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Old 12-16-2004, 12:52 PM
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CAD software

I'm in the beginning stages of contemplating a project. It would be far more involved than anything I've ever done, and I want to get it right the first time.

It occured to me that creating some scale drawings might prevent a lot of problems.

I'm in IT, but I've never really needed CAD software, so other than AutoCAD, I don't know what's out there. I checked via "search" but couldn't find much on the board.

Last time I played with AutoCAD, I really couldn't accomplish much.

I guess I'm wondering if any of you guys/gals are using CAD to lay out your projects and, if so, what's a good free or inexpensive CAD program that would be easy to learn for a computer-savvy CAD-novice? Also, I may want something that uses whatever industry-standard file-formats are out there. Is DXF still the standard?

I took some drafting and engineering courses in college, so I'm not going in completely cold.


The project I'm considering involves channeling a unibody car over a frame that I will either scrounge from another vehicle and modify, or build to specs. I suspect that requires CAD software capable of some 3d modelling, or at least 2d with projection capability. I'd like to set up a coordinate system and take point measurements off my existing vehicle body and then be able to mock up various frame/suspension/drivetrain combos for fit, planned modifications etc.

BTW, I'm fully expecting this project to take months or even years of planning and measuring, before I even consider starting on the actual work.

Thanks in advance...

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Old 12-16-2004, 01:35 PM
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I bought my 3-D CAD disc from Wal-Mart. Works well. I think it was produced by "Soft key". I am not at home now, so I can't really say, other than it works well for the simple frame and bracket ideas that I feed it... Check out the major retailers. They should have several versions for less than $30.00.
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Old 12-16-2004, 02:11 PM
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Cad software

Certainly if I were to invest in CAD software I would take a hard look at going with AutoCAD..

WHY?

1) Future employment is one..most of the offices I have worked in are now using some implementation of AutoCad..

2) It now has the sophisticated modeling tools that are useful to a car builder..As well as being able to put out drawings that are usable to the fabricator..

If I had it to do over I would go the auto cad way myself..the single user version is not all that expensive at least compared to messing up a pile of steel..

Just my thoughts

Try this link http://www.cadtutor.net/

Now saying all that a lot of cars have been built by finding the body one wants to work with and doing the old measure cut and fit deal right on the jig..

OMT
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Old 12-16-2004, 02:16 PM
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Thanks for the cadtutor link.

I downloaded a free CAD program called justcad. Looks OK and will read/write DXF files.

Same problem I had with AutoCAD last time I tried - I can't figure out how to do anything.
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Old 12-16-2004, 02:36 PM
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I will definetly have to disagree with the autocad recommendation above. If you are wanting to do anything in 3d, autocad is definetly not what you want to use. I would suggest unigraphics if it wasn't soooooo ridiculously expensive, so there is always inventor, solid edge, or solid works, all extremely handy and you can even pull the drawings that a fabricator would need directly from the 3d model. If you would like a copy of inventor, I have an older version that I would send you for a couple of bucks to cover the postage and the cd. Email me at snod83@hotmail.com if you're interested.
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Old 12-16-2004, 02:43 PM
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I found a site that lets me buy AutoDesk products relatively cheap with a student ID, and my sister's got one of those (I've been out of college for a decade and a half).

Inventor appears to include AutoCad 2005. I can get it for $150 as a student for 1yr. That seems pretty reasonable.
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Old 12-17-2004, 06:10 AM
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The latest version of AutoCad is certainly able to do 3D. I am fortunate to use use Microstation at work. Microstation has a home use policy for licensed users where the employee is able to take a full blown version home for personal use. I have over the years used both AutoCad and Microstation extensively, I much prefer Microstation. The cost of the latest version of AutoCad and Microstation are generally out of reach for personal use, on the order of $4000+.

Vince
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Old 12-17-2004, 06:40 AM
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I use Softkey Keycad. It is easy to use, does DFX files and costs next to nothing. I lost my original disc and when I bought a new computer I had to replace my program...got it on ebay for $.99 plus shipping. It's not AutoCAD but it is very user friendly.
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Old 12-17-2004, 07:58 AM
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Autocads 3d ability is extremely limited. They do this for a purpose because Autodesk also sells inventor which is solely 3d modeling. Autocad has its place for map making and overhead layouts and so forth, but there is no place for autocad in 3d modeling.
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Old 12-17-2004, 08:22 AM
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It's still hard to be the price and power of Turbocad. The lowest version allows you to perform rendering, the higher version does advanced solids modeling. I currently use Intellicad which works a lot like Autocad. Either way, if you want to do solids modeling and do things like checking interference, you'll pay over $700. Most of the websites advertising these products allow you to "test drive" it free.
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Old 12-17-2004, 12:11 PM
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For all my small parts designing I use eMachineshop. It can also export the design to DXF format. I don't have any major draughting skills but I found this to be very user friendly and easy to use. You can even order the parts from the guys via the application. They have a nice tutorial on their site as well which guides you through designing a part.

Their site: http://www.emachineshop.com

I haven't tried doing big stuff yet but will definitely try. For one of my future projects I'd like to try and recreate one of the nice Hotwheels cars.
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Old 12-18-2004, 09:38 AM
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Neophyte, did you have any problems with the emachine software? When I tried to load it my system hung. Their tech support wasn't much help. Great concept though!
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Old 12-18-2004, 12:03 PM
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At one time I worked for a CAD vendor (AutoCAD, MicroStation, Solid Edge). All are good tools, but are expensive. If you want the best 3D modelling tools, look for mechanical design softwares like Solid Edge, Solid Works, etc. and expect to spend big bucks. If you can't afford them, start looking for a inexpensive DWG/DXF compatabile 3D design software.
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Old 12-18-2004, 12:56 PM
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e machine

boy I like that concept and will save that site to favorites..I have run into deals many times in my lifetime where something like that sort of capability would have been a lifesaver..

Certainly would have saved or even and

AS far as design software if I could find something cheap and simple to use that I could fiddle with to work out looks,now that would be good..

I did find buying software is like buying any tool..do ya get the good one or the one that will do for now..

OMT
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Old 12-18-2004, 01:10 PM
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First let me say hi as this is my first post. I am a mechanical engineer and have quite a bit of experience with Solidworks, Solidedge, and Autodesk. All three have the same primary function but differ slightly in their user interfaces. Once you learn to use one it is not hard to learn others.

With that said I found a link to some inexpensive student versions of solidworks. They are two-year licenses that come with (~$160) or without cosmos (~70).

Cosmos is a finite element analysis add on that allows you to perform FEA on your parts within the solidworks environment. If you don't know what FEA is, it is basically applying forces to a part and seeing where the stress concentrations are highest and possible points of failure. You can then change your geometry, material, etc. to achieve maximum effectiveness. It also allows you to test flow dyamics of your geometry and heat transfer effects. It is very powerful and helpful software that I think would be worth the extra $90.

With Cosmos - http://www.journeyed.com/itemDetail.asp?T1=36795643+FS6

Without - http://www.journeyed.com/itemDetail.asp?T1=36785643+FS6
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