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How to create a North symbol that rotates with a parameter, with an N that rotates

  • You are going to need 2 generic annotation families:
  • One family for the North symbol
  • One family for the “N”.
  • For the first family, you can start from scratch or you can open one of the existing annotation families for North, such as North Arrow1.rfa
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  • Save this family as… something else, such as “My North Arrow.rfa”
  • Start a new generic annotation family.
  • Place a text entity at the center of the cross of reference planes, with just “N”. Duplicate the default text type to make it a little bigger, i.e. 3/16″, and transparent.


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  • Save this family, for example “North N.rfa”. Load this family into “My North Arrow.rfa”, but don’t place it yet. After loading it, hit cancel. We will place it later.
  • In “My North Arrow.rfa”, go to VG (Visibility Graphics) , Annotation Categories, and turn on Reference Planes.
  • Create a Reference line from the intersection of the reference planes to a point outside of the circle, at an angle, i.e. 45 degrees, and with a length that is about the distance from the center of the intersection of planes to the center of the letter N that we will place later; i.e. 3/8″.
  • Align and lock the origin of this reference planes to both the horizontal and the vertical reference planes. Use the Tab key to find the start point of the line.


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  • Create an angular dimension from the horizontal reference plane to the reference line.
  • Select the dimension and convert it into a parameter with Add Label.
  • Create a parameter, as shown:


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  • Select all the geometry: circles and lines that make up the North symbol, and rotate them to match the rotation of the reference line.
  • After that, you will see a warning about “Constraints not satisfied”. Click on Remove constraints. We are removing existing constraints in the family, to create new ones.
  • Having the geometry selected, from the ribbon select Edit Work Plane, select “Pick a plane” , OK, and select the reference line.
  • Now go to Family Types, and change the value of the “Rotation angle from East” to 90, apply, and OK.


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  • Now, from the Project Browser, select the family that contains just the N, (My North N.rfa), right click, create instance, and place it somewhere.
  • Now use the Align tool, from the upper endpoint of the reference line (use the Tab key to find it) to the horizontal reference plane in the N family, and lock.
  • Use Align again, from the same upper endpoint of the reference line (use the Tab key to find it) to the vertical reference plane in the N family, and lock.


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  • Save this North family.
  • Now your family can be loaded and used in a project, and will rotate with a parameter.


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    Note: it is not possible yet to link this rotation to a shared parameter, or to rotate it as per changes in the True North of the project. This has to be done manually.

    © 2012 Planta1.com, inc. , Alfredo Medina | permission to reproduce this article is granted if the name of the author and the URL of this article receive proper credit.

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