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15 replies to this topic

#1 Twitch de la Brat

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Posted 16 April 2011 - 12:06 AM

Anyone on here happen to have experience they would like to pass along about
this program?
I'm going to be doing some self-improvement and learning AutoCAD.
I'm good with computers, so I get pretty much everything up until programming.

I'm also looking for a cheap or free distro of it, like maybe a Beta or something.
I just need something to learn the basics on until I get into a position to start
getting into the more in depth aspects of it.
Then I should be able to have my hands on a full version :slobber:


#2 bheinen74



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Posted 16 April 2011 - 12:13 AM

i've used Autocad14, MicrostationSE, and all the Imagine suites from erdas............got nothing for distrirbution, the packages start at 2500

add to the list Idrisi, Elvis, lots of sonar/LIDAR programs...orthovista, photoshop, etc lots of specialized in house stuff too. Elvis was cool lol.

Edited by bheinen74, 16 April 2011 - 12:15 AM.

#3 eulogious


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Posted 16 April 2011 - 05:27 AM

If I was going to try to get one piece of software, I would get Microstation. Microstation can edit Autocad files, and Microstation files. My stepdad teaches Microstation for a local college over here, so I have the full versions and play with it my self at times :) I don't use them that much, but it's good stuff to know.

Have you looked into taking a college class on drafting? Might help fill in all the basics. The one thing I have learned from playing with the software is that you can figure out how to draw lines and what not, but not knowing how to actually draft made it difficult to actually do anything "correctly", that's why I suggest taking a class if you can.

Either way, good luck man, drafting is something that the world will always need in one shape or another!

#4 idosubaru


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Posted 16 April 2011 - 08:39 AM

I've done Autocad and CATIA which is used in automotive/aerospace engineering circles.

Have you tried looking on ebay for old autocad textbooks? I'd start there, get some used textbook from a college class from someone like me that has a bunch lying around - i don't have any of my CAD books though i hated those classes! :lol: older versions are worthless but they're outdated quickly in college so shouldn't be hard to get a relatively new one.

college students can often get cheap deals on software, student versions. they will be limited in scope and not the full on product, but will be more than enough to learn...but still not free.


focus on the big picture as much as you can.rather than just draw with it. try working with someone, with others, interfacing the files with other programs, extracting data from the files to be used by other programs...if possible, etc.

here's what most college students don't do and will set you apart: you are most marketable not when you can use the software (or learn something) but when you can implement it in the real world environment, with products, people, teams, financial considerations, timing, etc. most people aren't good at the latter (though they think they are), so if you can do that you'll find getting jobs very easy.

find a local company that uses it and take a guy to lunch and ask him what it's like, what he does, etc.

the drafting idea is a good one, though i wouldn't call it necessary it could be very helpful depending on you. i never did but i went to an engineering school so i had plenty of other experience. sometimes companies will hire interns to get a few simple tasks done, maybe not even paid, but you get to learn while yo'ure doing it.

once you're proficient with Autocad start thinking about what you want to do, what industry, find out what they use and maybe dabble in other products like CATIA, or others. it's nice to be really proficient in one thing but still be able to put something like "comfortable in a UNIX, CATIA, etc environment" on your resume. at least show that you are familiar with it and can work/learn in that environment. this part is a long way off, but at least you can create some metrics to shoot for as you're working.

do what you need to do to stay fresh, confident and energetic about it - that will pay off as you connect with people and continue heading in this directions.

good luck!

Edited by grossgary, 16 April 2011 - 08:43 AM.

#5 Scoobywagon


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Posted 16 April 2011 - 02:20 PM

If you just want to learn and poke at it a bit, I'd advise you to start with BobCAD. You can download a demo of it here. I don't recall exactly what the restrictions are on the demo. I think it just won't let you have more than one project going at a time. But you can get that for free and its a good starting place.

#6 Twitch de la Brat

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Posted 17 April 2011 - 01:02 PM

Hey guys, thanks for all the suggestions.
I don't think I'll be able to go into school for drafting or design, as I can't draw
worth crap unless I've got a protractor, compass, ruler, french curve, and
whole bunch of other materials to make my lines for me.
I'm just going to look into the engineering classes at the local college, and
see what all I can do without having to actually "go" to college and just do
some separate courses, away from all the pre-req's.

I know an engineer personally, so I'm going to ask him about using AutoCAD
and various other software CAD drawing.
And maybe he'll have an old copy I can borrow :banana:

I'm downloading BobCAD-CAM v24 as we speak, so if I get a chance, I'll be
able to learn as much as possible in the 30 days it allows :)
I might just have to download it again later ;)


#7 lostinthe202


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Posted 17 April 2011 - 01:30 PM

Do you know where you want to go with your skills?

Starting from square one, it doesn't matter too much about which CAD program you use, 2d or 3d. But as you start to apply the knowledge, you'll find there are fundamental differences that play big part in producing the drawings you want. For example, AutoCAD is great for architects but not so handy for 3d modeling of a complex system, like a gear box say, that a mechanical engineer might work on.

As a machinist, I use AutoCAD a lot for anything 2d or to figure out a radius or angle because it's quick to use. But I also use Solidworks or ProE for anything with complex 3d geometry 'cause drawing 3d in AutoCAD is a PIA.

I agree with the suggestions of getting a text for whichever program you decide to use. It's easy enough to get a start this way as the texts have tutorials that take you through the basic steps. Having a strong grasp of the basics of what is required to make a usable drawing is really important. It's easy to just start drawing lines and end up with sketch of what your going for. But do the lines actually meet? Are they perpendicular when required? Are lines horizontal or vertical when required, etc.

Also, even if you draw it correctly, Gary has an excellent point about the difference between being able to draw something accurately and producing a usable drawing. A good example is a former student at the University where I used to work, he was quick with ProE (a 3d modeling software) top of his class etc. After he graduated he got a job with an outfit in Florida that makes large antenna arrays that deploy in space for communications. They put him to work on some stuff and when he brought his drawings to the boss, he got yelled at because they weren't usable drawing since they didn't have all the dimensions necessary to actually produce the part, no tolerances, no weld symbols and all the other details that makes a drawing usable. He was taught the program from a theoretical stance, where the drawings he made could be assembled into multi-part drawings that could be analyzed for proper movement, strength properties, etc.

I know this is more information that you're probably looking for, but if you're goal is to eventually pick up some side work, or full time work, doing this stuff you'll need to know what is required of you.

Above all and as with most skills, practice is the key to being good at it. Buy yourself a cheap pair of Chinese calipers from harbor freight or someplace and start drawing objects in your room. Learn to think in thousandths of an inch or tenths of a millimeter and learn how to draw objects with real dimensions.

Good luck!

Good luck!

#8 Twitch de la Brat

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Posted 17 April 2011 - 03:12 PM

Lostinthe202, good idea on drawing objects I know.
It'll make it much easier to model theoretical items once I get drawing literal items down pat.
Thankfully I've got a cheapo caliper already, so I can just start measuring and modeling :)
Now, as for units for scale, BobCAD-CAM gives me premarked units, but not actual dimensions for those units.
So would you recommend just making a mental note to put everything into a specific scale as I draw it in the program?
Or is there an option to mark the units that I just haven't found?


#9 lostinthe202


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Posted 17 April 2011 - 06:04 PM

Having never used Bobcad before, I can't tell you anything specific to that program. But I can say that CAD programs only draw on a 1:1 scale. The object on the paper you actually print out can be scaled to anything you want, but while you're drawing, if you ask for 1" it gives you 1".

That being said, the default for bobcad will be either inches or millimeters but I have no idea which. Take some time to go through the menus. Look for anything that says "units" under an options page or preferences page. Try using the "help" menu to find it.

Many CAD programs have what looks like units of measure running up the side and bottom (or top) of the screen. I think these are to give you a rough idea of size when you first start your drawing. Usually when you are in a line command you'll see fields at the bottom of the screen for X and Y start and end values. For a circle you might see a X and Y center and a radius or diameter field. Again, look for some tutorials, maybe start at the website where you downloaded the program.


#10 lostinthe202


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Posted 17 April 2011 - 06:10 PM

Here ya go, looks like BobCad has some tutorial videos on their website. Youtube may have more.


#11 bheinen74



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Posted 17 April 2011 - 07:28 PM

also don't overlook skechup for basic type stuff. it's freeware as well.
used to be provided by "AtLast/@last" but think google acquired it sometime back

#12 ShawnW


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Posted 19 April 2011 - 02:01 AM

Thanks for the tip on Sketchup. Pretty fun in the first few minutes.

I did Autocad in High School in 1993-1996. Back then it was R12 for Dos and R13 Windows. Was a really fun architecture class and was pretty rare to have in a High School classroom at the time. My drafts ended up being chosen to be drawn as the 1996 Student built house, which I did with R12. I am pretty sure I could still do it again today but I hope the software has improved some. (I know it has but not direct knowledge of it.)
When I go back "home" I drive by this house. Its still the best one on the block which isn't saying much on its street but for a high school project it was cool.

#13 952.2LX


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Posted 05 October 2011 - 12:07 PM

Sorry for a late reply. I've Been using AutoCAD for geez goin on 10yrs now. DesignCAD is a basic inexpensive cad software. There are tons out there to choose from. Even AutoDESK has trial versions of their software packages. Some have tutorials that are fairly easy to follow. Good Luck and I hope you get what you need out of them.

#14 Fishums


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Posted 08 October 2011 - 07:23 PM

If you have a .edu email account, you can register on the autodesk student site, and they will let you download and use the software for free for four years or something. I recommend giving inventor a try, it's very well rounded program.

#15 coxy


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Posted 19 November 2011 - 10:33 PM

Have a look at Dassault Systemes the French Company who made the Mirage Fighter Jet they have both 2D and 3D and supply the 2D software for free it works with Autocad files and actually opens and works with later Autocad files than some more recent but not current Autocad releases.
It goes under the name of Draftsight when you search and if you have any Autocad experience is easy to master,also has a Forum for users.

#16 Scott in Bellingham

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Posted 19 November 2011 - 11:51 PM

I use a older version of Autocad LT I used it these last few days designing the new lift kit for the 2000-2004 , its really handy , before that I used a few free CAD programs, AutoCAd is by far superior, get a CAD program that allows for multiple layers and colors, I run a black background ane use white lines on layer 0, a cheep yellow plastic adjustable angle maker is helpful also a cheep caliper and a good tape measure

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