Drag and drop Eurocodes make Mathcad go faster

A leading supplier of commercial building products used to rely on a library of spreadsheets for its engineering calculations. It meant a lot of tedious manual work: data entry, checking and verifying, cross-referencing and so on. Then two years ago they appointed a new Head of Engineering who was a long-time Mathcad user. He quickly saw an opportunity to streamline and enhance the company’s engineering processes and began a project to convert all those spreadsheets into Mathcad documents.

His words sum up nicely what we’ve been saying for years: “Mathcad … gives you much tighter control on the input data, with checks on the units and logic, and a powerful but straightforward programming language. In addition, the output is a well-presented calculation sheet that is easy for the client to understand.”

With Eurocodes becoming a design standard in civil and structural engineering, Mathcad delivers even more, “with drag and drop modules that allow engineers to pull the relevant parts of the codes into their calculations.” Automating so many previously manual steps speeds the design flow, eliminates data entry errors and makes it easy to test various scenarios to find the ideal design solution.

Why nor download our latest Mathcad case study to read all about his experiences?

It’s here! We’ve been getting pretty excited over the past few weeks as we learned more and more about what the latest version of Mathcad, Prime 3.1, would deliver – and now we can share that with you as the new version has been officially launched. Many of the new features of Prime 3.1 have been included in response to the demand from Mathcad users. A case in point is the inclusion of a Global Definitions Operator, a popular function in Mathcad 15 and earlier versions but until now unavailable in Mathcad Prime. Although Prime 2.0 featured a Definitions Operator that let you assign a value to a variable, that assignation wouldn’t apply to previous instances of that variable. Now in Prime 3.1 the value you assign can be applied to the defined variable throughout your worksheet, instantly. That will make life a whole lot easier for very many Mathcad users. There’s a lot more too. A significantly enhanced calculation engine allows more complex equations to be solved even more quickly, while faster matrix decomposition functions support pivoting and complex numbers. Live maths can now be incorporated right into your text, and you can now easily create standardized templates for your worksheets. You can even reuse existing algorithms that have already been coded in C, C++, Fortran etc. You can read about these and all the other new and improved features of Mathcad Prime 3.1 here – there’s a great video there too! We believe that with this new version, Mathcad Prime has really come of age. Whether you’re entirely new to Mathcad or you’re using an older version, surely now is the time to start benefitting from the amazing usability, flexibility and extensive functionality that Prime 3.1 offers? Contact your local Adept office to find the most cost effective way of getting hold of the latest release.

It’s here! We’ve been getting pretty excited over the past few weeks as we learned more and more about what the latest version of Mathcad, Prime 3.1, would deliver – and now we can share that with you as the new version has been officially launched.

Many of the new features of Prime 3.1 have been included in response to the demand from Mathcad users. A case in point is the inclusion of a Global Definitions Operator, a popular function in Mathcad 15 and earlier versions but until now unavailable in Mathcad Prime. Although Prime 2.0 featured a Definitions Operator that let you assign a value to a variable, that assignation wouldn’t apply to previous instances of that variable. Now in Prime 3.1 the value you assign can be applied to the defined variable throughout your worksheet, instantly. That will make life a whole lot easier for very many Mathcad users.

There’s a lot more too. A significantly enhanced calculation engine allows more complex equations to be solved even more quickly, while faster matrix decomposition functions support pivoting and complex numbers. Live maths can now be incorporated right into your text, and you can now easily create standardized templates for your worksheets. You can even reuse existing algorithms that have already been coded in C, C++, Fortran etc. You can read about these and all the other new and improved features of Mathcad Prime 3.1 here – there’s a great video there too!

We believe that with this new version, Mathcad Prime has really come of age. Whether you’re entirely new to Mathcad or you’re using an older version, surely now is the time to start benefitting from the amazing usability, flexibility and extensive functionality that Prime 3.1 offers? Contact your local Adept office to find the most cost effective way of getting hold of the latest release.

How “Ghost Goals” Happen: Mathcad Scores Again!

The football obsessives in the Adept offices seem to be talking about nothing else but Euro 2012 – although our Danish and Swedish colleagues are looking a bit glum now. Ukrainian Marko Devic’s “ghost goal” against England on Tuesday night has brought back memories of Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal for England against Germany at the 2010 World Cup. His shot (as video recordings showed) hit the crossbar, bounced a good metre inside the goal, then, strangely, rebounded in the opposite direction out again.

With England and Germany both through to the Euro 2012 quarter-finals, there’s the tempting possibility that these two old footballing rivals could meet again in the semis. So a new paper by Dr Ken Bray, the Bath-based theoretical physicist who has made a special study of the mathematics of football and the factors affecting the flight of the ball, is very timely. He has recently conducted a series of experiments, using a ball-launching machine and a high-speed digital camera, to show how this sort of “reverse rebound” can happen. The work involved some pretty intensive computations and it was Mathcad’s robust handling of simultaneous equations that, in Dr Bray’s words, made “very short work of the process”.

Devic’s “goal”, which John Terry cleared before it actually hit the ground, is a different kettle of fish, but Dr Bray’s paper breaks new ground in explaining what happened with Lampard’s shot. It’s a fascinating case study, whether or not you’re interested in football. You can read it here.

Working with equations gets even easier

Equations are fiddly things to construct in a document, email or web page – it’s almost impossible to make them look right without a dedicated equation editor. The Equation Editor that’s bundled with Microsoft Word has hardly changed in almost 20 years, so for a flexible, inexpensive solution that’s easy to use, has a huge range of formatting and presentation options, and works with just about every online or desktop application you’re ever likely to use, there’s nothing to rival MathType.

MathType 6.8 for Windows has just been released and it’s hard to imagine a more useful tool. It works with over 600 applications and websites, including 64-bit Microsoft Office 2010. It offers better accessibility for people with, for example, low vision; speech commands; handwriting input and much more. One major new feature of MathType 6.8 lets you paste a table from your spreadsheet, document or web page straight into MathType as a matrix – that’s really useful.

Why not download our MathType 6.8 trial version today? Even if you don’t decide to buy it, after the 30-day trial has expired it reverts to the free MathType Lite which has a lot more functionality than Equation Editor, so it’s a win-win for you whatever you decide!

Preliminary user feedback about Mathcad Prime 2.0

To make sure Mathcad Prime 2.0 is meeting the needs and expectations of engineers, PTC has been in touch with several customers and alpha testers to hear some of their preliminary feedback about the latest release. In this post, we hear from two Design Engineers – Gnouni Yengoian and Mike Armstrong, a Senior Technology Engineer – Bert Beirinckx, a Professor Emeritus – Clyde Metz, and a current professor- Michael Thackston. They were asked about the differences and improvements of Mathcad Prime 2.0 compared to other past versions. Here is what they said:

The users said the major difference between Mathcad Prime 2.0 and older versions was the layout/interface and the Excel component. Metz said, “The major change… is the use of the banner instead of dropdown menus… the banner is quicker and, in my opinion, organised better. I can spot an icon much faster than trying to interpret phrases on the dropdown menu.” Yengoian believed, “The ability to utilise Microsoft Excel is by far the most useful improvement.”

In addition to this, Beirinckx also said “Performance has improved dramatically after the Alpha-version, and Prime 2.0 is starting to look like something an experienced Mathcad user can work with.”

Some of the features the users were most excited to share about Mathcad Prime 2.0, that they couldn’t do before, were “three-dimensional (surface) graphing ability of data and the matrix representation of the data tables.  Also… the additional methods for solving differential equations.” Another said, “Utilising hidden areas and using various graphs and images from other documents without the risk of corrupting the Mathcad file.”

Still another user stated, “I would consider mixed unit arrays the most improved feature. I have been limited over the years when dealing with large amounts of data due to the exclusion of MDA’s after Mathcad 11. I have also found the new Excel component is a massive improvement on previous versions.” With this variety in favorites, it is clear Mathcad Prime 2.0 has a lot to offer the user.

Along with having exciting new features, Mathcad Prime 2.0 has proved to be a time saver. One user said “Because the content in a Mathcad worksheet (old or new) appears very similar to what appears in textbooks… it is easy to read and correct errors… It’s easy to prepare a worksheet.  Also, being able to look at various Mathcad electronic books and being able to copy/paste content from these books to the worksheet definitely helps in creating a worksheet. Anything that makes things easier to enter or read is a time saver.”

Yengoian agreed for different reasons saying, “The standardised calculation worksheets have cut our engineering hours by half, if not more. We expect to further improve our efficiency, as future revisions allow us to standardise more aspects of our work.”

Additionally Thackston said, “The overall look of a Prime worksheet is a little bit nicer; it looks a bit more polished. I can use fully-justified text.  That may sound like an odd thing to mention for this type of “tool”, but something that I emphasise, is that Mathcad is a really good document-creating tool.  The appearance, as well as the content, of a document can be important.” Another user said, “New users will be very impressed by Mathcad Prime 2.0… The layout is clear and the formatting of documents has improved from Prime 1.0.”

Put the software to the test and download a 30-day free trial of Mathcad Prime 2.0 today

The latest, greatest Mathcad is here!

The Latest, Greatest Mathcad Is Here!

We’ve all known for some time that Mathcad Prime 2.0 is coming – we published a pre-launch interview in the last issue of our Technical Computing Magazine, and have a couple of “sneak preview” videos on our Download Centre.

Now it’s here – and we think it’s a pretty exciting release that lives up to PTC’s claim that it’s “the most advanced version of Mathcad ever”. This new version incorporates many of the features Mathcad users missed in Prime 1.0: collapsible areas, 3-D plots, symbolics, a robust Excel component. Performance is great too, thanks to its 64-bit architecture and multi-threading capabilities. Quite a few more functions have been added, and like the previous version, it comes with a full year’s maintenance which includes a licence for your home computer and, of course, all upgrades, productivity enhancements and service pack releases.

Mathcad Prime 2.0 is a powerful analysis tool yet easy to learn and easy to use. It was designed by engineers for engineers who are looking for greater productivity, better communication and better outcomes in less time. Overall it offers a very superior user experience, combining the latest document-centric environment for engineering calculations with advanced maths exploration.

Take our word for it: Mathcad Prime 2.0 lets you spend more time solving engineering problems, and less time programming, documenting, reporting and verifying your solutions. Or better still, try it out for yourself – you can download a fully functional, 30-day trial version (in 32- or 64-bit) here.

Full details of Mathcad Prime 2.0 are here.

 

Connect Mathcad to Internet Data Sources

One little-known feature of Mathcad 15 (and earlier versions) is the ability to connect to Internet data sources. Simply insert a scriptable component into a worksheet, define an input and an output, and insert this VBScript into the component code.

Function IEGetPage(URL)
  Set IE = CreateObject("InternetExplorer.Application")
  IE.Navigate URL
  Do While IE.Busy
  Loop
  IEGetPage = IE.Document.Body.outerText
  IE.Stop
  IE.Quit
 End Function

IEGetPage(URL) is a function that downloads the data the URL points to.

This function can be used to define the output of the scriptable component. For example, you could insert the following code into a push button event (PushBtnEvent_Exec)

Outputs(0).value = IEGetPage(Inputs(0).Value)

Outputs(0).value and Inputs(0).Value refer to the first input and output of the scriptable component. In this instance, the input would simply be a URL and the output would be the downloaded data.

So what can I do with this surprisingly cool functionality? Well, the US Geological Survey host constantly updated earthquake data on their website. This data gives the location (i.e. the latitude and longitude) and magnitude of earthquakes over a rolling time period, and can be downloaded as a text file. http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/catalogs/eqs7day-M2.5.txt is a typical example.

This text file is updated several times a day with new earthquake data and can be downloaded straight into Mathcad using the VBScript given above.  Check out this Mathcad worksheet (the link is at the bottom of this post).

Once the data the data is in Mathcad, some parsing is needed to strip out headers and other unnecessary information.  You can then manipulate and analyse the filtered data.

In the Mathcad worksheet, I’ve plotted the location of earthquakes on a map of North America (the mapping data is low resolution, but it serves its purpose). Here’s what the plot looks like:

My next mini-project (should I get some time off from the salt mines) is to project this earthquake data onto a globe.

I’ve also connected Mathcad to other Internet data sources, including historical stock quotes and foreign exchange rates.

Mathcad Worksheet to Download Earthquake Data from the US Geological Survey Website

Faster Physical Modelling for Mathcad

Like many engineers, I use Mathcad as a scratchpad to jot down equations, model physical systems and explore technical ideas. My specialty is fluid dynamics and heat transfer, but I also dabble in electromechanical modelling.

But deriving equations for dynamic engineering systems demands time and skill. I’ll be the first to admit that I often lack both.

I recently discovered I already had the tools to translate an initial schematic of an engineering system to a Mathcad function (but my own lack of foresight prevented me from connecting the dots earlier).  The technology lets me

  • model multidomain engineering systems by connecting physical components on a virtual workspace,
  • and convert these block-diagram models to Mathcad functions.

The technology is a software tool called MapleSim. It has blocks for modelling electrical, mechanical, multibody, hydraulic, thermal and magnetic systems, as well as signal-flow functionality. The equations are already programmed in, so I don’t need to derive them.

MapleSim also generates C code from your model (simply point-and-click). The code can be parameterised with any set of properties (for example, resistances, inertias etc) and includes a solver.

This code can also be compiled to a Mathcad-compatible DLL.

This, for example, is a MapleSim model of a DC motor with backlash and a PI controller. The model was created by dragging physical components on a workspace, then connecting them together.

And this is the compiled function (after code generation) implemented in Mathcad.

I’ve parameterised the Mathcad function with respect to the set point and controller gains, but I could have picked any other combination of properties.

Compiling MapleSim code to a Mathcad-compatible DLL sounds tricky. You need some awareness of C coding, but you don’t need to be an expert or even consider yourself a competent programmer. Once you know the steps to follow, it’s simple and is mostly copy and paste. For anyone who wants to try, I’ve prepared a Visual Studio example project to make this easier (email me for the link).

Converting block-diagram physical models to Mathcad functions is novel and has the potential to save countless hours. Given that the volume of coffee I drink is positively correlated with the amount of algebra I do, this approach could lower my blood pressure as well.

Seal of PTC approval for Mathcad supplier, Adept Scientific

For the second year running, Adept Scientific has won a Mathcad Global Award, reaffirming our status as the top Mathcad reseller worldwide. The ceremony took place at the end of October in Athens, Greece and was attended by hundreds of professionals representing resellers across the globe. Jessica Nielsen, Mathcad Sales Manager for Adept Nordic went up on stage to receive a medal which was presented by some of PTC’s top management.

Not only does this award acknowledge the hard work and commitment of Adept’s team of specialists in supporting Mathcad users, but it also provides engineers with the perfect proof of quality of service when sourcing a proven Mathcad reseller.

New VisSim Version 8

VisSim State Charts addon
There’s a brand new version of VisSim, the dynamic systems simulation software with an easy-to-use block diagram interface – and new VisSim 9 is at the heart of the latest VisSim/Embedded Controls Developer (VisSim/ECD), the ideal tool for developing embedded control systems based on Texas Instruments processors.

Supporting a wide range of TI DSPs including MSP430, C2000, Piccolo and Delfino, VisSim/ECD makes it quick and easy to create, optimise and debug a working model of your control system and, when you’re happy with its performance, generate highly efficient C-code at a click.


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