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Does anyone have any recommendations for the best software to use for diagramming your system? I'd like to create some graphic representations of the interconnections between the different system components (receivers, amps, processors, etc.)
 

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Does anyone have any recommendations for the best software to use for diagramming your system? I'd like to create some graphic representations of the interconnections between the different system components (receivers, amps, processors, etc.)
Most designs that I see used by integrators and designers are generated in Visio. I also use Visio. A basic exampled attached
 

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Most designs that I see used by integrators and designers are generated in Visio. I also use Visio. A basic exampled attached

Thank you for that sample Adam. The more I have looked at it the more think that is the way I will go. It would be hard to be much clearer than that is.


Do you have a copy of that or a similar vizio file I could get my hands on? This looks like a great jumping off point.
 

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Thank you for that sample Adam. The more I have looked at it the more think that is the way I will go. It would be hard to be much clearer than that is.


Do you have a copy of that or a similar vizio file I could get my hands on? This looks like a great jumping off point.
That should be fairly quick to recreate as it simply is boxes on top of boxes with labels attached.

Also for those that don't want to pay for Visio, you can get LibreOffice Draw which is the opensource equivalent.
 

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I would recommend trying PowerPoint before Visio, and getting a productivity plugin like ToolsToo (https://www.toolstoo.com) for $20 that will make aligning and resizing your shapes a snap.

For some reason I always find myself “fighting” with Visio, every time I try to use it. I can usually get a diagram done, with a far more professional look and feel, in a fraction of the time in PowerPoint vs Visio. Now if you were doing something more complex like “connected” architectural blueprints for a living - then maybe Its worth the time investment to truly master Visio.

Some general PowerPoint tips
Use the “set default shape” - set the outline width, Shape fill to “No Fill” and font size, color etc, then select the shape and set it as default shape, for all new shapes to use those properties. You can do the same thing for arrows and lines as well.

Use “text boxes” liberally, they are easier to manage than the shape labels, and you can easily change background color etc. For example, a text box with a white background, and no outline on top of an arrow (or line) looks like very professional arrow label.

Group shapes (for eg box and associated text box for label, or group of boxes to create a component). Groups can be layered, so smaller components can create larger ones. Makes it easy to clone, move etc

Use the Arrange/Align menu to evenly space out and align multiple shapes - this is what differentiates professional looking from amateur. The ToolsToo plugin takes it to another level

Learn some keyboard shortcuts (for eg group/in group shapes, send to back/forward etc)

Ctrl + select and drag a shape will clone it, instead of moving it- very handy

Customize the left and right margin of a textbox (or shape label) to get more text in without increasing the size of the box
 

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I use a very simple method.
I want to easily see how my signal leads connect from device to device.
I used screen shots and "Paint" to get an image of the rear of my devices then cut/paste to "word" and used simple arrows to show connections.
Far easier than moving my credenza to see the back or using the owner's manuals themselves.
I know where the speaker wires go so no need to add them for my 5.1 system.

I've tried using the "block" method in "word"...whew, what a pain in the arse. This is so much easier to see and manipulate. I can easily increase the image size to get a better view as needed but I have the full size image for each device as well.
 

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I liked the style applez used in his example above so I just replicated it for my system, was pretty easy in LibreOffice Draw.
 

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I would recommend trying PowerPoint before Visio, and getting a productivity plugin like ToolsToo (https://www.toolstoo.com) for $20 that will make aligning and resizing your shapes a snap.

For some reason I always find myself “fighting” with Visio, every time I try to use it. I can usually get a diagram done, with a far more professional look and feel, in a fraction of the time in PowerPoint vs Visio. Now if you were doing something more complex like “connected” architectural blueprints for a living - then maybe Its worth the time investment to truly master Visio.
Visio is easily better than PowerPoint, especially if you can find vendor specific stencils, try VisioCafe.com for a good selection.


Fighting with Visio, especially on the placement of cable is a thing but can be made easier by zooming in (gives you finer control and lessens Visio intervention) plus adding connection points to where you want cables to terminate.


My biggest issue with PowerPoint is that you need to adjust cables whenever you adjust the position of a device.
 

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Visio is easily better than PowerPoint, especially if you can find vendor specific stencils, try VisioCafe.com for a good selection.


Fighting with Visio, especially on the placement of cable is a thing but can be made easier by zooming in (gives you finer control and lessens Visio intervention) plus adding connection points to where you want cables to terminate.


My biggest issue with PowerPoint is that you need to adjust cables whenever you adjust the position of a device.
Visio is probably overkill if you just want a basic line diagram. For many integrators, it also interfaces with an engineering/design/proposal system (D-Tools). With a good template, rack elevations, line drawings, schematics, wire labels, along with a full proposal and documentation can be generated from one piece of software.
 

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Visio is probably overkill if you just want a basic line diagram. For many integrators, it also interfaces with an engineering/design/proposal system (D-Tools). With a good template, rack elevations, line drawings, schematics, wire labels, along with a full proposal and documentation can be generated from one piece of software.
Definitely overkill for just documenting a single home system but this is AVSFORUM and we are all about overkill.

I use Visio because my day job is network design and documentation, nothing better for documentation.
 
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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for all the suggestions everybody! I got distracted for a bit there, but now I'm back on this project to get some of this documented. I'm going to try a couple of these to see how it works out. You've got me curious to see what stencils are out there.
 

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+1 for using Visio. I don't know about audio equipment, but when I documented out multi-plant data network Visio had template packages of networking hardware. I used it to document a 7 plant 6 sales offices and 25 wiring closets network down to the port level. I had it setup where if you passed over a piece of equipment it would provide its details (purchase date, cost, warranty...). I was able to link/publish its 27 as a webpage accessible online. I didn't have any issues running cable lines. I was also able to link data within pages to spreadsheets were changes could be made and propagate to the remaining pages. Very nice tool.
 

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+1 for using Visio. I don't know about audio equipment, but when I documented out multi-plant data network Visio had template packages of networking hardware. I used it to document a 7 plant 6 sales offices and 25 wiring closets network down to the port level. I had it setup where if you passed over a piece of equipment it would provide its details (purchase date, cost, warranty...). I was able to link/publish its 27 as a webpage accessible online. I didn't have any issues running cable lines. I was also able to link data within pages to spreadsheets were changes could be made and propagate to the remaining pages. Very nice tool.

That sounds like quite a diagram. Hopefully I won't have to go that far for this effort, but once I get started... :)
 
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