# What software do you use?

### Help Support HomeBuiltAirplanes.com:

#### Zzyzxx71

##### Member
Any recommendations as far as a CAD type application for development?

My experience with CAD is absolutely 0 hours.

I have some ideas I'd like to see in a 3d format.

#### BAILEIGH INC

##### Well-Known Member
Have you ever heard of Bend Tech Pro tube bending software?

#### Yarker

##### Active Member
I use AutoCad which is VERY expensive. Have tried Sketchup. Although it has a learning curve, it is good, and free!

#### BAILEIGH INC

##### Well-Known Member
Are you looking for help with the tube bending side of it?

#### Tom Nalevanko

##### Well-Known Member
With regard to 3D software, I'd get SketchUp at Google SketchUp . It is FREE and will let you express your ideas in 3D. Later, you might want to move to something more industrial but that depends on your needs...

Blue skies,

Tom

#### orion

##### Well-Known Member
Considering bang for the buck, you really can't beat Rhino (Modeling tools for designers). This is one of these areas where you really get what you pay for and programs like SketchUp might be sufficient if you're drawing up an idea for a child's swing but if you're serious about doing something airplane related, you need a bit more "organic" shape capability.

#### rtfm

##### Well-Known Member
Hi,
I'd go along wityh Orion on this. I use Sketchup exclusively, but it is only really any good for 2-D stuff. I've been able to accurately draw the profile view, place components, use the measurements to work out CG etc. But it just isn't capable of the 3-D rendering you would need to move to the next step. As a rapid drawing package it is great, and very easy to use. But that's about as far as it goes.

Problem is, that even if one could get over the dollar hump, 3-D programs are just plain difficult to learn. Good luck.

Duncan

#### Topaz

##### Super Moderator
Staff member
Log Member
Much as I hate to be the Luddite here (since generally I'm a technophile of the first water), but my "software" for most drafting is plain old pencil and paper. I've used AutoCAD, GenericCAD (no longer available), and others, but I just find that hand-drawn is faster for me, and since nobody but me is seeing the drawings... Good old-fashioned descriptive geometery can get me through most of the 3D problems I encounter.

If I ever decided to 'kit' something that I designed, I'd choose some sort of CAD program to improve the appearance and readability of the drawings, but for the moment, I have no need.

For actual lofting, I am using some software - Peter Garrison's Loftsman.

Now, if you want to talk about software for typesetting, page layout, illustration, and image editing, I can talk your ear off about that! :gig:

#### PTAirco

##### Well-Known Member
I use a 5 year old version of TurboCAD. It is capable of 3D, but I have never even used it in that mode. I see no reason to change it for anything else for 2D drawings, since familiarity with a program is the only way to use it it fast and efficiently. I know where the buttons are and how to use shortcuts to get done what I want. Any time I get a new software package there is this excruciating learning curve; to learn to use even 2D CAD fast takes several weeks of full time use. I am just loathe to change and begin the learning from scratch. I tried many different packages and while they all do the same thing in principle, they all do it in very different ways.

I have Rhino. I played with it for a couple of days and drove myself nuts. I know I can learn it eventually, but the time and effort required just does not make sense for most of my requirements. You simply do not need 3D modelling to build airplanes. It is nice to have it, but time spent in the workshop, working from paper, 2D plans, will get your airplane built a lot faster.

If designing is your thing rather than building, I think Rhino is great and one day I will devote the time to learning to use it properly.

And for getting ideas distilled down to usable form, you can't beat paper and pencil. Once you know what you want to draw, sit down at the computer, but to actually think up a part to do a particular job, start scribbling with a pencil first. You'll get there faster.

I always have half a dozen clipboards loaded with clean sheets of paper lying all over the place with rough doodles that only get onto the computer once they have been thoroughly figured out in pencil. Throwaway mechanical Bics with fairly soft leads is my preference, but I have known people that swear they can improve their mental faculties by chewing at the end of traditional wooden pencils...

#### xj35s

##### Well-Known Member
There are a bunch of Ruby scripts that are free for google sketchup. I've been using it for RC modeling. You can also learn really quick with the video tutorials.

Ruby Library Depot

cad standard is free too. I had little luck learning it though.

E-machine shop is really great. it's designed for the builder to allow them to make the parts for you. You can export files and use them in other applications(AUTOCAD .DXF) and it's reletively simple to learn and use. I've used it for off-road buggy part design. I exported the files E-Mailed them to a friend with autocad and he made the parts on his CNC. It's FREE too.

Home Online Machine Shop Fabricate Custom Parts Instant Pricing

#### Dana

##### Super Moderator
Staff member

Yarker mentioned AutoCAD, but it's very cumbersome to use for 3D work, especially for aircraft shapes. I wouldn't recommend it to anybody who isn't already using it. I would also stay away from any of the parametric/history based modelers (SolidWorks, Solid Edge, Autodesk Inventor, Pro.E, etc.), as while powerful, they are also cumbersome when doing preliminary design work where you frequently make large changes.

#### orion

##### Well-Known Member
Parametrics were initially thought of as a really good idea but unfortunately, the reality was that companies generally do not develop families of parts (at least not in that manner) so despite the hype, it's a feature that often doesn't get used. I met a few people a few years back who indicated that the additional programming tended to slow down the work, so gave up on the feature and either worked without it or went to another system.

CadKey is one package that I haven't worked on but it is one that for a time I seriously considered getting for my own use. The problem at the time though was that the software came in separate bundles - it was not integrated into one product. While the sales people indicated that this was not a problem, it was something I wasn't sure would work all that smoothly based on my experience with several other products that were formulated in that manner.

This was about the time where many of the moderate to low end CAD systems started incorporating 3D capabilities but instead of writing their own kernel, they often incorporated one from another developer. This almost always generated so many inter-package problems that the capabilities, while within one environment and promising, were so problematic that half the productive time was spent in trying to find workaround procedures to get anything done. In essence, the users became the developers. The worst example of this was in Bently's MicroStation (which I owned for about a year before I gave up) where once you modified the geometry in the more advanced kernel, it was no longer workable in the original where the base geometry was created.

The great thing about Rhino is that they took the unusual step and started start from scratch, writing their own kernel. Additionally, the kernel was not based on a dated geometry model - everything they did was based on NURBS right from the start. While this does create somewhat larger part files, the benefit is that everything you create is compatible and mathematically accurate.