Author Topic: CAD for Hobbyist  (Read 3582 times)

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Offline Mike Goetzke

  • Posts: 570
CAD for Hobbyist
« on: March 31, 2020, 11:27 AM »
Years ago I tried Sketchup but struggled. Seemed hard to revise my models and left too many attributes behind. For many years now I have resorted to a simple 2-D drafting program called Delta Cad. I now would like to get back to 3-D modeling and be able to get 2-D geometry off of it for the shop.

I see Sketchup has really changed since I last used it. The Free version is now Web based and looks VERY limited.

Any suggestions for economical 3-D software for the occasional user?

Thanks
Mike

Offline neilc

  • Posts: 2866
Re: CAD for Hobbyist
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2020, 11:39 AM »
Fusion 360 from Autodesk is the standard for a lot of makers.  It's parametric driven, which is different than Sketchup.  I use both depending on the project.


Fusion is definitely a higher learning curve, but it is available for free.  Go here - https://www.autodesk.com/campaigns/fusion-360-for-hobbyists


i still use Sketchup with an older downloaded version.  I don't like the web version at all.  Way too limited.  You can still get the older versions here - https://help.sketchup.com/en/downloading-older-versions


If your desire is to eventually get to CNC, I'd jump into Fusion.  If you desire is for simple 3-D drawings, Sketchup is still a great alternative.


Sketchup does have a pro version with a lot more features, but it will cost you $300/yr.  https://www.sketchup.com/plans-and-pricing#for-personal


In either case google 'Sketchup for woodworking' or 'Fusion 360 for woodworking' for available classes.  I took the Fusion classes from Udemy and they were very helpful.  Lots of Youtube videos on Sketchup as well.  April Wilkerson on her channel just released a couple of worthwhile ones, for example.


neil




Offline Tom in SoCal

  • Posts: 121
Re: CAD for Hobbyist
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2020, 12:44 PM »
You can still get the older non-web-based version of Sketchup;  I just downloaded it a couple days ago.  Follow this link, scroll to the bottom and use Sketchup 2017.

https://help.sketchup.com/en/downloading-older-versions

Eventually, we will have to upgrade but that won't happen for a number of years.

I had some trouble learning sketchup too;  I bought the Joe Zeh tutorial DVD and worked through those lessons and now I feel pretty comfortable with it.  Those DVD's are still available; see link.  Sketchup has been updated since then, but the fundamentals are still the same so don't let that bother you.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01HC9VSYI/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i1
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1440341206/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i2

Sadly, software developers are all going to subscription models, which is hard on hobbiests like us.  I don't mind popping for an updated version from time to time, but can't  handle the monthly fee for things that I only use periodically.  Oh well;  such is life.




Offline Bob D.

  • Posts: 1734
Re: CAD for Hobbyist
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2020, 03:29 PM »
"Sadly, software developers are all going to subscription models, which is hard on hobbiests like us.  I don't mind popping for an updated version from time to time, but can't  handle the monthly fee for things that I only use periodically."

I'm in the same boat. Can't justify the subscription rate for SU for hobbyist work. Same for MS-Office. I do have Office 365 but that is so I can handle docs for work. I prefer to use Office 2003, mostly because I can't stand the new menu system. 
-----
It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?

Offline elfick

  • Posts: 590
Re: CAD for Hobbyist
« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2020, 06:17 PM »
You can check out FreeCAD, it's parametric, free, and open source. I just started poking at it and it seems fairly complex but I think it's going to be worth it to learn in the long run. https://www.freecadweb.org

Offline Steve1

  • Posts: 57
Re: CAD for Hobbyist
« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2020, 08:02 AM »
You may wish to look at Onshape.

Its cloud based.  They offer a free subscription possibility.    I looked at it a bit and seems reasonably powerful.    It will likely be a lot easier to learn if you have some experience with 3D modelling.

Offline Mike Goetzke

  • Posts: 570
Re: CAD for Hobbyist
« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2020, 08:44 AM »
Thanks for all the great suggestions - have started checking them out already.

Offline WillAdams

  • Posts: 61
Re: CAD for Hobbyist
« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2020, 10:09 AM »
I've tried to maintain a list of all the free/opensource CAD programs at:

https://wiki.shapeoko.com/index.php/CAD

others are listed at:

https://wiki.shapeoko.com/index.php/Commercial_Software#2D_CAD (and farther down that page)

Which tool you use depends to a great degree on what sort of work you wish to do and how you wish to approach it. As noted, Autodesk Fusion 360 is quite popular (despite the recent change in licensing), and FreeCAD is the premier opensource option (despite the headstart enjoyed by the venerable BRL-CAD).

Folks doing free-form 3D modeling usually use Blender, though Moment of Inspiration is popular (and of course the cool kids with iPad Pros and Apple Pencils use Shapr3D).

A free option (with a paid version in development) is made by my employer, Carbide Create: https://carbide3d.com/carbidecreate/ and a free 1 yr. license for the optional Pro mode was just announced: https://community.carbide3d.com/t/carbide-create-pro-free-for-a-year/20918

I mostly model in 3D using OpenSCAD (but starting in BlockSCAD: https://www.blockscad3d.com/ ) as discussed at: https://willadams.gitbook.io/design-into-3d/
« Last Edit: April 09, 2020, 05:49 PM by WillAdams »

Offline Green Mojo

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Re: CAD for Hobbyist
« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2020, 06:41 PM »
What changed in the Autodesk Fusion 360 licensing?

Offline WillAdams

  • Posts: 61
Re: CAD for Hobbyist
« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2020, 07:22 PM »
It used to be that the lowest license level was for startups, then they added a "hobbyist" option which specifies a certain threshold of money-making at which the license is invalid.

Offline TSO_Products

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Re: CAD for Hobbyist
« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2020, 09:39 PM »
@Mike Goetzke - since "Hobbyist" is the title of the thread you may want to consider a suggestion I made on the FOG before:
Solidworks - FREE with a $ 40.00/year membership in EAA

https://www.eaa.org/eaa/eaa-membership/eaa-member-benefits/solidworks-resource-center

Also a user group forum for help. And you have a real parametric CAD system. The $ 40.00/yr includes the annual version upgrade every year. And you won't be learning a software that becomes an unsupported orphan leaving you hanging.

Full disclosure: TSO Products are designed on SolidWorks pro version but you get the same functionality we use on the free version as a MAKER via EAA membership.

Hans

Offline Spandex

  • Posts: 82
Re: CAD for Hobbyist
« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2020, 05:28 PM »
Another vote for Fusion 360 here. As mentioned above, it’s free for non-commercial/hobbyist use. I tried using it initially and got annoyed because I couldn’t do anything useful with it, then decided to work through a series of YouTube tutorials (not something I’d normally do, as I prefer to just work stuff out myself) and it suddenly all made sense. It’s a different way of working from any other 3D modelling software I’ve used, but actually it’s much more logical. I also really like the amount of control it gives you when creating 2D drawings from your models.

It’s more software than most hobbyists will ever need, but that’s a good thing. It means you’ll never be limited by it.

Offline Richard/RMW

  • Posts: 2026
Re: CAD for Hobbyist
« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2020, 05:45 PM »
@TSO Products Hans any opinion on whether SolidWorks is any easier for occasional users to master than F360? I tend to somehow continually sketch myself into a corner in F360 and it frustrates the begeezus out of me.

Thanks.

RMW


@Mike Goetzke - since "Hobbyist" is the title of the thread you may want to consider a suggestion I made on the FOG before:
Solidworks - FREE with a $ 40.00/year membership in EAA

https://www.eaa.org/eaa/eaa-membership/eaa-member-benefits/solidworks-resource-center

Also a user group forum for help. And you have a real parametric CAD system. The $ 40.00/yr includes the annual version upgrade every year. And you won't be learning a software that becomes an unsupported orphan leaving you hanging.

Full disclosure: TSO Products are designed on SolidWorks pro version but you get the same functionality we use on the free version as a MAKER via EAA membership.

Hans
As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

Online rvieceli

  • Posts: 1253
Re: CAD for Hobbyist
« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2020, 06:17 PM »
Richard the fab shop my son works at uses Solidworks. He is using his time off from work to get better acquainted with the program using the EAA membership. He tells me there are quite a few resources available online for learning the program.

Ron

Offline TSO_Products

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Re: CAD for Hobbyist
« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2020, 09:53 PM »
@Richard/RMW – you ask a very understandable question.
To begin with, just about any software has a learning curve and the need to use it with some regularity or the half-life of your newly acquired knowledge takes you back to a frustrating re-start.

I feel the need to emphasize understanding WHY you want to learn to use any of these tools.
What is the benefit you see yourself enjoying a year down the road?
Is that benefit worth the time, effort and frustration to get up on the learning curve?

If your answer is a resounding YES, then I would say give SolidWorks a try. The EAA membership gives you access to a growing support network. See if the user interface appeals to you. Do you LIKE it? – if YES, it’s worth a try.

I warmly recommend arming yourself with a quality technical instruction text from DAY 1:
ENGINEERING DESIGN WITH SOLIDWORKS 2020 by David C Planchard, SDC Publications $ 67.98 Get the text version  to match the application you are running on your PC. I recommend taking this 2 inch thick volume and having FedEx Office cut the perfect binding off and split it into three physically manageable sections,  spiral-bound to stay open or fold back on themselves to save desk space.
Between knowing WHY you are undertaking this, having a fully supported Application and seasoned, useful instructional text you can expect to “get up on the step” as the floatplane pilots say.

Your experiences on this journey would make great material of interest to many readers on the FOG. Perhaps you would be inclined to journal your experience here.

“Hope this helps!”
Hans

Offline TSO_Products

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Re: CAD for Hobbyist
« Reply #15 on: April 09, 2020, 10:13 PM »
@Richard/RMW - I might have gotten ahead of myself on the book: consider  BEGINNERS Guide to SOLIDWORKS 2019 Level I  by Alejandro Reyes. Same publisher: SDC. Don't be afraid of buying a used copy of they're not immediately available.

Hans

Offline threesixright

  • Posts: 574
Re: CAD for Hobbyist
« Reply #16 on: April 10, 2020, 07:06 AM »
Not sure if its still the case. Download the pro version and after trial expires it goes into free mode (not all features like layout then work). But at least a heck of lot better than the web version.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Offline Steve1

  • Posts: 57
Re: CAD for Hobbyist
« Reply #17 on: April 10, 2020, 07:24 AM »
If the Solidworks Student version is not as powerful as the Pro version (but I don't know that as a fact), you definitely want the Student version.   If you are only using Solidworks once in a while, you will be frustrated.

Offline Richard/RMW

  • Posts: 2026
Re: CAD for Hobbyist
« Reply #18 on: April 10, 2020, 10:20 AM »
@Richard/RMW - I might have gotten ahead of myself on the book: consider  BEGINNERS Guide to SOLIDWORKS 2019 Level I  by Alejandro Reyes. Same publisher: SDC. Don't be afraid of buying a used copy of they're not immediately available.

Hans

Thanks Hans, I'll look into your suggestions.

As a general question, is SolidWorks workflow similar to F360, i.e. sketch>dimension>constrain>extrude etc.? My problems seem to stem from not properly doing my sketches then I get into a tug-of-war later when I transition over to 3D. I go back into the timeline to edit something and the cascading effects bugger up the later elements somehow, then I get into troubleshooting and it becomes a downward spiral. Not to mention the CAM makes my head explode.

I'm not saying I haven't had some success, my use case is fairly simple, most often to design something I cut from ply/plastic sheet goods on a cartesian CNC (Shapeoko) or the Shaper Origin. I'm comfortable doing 3D design in Sketchup (which lacks CAM), creating my model and establishing component sizes. I'd like to move over to F360 (which has the benefit of included CAM) but it's been too much of a struggle within the time I have available to master it. I've been able to sketch a fairly simple 2.5D shape, apply 2-3 toolpaths and generate usable CAM, but every time I return after a 1-2 month absence I face similar "why the HXXX did it do that?" moments. This was a successful project, but the design/assembly/CAM took way too long:

Extruded/joined sketches:



Rendered:



Scaled plan printed to verify:



SO to make templates:



Dominos and glued up:



Ready for niece #1:





F360 has the benefit of being a platform Shaper has invested in for a plugin to generate SVG's, so if (when!) I can attain a reasonable proficiency it would fill all my requirements. I know it ultimately comes down to digging in, learning to use it properly, and doing it enough to overcome the unfamiliarities.

If SW is any easier for an infrequent user to manage I'd be tempted to give it a look before plunging back into F360. My alternative it is stick with SU for design and export SVG's that I can then apply CAM to in a package like Carbide Create. The downside to this is a minor tweak involves running back thru the entire tech stack, while a tweak in F360 just requires recalculating the toolpaths.

Realistically I think the solution is to gain the proficiency in F360, but given the low cost of the SW license I'm tempted to look into it before taking the plunge. The positive side is I've gotten most of my shop re-org done almost to the point that I don't need to store stuff on top of the CNC, so I'll be tearing it down soon for some upgrades and the plan is to use it a lot, along with the Shaper Origin. I plan to knock out a lot of non-shop org projects this spring/summer.

I guess the question boils down to "What are the relative merits, trade offs or pros/cons of using F360 versus SolidWorks"?

Thanks, as always really appreciate everyone's willingness to provide advice and their own outlooks/experiences.

RMW

« Last Edit: April 10, 2020, 10:28 AM by Richard/RMW »
As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

Offline grbmds

  • Posts: 2008
Re: CAD for Hobbyist
« Reply #19 on: April 10, 2020, 10:37 AM »
I don't know exactly how complex you want your drawings to be but, if you want a 3D program that is geared specifically to woodworkers, try Sketchlist. It is a 3D program that seems to be, more or less, in constant development. There are no subscription fees; only a one-time purchase cost. You can buy it at the Pro or Hobby level, but the Hobby level doesn't include some features that I think are well worth the extra price. Sometimes there are even good promotions. There is, of course, a learning curve, but it's not nearly as long as Sketchup. ?Right now, at least, the develop holds weekly online support sessions which provide basic, as well as, more advanced guidance on use of the software with real drawings. Sometime during the next year, a new version will come out which I understand current users will get a discount on, but it, of course, is another fee.

I can't say that Sketchlist is a capable as Sketchup or some of the other 3D programs mentioned, but it is very good for drawing at both the hobby and professional level. My understanding is that it also can produce CNC ready files, but that isn't something I am interested in so don't know the details. You can check online for questions and contacts if you're interested.
Randy

Offline Richard/RMW

  • Posts: 2026
Re: CAD for Hobbyist
« Reply #20 on: April 10, 2020, 11:09 AM »
I don't know exactly how complex you want your drawings to be but, if you want a 3D program that is geared specifically to woodworkers, try Sketchlist. It is a 3D program that seems to be, more or less, in constant development. There are no subscription fees; only a one-time purchase cost. You can buy it at the Pro or Hobby level, but the Hobby level doesn't include some features that I think are well worth the extra price. Sometimes there are even good promotions. There is, of course, a learning curve, but it's not nearly as long as Sketchup. ?Right now, at least, the develop holds weekly online support sessions which provide basic, as well as, more advanced guidance on use of the software with real drawings. Sometime during the next year, a new version will come out which I understand current users will get a discount on, but it, of course, is another fee.

I can't say that Sketchlist is a capable as Sketchup or some of the other 3D programs mentioned, but it is very good for drawing at both the hobby and professional level. My understanding is that it also can produce CNC ready files, but that isn't something I am interested in so don't know the details. You can check online for questions and contacts if you're interested.

Thanks @grbmds I'll take a look at it. Thinking my process thru a bit further, I do like to design in 3D tweaking as a I go, then I'd like to use that design to produce the plans/templates/CAD.

Last week I had to design drawers for a 32mm cabinet (32mm is another think that I have to relearn continually) so I modeled it in Sketchup, placed the line bores, modeled the slides including mounting holes, then arranged them to get the sizes the boss needed.







Being able to place the slides on the 32 bores precisely, then adjust drawer component heights, arrange them and see gave me the confidence to pull the trigger and order $200 in drawers and make the carcass, the install went smoothly.

As Hans noted, it's a process of developing the skill then using it often enough to retain it. I think F360 or SW is probably my best bet, just need to determine which one.

Thanks,

RMW
As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

Offline grbmds

  • Posts: 2008
Re: CAD for Hobbyist
« Reply #21 on: April 10, 2020, 02:05 PM »
One of the things I like a lot about Sketchlist is  that the developer has really taken an interest in supporting his customers by offering a free weekly online session during which he has been using customer drawings to show both basic and more advanced features in the software. All this helps learn how to use it and also helps the users through some problems they might encounter. He's very upfront about bugs and when to expect fixes and also updates to the software. As an add-on, a Cabinet Wizard is available. This piece provides various sizes and styles of cabinets with drawers and doors, some simple, some more complex, which can be modified to suit the user's measurements and then brought into Sketchlist to make further design changes. I haven't made the commitment to buy that yet because I don't design a lot of cabinets. For me, it would be a $150 toy, so I'm waiting to see if Sketchlist offers the Wizard at a discount (which they have in the past) for current owners.
Randy

Offline WillAdams

  • Posts: 61
Re: CAD for Hobbyist
« Reply #22 on: April 10, 2020, 04:14 PM »
Here's an example of the sort of work I've been working on with BlockSCAD/OpenSCAD and Carbide Create:



written up at:

https://willadams.gitbook.io/design-into-3d/3d-project

Offline kmickey

  • Posts: 27
Re: CAD for Hobbyist
« Reply #23 on: April 11, 2020, 01:38 PM »
The space mouse (mice?) is a game changer if you do any sort of cad.  https://www.3dconnexion.com/products/spacemouse.html