Easy CAD software for modest requirements: Fusion 360? Other?

HomeBuiltAirplanes.com

Help Support HomeBuiltAirplanes.com:

rleblanc

New Member
Joined
Jan 10, 2016
Messages
3
Location
Florida
I purchased AutoCad in 2004 at a discount because I was an educator. Recently on an Autodesk chat it was explained I could download AutoCad2016 mechanical and also Autocad 2017 Electrical. Autocad 2016 was used to draw my instrument panel. FlashCut 4.7 runs a CNC vertical mill in my shop. I purchased this from a local company that went out of business. The table cannot handle the entire panel but it can cut a 1/4 of the panel, FlashCut can import a 2D drawing saved as (filename.dxf) and create a cutter program. This allowed to create a plywood template using a router bit that was used to a template that was used to cut the panel from 0.0625 in thick 6061T6 sheet. Then the panel was cut for 1 large Ipad and a Mini Ipad, 6 electric steam gauges, 8 switches, an ELT remote, Flap trim meter, and an Alternator warning light. I also used this machine to make various smaller parts such as cover plates for service openings doublers for antennas and controls.
 

RSD

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 19, 2019
Messages
211
Sounds like I need to log into my EAA account and get Solidworks!

BTW if anyone wants to create something really simple in CAD there is always the Insert > Shapes section in Microsoft Word! You would be surprised what you can create in there!
 

PiperCruisin

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2017
Messages
148
Location
Idaho
Sounds like I need to log into my EAA account and get Solidworks!

BTW if anyone wants to create something really simple in CAD there is always the Insert > Shapes section in Microsoft Word! You would be surprised what you can create in there!
I like the shapes too. You can modify the points (like Bezier control handles) and also use format and boolean operations to do a lot. Not exactly CAD, but good for illustrations.
upload_2019-9-23_8-27-34.png
 

flyboy2160

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 25, 2014
Messages
332
Location
california, USA
I like the shapes too. You can modify the points (like Bezier control handles) and also use format and boolean operations to do a lot. Not exactly CAD, but good for illustrations.
View attachment 88863
lolololol Don't get me going, because this is a true story: on one of the JSF efforts, one of the structures leads didn't know how to use the 3D CAD system. So he would superimpose Word 'shapes' like these over real CAD images and drawings to try to convey his ideas.
 

RSD

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 19, 2019
Messages
211
lolololol Don't get me going, because this is a true story: on one of the JSF efforts, one of the structures leads didn't know how to use the 3D CAD system. So he would superimpose Word 'shapes' like these over real CAD images and drawings to try to convey his ideas.
Hey whatever works!
 

flyboy2160

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 25, 2014
Messages
332
Location
california, USA
What is your opinion about CATIA from Dassault Systèmes ? I heared that for education it is free of charge..
CATIA V is SOLIDWORKS with much of the evil stupidity from CATIA IV added in so those masochists with CATIA IV disease can extend their agony. I have no idea about V6.

The only real advantages over SW might be surfacing and the ability to copy geometry part-to-part. in SW, you can only copy in assembly mode.

Joining the EAA gets you a free version of SW.
 
Last edited:

Vigilant1

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 24, 2011
Messages
4,833
Location
US
What is your opinion about CATIA from Dassault Systèmes ? I heared that for education it is free of charge..
If you search this thread, it seems like those who know Catia the best like it the least. "Free" might be overpriced, if the vitriol against it is deserved.
 
Last edited:

ScaleBirdsScott

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2015
Messages
1,222
Location
Uncasville, CT
I had to use CATIA V4 for 2 years and it's just old old software which means it was made before all the best ideas and standards came out, plus it's just very limited by the technology of it's time.

Never touched V5 but it looks like the intermediate step between V4 and Solidworks. Maybe they have kept it updated? Or maybe it's very old now.

I can't see any reason one would be better off with CATIA over Solidworks as a solo designer today.
 

flyboy2160

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 25, 2014
Messages
332
Location
california, USA
I had to use CATIA V4 for 2 years and it's just old old software which means it was made before all the best ideas and standards came out, plus it's just very limited by the technology of it's time.

Never touched V5 but it looks like the intermediate step between V4 and Solidworks. Maybe they have kept it updated? Or maybe it's very old now.

I can't see any reason one would be better off with CATIA over Solidworks as a solo designer today.
I was there when it happened. In the mid 90s Dassault realized that CATIA IV was in need of an overhaul. They asked the 'heavy' IV users for input (I was at Boeing at the time), after which they pre-released a version of CATIA V that was their own code. But then they bought SOLIDWORKS and changed CATIA V to be SOLIDWORKS with the legacy IV evil stuff added.

Regardless of the time frame, IV just had illogical and bizarre features.
 

Jay Kempf

Curmudgeon in Training (CIT)
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Apr 13, 2009
Messages
3,900
Location
Warren, VT USA
There no longer is any advantage in surfacing or copying parts. Copying, inserting, and library functions of parts have been there for a long time. Library features are very powerful as well if there is a lot of similarity in a product line.

My understanding is that SW and Catia have been kept separate for two reasons. Target markets and different kernel. SW shares its kernel with NX. Catia has a different architecture and is the large dollar, large company, large project horse to ride when you want to have 50 engineers working with 50 manufacturing people and all is shared across platforms sharing gigabytes of content. SW is good but when the models get large it gets unwieldy. Even if you build machines and networks specifically to deal with that it still has stability issues.

I am told all the time that SW isn't up to the task of things that NX and Catia can do. If you are building an Airbus A300 you have different requirements than someone building a single experimental design. I have been told that NX is better at surfacing and I have been told the CAtia is better at surfacing. My experience says no.
 

ScaleBirdsScott

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2015
Messages
1,222
Location
Uncasville, CT
Where I worked, Catia and NX had design teams sized in the hundreds. When you have 340 designers all trying to wreck the system at the same time it's beyond some little program like Solidworks true.

The server interface that allows everyone to work together without bringing the whole thing down more than 2-3 times a day means the entire system runs a bit slower, but that lag time is the price to pay.

But even at a company with 10-15 designers each with their own projects, with maybe 3-4 people on any given job, a program like Solidworks or Inventor is more than up to the task.
 

flyboy2160

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 25, 2014
Messages
332
Location
california, USA
Before dissing SW as unable to handle large projects, you guys should check out the large projects and customers in the SW galleries. There are offshore oil platforms, chemical looking plants, and big earth moving models shown.

Having experienced system messes in ProE, CATIA, and 'in house' CAD at very large aerospace companies, I don't see how crashing the system in SW should be any worse than the other 'big time' CAD systems. The crashes seemed more due to the system architecture than to the CAD system. You want distributed running on individual workstations for the most reliability.
 

Jay Kempf

Curmudgeon in Training (CIT)
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Apr 13, 2009
Messages
3,900
Location
Warren, VT USA
I've BTDT with SW. 1000+ parts starts to be a problem. If the parts are complex and there is a lot of top down you get long load and rebuild times. There are work arounds.

Catia and whatever Boeing is using seem to have solutions. Others not so much. Windows can also be a barrier unless you really hot rod a machine. I do this stuff every day of my life and work with people on the other systems. In SW I can do stuff others don't seem to be able to do or they say SW won't do it.

I ain't dissing SW. I am the advocate.
 

flyboy2160

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 25, 2014
Messages
332
Location
california, USA
I must disagree. My experience with large SW assemblies is exactly the opposite. It has the ability to switch to 'large assembly mode in which components can be loaded lightweight. You can also load configurations in which only some of the assembly is active. I have over 1200 parts in my home airplane and don't use large assembly. The slow load times are computer hardware driven, including the graphics generation. You need a fast graphics card.

In my experience, ProE was the worst for large assemblies. Opening a full up satellite in Pro was an hours-long wait.

I tested large assembly file opening in both SW and Pro. SW won hands down.
 
Last edited:

Jay Kempf

Curmudgeon in Training (CIT)
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Apr 13, 2009
Messages
3,900
Location
Warren, VT USA
What you are working on isn't complicated enough. Advanced surfacing and starting from a complicated OML paralyzes any modeler if not handled properly. Lots of relational tooling surfaces and booleans to get to parts is monstrous. I have the best video card and architecture you can get. Top benchmark scores. Memory maxed out SSD's and flash drives, yadda... Constantly updated, tweaked, cleaned, massaged for more HP 2U 19" rack blah blah.

I do this stuff every day for clients and for my personal projects including CFD and FEA. I prefer SW as well. But it has limitations all of which I know and can get around. The limitations are not just parts count but complexity and the number of externally referenced parts. Editing large complicated things is tough but experience trumps any software. SW and PROe have different kernels with different work arounds. NX is a beast too but seems to be a little more stable but shares the same kernel with SW. Haven't got much time with Catia but it is a completely different animal.
 

Vigilant1

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 24, 2011
Messages
4,833
Location
US
It [SW] has the ability to switch to 'large assembly mode in which components can be loaded lightweight. You can also load configurations in which only some of the assembly is active. I have over 1200 parts in my home airplane and don't use large assembly. The slow load times are computer hardware driven, including the graphics generation. You need a fast graphics card.
Warning--in the weeds specifics follow.
Computers/configuration for SW: I'm dipping my toe into these CAD waters, and am searching for a "good enough" cheap machine (probably an off-lease one, as suggested by GeeZee) to run SW 2019. I have no intent to go crazy with thousands of small parts, designing an engine with thousands of bits, etc. Just a small airplane.
Solidworks site gives the minimum recommended requirements for a Windows machine as:
Processor : 3.3 GHz or higher
RAM : 16 GB or more
PDM Contributor or Viewer: 8 GB or more
ECC RAM recommended
Graphics Card Certified cards and drivers
Drives SSD drives recommended for optimal performance
Software
Microsoft Excel and Word 2010, 2013, 2016 2013, 2016,
2019 (SW2019 SP2) 2013, 2016, 2019

There's also a Solidworks Performance Test folks folks can run to see how well their system can be expected to run SW. They can post their results, and the fairly comprehensive data on that page might be pretty handy for someone looking to buy a system, especially if you are shopping systems from the major sellers of workstations (Dell, HP, Asus, etc). Scores (in seconds) are provided for these functions:
CPU (Speeds shown range from 4 sec to about 100, median is approx 31 sec)
Graphics (approx median score: 12 sec)
Input/output (approx median score: 27 sec)
Rendering (approx median score: 7 sec)
Simulation (approx median score: 42 sec)

A machine like this one looks like it might be okay for what I want. "Renewed" from Amazon, $355. HP tower, CPU: Xeon 3.8 GHz, 16 GB RAM, 240 GB SSD and a 1TB HDD, Nvidia Quadro 1GB video card, Windows 10. On the SW benchmark test, a unit like this one had benchmark scores of CPU: 37 sec, Graphics: 8 sec, I/O: 26 sec, Rendering: 7.2 sec. So, it looks to be about middle of the pack among the approx 750 folks who benchmarked their machines using the SW 2019 test. I'm >guessing< the requirements of the average SW user (and, what they sized their machine to do) are more demanding than what I'm planning to do.
Thoughts? With something like this, a decent monitor, and a 3D mouse--enough for a starter set?
 
Last edited:

Hot Wings

Grumpy Cynic
HBA Supporter
Log Member
Joined
Nov 14, 2009
Messages
6,994
Location
Rocky Mountains
Thoughts? With something like this, a decent monitor, and a 3D mouse--enough for a starter set?
The machine I run my 2012 on is OLD. It balks on assemblies with 1000+ parts. Yes I have a few. It doesn't crash. I've used up most of the memory a time or 2.
Specs: 2.8Ghz AMD A6 5400K dual core cpu (built in graphics) 16 gig of memory, 1Tb main HD and 2TB of raid for local storage all under Win 8.1.

Point is if you are just starting out the machine you already have may be good enough.
A good main monitor and a 3D mouse are better investments to start IMHO. I also like a track ball in the right hand.
 

Topaz

Super Moderator
Staff member
Log Member
Joined
Jul 29, 2005
Messages
14,101
Location
Orange County, California
The machine I run my 2012 on is OLD. It balks on assemblies with 1000+ parts. Yes I have a few. It doesn't crash. I've used up most of the memory a time or 2.
Specs: 2.8Ghz AMD A6 5400K dual core cpu (built in graphics) 16 gig of memory, 1Tb main HD and 2TB of raid for local storage all under Win 8.1.

Point is if you are just starting out the machine you already have may be good enough.
A good main monitor and a 3D mouse are better investments to start IMHO. I also like a track ball in the right hand.
How critical is the RAM value? My graphic arts workstation meets most of the specs listed for SW except I'm running 8GB of RAM (which is plenty for most of the Adobe Creative Cloud programs). Processor is an AMD Phenom II X4 820, 2.8GHz (quad core 64bit) running Windows 10. SSD main drive (small, though, but it keeps the page file and programs). Local storage isn't a problem - I've got 16TB of striped storage active at all times.

I'm another trackball nut - using the Kensington every day keeps the carpal tunnel away! Screen real-estate is crucial for me for tool-palettes, so I'm running dual 24" monitors.

Like Vigilant1, I'm not looking for something "Pro grade" in the CAD/Modeling field. Just enough to learn on without it getting in the way. Is the RAM shortage going to kill me? I'm about due for a new workstation anyway, so I'll probably be upgrading within a year or so, and the question will then be moot.
 

flyboy2160

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 25, 2014
Messages
332
Location
california, USA
How critical is the RAM value? My graphic arts workstation meets most of the specs listed for SW except I'm running 8GB of RAM..... Is the RAM shortage going to kill me? I'm about due for a new workstation anyway, so I'll probably be upgrading within a year or so, and the question will then be moot.
If you have a full up plane model with any level of detail, 8 gig isn't enough RAM if you want to run quickly. I started out with 8, but quickly went to 24. If you're an impatient person, you'll be cussing at your computer while your model regens with 8 gig.

Ditto for SSD.

My CFD and FEA run fairly quickly with just that 24 gig.

The last time I checked, SW didn't take advantage of multi-core processors.
 
2
Top