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Top 20 Tips for SA Users

In celebration of NRK's 20th anniversary, we give you our top 20 tips for SA users. Below are quick and easy tricks and hints that will help you accomplish more and save time using SA.

Top 20 Tips for SA Users


NRK turns 20 this year! In celebration of our 20th anniversary, we give you our top 20 tips for SA users. Below are quick and easy tricks and hints that will help you save time in SA.


Saving Time in SA


  1. 1. Keyboard Shortcuts
    Commands like Ctrl+Shift+Tab bring up a list of recently used commands, which can save time when navigating menus.  A list of keyboard shortcuts can be found in the SA User’s Manual (page 889).


  2. 2. Speed up SA Graphics
    Simply using a solid color background instead of the default shaded background can not only make graphics clearer, but also run faster.  A few additional tips—turn off point labels when they’re not needed, hide entities when they aren’t being used, and update your graphics card to the latest driver to increase your graphic speed.


  3. 3. Remove/Hide Unnecessary Surfaces
    Utilize Construct > Surfaces > by Dissecting Surfaces to build separate surfaces for each face of your model, and then use reverse selection to specify the CAD surfaces you want to measure (this will hide the objects outside of that region).


  4. 4. Cloud Display Control
    The Ctrl+T command is critical to working with cloud data because it allows you to control the density of points displayed within a cloud and the size of each point.


  5. 5. Command-Line Arguments for Shortcuts
    Command-line arguments allow you to start specific files, run MPs, and even start instruments with a single click.  This can greatly increase your startup speed when working with templates.  A list of Command-line arguments can be found in the SA User’s Manual under the section entitled “Working in SA” (page 237).


Object & Point Selection


  1. 6. Utilize All Three Selection Methods
    The three selection methods are:
    - graphical selection (don’t forget you can use polygon and inverse selection modes),
    - F2 filtered selection (which provides a gateway to wildcard selection and selection by color),
    - direct double-click on either points or objects in the tree.


  2. 7. Using the ALT key to Remove Items from a Selection
    If you want to select all but a couple of points, you can graphically drag-select a group of points and then hold the ALT key down to remove points that you don’t want to include.


  3. 8. Turning on Automatic Measurement Selection
    Within the Graphical Selection Dialog, there is an option to turn on “automatically select new measurements.”  This allows you to actively capture and add new measurements to the geometry fit while you measure.  


  4. 9. Drag from Multiple Viewpoints
    Sometimes you need to line up something in three dimensions, for example, when positioning measurement data roughly in place in order to establish a good initial condition for a relationship fit.  If you try to drag the instrument from an oblique view or any view for that matter, you’ll only have control in two dimensions at a time.  People will often line the items up in one view, press ENTER to complete the command, switch to another view, and repeat the steps.  Note that you can actually switch to different preset views within the drag command. This allows you to switch to orthogonal views to fine-tune the placement of something.




  1. 10. Import by Dragging a File Directly into SA
    SA’s drag and drop functions continue to expand:  
    - drag and drop any CAD file onto an SA shortcut icon to open and import it,
    - drop an image directly into a report,
    - drag and drop an MP into an editor. 


  2. 11. Learn Quick and Easy Excel Point Exchange Methods
    Copy selected points from Excel into SA with Edit > Paste Points from Clipboard.  Use Shift drag-select in report tables or report bar to select text you can then paste into Excel.  Also Alt+Shift drag provides an advanced option for formatting the data.



  1. 12. Query Click Points to Surface to Create Normal Vectors Anywhere on a CAD Model
    To easily create vectors normal to a CAD part, use Construct > Points > Layout > On Surface by Clicking or Construct > Points > Mesh Surfaces in UV to lay out the points on the model surfaces.  Then use Query > Points to > Objects and override the offset to a negative value such as -10, which will create vectors -10 units in length pointing out of the surface.  This is a great way to build a set of proximity triggers for automeasure.


  2. 13. Verify object associations safely
    To do this, you can use Instrument > Object Associations > Highlight Associated Objects, or an even easier and more visible way is Instrument > Drag Instrument Graphically.  This will allow you to drag the instrument around to see what moves with it.  When finished, press Escape to cancel the move.


  3. 14. Rename Point Groups for Alignment Automatically
    Use Edit > Rename > Points by Auto-Corresponding 2 Groups > Inter-Point Distance to quickly rename a point group for use in an alignment.


  4. 15. Record Transformations
    Use Construct > Frames > On Object if you are transforming objects and Construct > Frames > On Instrument > Base to capture the current instrument placement.  You can always use Edit > Move Objects > Frame to Frame Transform to return to the starting location.


Target Computation


  1. 16. Fix Incorrect Point Offsets
    If you right-click on a point group, you can choose Set Point Properties, which will allow you to set the Planar and Radial Point offsets directly.


  2. 17. Re-Compute Targets from Shots  
    If points are moved relative to the instrument that measured them, the link will appear to be broken.  However, you can easily rebuild the measurements using Analysis > Re-Compute Targets from Shots


  3. 18. Drift Check Bundles Multiple Utilities
    This allows you to quickly measure nominal points, check your instrument position, and check its scale.  Afterwards, SA provides a preview of the RMS for both Best-fit and Best-fit Scaled scenarios, and then provides a single click transform and jump instrument operation all in one. 


Advanced Operations


  1. 19. Build Dependent Relationships
    In repetitive jobs, it can be helpful to use the cardinal points from one geometry relationship to build a second.  For example, if you want a line to define the central axis of a hole, you can build a line geometry relationship from the cardinal points of a cylinder relationship.  Then, as the cylinder updates, the line updates for you.


Uncertainty Calculations


  1. 20. Uncertainty Fields Tell the Rest of the Story
    When you want to check the accuracy of your measurements, use Query > Sensitivity Cloud to > Sensitivity Cloud.  This provides not only a distance, but an uncertainty estimate based on that particular instrument and those particular measurements.  You can find the uncertainty in a geometry fit as well using Fit Geometries Using Uncertainty Fields.


Questions?  Do you have any hints or tips of your own that you’d like to share?  Contact NRK at support@kinematics.com.


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