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  • Learning Autocad

    I know its the standard and im not quite sure why but I'll accept it. Turbo cad annoys me with it not being able to do certain things for no reason like a boolean add with anything other than a box or circle.
    Since my shop is in storage I've been planning on projects to make and want to design them in cad. It is the least I can do to keep my sanity. I just ordered a wacom graphics tablet for all my photoshop work and happily noticed that autocad takes advantage of it.
    I have a copy of autocad 2005, what is the best way to learn it? I know Turbocad pretty well and the interface to autocad just seams ass backwards. My college has no cad classes. Autocad for dummies book?
    I want to make drawings of a steam locomotive I want to build, scale model of the real thing. So theres a lot of things I need to draw up like wheel patterns for castings, even a 3d mockup to make sure everything fits right.

  • #2
    Bill, If you can get hold of SolidEdge, SolidWorks or Autocad inventor, they are worth the major investment in time and will give you one more thing to tack onto the resume.

    3D in Autocad is not fun. 3D in the others can be almost as much fun as machining. The most fun is to model it on screen, then run to the shop and build one

    If you do go Inventor, try and get a very recent version of it as I believe substantial improvements were made.

    Even without CAD classes, you should be able to get those obscene student discounts on these programs.

    added - you can animate your 3D assemblies and while I have not done it in SolidEdge, I've done it a few times in Pro Engineer Desktop Express. You can also work in photo-realistic mode with reflections, textures, fading and extensive (exhaustive ) lighting control. You could also drop your model onto a photo background (such as a nice old trestle ).

    Den

    [This message has been edited by nheng (edited 12-20-2005).]

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    • #3
      Well, that settles it, I'll try solid works. I've played with 3d studio Max and FormZ in high school. Hmm, student edition stops working after 24 months... Using 21st century software to design a 17th century invention to be built on 18th century machinery.
      I bet theres a crack for that 24 month limit.

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      • #4
        Well, I'll have to throw my $.02 in here.

        I've been playing with lowly, little, 2 dimensional, inexpensive ($39.95) DeltaCad. I love it.

        It's very intuitive. It comes up with drawings like the ones we did back in the junior high school mechanical drawing class. That's all I need to design something.

        A couple of guys at work were trying to get me to buy rhino3d for $895 and showed me the 'really cool stuff you can do with it' pictures. Yep, the pictures were cool but I'm not animating a movie.

        I'm sticking with DeltaCad for now.

        Dan

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        • #5
          Before you get too crazy with money check out the Rhino3D.com Check out the student price of $195.00. This is the full comercial version and does not have an expiration time. You can then model in 3D and then turn them into 2D drawings if you need to. It will read in an AutoCad .DWG or .DXF. It works real well to develop .IGES translations to send drawings to MasterCam. It willdevelop 3D models and save them as .STL files for 3D printers.
          As to the learning curve--- It comes with some real good tutorials as well as the best "help" screen I have ever used.
          Questions?

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          • #6
            Stepside, Rhino looks real good but the last time I checked out a demo (a long time ago), it seemed to be more "art and free form" oriented than to making parts and dropping 2D fab prints out of them.

            How does Rhino do when building a part in a more "conventional" manner (extrusions, protrusions, rotations, etc.) with dimensions and constraints placed on features during the creation? How friendly is it for pulling out 2D fab drawings? Den

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            • #7
              Well, back to the original question, anyway, with yet another $.02...

              I'm a mostly electrical and computer type, but my work sometimes calls for mechanical stuff, too. I know my way around a few schematic and PC board layout programs. I have Autocad 2004. I certainly don't know it all, but I can draw and render in 3D anything I need. I haven't played with the animation, but it might be cool to pick that up for doing mechanisms.

              I got started by looking over a coworkers shoulder for about an hour. This was done in 15 minute or so intervals. Watch a bit, then go back to my desk and play with Autocad some more. It's like Unix manual pages - they're practically incomprehensible at first, but once you get the basic idea(s), you can bootstrap yourself. I actually had fun learning Autocad on my own, and I learn more everytime I fire it up.

              When you get really good, you can drive a lot of Autocad directly from the command line. I'm starting to do that, and it's much faster for me, and more precise. (type in a dimension, for example, rather than trying to hit the exact microspot with the mouse) I am generally faster in any application with just the keyboard than when I'm constantly switching between keyboard and mouse. YMMV.

              The only other mechanical CAD program I've got any mileage on is EmachineShop. That one is very limited, and not really compatable with anything else except some DXF capability. I also have it on good authority that the EmachineShop outfit can't make parts worth beans.

              Although horrifically expensive, I like Autocad because almost anyone can somehow deal with an Autocad file. (running with the pack)

              -M
              The curse of having precise measuring tools is being able to actually see how imperfect everything is.

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              • #8
                Personal opinion. ANY CAD program that requires hours or days of learning time is a POS. I have used a lot of them. IMHO, AutoCAD has the steepest learning curve - the absolute steepest. They are the standard because they were one of the first and somehow got entrenched.

                There are many, many CAD programs, both 2D and 3D, that are a lot easier to learn. With some of them, you can make drawings almost immediately, instead of looking over someone's shoulder for hours or studying the book or the help files.

                I have used EasyCAD and FastCAD (Evolution products) for years. I don't really need 3D so I do my design like they taught me HS. Three views and a good imagination. One good thing about the Evolution products is the support. They have a web board like this one that their chief programmer actually reads. The users have regular conversations with him. I have posted problems and seen a revised version of the program available on the web site for download by all registered users THE VERY NEXT DAY. You will never get that kind of support from any other company. AutoCAD is one of the worst. I double dog dare anyone to get in actual communication with any of their programmers, much less the chief programmer. Never happen!

                You can download their products for a 30 day free trial. The full version - 100% functional. And 30 days of actual use, not 30 calendar days.

                www.fastcad.com

                All the usual disclaimers.

                Paul A.
                Paul A.
                SE Texas

                Make it fit.
                You can't win and there is a penalty for trying!

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                • #9
                  Thanks for all the suggestions. I looked over some tutorials on Solid Works and it definetly looks like something I could use. For quick and dirty stuff I still have turbocad that I know.
                  With Solid Works, it looks like I can build my steam locomotive in 3d, animate the valve motion to make sure all the linkages and cut off are set right, and even make 2d drawings from the 3d model? Im going to try out solid works to see if I like it.
                  Yeh the interface to turbocad is so much nicer than autocad. The interface to solidworks looks even better.

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                  • #10
                    Bill, If you have a chance, take a look at SolidEdge also. The reason I say this is because we have seats for both (SE and SW) at work and the SolidEdge is preferred for greater ease in many common operations. The SolidWorks has been relegated to only the support of docs created with it. They both utilize the same solids "engine" (not to be confused with locomotive ).

                    As far as drawing formats go, we've been thru the .dxf and /dwg phase and now send shops .pdf outputs from the drawings. They can pan and zoom all day, hardcopy as desired and not have to mess around with viewers or conversion problems.

                    Den

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                    • #11
                      If you were using Rhino more than a year ago it is now a much more robust program. As far as extrusions it works excellent. It will take a 3D object and produce a 2D three view drawing from the object. If moving parts are really an issue you can buy Bongo to produce a drawing. One of my students did a life sized drawing of the valve system on a Chevy 350. This included plotting the cam lobes, creating springs, measured and drawn 3D roller rocker arms, valves at the correct angle and size. Then using Bongo, he made it "run" with all the rockers following the cam shaft and all operations in the correct order. Some of the parts were traced bitmaps and some were made from measurements using the height gauge and dial calipers.

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                      • #12
                        Oh Man, I was just playing with Solid works, making assemblies, mating them, moving parts, collision detection, Man, THIS IS AWSOME!

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                        • #13
                          <font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by BillH:
                          Oh Man, I was just playing with Solid works, making assemblies, mating them, moving parts, collision detection, Man, THIS IS AWSOME!</font>
                          Glad to see you went with the best , Solidworks is easy to learn the basics and the more advanced stuff comes with time. So did you go with the student version.

                          [This message has been edited by mochinist (edited 12-21-2005).]

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                          • #14
                            I disagree with much of what is being said of the virtues of some of the other programs. I worked in the professional world of architects and engineers for many years and for sure AutoCad is king and always will be. It became tops for me when they allowed for "spell check" within there programs. Befor that it was just great. My advice is go to any of the local collages and take the intro course in this program. Guarnteed you will sign up for the second and third semester and so on. You will never regret it. There is so much within this program (AutoCad)that is not generaly known or can be picked up on by simply trial and error or clicking about. If you can't afford a 2005 copy get an older version. Version 14 and 2000 were both excellent and trouble free. Even out of date, it will be better than all of the others combined. I have tried a few of the others myself and found them far inferior. My opinion

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                            • #15
                              <font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by gunsmith:
                              I disagree with much of what is being said of the virtues of some of the other programs. I worked in the professional world of architects and engineers for many years and for sure AutoCad is king and always will be. It became tops for me when they allowed for "spell check" within there programs. Befor that it was just great. My advice is go to any of the local collages and take the intro course in this program. Guarnteed you will sign up for the second and third semester and so on. You will never regret it. There is so much within this program (AutoCad)that is not generaly known or can be picked up on by simply trial and error or clicking about. If you can't afford a 2005 copy get an older version. Version 14 and 2000 were both excellent and trouble free. Even out of date, it will be better than all of the others combined. I have tried a few of the others myself and found them far inferior. My opinion </font>
                              Well I wont argue with you on what architects use or prefer, mainly because I don't know. I do know a few mechanical engineers though and they are all shifting towards the solid modeling programs, if not already switched over.

                              I know one engineer that makes some really complex machines and he still uses V14, he is simply amazing on that program and he is so fast, that he doesn't want to go thru the trouble of learning a new program.

                              Bill is a young guy and if he is going to learn something well, he might as well learn what is becoming the standard for mechanical design and drawings, if he was already schooled in ACad and just wanted to use it for some simple designs everyonce in awhile I would say stick with that.

                              And lastly ACad is very powerful as you state, with many hidden tricks, but if you think it is more powerful than Solidworks, Solidedge, or inventor, you have a couple a screw loose.

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