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Member postings for IanT

Here is a list of all the postings IanT has made in our forums. Click on a thread name to jump to the thread.

Thread: Micromite Basic (MMB) on Raspberry Pico
23/05/2022 12:21:04

PS - It might be useful to mention that the 'demo' control panel programme I've shown running on my PC - was originally developed (by others) to run on a small touch screen connected to a (PIC32) Micromite - but that it will essentially also run on a Picomite with a similar hardware set-up.

I have a 2.8" Waveshare colour LCD touch-screen that plugs into a 'Quad' (Pico) backplane - all of which were very reasonably priced and that have largely removed the need for my original 'Vero-board' (well I still call them that) home brew PCBs. I also have a Kitronics dual DC motor controller which a Picomite just plugs into.

So a lot of affordable and usable hardware accessories that MMB users - via the Picomite can now use.



23/05/2022 11:04:35

Just a quick update for anyone interested in Micromite Basic.

There have been continued improvements to MMB on the Pico - with two versions now available. The original Picomite still provides a very simple but powerful way to control 'things' - displays, servos, lights, relays, sensors, motors, comms devices etc - directly - with a modern BASIC that many here may find easy to both understand and use. So free MMB software & £3 hardware (I solder my own pins on) gives you an amazing amount of capability - and you can still get them!

I use my Mites mainly for simple (model) controllers. My latest loco project has very little internal space available, so even a standard Picomite will not fit - so I'm in the process of building a 'mini-Pico' (Waveshare RP2040) set up which is stamp sized, the same size as the H-Bridge PCB it's going to be driving (as a DC motor + IR controller).

The Picomite already supports various display types - including touch screens but now PicomiteVGA can (with a small custom PCB) also drive a VGA monitor. These videos will give some idea of the performance available.

PicoMite VGA now with layers - YouTube

Pico VGA 3D wireframe at 60fps in interpreted Basic - YouTube

PicoMiteVGA running 3D engine in MMBasic - YouTube

Another recent MMB development has been an improvement to MMB running on Windows. Windows 'DOS' will run a 'plain' form of MMB on any Windows device (I run it on Win 11 now - previously on win10). There is now a new MMB version that supports full PC graphics that I'm pretty sure I'm going to find some uses for. This is a simple basic programme that demonstrates a simple control panel. You can control the buttons etc using a mouse.

mmb windows control panel.jpg

Obviously, the only I/O available on the PC/Laptop is serial based but I have this daft idea where some Mites will be delivering (pre-processed) data & and getting commands back from the PC console. Well that's the plan anyway...



Thread: New To CAD? No, but....
17/05/2022 11:12:45

You need to lock the plane using F3 otherwise SE will not know what you are trying to reference.

Examples of locating holes are shown in this recent YouTube by Dr Seif. It's probably more advanced than you need just now but ignore the first part and just jump to timeslot 13.22 for the hole placement part....

Solid Edge Tutorial - Bearing Base - Exercise 8 - YouTube

I'll repeat my view that you need to be systematic when learning a modern 3D CAD system - jumping in without establishing the basic skills is going to be very frustrating.



16/05/2022 13:02:00
Posted by SillyOldDuffer on 16/05/2022 10:03:05:

Perhaps Nigel's biggest problem with TurboCAD is no-one else on the forum seems to be using it! ......

.......To be fair, the help provided by other CAD software isn't perfect either! Solid Edge's website is the slowest I use, and the formal documentation makes the mistake of being written for people who already know the ropes: for example, describing a tool's function in detail without showing what the button icon looks like or saying which toolbar it's in.)


Well that's probably because (25 years ago) when I first started using TurboCAD (DLv4) - it was a very competent 2D drawing product (when used correctly). However, the 3D capabilities were beyond my patience to learn quite frankly - a view reinforced by Paul (the CAD) who stated that you really needed the 'Pro' version to use 3D.

Now (25 years later) there are clearly better options than TC available - and my choice has been Solid Edge.

With regards your " what the button icon looks like or saying which toolbar it's in" - then maybe the authors are assuming that users have already worked through the basic training that encourages new users to use that little box at the bottom of the screen, marked 'Find a Command' - which not only shows you the associated icon but also it's place in the toolbar when you hover over it.....

However - I think Blowlamp has just summarised my sentiments about this thread very well.



06/05/2022 11:44:10

Hi Nigel,

I'm afraid that my heart sank a little when I saw your post.

My experience has been that the only way to learn (any) 3D CAD programme is to be methodical in your learning approach. I would not recommend anyone trying to learn 3D CAD just using videos for instance. Indeed I went to some trouble to outline a learning strategy for Solid Edge in this thread:

Solid Edge - Community Edition | Model Engineer (

To be honest, I don't think Fusion or any other 3D CAD is going to really suit you, unless you are prepared to invest some time in learning the basics and then practicing them. However, if you really feel that video tutorials best suit your learning needs, then I would recommend Dr Mohammed Seif's YouTubes. This one covers the basics of SE Sketching and is the starting point for his series of SE videos.

Introduction to Solid Edge - Part A - YouTube



Thread: 3D-CAD Package Shootout - Cotton Reel Example
19/04/2022 21:59:29

That's looking very good Duncan.




Edited By IanT on 19/04/2022 22:00:08

19/04/2022 17:57:47

Hi Duncan,

Good to see you making progress.

The steering wheel is one way to do this but when you are setting assembly relationships in Solid Edge, you can also use 'drag component' - with a choice of either a 'move' (relative to an edge or axis), rotate (about an edge or axis) or 'freemove' (which is an unconstrained drag). You can also define the exact amount of 'drag' should you need to.

So I think this capability would also have solved your problem - although I cannot claim to have fully mastered it myself quite yet.



18/04/2022 23:44:53


Not sure exactly the problem but your relates should over-ride the part orientation.

In Assembly - try experimenting with the assembly relationships - Mate, Planer Align & Axial Align. You can assemble most things with just these three commands. If it's not working the way you think it should do, then try the 'Flip' option to swop the relationship.

Assembly needs a little practice but is one of those things that will suddenly click (at least it did for me). Still working on my part 'dragging' though....



18/04/2022 09:23:41

That file type is for Siemens NX (their other CAD system) so I don't think it will help.

I assume the problem is that a six month Alibre trial has finished, so you can't re-open the old files and export them Duncan?



16/04/2022 12:26:45

Posted by SillyOldDuffer on 16/04/2022 11:26:19:

Solid Edge is a Hybrid: optimistically it gives the designer the best of both worlds, though a pessimist might whinge it increases the software's complexity!

Dave, coming from (non parametric) TurboCAD all I can really say is that with SE it's wonderful having any small change automatically update across all related assemblies and drawings. I had assumed that "parametric" was just a term to describe any CAD system that offered this feature.

I have found using Solid Edge easier than the other systems I tried originally but I wasn't aware of the technical differences between them at the time. I didn't think the 'synchronous' aspect of Solid Edge was unique to it either but it seems it might be.

Fortunately, whatever complexity exists under the bonnet of SE - it's not apparent to the user and I've found both versions of SE (2020 & 2022) that I've used so far very stable.



16/04/2022 10:11:35

Pleased I could help Duncan - I'm still learning all this clever new stuff myself. I do find it becomes a little easier with use though, as you slowly get used to things. Had a small "Ah-Ha" moment last week, when I twigged how to do something that had previously puzzled me...

Jason - I think that would be true in Solid Edge if using 'Ordered' mode - but in 'Synchronous' mode you have more ability to manipulate design features without stepping back in history. Also as a 2D sketch is consumed (e.g. extruded) it ceases to be part of the active model because you can now work on the new faces/planes directly.

You do have a list of 'features' (the actions used to build your part) and you can select them to look at/modify the design 'intent' for that feature - e.g. what SE assumes you want it's relationships to be - but the initial sketch used to design the feature becomes "used" . You can still re-open a 'used' sketch if you need to, maybe to find a previous [consumed] reference point for instance - but I rarely do so.

cotton reel - features & intent.jpg

I posted a video link recently that explains the main differences between Synchronous & Ordered modes much better than I can (a picture being worth a thousand words etc) and for anyone who is curious, here it is again...

(1) Synchronous vs Ordered Modes in Solid Edge - YouTube



15/04/2022 23:33:27

Hi Duncan,

If I understand your problem correctly, then set your working plane at the end (on the face) you want to infill, draw/sketch your new infill section and extrude it to the depth required. I'm assuming you are using synchronous mode but it may work in ordered too (not sure, as I don't generally use it myself)



13/04/2022 10:04:45
Posted by PatJ on 13/04/2022 00:42:10:

I think an interesting comparison would be to see which program(s) easily allow the modification of the various types of generated shapes, such as the spindle.

I have not kept track of such things, but I have noticed it from time to time, that I can't edit some shapes as easily as others.

I am not sure if this is due to limitations of Solidworks, or whether it is inherit in the way all 3D modeling programs work.

I know very little about other CAD systems Pat - but my understanding is that most use what is called "Ordered" mode - that is one based upon a build history. Solid Edge offers both "Ordered" and "Synchronous" modes and you can switch between them if required. Normally you set a default design mode and I decided from the outset to (learn to) use synchronous mode, as it seems to be preferable in general use.

More experienced CAD users (coming from other 3D systems) may find ordered mode more familiar. In terms of my general design work though, synchronous seems to be the better choice. This may be a feature unique to Solid Edge but I don't really know.

This short video explains the differences between the two modes better than I can.

(2) Synchronous vs Ordered Modes in Solid Edge - YouTube



12/04/2022 13:54:40
Posted by SillyOldDuffer on 12/04/2022 13:07:31:

For example, starting with a sketch that models the spokes first creates a structure less resilient to change than one that cuts the spokes much later. Will the model break if the customer suddenly announces the reel's diameter should be bigger or smaller?


Let's see what happens in Solid Edge Dave....taking my existing Cotton Reel model...

Used smart dimension to select the outside reel diameter and change it to 40mm (from 30mm). I can do this because it is not a dependent dimension.

cotton reel - change outside diameter.jpg

So then do the same for the internal diameter... (radius from 12.25 to 18mm)

cotton reel - change internal diameter.jpg

Spokes still look OK. Might not have been as predictable if I'd tried to increase the internal diameter to exceed the external one first though. To be clear, I've only changed the two diameters here - nothing else was altered.



12/04/2022 00:06:04

It's way past my bedtime Dave! frown

However - here we are. Circles by centre - just click and enter the dims (or size it later)

cotton reel - circles by centre .jpg

Did this a bit differently, drew a reference line and then rectangle by centre, then trimmed. Think it was quicker using lines...

cotton reel - rectangle by centre.jpg

Then extruded the spoke to length...

cotton reel - extrude spoke.jpg

Used Pattern by Circle to make six spokes...

cotton reel - circle by pattern.jpg

Then extruded cylinders to length (forgot to turn off extrude symmetry for screen grab - but corrected it)

coton reel - extrude cylinders.jpg

Which gave me the basic reel shape

cotton reel - main body.jpg

Set my working plane to the end face (note F3 padlock icon) and sketched new rim.

cotton reel - sketch rim.jpg

Extruded this sketch and repeated at both ends. Could have done half model and mirrored - but didn't.

cotton reel - rims added.jpg

Selected rim edge to round it....

cotton reel - edge rounding selected.jpg

And clicked to round it - same at other end...and that finished it...

cotton reel - complete.jpg

Edited By IanT on 12/04/2022 00:11:55

11/04/2022 21:43:54

PS - When I first started 3D Printing, a friend suggested Open SCAD for my design tool.

It's very easy to get into but does benefit from a more 'programmatic' way of thinking. I'm a bit more 'visual' in nature and also need engineering drawing capability, so moved on to Solid Edge. However, I've written a few simple SCAD models that can be easily modified to suit different applications - and it's very easy to share them too - just a text file.

Adrian's SCAD model was a simple cut n' paste and worked fine in Open SCAD itself - I've no idea about using the FreeCAD version I'm afraid.



Adrians Cotton Reel


Edited By IanT on 11/04/2022 21:44:50

11/04/2022 21:27:45

Didn't bother taking snapshots as I went along & I also think this can be done in a number of ways. Nor do I really see the point of this exercise quite frankly, because to a large extent - a) the result must depend on the skill of the user (and I'm certainly not the most skilled SE user, so certainly not the best to champion it) and b) I'm pretty sure most CAD systems could do this quite easily.

However, in Solid Edge, I did the following;

Sketched the basic reel outline (circles by centre) & then dimensioned them, added a spoke (two lines). Extruded the spoke and used circular pattern to create six of them. Extruded circular elements to length. As an after thought added the two outside rims and rounded them. Could have used mirroring but didn't.



cotton reel - 110422.jpg

Thread: Best Budget 3D Cad software
09/04/2022 15:36:48

It was a while ago now Huub but I think one of the issues is that when you are trying to learn something new (and it doesn't seem to work) it really helps if you have some confidence that it SHOULD work somehow and that the most likely the cause of any problem is your lack of understanding.

Even though I didn't stick with Fusion, I was always pretty sure that any issues were probably caused by my poor product skills, rather than any undiscovered 'features' (e.g. bugs). I had the same confidence later when starting out with Solid Edge (and I still do). Having really good documentation also helps.

However, I was never completely sure with FreeCAD, which didn't help, because it's much easier to give up when you hit a problem.



Edited By IanT on 09/04/2022 15:39:02

09/04/2022 12:59:40

As Business Development Manager for my divisions software products in UK a long time ago, one of my main targets centred around product adoption - in other words market share. I spent a great deal of my time presenting and promoting our products to both trade and end users. I was always very happy to hear from anyone who could help me promote my products to a wider audience. I therefore very much doubt that any Marketing Department worth their salt would object to someone promoting their products in a positive light.

However, it's really not a point that will interest most people here.

David, why not just buy an Alibre CAD license and be done with it. MEW has actively promoted Alibre in the past and I assume that they have an existing relationship with them. You may even get a 'freebie' license from Alibre marketing to base your work on. I have no idea how Alibre CAD compares in detail with other modern CAD packages but it looked quite capable from the MEW articles and Jason hasn't moved his allegiance yet.

Of course, very many more hobbyist CAD users will use 'free' licenses from the likes of Autodesk and Siemens than will ever purchase Alibre licenses. Whilst many ME/MEW articles are fairly generic in nature (e.g. you don't need a specific 'brand' of lathe/mill to do most operations) that's not quite so true in the CAD space I'm afraid, although it may be more so in terms of 3D printing.



PS In support of Huub's comments, whilst it's been a good while since I last tried FreeCAD, it was very much a Curates Egg back then. From memory some things worked very well, others didn't (or maybe I just couldn't make them). I'm sure FC will have improved but frankly (as I found a better alternative) I'm not tempted to go and take another look unless I really need to.

08/04/2022 14:52:24

So when people produce material (i.e. articles) - both online and in print about Fusion 360 - Autodesk would see that as a commercial activity and sue the author? Youtube'ers get paid by the number of views and there's no lack of them around. Haven't checked recent ME/MEW articles about CAD but some of those may have had Fusion content too.

I'm sorry Dave - I don't think so. I worked for one of the largest software publishers in the world and their UK 'Infringement' team didn't even get out of bed for less than £1M and that was several decades ago.

I strongly that suspect that both Autodesk and Siemens would see any article about their CAD products just as free publicity (assuming they even notice it) - and also assuming David didn't write anything defamatory about them. After all, that's why they make 'Hobbyists' version available isn't it? - to spread the word.


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