Free Software for Sprinkler Hydraulic Calculations by Alan Ashfield


Building as a background plan

Rather than trying to "draw" your pipework layout within a building on a blank background, I now have an option where you do the hydraulic calculations AND your sprinkler layout drawing FROM THE SAME DATA. Prepare your pipework design in the usual way by noding up the pipes, entering the sizes, lengths, directions, areas etc. but first prepare a text-only DXF (sorry but binary and DWG ones are proprietary for one specific supplier) file of the rooms, building structure, other services and so on based upon the CAD drawings supplied by third parties. Specify the X and Y coordinates in mm where the source pipe starts and this DXF file name in project data question 16. Now when you enter or amend the pipes you will see how they relate to this drawing (shown in grey background) so you can check the dimensions, directions, slopes etc. At each "save" point, a full 2D plan layout drawing (read-only, entities-only DXF type) is automatically produced, from the current 3D pipework, to the same coordinates as the background drawing and giving ALL the details and notes, exactly as you would have produced using a separate CAD program. Well OK there will be the obvious title block, special notes, dimensions relating to the building, hangar positions etc. missing but you can always produce these far quicker with the CAD program, especially now as ALL the pipes, sizes, actual lengths, rises/drops and heads have been drawn automatically for you (just use DXFIN or equivalent to merge the background, plan layout and 'extras' files together).

You can, of course, still select all or some of the heads in the one or more design areas (as shown on the rest of this page) and export the 2D / 3D pipework layouts as DXF or JPG files as required. However, (say 90% of) the main layout drawing AND the hydraulic calculations will now always be correct and in-step as both come from the ONE hydraulics data file. It is fairly easy to adapt the DXF plan to suit your specific conventions as regards notes and their directions in relation to the pipes / rises / drops etc. - please email me if changes required. Note that I have added this to the first 3 demonstration jobs for you to try out and this facility supplements the existing 2D and 3D CAD to hydraulics options in AACALC7 as the 'opposite' way of doing both parts together.

Noding up and pipe data needed

I suggest that you use my unique RN numbering option to reduce the amount of typing involved. Start at the source at say, node 100 and number away in 10s until you get to the first operating range called 1. Go back to the prepared RN1 line and amend the details as required. Then enter the pipes along this range starting at say, 0 to 1 for the size, length/direction/slope, fittings (usually 0) and H for head as needed. Then 1 2, 2 3 etc using the D for ditto option if a repeat. Each time you press [Enter] then that pipe is drawn out (so you can quickly correct it if wrong) until you get to the end of that range. Then return to the next mains pipe (numbering in 10s or 20s or 100s as you choose) and either just RN 1 if a repeat or 2 to enter the next Range Number. You can quickly copy / paste any duplicated pipe / data lines from one RN to another.

On a gridded system, you may find you only have a few RNs to enter and can leave the back-tracks to after the last range has been added so that the number of loops will be 1 less than the number of ranges [see the 'Gridded Example (RN)' demo job]. Any subsequent changes you make to the RN lines will automatically be repeated for ALL occurrences in the system. This completely replaces any 'copy' options you may have used before which forced you to manually update any duplicated ranges if the original one was changed. You will only have to revert to the "type all pipes; one line after another; after another" approach if every range is different!

As I appear to be getting more and more users who have not previously done ANY hydraulic calculations, who then find the "New" option a bit daunting! Of course, I could leave that screen completely blank (as most other software does) but I just can't win either way! I have therefore added an option in the "Tree Wizard" demonstration jobs whereby you simply adjust some sliders to draw out a main pipe connecting any number of end / centre fed ranges, then click on "Save" and "Close" in the normal way but can now select "Open" on the top left of the screen to reselect the .AHC version of that file rather than the intended .DXF version. I hope this helps but I do offer VSHP and EASYSHP that you may find easier (or harder?) to start with.

Project data, design parameters, water supplies and heads/nozzles

Calculations and results

Once the complete system has been entered (or just the Most Remotest / Most Favourable design areas as required), then you may choose :-

"Calculate" to view a summary, key points and various graphs :-

Calculations summary

"Results" to view the complete results presentation on the screen and can print / email it - the pump curve given meant some heads were under pressure (shown in red) and the 0mm pipes have now been sized. If you have a colour printer, the warnings will also be printed, but you may want to change your data so any errors are not shown up :-

Part of results

"Select" to choose the 20 to 40 or more operating heads and view a summary :-

Just an example

"Info" to view various screens of checking / calculations / history of changes made to the job since it was created / printouts as produced / confirmation of complete database of pipe types, sizes, internal bores and fitting equivalent lengths for the different sprinkler rules :-

Part of supplied database

"Undo" to go back to a previous set of calculations if data incorrect, pipe sizes or head "K" factors need revising or whatever :-

Restore points

"Export" to generate DXF, JPG, CSV or XML files for external programs like AAVIEW7 that I also supply for free (here shown with part of it's help screen) :-

Export + help

"Graph" can be used to determine the Qcap / Qmax values for a specific pump curve / tank set once the MR and MF design areas have been calculated in the same or different data files for the BSEN and similar sprinkler rules - see the "Quick Tutorial" on the 2D page here

"Data", "Sources", "Pipes" or "Pipes Grid" to amend the pipes, nodes, sizes, head information or any other items and recalculate with the same or different design areas

"Save as" the data file under another name or "New" to start a new job or "Open" to read in an existing one, until finally "Exit" to finish with AACALC7.

If this all sounds too complicated to be useful to your company, then just ignore this part of AACALC7 and choose the cad part instead or choose the reviewer part.