AutoCAD 101 Series – Dynamic Blocks Week 5 – Rotate

This is the 10th article in my AutoCAD 101 series – to read about the origination for this series, see the first post here: <Intro>

The last post in this series was about “Dynamic Blocks” on points. <link>. This post will cover the ‘Rotate’ Parameter and Action and the next post will cover the ‘Flip’ Parameter and Action.



Figure A

For this post I will break away from the Electrical world and create a new block that anyone can use: “North-Arrow”.

One thing that is typically the case with a North arrow is that unless your building is perfectly square or rectangular and can fit across the sheet with one side facing True North, your North angle needs to rotate, and it is not always in perfect 45 degree angles.  What I have seen a few Architects do, is to provide a ‘Plan North’ and a ‘True North’.  This feature can be included in the block.

I will start by creating the basic block with a circle, a set of cross hairs, a thick polyline for the True North line and an indicator for Plan North.  The block combines a few previous Parameters, so it will also have:

  • Two visibility states, one for just a basic North arrow and one for both Plan and True North.
  • The option to choose to be inserted by the left, right or center point of the North Arrow

Below is the basic Visibility states of the North arrow.  I know they are “Basic”, you can make your own as pretty as you would like.


Figure B

Below is the block in the editor, showing all the parameters.  The steps for doing the multi-insert points were covered in the last post and the Visibility States were covered in a previous post also.  Remember, that for ‘Insertion’ points, the exclamation points are ok.  This image shows three insertion points, the Rotate Parameter/Action and the Visibility state drop-down arrow.


Figure C

To create the ‘Rotate’ option, I need to add both the ‘Rotate’ Parameter and the Rotate, Action.



  • On the Parameter Tab of the Block authoring Palette, select ‘Rotation’
  • Select the center of the circle for the basepoint
  • For the radius I choose just past the end of the line that I will be rotating
  • For default rotation angle, I type ‘0’ (Zero)


  • On the Action Tab of the Block authoring Palette, select ‘Rotate’
  • Select the Rotation Parameter from the previous steps
  • Select the line you will be rotating
  • Test the block to make sure it is functioning properly
    • Turn ortho off and on to see it smoothly rotate or go in 90 degree steps

If I switch the visibility state to to ‘True vs Plan North’ view, I lose my rotation option.  This is because when I set up the ‘Rotate’ option the ‘Standard North’ view was the view I had selected as current.  I want the rotate option in both views; fortunately this is a simple fix.   Using crossing, I select the Angle Parameter and Rotate Grip, right click to select  ‘Object Visibility’ and then choose ‘Show for All States’.  Testing again shows the rotation option in both states.  You can do this same step to Hide an Action from a specific Visibility State.


Figure D

One thing I do not like is that the “dot” that is the grip for rotation is 90 degrees off from my line I am rotating.  Once again, easy fix.  I select the Rotation Grip and drag it to where I want it – at the top of the thick polyline.  When gabbing items in the Dynamic block if your not sure what you have, look at the properties palette and it will let you know if it is a parameter or Action what it is – See below.


Figure E

In the next post, I will cover the flip Parameter and Action.

If you run into a snag with any of this or you would like a copy of the blocks created here, email me at


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