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MEW 181 (Scibe a Line)

Simple CAD

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Michael Gilligan03/09/2011 10:55:17
20289 forum posts
1064 photos
Keith Keen's letter in 180 attracted a full page of responses in 181 ... which is an excellent result.

I suggested that he try SketchUp, and I stand by that suggestion, although it is not really CAD.

I must however express my thanks to those who recommended DraftSight. I downloaded the OS X version last night, and it looks superb.

My previous searches for a Mac compatible CAD package had returned nothing to my taste; but this is good!


I first used AutoCad around 1985, Version 2.18 which, if I recall correctly, came on thirteen floppy disks and cost 3,000
We bought one of the first desktop PCs in the company, specifically to run it.
John Stevenson03/09/2011 11:10:19
5068 forum posts
3 photos
CAD is like religion, there is no magic bullet that suits all.
I find that it's no good recommending what ever it is you use as it may not appeal to someone else.
The best way is to recommend 4 or 5 programs that can be downloaded and then work thru the tutorials.
It might take 3 or 4 nights to get familiar with them but you have to put the time in to get the best out of it, once you have done this then you are better placed to make the choice that suits you.
With 2D CAD there is no need nowadays to actually buy as many companies are giving away their 2D offerings as a starter to get you to upgrade to their 3D modelling programs.
Solid Works are one with Draftsight and Solid Edge with Solid edge 2D, these are fully working , legal copies with no nag screens or limitations.
Another advantage that Draftsight has is loads of tutorials on You tube.
John S.
blowlamp03/09/2011 12:58:18
1658 forum posts
106 photos
Did you ever try ViaCAD2d/3d?
It's one of the few good CAD applications that are available on both PC and Mac and is updated frequently.
The problem for me with the free 2d software from the big companies, is that once you're ready for 3d, you've already been 'conditioned' towards that firm's product - and they certainly aren't free.
John's right about CAD and religion, but if you do need 2d and 3d capability, then there doesn't seem to be many affordable options out there for the hobbyist.
Michael Gilligan03/09/2011 14:35:42
20289 forum posts
1064 photos
John and Martin,

Thanks for the comments; fair points made.
No, I don't think I tried ViaCAD ... Must have a look sometime.

However, for me personally ... the combination of DraftSight for 2D, and SketchUp for 3D modeling looks ideal.


P.S. Just spotted my typo in the thread title ... Scibe should read Scribe. David; if you are monitoring this, would you please correct. Many thanks.

Edited By Michael Gilligan on 03/09/2011 14:39:39

blowlamp03/09/2011 15:21:07
1658 forum posts
106 photos
I don't think Sketchup is ideal for 3d technical drawing such as an engineer would need because it's a Polygon based modeller rather than NURBS based.
This means that circles and arcs etc, are made up of short straight line sections and not proper curves, so they're only a representation of the real thing i.e. everything is faceted.
On the other hand, NURBS is mathematically precise modeling, which is what you really need for engineering.
You've also got to learn two CAD applictions and is one of the reasons I decided to pay for my software, despite the free stuff being available.
Michael Gilligan03/09/2011 17:47:29
20289 forum posts
1064 photos
Yes that's a perfectly reasonable comment, although personally I have no need to do complex technical drawings in 3D.
In the absence of an affordable Mac package that I liked, I kept my old DOS PC specifically to run an old version of Autocad ... which provides vector based 2D plus extrusion. The free version of DraftSight looks like a viable replacement, which is why I started this thread with a "thank you" to those who suggested it.
For 3D visualisation [as opposed to "proper" engineering drawing], I find SketchUp very useful.
... We bought the Pro version, which includes some clever tools for intersecting shapes.
There is also a SketchyPhysics plug-in available , which allows objects to interact dynamically. [SP is tricky to work with, but I think it's worth the effort]. ... I am currently trying to model gear trains and ratchets.
Moore's Law may prove me wrong in due course, but I doubt if I could ever afford the processing power required to run dynamic 3D models without relying upon polygons!
Gordon W03/09/2011 18:35:33
2011 forum posts
Blowlamp :- I seem to remember early autocad, all curves and complete circles were made from short lines. Indeed when you think about it, they still are, only now they are much shorter, that's progress.
Ian Abbott03/09/2011 18:47:39
279 forum posts
21 photos
I've been using my old Vectorworks, too poor to pay the £1600 upgrade, so I've just downloaded the DraftSight, even though the spelling is so American- should be DraughtSight.
I'll 'ave a play and see what it does.

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