Fourth RadFest attracts 450 attendees. New CAD software unveiled.

A picture is worth a thousand words, not to mention thousands of dollars in repair costs if that picture isn't understood from the start.

“I'm all for limiting mistakes on paper,” said John Siegenthaler, Appropriate Designs, Holland Patent, N.Y., and PM columnist, in opening remarks at RadFest East, Oct. 12, Chantilly, Va. “Too often, radiant contractors are 'designing by solder' rather than designing on paper before the installation of a heating system.”

A piping schematic represents an overall game plan for the installation of a heating system and should clearly show all the separate design decisions involving heat sources, controls, water temperature, zoning and efficiency that make up the final system. A schematic also comes in handy after the installation is complete by providing documentation to the troubleshooter, who more than likely didn't install the system.

“A piping schematic is a far better 'language' for communicating the intricacies of modern hydronic systems from designer to installer to troubleshooter,” Siegenthaler said. “The intent of a schematic drawing is to show the relationship between several components in a system, rather than the exact spatial placement of the installed components.”

While a free-hand drawing may be better than nothing, Siegenthaler recommended a number of CAD software packages on the market ranging in price from several thousands to several hundreds of dollars.

Windows-based software:

Mac-based software:Siegenthaler also unveiled his own new CAD software later that day during one of the Pitstop education sessions held on the trade show floor. (See below.)

This was the fourth RadFest, a regional trade show put on by the Radiant Panel Association. The Virginia event attracted approximately 450 attendees. The two-day event included a day for an annual member meeting, leadership conference and Radiant Basic class. The first day ended with a reception followed by an awards dinner that recognized this year's winners of the trade group's System Showcase honors.

The second day included roundtable discussions on various topics such as alternative fuels, Internet controls and selling radiant heat. After the opening speech, the afternoon featured a trade show with about 50 different vendors, plus a choice of 12 concurrent Pitstop seminars. The RPA also held its certification exam for installers and designers in the afternoon.

The RPA has made tentative plans to hold RadFest West on April 25-26 at the Seattle-Tacoma Convention Center.

New CAD Program Unveiled At RadFest

John Siegenthaler demonstrated his new CAD software at RadFest West. HydroniCAD was specifically created to help contractors with no previous computer drawing experience to easily produce professional-quality schematics.

“HydroniCAD is the result of many requests I've had over the years for a tool to make drawings similar to those in my PM and PM Engineer columns and articles,” Siegenthaler said during his demonstration.

Users select one of the pre-drawn piping components symbols and click on the drawing canvas. The symbol appears and can be moved, rotated, duplicated as needed. Various symbols can be added to the drawing and quickly snapped together using a unique feature called “sticky points.”

“In the time it takes to snap together a few Lego® blocks,” he added, “you can snap together a professional-looking, full-color piping schematic.”

All piping component symbols are organized into five palettes that “float” on the drawing screen. HydroniCAD is a “stand alone” software package. It doesn't require Visio, AutoCAD or any other software package to function.

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