How I made the Parts Catalog
- Download and install LDraw and all the latest parts updates.
- Run mklst.exe to make a list of all the parts, sorted by description.
- Just running LDraw to create a bitmap of a part gives you a grey part at default orientation. This doesn't work for all parts.
- Use LEdit to create a model of every part. I gave the filename a p in front, because if you just LEdit a part number, you get the part file, and you don't want that.
- LDraw is a DOS-based program, and is limited to the 8.3 naming convention.
- The variations on 5-digit parts (12345p01.dat) present a problem with this, as the extra p in front makes for too many characters.
- I ended up renaming these models every time I edited them, and then changing them back. It's annoying, but at the time I couldn't think of anything else.
- A better idea with these parts would be to just eliminate the latter p, and then remember that there are no 8-digit part numbers!.
- While editing the model file for a part, make sure it's oriented properly, and give it a color other than the default black. Most parts should be white, to save on printer ink, but if a part makes more sense in a different color, use that other color.
- Make a bitmap of every part model file. Rememeber that the 5-digit variants will need renaming as soon as you're done, to prevent them from over-writting each other.
- Use a size of 0.5 (-s0.5 on the command line) for most parts. Some of the really big ones need to be smaller, and some of the really small parts need to be bigger, as outlined here:
- Some types of parts also need to be at a different orientation (-a on the command line)
|printed brick slope:||over
|printed 2x2 slope:||front
- A sample command line would look like this: ldraw -ms -s0.75 -a1,0,0,0,1,0,0,0,1 p973p01
- The result is a bitmap, placed in the /LDRAW/BITMAP folder.
- Open the bitmap with MS Paint.
- Uncheck the "Draw Opaque" option from the Image menu.
- If the part seems incomplete from the bitmapping, you'll need to fix it.
- Select the dropper tool, and sample the unique grey color of the outline of the part.
- Select either the pencil or line tool, and draw in the gaps so the part looks normal.
- Click and drag to expand the canvas so you can add some text.
- Activate the text tool and draw a box. Change the font to Times New Roman and the size to 8 pt. Type the part number. Hint: the part number is the file name, which you can read in Paint's title bar.
- Choose the selection tool and select the text you just wrote. Position the text so as to take up the least amount of space. You may want to zoom in so you can be more precise.
- For most parts, this will be 2 pixels below the part, and centered.
- For very small variant parts, the ones with p's in them, you can omit the first part of the part number, and just start with the p.
- For bigger parts, align the base of the canvas with the lowest pixel of the part, and place the text to the side.
- For parts with a p in their number, align the bottom of the canvas 1 pixel below the p. For parts without a p, align the bottom of the canvas 3 pixels below the text.
- For all parts, crop the sides of the canvas so that the bitmap takes up the least amount of space.
- For smaller parts, center the part above its text, and give 1 pixel space on either side of the text.
- Open up MS Word. I've used OpenOffice.org also, but I don't like how pictures are inserted.
- Type the category of parts in 8 pt font. This is mostly for searching an open document, but it's also useful if you can't remember what LDraw calls a particular type of part.
- Make a table for basic parts. You don't need to take up ink and space with them. For example, there are a lot of basic bricks, and everybody knows what those are. So just list them.
- In MS Word, go to the Insert Menu, Choose Picture, then From File. Browse to the location of the bitmaps of the parts, and start inserting them, one by one. This can be done first, then organized, or you can reference the list and insert them in some semblance of order.
- Insert a footer with the revision number and the date.
- When everything's in order, check the page breaks.
- Print to PDF for the PDF version.
- Historically, I made the HTML version by using MS Word's Save as HTML function. But that makes for really, really messy code, and not everything always lines up properly that way. An acquaintance of mine says he's got a lot of time on his hands, so he's making one from scratch so it works better.
Updating the Catalog
Now that I've completed the catalog, updates have become much easier.
- Download and install the update from ldraw.org.
- The update creates a text file in /LDRAW/MODELS/. Check this for part number changes.
- Open up the bitmaps who's numbers have changed. Change their filenames, then change the text in the bitmap itself.
- Open up PartCat.doc and replace the changed parts.
- On ldraw.org, they have a page with images of all the parts in the update. Keep this open and use it as a list to create new bitmaps, as detailed above.
- Insert the new parts into MS Word, both at the end under a "new" section, and in the categories where they go.
last updated 15 May 2004