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I want to know which CAD tools you use. How steep is the learning curve? Did you take a course? Or do you have assistance from a professional? What's the cost? 

I learned Euclidean geometry by use of compass and ruler. It would be nice to be able to illustrate my ideas in this forum and elsewhere. Often a drawing says more than words. So, please help me get my ideas across. I am thinking of the illustrations by Kevin Kelly, Addie, David Beard, F. Denis etc. How do you do it?

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I use Solid Works. Its expensive and not so good with curves but it has embedded tutorials that pretty much teach you all the features you'll ever need. It was my first approach to CAD, never took a course or got help from anyone, just followed the tutorials and a few months later I was designing all I needed.

There are some online free programs that work quite well but have a limit of parts per month. Should work well for you as a no cost  first approach.

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I learned Rhino when I went to Red Wing.  It's not too hard to learn, and there are great tutorials built into the program, and online help videos.  It's on the pricey side, coming in at £815 (I bought it while a student and it was I think $100 or so).  You can also try the full program and use it totally for I think 30 days, when the trial expires you can no longer save or export.

That being said, it's fantastic for drawing 2d curves.  In about a day of futzing with it, you can learn how to import an image (background bitmap) size it properly, and draw your own lines around it to make templates, or blueprints, or analyze things closely.  The feature I've used often is a "control point curve" where you basically draw a line by placing points for the line to cross through.  There are many ways to draw different arcs though, either by plugging in starting points and radii, or plugging in points for an ellipses to pass through for example.  Even without a CNC machine, it's still nice to export drawings as to-scale .pdf files.

Additionally, you can get really nice and fussy with the program!  Any curve is made up of "control points" and you can nudge these around in different increments (which you can adjust) and watch the change.  Generally the fewer control points you have the smoother a curve naturally will be.  There's also a powerful feature to turn on a "curvature graph" which is a very helpful tool to show how the curves arc is constantly changing.

5a95534390375_rhinoexample.thumb.jpg.6499ccd73f8f670da9fed6da65f93570.jpg

You can see how the little green line is showing the change in radius of the yellow line, and it looks like I left this a little wobbly (small line wobbles like that won't even really turn up in the final template though...after you print it off, and cut it out with a knife...if you were going to cut a template out with a router though, you could sit there and make the line perfectly wobble free)  It also gets down to being so zoomed into a photo that you can see the pixels, and where you place the line on what part of the pixel can make a big difference to the curve wobbliness. 

5a955625425f0_rhinoexample2.jpg.30d315f409761faf0ddb1f2e58d6fa5b.jpg

^^In that picture the c-bout part was drawn using control points over a background picture, and the lower part of the corner I was able to get a simple arc to fit nicely.  The green curve-graph shows the perfect consistency in the lower bout compared to the c-bout.

One can really get picky with Rhino!  I think it would make a great tool if you wanted to really dive into computer drawing curves, and analyzing them. 

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2 hours ago, Torbjörn Zethelius said:

I want to know which CAD tools you use. How steep is the learning curve? Did you take a course? Or do you have assistance from a professional? What's the cost? 

I learned Euclidean geometry by use of compass and ruler. It would be nice to be able to illustrate my ideas in this forum and elsewhere. Often a drawing says more than words. So, please help me get my ideas across. I am thinking of the illustrations by Kevin Kelly, Addie, David Beard, F. Denis etc. How do you do it?

 

Why don't you ask them?

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3 minutes ago, JacksonMaberry said:

Isn't that what he's done, Michael? With the added benefit of asking anyone else who may have such experience. 

I think an invitation is needed to each of them because they may not read this thread for some time. 

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I've used Photoshop and Illustrator for 2D and Rhino for 3D. Student or teacher license is cheap as mentioned above.

Photoshop is best if you are starting with photos. You can resize and transform the photo to reduce distortions (if you know enough measurements) very easily. If you have good pics taken from distance the distortion will be minimal. Illustrator (at least the older version I have) is not good at working with bitmaps. I tend to overlay few pictures taken at different distances and camera settings so the distortions will show and I trace outlines in Photoshop using paths (basically same b-spline curves as used in Illustartor or other vector graphics SW) then export to Illustrator if I'm creating drawings. From there I can export to any CAD (or import the Illustrator file) and work on 3D model.

 

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Illustrator.  I used it for about fifteen years professionally.  Too expensive now.  François found an afortable substitute, but I forgot the name... :o

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2 hours ago, Torbjörn Zethelius said:

I want to know which CAD tools you use. How steep is the learning curve? Did you take a course? Or do you have assistance from a professional? What's the cost? 

I learned Euclidean geometry by use of compass and ruler. It would be nice to be able to illustrate my ideas in this forum and elsewhere. Often a drawing says more than words. So, please help me get my ideas across. I am thinking of the illustrations by Kevin Kelly, Addie, David Beard, F. Denis etc. How do you do it?

I used to use sketchup, but I don't like the new version.  I caved and signed up for Adobe Creative Cloud when it was on sale last year.  I'm currently trying to figure out how to use illustrator, and it appears that I'll be able to do what I need to with it.  It's incredibly powerful, but not very intuitive, and looks like it will be a long time before I can use it efficiently, and probably never figure it all out. The nice thing about illustrator is that it's a vector drawing program, like sketchup, but you can easily import images into it, which eliminates the need for another program to compare images.  

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Anything that will allow you to perform basic geometry functions and print to scale should work well. Its all lines and arcs. 

My opinion on handy functions to look for: (no idea if every drawing style program has them or not)

Ability to crop a circle to create an arc segment, ability to offset arcs and lines at specific values.

Being able to pick or snap to intersections and draw perpendicular lines. 

Being able to enter metric values really helps too.

I use a stripped down version of autocad since I already have it for my day job as a Professional Land Surveyor. Wouldn't necessarily recommend autocad, but the principles are all basically the same. Often times different function names, commands or steps, between different software to accomplish the same thing.

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The only reason I used Photoshop in the beginning was It had an accurate ruler.   I would have used much simpler programs if only they had a ruler.  Without a ruler you can't scale anything other than by trial and error.   Most of Photoshop is total over-kill for what I want to do.  Currently I am using Inkscape because that is what the library uses for their Epilog laser cutter.   But recently I am doing much more by eye and feel rather than obsessive measurements

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  • adobe illustrator for 2D drawing
  • AutoCAD /AutoCAD LT - excellent for 2D drawing and 3d modeling 
  • Rhino - 3d modelling concept design 
  • Alias Studio - not for the faint of heart
  • Sketchup - very popular with furniture makers
  • Autodesk Fusion (Free for hobbyists) CAD, CAM and CAE. Currently what I use to make 3D printable templates, jigs and fixtures 

3D modelling is fairly easy to learn but one needs to get their head around certain concepts like booleans, lofting, sweeps, trimming etc. Matthew does a nice job of describing the drawing workflow

I'm an Ex Alias and ADSKer so I've see them all. Pick a package and stick with it because many of these are now expensive cloud subscriptions 

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I have probably used at least a half a dozen different CAD packages in my aerospace career, although mostly it was just occasional use.  I hardly ever really needed the 3-D features, and mostly used Ashlar-Vellum "Graphite"... which I still use after over 15 years for drawings, layouts, and part designs.  

I now have Autodesk Fusion 360, which is extremely powerful and free... and will take the usual several months of intense effort to become proficient with it... but thus far I have only played around with it for a few days.  If I need a drawing, I'll revert to what I know how to use.

I would suggest sticking with 2D unless you really need the 3D capability, or if you're a masochist and enjoy pain.

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22 minutes ago, Don Noon said:

Autodesk Fusion 360, which is extremely powerful and free...

+1! I worked at Autodesk for 20 years. I know the Fusion well. I worked on the product (on the rendering side for a short time). 

 it is very powerful - especially if you are interested in additive manufacturing. Although I will caution you, the only way to get 2D drawings out is via a DWF - which is an ADSK propritory format -- if you want to do a traditional 2D print them you need ACAD as well. 

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9 hours ago, Torbjörn Zethelius said:

 

I want to know which CAD tools you use. How steep is the learning curve? Did you take a course? Or do you have assistance from a professional? What's the cost? 

 

I played around for some time with freecad and Illustrator. Illustrator is a quite fast drawing tool, also nice to do I.e.arching corrections. Freecad makes exact measurement possible. But the rest of freecad is crap (I used the Mac version).

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22 minutes ago, Michael Szyper said:

Do you not want to share  your experience? As far as I know you are making 3D cad plans and do the arching by cnc?

Sure. I use BobCAD which also has the CAM feature for generating machine code needed for a CNC. It's an old version that I got cheap. It does 2D and 3D. The package can import photos or line art to copy shapes such as an f-hole - something everyone should have. I would never upgrade to a newer version or migrate to a better CAD package because the learning curve is challenging. If I were to recommend something to you today I would recommend Rhino. It appears to have all the functionality you need. Moreover, it has an enormous support network where you can get your questions answered. Remember that there are sites other than Maestronet where you can get great answers. Just google.

Hope that helps. Thanks for asking.

 

 

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I really only use Rhino because former-me thought it was a good use of $100 B).  It's nice to draw up the occasional template or mess about with...but if that's all I wanted to use it for, that £815 price tag is a bit much...but I guess support is nice.

 

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I want to add another recommendation. Get a printer that can do large B-sized drawings. These are called Tabloid or Ledger sizes. See here. I make templates with mine to check shapes and alignment. I have an ancient HP-7000 which is a color ink-jet. I use an old "DELL" PC running Windows XP. This is a standalone workstation not connected to the Internet for security reasons.

Here are some useful photos:

IMG_0605.thumb.JPG.1666e1635d2d463963235fab29686eca.JPGIMG_0603.thumb.JPG.313d4e8251f52c8e0ff2469392f8d035.JPG

 

IMG_0606.thumb.JPG.ea12614705a4c09db0d8615322ae545b.JPG

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I'm rather old and do free hand drawings for serious stuff.  If I need a crutch I use bent sticks (splines) or French curves and cheap plastic triangles and rulers.  

But to fit in better with the younger crowd I use Microspot MacDraft and Photoshop Elements on my iMac.  These are simple enough that my forgetting curves are fortunately slower than my learning curves.

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6 hours ago, catnip said:

The only reason I used Photoshop in the beginning was It had an accurate ruler.   I would have used much simpler programs if only they had a ruler.  Without a ruler you can't scale anything other than by trial and error.   Most of Photoshop is total over-kill for what I want to do.  Currently I am using Inkscape because that is what the library uses for their Epilog laser cutter.   But recently I am doing much more by eye and feel rather than obsessive measurements

That's exactly why I started using Photoshop. I work with photos (or CT scans) and exact measurements and need to manipulate the photo so it fits the measurements as close as possible. Then I can trace it reliably. I tried many vector SW packages and PS together with AI was clear winner. I drew my published Loar F-5 mandolin drawings this way. But still for doing full 3D you need to improve the accuracy so the lines really intersect when they have to. Like in this Rhino interpretation 3D modelled from CT scan.

attachment.php?attachmentid=62091&d=1283

 

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Hi Torbjorn:

I use an old copy of microsoft Visio.   To save money for now, I've avoided updating it.

I find it very convenient and easy for my analysis.  No classes or assist, just started playing around with it.  Though I did actually read the manual, and one 'how to' book.   The program has tons of features I don't use.  But it combines simple 2 dimensional vector drawing with page layout, and very minimal image manipulation.   The main virtue is that you (or at least me in my research) work primarily by using simple templates that can be snapped together, resized, and manipulate be a few logical control points.   More important, anything you snap together can be put into a 'group' which is stable.   And, simply by dragging to your template tray, you can make a new template out of what you made.  And you can easily put the templates you use into a custom set of templates.

Since my work is about ferreting out the compass and rule geometry behind classical work, almost all my working templates have been built up from lines, arcs, circles, triangles, and rectangles.   From these ingredients I've learned to make various constructions that greatly easy checking a hypothesis against real examples.       I've also built up various rulers and such to examine proportions.

The program also allows sizing elements by formula, which can be very useful.  I also find the color, transparency, and thickness features very helpful as aides to visualization.   Also, the program lets you save you work in many ways.  However, I just save as Visio files, or export selections as jpegs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

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15 hours ago, Michael_Molnar said:

I want to add another recommendation. Get a printer that can do large B-sized drawings. These are called Tabloid or Ledger sizes. See here. I make templates with mine to check shapes and alignment. I have an ancient HP-7000 which is a color ink-jet. I use an old "DELL" PC running Windows XP. This is a standalone workstation not connected to the Internet for security reasons.

Here are some useful photos:

That is truly a goot point. You never get good results with glueing small printed pages together, I'm considering to get a larger printer.

It is really impressing how far you brought your cnc routing on the violin plates, looked up yesterday your nice strad article.

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