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Making Progress with TurboCAD

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Spurry05/04/2020 17:15:44
187 forum posts
62 photos

Tcad v18.2 is my current version

There is a 'thing' with the layers, which can take a while to get the hang of.

The individual drawing elements (or tools) each have a default layer associated with them. The element remembers the last selected layer. This is easiest to change before using.

I always have my layers coloured in a particular order. So Layer 1 is black, L2 is red , L3 is blue and so on. I normally have about 8 layers in use. This is mainly to facilitate my cutting order on the cnc machine.

So, say a line is required. Select Line tool the menu bar (could show L1 Black). Draw said line. A circle is now required, but I want that on L2. Select the Circle tool, but BEFORE using it, click on L2. The circle will then appear on L2. Oops, wrong layer! So just select the circle, put it on L3 where it should have been.

Go back to the Line tool, and you will automatically revert to L1. Draw another line. Circle again required. Select circle and it will be drawn on L2 as that was where one was drawn last.

This works the same for all the tools including measurements, fonts, et al. It is easy to change after they have been drawn, but quicker to do it first off.

Have to admit that I print lots of drawings, but have never used paper space.

First off, is sort out your layer table, the rest will follow.


Nigel Graham 205/04/2020 22:55:15
585 forum posts

Thank you Ian and Spurry.

I know Layers can be very useful, I would use them and I have found all their controls, but I can't make them work.

I have tried to use the table in which you can set up separate layers with line characteristics etc., and I assume that lets you format things like dimensions and text labels on their own layer for the whole project. Only having taken the trouble to use it to create separate layers - L1 for the drawing itself, L2 the dimensions, L3 the centre-lines... they do not exist when I want them and I haven't the foggiest why.

So have to put up with using the default layer for the lot, and editing lines and annotations as I go. It is possible to sweep up several dimensions in one go to edit their formats from whatever TC has chosen as default font and size.

For text-boxes, I write the first and format its text, then use it as a template for others by [Copy] -ing to the second co-ordinates, then just re-writing the copy's words.

I notice creating a Group seems to put it on some mystery layer of its own. It's not editable either, without dismantling it back to separate elements.


By isometric I did not mean with TurboCAD in 2D mode, because whilst theoretically possible it would require as much geometrical construction as when manually drawing isometrically. I use the terms orthographic for what TC calls 2D, and isometric for the default projection it calls 3D. (I think there may be a second type of 3D non-perspective projection - but I forget its name.)


Spurry - I see why you need put individual drawing elements on different layers, but I am unlikely to ever create CNC files. I think you have your L2 and L3 mixed up, too, in that description, but I understand what you mean.


Ian - I had a photo-faffing programme that had come with a scanner/printer, and among its features was an Outline control which could have been very useful for creating a diagram from a photo. I think I still have it, but whether something that was written for a WIN 5 or even WIN 3 computer will run on Win 7, is another matter.

IanT05/04/2020 23:50:35
1507 forum posts
142 photos

"Only having taken the trouble to use it to create separate layers - L1 for the drawing itself, L2 the dimensions, L3 the centre-lines... they do not exist when I want them"

All I would suggest is a simple experiment Nigel. Set up three layers and draw a simple thing using each layer (lines, circle, square etc) by selecting the required Layer using the drop down menu to the right of the 'Finger'.

Call the 'Layer' control box and use the 'eye' column to turn each layer visibility on and off. Use the 'twin-eyes' at the top of the control to turn all layers on or off. Your drawings should come and go as ordered depending on what layer you are changing.

Now try editing any viible layer - only the layer with the 'Tick' in its row should work - this is the active layer. Click on another row and move the 'Tick' (and therefore the active layer). You can now change/edit that layer.

These are the very basics of Layers and should work for all TC Editions. If yours doesn't then I guess your installation is defective and needs reloading or replacing.

As Spurry says - in use the tool remembers the last layer used with it, which is very convenient - but start with the basics and get them working and then move on from there...



PS I need some very simple sketches - nothing complicated but I cannot draw free-hand for the life of me.

In terms of 'styling' photos, I'm still learning to use GIMP but it's extremely powerful and I'm sure it can do what I need - just have to understand the 'how'..(as usual)

Steviegtr05/04/2020 23:59:06
1164 forum posts
99 photos

I spent many years teaching myself Autocad. I saw a opening with one of my clients at the time. I started using it to do Electrical drawings. Ended up doing complete layout alterations for Nestle UK on a site in Yorkshire. That expanded to Thorntons. I said earlier in this thread I have used it forever, but still cannot work out many commands. This latest version I have is very user friendly over the previous versions , but still a sod to use.

One of the things I did get my head round was layers & creating blocks. I had a huge library of blocks which I could call up & place as many times as required. Only trouble was to modify a block you have to explode it. Modify it & then resave. Not sure if your versions of Cad do this. Only trouble is with Autocad it is brilliant & possibly a market leader, but dam expensive for a single user.


IanT06/04/2020 10:34:43
1507 forum posts
142 photos

TurboCAD has both Groups and Blocks but I don't know whether their use is fully aligned with AutoCAD.

Groups are best used for single iterations of a constructed object you want to keep together in terms of moving and manipulating it - whereas Blocks are good for objects that will be used repeatedly. Blocks can also be used in other drawings, whereas Groups cannot be..

I have learned to be cautious in the repeated use of 'grouping' and 'exploding' objects as it leads to granulation of the components originally used - (e.g. a circle can become a series of arcs). So going back to the idea of the 'Model' world and 'Paper' world - I tend to drag a copy of my intended new 'Group' somewhere out the way and park it there before Grouping that item for use. I can then retrieve the baseline assembly if I need to.

I create Blocks once I'm happy they are stable (e.g. I'm not going to change them) and as Stevie says, you can build a Library of them for future use in other drawings.

There are many ways to use any CAD programme and I think everyone will develop their own particular approach to doing so. However, I would urge anyone using TurboCAD to watch Paul Tracy's videos and get the Basics right. It will make a big difference to your ease of using it.



Spurry06/04/2020 10:58:52
187 forum posts
62 photos


I'm intrigued as to how you cannot make your layers work. If you could create a Gallery and post a picture therein of your screen when you open Tcad, I'm sure those trying to assist would find it helpful.

If the picture is in your gallery, you are then allowed to Insert that picture into your postings. It's a bit strange, but it's how things work here.

What I was trying to illustrate earlier with the Layer explanation, was the way that Tcad remembers which layer was used to draw the feature, NOT which layer it ended up on. With physical demo it would take a couple of seconds, but to use words in a form that cannot be misconstrued or misinterpreted takes many times longer. wink

Just a quick note about Blocks. I find them brilliant. Say, you want 8 items all the same in a drawing. Draw one of them. Make it a Block. Bring back into the drawing, and plonk it in 8 places. You later decide the block should be changed (bigger, smaller, different shape or anything). Edit your block. And magic, all the blocks that were copies of that one, change to match. A fantastic feature.


Martin Connelly06/04/2020 11:00:54
1249 forum posts
152 photos

Nigel, my comments about Turbocad were based on what was being said in earlier posts in the thread, sorry if they were incorrect. I have looked in YouTube and found the following tutorial on using layers, model space and paper space in Turbocad and think it may be of use to you if you want to use these features.

Paul Tracey Turbocad tutorial on layers.

Martin C

Henry Brown06/04/2020 12:04:40
192 forum posts
47 photos

I've been following this thread with interest, as an ex-CAD jockey (Medusa, Anvil2000, AutoCad) I was pleased to get away from it when I went into Project Management! Anvill was by far the easiest and best package I used, AutoCad the worst, unfortunately Anvil 1000 is $1500 so out of the question.

Since retiring I have got more time on my hands and had thought about getting CAD back on my laptop and TurboCad seems to be reasonably well supported here so I was wondering which option to go for. There seems to be several versions but which one to go for, I don't want 3D but would find 2D useful as tool for laying things out etc.

Designer is the cheapest but will it provide me with enough features to do the above and make rudimentary drawing for printing off? From reading one of the above threads it seems that an older version might be ok, there are a few on ebay, any comments on going down that route please?

Thanks in anticipation, Henry.

Edited By Henry Brown on 06/04/2020 12:06:01

Spurry06/04/2020 12:10:50
187 forum posts
62 photos

Good choice on Tcad, Henry. If it was me, I'd have a word with Paul Tracey first off, before any EB dealings..


Henry Brown06/04/2020 19:09:01
192 forum posts
47 photos

Thanks Pete, I'll have a look at his website and tutorials later...

IanT06/04/2020 22:24:36
1507 forum posts
142 photos

TurboCAD Deluxe will do everything most folk will ever need in 2D Henry.

The latest TC/DL Edition will set you back more than a slightly older one. Paul is a good person to ask - he sold me my latest TC version (at the Fosse) a few years ago...



Nigel Graham 206/04/2020 22:36:53
585 forum posts

Spurry -

I may have a germ of an idea where my Layers problem lies.

I don't really know how you either create a gallery here or make and transfer screen-shots, but thank you anyway!

I have a big collection of tool-bars, and I know where to find others, but I was trying to do was what I assume TC is trying to let me do.

That is to set up the layers by format, such as outline (the object you are drawing), centre-lines and dimensions.

For example, having drawn a square containing a concentric circle in solid black lines of 0.02 inch line thickness on Layer 1, you can then go to Layer 2 for the centre-lines because that layer holds chained 0-inch width centre-lines, then Layer 3 to dimension the assembly, presumably also with the numbers and letters in the typeface you require.

I can't remember off-hand what control opens it, but the Layer editing table is easy to find and use; but I am now wondering if I am using it at the wrong point in the process; or in the wrong context (drawings based on one of the supplied templates).

TurboCAD offers a long setting-up menu series to allow custom consistency from drawing to drawing - normal professionally - but it is so complicated and advanced I use the offered templates. I think these use only the two default Layers, of which one is dedicated solely to construction lines. Although the Layers editing table is available at any time, it would be logical to work only within that custom setting-up from a blank sheet, not on the published templates whose formats are probably locked.

All I can do there, unless someone can confirm or explain otherwise, is experiment with a drawing produced from New, not a supplied template; though I know so little about that custom set-up system I would risk revealing yet more tinned Lumbricida complexiform.

Spurry06/04/2020 23:15:25
187 forum posts
62 photos


Sorry for my mention of gallery, on this forum they call it an album. As you cannot show us a screenshot, we have to start somewhere.

I was going to post a small drawing of mine, but we can only use *jpg's here. Whilst Tcad can Save As a JPG you would not be able to dissect it, nor see layers et al.

A Friend Request has been sent. If you accept that, ( I believe) it would open up a communication avenue which may suit.

Whilst there are at least dozens of ways to use Tcad, everyone has their own pet way of drawing. Providing you achieve what you want in the end, get there how you wish.

As users, we can only pass on our own ways of doing things, but hopefully you may be able to glean from others the info you require.

In a sentence, what would you hope to be able to draw?


IanT07/04/2020 20:03:35
1507 forum posts
142 photos
Posted by Nigel Graham 2 on 06/04/2020 22:36:53:

I have a big collection of tool-bars, and I know where to find others, but I was trying to do was what I assume TC is trying to let me do.

I can't remember off-hand what control opens it, but the Layer editing table is easy to find and use; but I am now wondering if I am using it at the wrong point in the process; or in the wrong context (drawings based on one of the supplied templates).

All I can do there, unless someone can confirm or explain otherwise, is experiment with a drawing produced from New, not a supplied template; though I know so little about that custom set-up system I would risk revealing yet more tinned Lumbricida complexiform.

Hi Nigel,

a) Look at Pauls getting going in TCAD - and get rid of those toolbars - use the keyboard (it is so very much easier)

b) Think about what you want to draw and set your layers up based what you think you will need. You can always add more layers later if you need them. You can also select an entire layer - or bits of it (and merge it with another layer) by changing the 'selection' properties to that new layer. One way street though - it's harder to go back to the original layer if you didn't back up (it's possible but needs a lot of 'knife and forking' for a complicated drawing).

c) I generally don't use Templates - just selecting the new metric drawing option (which simplifies things). Other options/modes get turned on/off as required anyway....

Best way to learn - is to use it - but DO watch those set-up videos...



Nigel Graham 207/04/2020 23:12:19
585 forum posts

Thank you Pete and Ian.

Pete -

You asked what I draw. Mechanical-engineering drawings. My main project in mind for buying TurboCAD was to help me design my miniature steam-wagon from the scanty surviving photos. I'm also using it presently for a travelling-hoist I'm making for the workshop. I'd hoped the isometric (3D) mode would be useful for assembly-drawings, but found it impossible to learn sufficiently for any practical purposes.


Ian -

I know there are keyboard short-cuts in TurboCAD as there are in other programmes - I used to use several in Word and Excel, at work, for scientific symbols I used regularly. I gather TC calls them SEKEs but I forget what that abbreviates.

However, I don't find it difficult to use the tool-bars whereas to use SEKEs I'd have to write a long list and refer to it every time as I'd remember only a very few. I keep on-screen only the tool-bars I need for orthographic engineering-drawings - perhaps 8 or 10.


I can't learn from videos, especially if the displayed screen is set differently from my own , or the software edition is slightly different.

My copy of TurboCAD came with a training CD written by Paul Tracey, and though it seems for a slightly different edition, it has been very useful because it is not a video, but a pdf "book".

The pdf "Manual" via the 'Help' tool is one of the worst technical documents I have seen in both arrangement and information, but I succeeded in creating a proper index for it.

Surprisingly for a pdf, I could copy its Contents pages into Word, then use a lot of editing to turn them into a .csv text file for a 2-column table in Excel (topic and page number), I could sort alphabetically, in MoD-style noun-adjective-adjective. Having the print alongside me greatly facilitates finding any given topic - though when I looked up Layers I found nothing helpful and it is all mixed up with Snaps!

I didn't index the whole lot. I omitted the chapters on computer OS details, 3D and wood-work drawings.


I experimented after my previous post, by opening a New drawing and just trying using the Layers table when the setting-up series asked for it. That seemed to do the trick when I drew a square with a circle in the centre (layer called Outline), added two centre-lines (Centre-line layer) and dimensioned the square (Dimension layer).

It was all in inches but that's not important. Most of my drawings are in inches anyway (as are my machine-tools though the 3-axis DRO I've fitted to the mill, gives the mm option).

So perhaps my guess that the templates are locked to two default layers was right.

IanT08/04/2020 09:32:25
1507 forum posts
142 photos

If you only use the keyboard for the 'Snaps' Nigel (the half dozen most used ones) - I think you will find that makes a big difference.

OK - time to let this slip away now - have fun with your drawings..



Nigel Graham 203/05/2020 00:29:35
585 forum posts

Had another go at 3D, with rather better success.

I've drawn much of a 1/4-sectioned and exploded view of a manual boiler test / feed pump, based on a casting I happen to have, and which I will probably use on my 4-inch scale steam-wagon.

I've partially learnt how to use Layers for different line-types and colours, but not so well I can select the Layer and expect the line to pick up all that layer's properties, particularly the colour.

TuboCAD's 3D Work-planes and Assembly tools still fox me. So assembling parts other than simple polygonal forms is very much approximation then co-ordinates, sometimes with awkward arithmetic. This is particularly so with cylinders because they have no definite surface points.

I've also yet to discern how different solid types react to the various tools, but now know that Adding or Subtracting two objects into one is once-and-for-all. Trying to edit it breaks the "solid" into a useless mass of polygons.

Even so, what I have managed so far does look like a sectioned pump, though a pretty picture is not much use in the workshop. Although I understand it's possible, I don't know how to produce dimensioned orthogonal parts drawings from it.

Spurry03/05/2020 09:53:25
187 forum posts
62 photos


Good to see that you are still making progress.


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