# What software do you use?

Discussion in 'Aircraft Design / Aerodynamics / New Technology' started by Zzyzxx71, Jan 7, 2009.

1. Jan 7, 2009

### Zzyzxx71

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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.

2. Jan 7, 2009

### BAILEIGH INC

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Have you ever heard of Bend Tech Pro tube bending software?

3. Jan 7, 2009

### Yarker

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

4. Jan 7, 2009

### BAILEIGH INC

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Are you looking for help with the tube bending side of it?

5. Jan 7, 2009

### Tom Nalevanko

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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

6. Jan 7, 2009

### orion

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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.

7. Jan 8, 2009

### rtfm

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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

8. Jan 8, 2009

### Topaz

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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:

9. Jan 8, 2009

### PTAirco

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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...

10. Jan 8, 2009

### xj35s

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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

11. Jan 8, 2009

### Dana

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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.

As Orion said, Rhino is a good program, and hard to beat for the price, though I haven't used it in years. Orion, is Rhino still as weak as it used to be on the 2D drafting side? That limits its use for the industrial machinery I design for a living, but I found it useful when I was designing automotive body surfaces. Nowadays I use KeyCreator (formerly CadKey). Most mid level professional level CAD packages are in the $3500-5000 range (except Rhino which is$995), but there really aren't any good lower cost full featured 3D modelers. Another option is the recently resurrected Cadkey Wireframe, which is, as the name implies, a 3D wireframe modeler (no solids or surfaces, but you can still do a lot with it, I did for years) which is only $495. -Dana Refuse Novocain... Transcend Dental Medication. 12. Jan 8, 2009 ### orion ### orion #### Well-Known Member Joined: Mar 3, 2003 Messages: 5,800 Likes Received: 135 Location: Western Washington One of the less interesting parts of my career is the fact that just about every time I changed a job or even a company division, I had to learn a new CAD system. Some of this was due to the typical and continual upgrades in technology and some was simply due to in-company political issues where for one reason or another, the company refused to or was unable to standardize. But the end result of this is that now I've worked with probably over 25 different CAD systems. When looking for one for my own company, I had to make a choice that was a compromise between what I wanted and what I could afford. For that I had set up three or four benchmark models that the CAD system had to be able to do. These weren't difficult models but they required surfacing techniques that weren't available in your typical architectural package like AutoCAD. Some came close, and some were actually able to create the shapes I was after in a "reasonable" amount of time. But it was Rhino, even in version "1", that was not only able to create the shapes, but it did so in a matter of a few minutes. In my opinion, its capabilities surpassed by far some of the really expensive mainstream systems I've worked on prior The thing that really impressed me about Rhino is that the company developed a really functional training syllabus that took you by the hand through several model types, each increasing in complexity as you went along. No other company that I've ever evaluated had been able to do this in as clean and easy a manner as was demonstrated here. A week's worth of spare evening hours got me pretty functional with the system. But as was pointed out above, it does not necessarily take a CAD system to design or build an airplane. Even after all this time, I too start any design with a sheet of paper. And the sketches don't go into the computer until I'm satisfied that the look is as I'd foreseen in the back of my mind, and that the aero characteristics are reasonable enough that I wont run into any significant problems. But where the CAD system is valuable is not only for making pretty pictures - it is very valuable in the area of fabrication since a good database of accurate models can go a long way to speeding up your fabrication and build. Not only do the 3D models provide you with a geometry for manufacturing, they also allow you to better visualize how the whole thing goes together and the sequence you'll need to follow so as to avoid the typical and often frustrating "you can't get there from here" problems. As such, I'd suggest that you take the time and learn the software. You might become a convert. 13. Jan 8, 2009 ### xj35s ### xj35s #### Well-Known Member Joined: Sep 23, 2007 Messages: 127 Likes Received: 0 Location: Fulton,NY Dana, He stated 0 hours with 3d. he'd better stick with the free stuff for now :gig: sketchup is getting better all the time. I've only been playing with it for a couple weeks and really like it. Check a couple of the advance video tutorials and let me know what you think about it. If I was going to invest real money on a cad I think it'd be alibre. https://www.alibre.com/ but I never tried Rhino. *off to check it out*Rhino looks allot like Blender. Blender is free. this just doesn't look CAD to me? Rhino: Blender: blender.org - Home Last edited: Jan 8, 2009 14. Jan 8, 2009 ### orion ### orion #### Well-Known Member Joined: Mar 3, 2003 Messages: 5,800 Likes Received: 135 Location: Western Washington If compared to industry standards like AutoCAD then yes, Rhino is still limited, although it's much better now than even a year or two ago. Although my parts are pretty much all fabricated from solid models, I do create 2D drawings for the machine shop's reference. I also have a few shops that support my work who do not have 3D capabilities so for them I have to do more detailed 2D mechanical drawings - Rhino seems to be up for the work but I wish it would incorporate more drafting functions (like pattern fills, customizable line types, etc.). But what they now have is more than sufficient for my needs. But then I don't have to conform to a high end drafting standard - I just need to define and dimension the parts so that the shop can start making chips. I do like the automatic 2D drawing creation from the solid or surface model - saves a ton of time. 15. Jan 8, 2009 ### orion ### orion #### Well-Known Member Joined: Mar 3, 2003 Messages: 5,800 Likes Received: 135 Location: Western Washington I was given a full version of Alibre for free so I could evaluate it for applications to my end of the industry spectrum. In short, it wasn't all that bad and in some aspects it was good, but by far I still prefer Rhino. It's much more flexible and user friendly, especially when it comes to modeling free-form or organic shapes. 16. Jan 8, 2009 ### Inverted Vantage ### Inverted Vantage #### Formerly Unknown Target Joined: Jun 20, 2008 Messages: 1,116 Likes Received: 32 I gotta interject about Sketchup, it has one big problem, in that the lines it creates are NOT NURBS; it's a polygonal modeler, which means that if you get close enough the lines are made up of individual line segments, it's not a mathematically defined and infinitely smooth curve. It's a good program for quick stuff or using it to draw a plan that you're going to build by hand, but if you're using a computer to build it then it will draw facets instead of a smooth curve. At the moment I'm using ViaCAD 2D/3D, which is pretty friendly for someone with little to no drafting experience. I'd recommend trying the demo. Another option is Moment of Inspiration; it's like the Sketchup version of a NURBS modeler. I don't really get NURBS modeling (I'm a polygonal modeler by trade), but it seems pretty intuitive. I'm still wrapping my head around the idea that I don't NEED to create a 3D model to build the plane...it's a weird thought for me, as I always think in 3D. I'm starting to develop a pipeline for doing this, where I do sketches, rough calcs, 3D polygonal model, 2D drawings with CAD using 3D as reference, then probably a 3D at the very end to make sure it looks good. Then repeat. 17. Jan 8, 2009 ### Dana ### Dana #### Super ModeratorStaff Member Joined: Apr 4, 2007 Messages: 8,689 Likes Received: 3,066 Location: CT, USA Alibre looks interesting, a parmetric modeler with some non parmetric features. Funny, all the parametric outfits are going that way... they were all screaming and criticizing Cadkey/KeyCreator a few years ago for not being parametric! Blender looks more like a package for animation and game creation, not control of precise shapes needed for engineering work. Orion, did you ever use Cadkey/FastSurf? That's what I was using at the same time I was using Rhino... the surfacing capabilities (before either had really powerful solids) were pretty comparable, but there were one or two things Rhino could do (stitching two surfaces together to make one comes to mind) that FastSurf couldn't do. I'd do most of my work in CK/FS, iges it to Rhino when necessary, then iges back to CK. Later, all the FastSurf functionality got integrated into Cadkey's native solids tools... but it wasn't as "fast" any more. -Dana Ever notice the Secret Service and the Nazi SS have the same initials? 18. Jan 8, 2009 ### etterre ### etterre #### Well-Known Member Joined: Aug 30, 2006 Messages: 313 Likes Received: 1 Location: St. Louis, MO, USA Are you taking (or could you take) any classes? Don't overlook the "student discount" packages. That's how I got Rhino for$195 (faq here: Rhinoceros - Educational Products). They aren't terribly picky about the type of class since in my case it was a programming class that got the discount for me and it is a fully functional version with no limitations. If you don't go with Rhino, you may need to be careful about the terms and conditions. I have seen some programming software in a "student package" that, while substantially cheaper, was crippled so that it would uninstall itself after a certain number of months.

19. Jan 8, 2009

### orion

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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.

20. Jan 8, 2009

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