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Discussion Starter #1
Do any of you CAD out your parts before building them? Anybody have any leads on cheap software packages out there? Downloadable student versions that don't expire and leave watermarks would be ideal.

I have access to Solidworks and NX at work and have used ProE in the past but i'm sure i could learn a new one. Lately things have been so busy around the office that I really want to leave at the end of the day. I'm not a fan of eating all 3 meals at work.
 

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Not me...I tried Google Sketchup but got frustrated. I am pretty handy with graph paper, a scale rule, and my mechanical pencil though.
 

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I am with Kenny on this. I work professionally in mechanical engineering, and do not have CAD software at home. At the very most, I do some minor hand sketches. I would rather spend my time building than drawing.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I'm also a Mechanical Engineer. I've just gotten use to making my mistakes in a model and it also helps if i have complex parts made.

long story short, I will be building a grapple for my mini-ex but I want to go with a progressive style like the big boys rather than what is typically on a mini or backhoe. I want to get the linkages right and I wont be making everything myself. I'll want drawings so i can get a shop to do all the cutting.
 

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I use TurboCad Pro version 14 and Solid Modeler, seems to work okay. I don't use it enough to be as proficient as I would like though. Lots of times I use a Mayline and pencils as this is simple and effective for me. Linkages, I would use cardboard and straight pins to get close initially and conceptually. May be primitive method but I am primitive too so it works for me.:lol:
 

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Microsoft Office

You would be amazed at what you can do with the drawing tools on Microsoft office Excel these days. I draw everything up in it to scale then do a mini scale model for larger projects. There is usually a couple days of scribbeling on paper before hand but Microsoft Excel is what I use to make it presentable. It even Goes 3D which really makes it easier to show and explain to someone to doesnt have a knack for technical drawings.:thumbup1gif:
 

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To CAD or not to CAD depends on the project and its complexity. If it's a simple project, I just wing it and build it. If it's complex I prefer to CAD it up so I know how it fits together before cutting expensive metal and wasting my time.

Currently I use AutoCAD 2011, and I'm teaching myself Inventor when life doesn't get in the way.

As for cheap CAD programs...well it's like anything else, you get what you pay for. Sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you don't. Every now and then a mechanical engineer buddy has me look at and evaluate some low cost CAD program he finds on the net. Usually they are so buggy that I tell him to stick with his graph paper and pencil.

I haven't used TurboCAD so I can't comment on how well it works.
 

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You would be amazed at what you can do with the drawing tools on Microsoft office Excel these days. I draw everything up in it to scale then do a mini scale model for larger projects. There is usually a couple days of scribbeling on paper before hand but Microsoft Excel is what I use to make it presentable. It even Goes 3D which really makes it easier to show and explain to someone to doesnt have a knack for technical drawings.:thumbup1gif:
Welcome to DT Hamm. Is there any chance you can post some of your examples? I would sure like to see your drawings in excel.
 
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