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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've recently started doing a lot more residential structural engineering for local clients and the first thing that I realized was that I was lacking a good beam calculator. I do have a number of spreadsheet calculators but I've found them hard to program and once I do have them programmed any changes are tedious since the equations in Excel are hard to follow (I know VBA can be used in macros).

To that end, I've started working on a web based beam calculator that will be able to handle sawn lumber, glulam and structural composite lumber, programmed in Perl/HTML/Javascript.

It is still a work in progress however the "sawn lumber" option should now give a full output. I will be adding in the PDF output as time allows and also the other beam types listed above.

Currently the selection of lumber species is also somewhat limited however adding new species is simply a matter of adding the appropriate values from the NDS into the database. If there is a particular species or grade you would like added please advise.

Any feedback, positive or negative is always appreciated.

The beam calculator is currently located here: http://design.medeek.com/resources/beam/beam_calculator.pl
 

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Please contact your state licensing board for some guidance & remedial education.

Your Post frightens me, I'm scared someone will think You are a competent Engineer, and use some of your work."...Hard to follow..." you should know this beam math/formulas in your sleep....

tedious....???? write spreadsheet with notes, ready for next job? maybe it is time to change careers?

FYI, there hundreds of existing "beam" calculators now, how is yours going to make up for your ignorance of how they and the beams actually work?

Please step away from the keyboard, and put your stamp away until you know more then You do now, seriously, you might kill and or maim people.

At least have a skilled Structural Engineer check all of your work....
Can you practice doing something you don't 'feel' comfortable with?

licensed Mechanical E. not = to a licensed structural Engineer.....

The laws of physics apply even in the boondocks.
 

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His website says he is a licensed Mechanical Engineer. Maybe that's why beams aren't second nature, ME'd deal a lot with HP, fans, pipes and the like. But he should be fully capable of figuring out the GLB on a house.

Don't mind the naysayers Nate.

Copalis is a nice place, but real far from civilization
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
I am licensed Mechanical Engineer and have over the last few years crossed over into the structural field. As far as beams go I am completely comfortable with sawn lumber, glulam, timber or SCL. My understanding of the engineering involved in beam calcs or even some perceived misunderstanding is not the impetus for the new beam calculator.

The problem I have with using Excel spreadsheets is that the actual equations/calculations are buried in the cell formula and not exposed in a verbose manner that allows one to view step by step the process you took to get from A to B. The point of the new calculator is present those calculations in a visually appealing and understable format to both the general public and engineer alike. As a model for this type of presentation I utilized the format of the renowned text on structural wood design, "Design of Wood Structures ASD/LRFD 6th Edition". All of the calculations and engineering is strictly by the book (AWC NDS 2012) and conforms and agrees with every check that I have thrown at it. However, I am always open to suggestion and improvement with any of my work especially if there is a better way to present it or provide further clarification.

I work with beams, posts, stud walls, shear walls, diaphragms and connectors on a daily basis. My dissatisfaction with many of the tools I have come across is the often black box approach which ultimately takes away from the feel for the numbers and turns engineers into technicians.

I just recently programmed an excellent post calculator in Excel that not only deals with biaxial bending loads but also eccentricity of the axial loads in both directions (independently). This tool works great for its intended purpose and for checking multiple posts/columns and presenting that data is more than does the job. However, as time allows I would like to expose the engineering "guts" of that calculator as well and present it in an online format that lays the beauty of the engineering bare. I will probably never actually use this format in any of my reports simply because 6-8 pages of calcs for each post would quickly turn my standard structural review into a 200 page document. The purpose of such a calculator is about the education not only for engineers but also for the general public to understand what level of detail our calculations and checks are performed.

I don't mind naysayers but hopefully I have clarified the jist of my original post above.

My most recent tool is a new wind load calculator which will be amazing once complete. Even now if you try the gable roof option with overhangs you will be amazed at the complexity introduced by the overhangs and the multiple pressure zones required. I encourage anyone to give it a whirl here:

http://design.medeek.com/resources/wind/wind_calculator.pl

As to my credentials. Yes, I am a licensed ME who has actually spent far more time in the structural field than I care to admit. Two of my mentors and role models, who are many years my senior, both started out as M.E.'s as well. The funny thing is a few years back when I talked to an SE about crossing over into the structural field he commented that most ME's actually made better candidates as structural engineers than most CE's simply because a lot of what we do deals more with forces on a fundamental level (ie. free body diagrams, shear and moment diagrams etc...) versus a lot of geotech or environmental type engineering.

The one thing you have to realize is that the structural field is really like a post-graduate degree. That is why to become a licensed SE you must take an additional 16 hour exam beyond the 8 hour PE exam. However, PE's like myself are not required to be licensed as an SE unless we are working on critical structures (high rises, assembly halls etc...). In about three years I hope to sit for the SE exam, I do like a good challenge.

My primary focus has always been on residential light wood frame construction, but even more so than that I would like to create a series of tools that can leave a lasting mark on this field. I have about 20 years to get there, we will see what I can do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Please contact your state licensing board for some guidance & remedial education.

Your Post frightens me, I'm scared someone will think You are a competent Engineer, and use some of your work."...Hard to follow..." you should know this beam math/formulas in your sleep....

tedious....???? write spreadsheet with notes, ready for next job? maybe it is time to change careers?

FYI, there hundreds of existing "beam" calculators now, how is yours going to make up for your ignorance of how they and the beams actually work?

Please step away from the keyboard, and put your stamp away until you know more then You do now, seriously, you might kill and or maim people.

At least have a skilled Structural Engineer check all of your work....
Can you practice doing something you don't 'feel' comfortable with?

licensed Mechanical E. not = to a licensed structural Engineer.....

The laws of physics apply even in the boondocks.
The original author of "Design of Wood Structures ASD/LRFD" has actually reviewed the Medeek Beam Calculator and offered me his congratulations on a job well done. The work that I do and the products that I offer to the public are very serious in nature and I do not take my responsibilities lightly. My work is not limited to Copalis Beach or any other specific locale. The design criteria maps and calculators I have created are for national and international consumption.
 

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"lacking a good beam calculator...."you proceed to build another black box available for misuse?

Inserting the values of various materials appears to be a trivial, is it not?

Equations being tedious and hard to follow aren't what I want to hear from the person designing my house..... even if that is true....I don't want anything designed by something running a windows OS.

Building experimental planes is fine, building experimental commercial passenger liners not so much. unless you are talking green battery systems....:eek:

It appears you already have practiced outside your professional licensed area- what is one more excursion off the reservation? Every day medical device salespeople help preform surgeries, is that a good thing?

Some of my worries are probably just communication issues. I would read your first post as one of your state's SE board members read it....or as a lawyer for a former client that is suing you....:eek:

But I'd check with a mentor outside of your day to day circle for ethical & professional concerns your "precocious" SE practice has and will cause you.
 

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I guess I'd rather have a partially competent engineer then no engineer...:thumbsup:

Oh, but there is this Internet thingy where I can get Skilled licensed design help acting within the Laws of the States We're in.

So, it is possible a self taught SE has produced some bug free soft-ware, but who is the market for goods made by the dilettante engineer for least cost builders? North Korea might manufacture some fine products, but they'd be exceptional items from their cohort.

Obama Care was written by a economics teacher, how is that working out?

Pick your battle, become a SE, or start peddling software you can actually tell when it is buggy.... maybe hire an SE to test your wunderkind code?
 
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