drive from Amazon for a little over £300