DesignCAD

I know a lot has been written in this group about CAD programs for woodworking and I don't really want to start an argument or stir up that pot.
In issue 172 of Fine Woodworking, Gregory Paolini called DesignCAD 3D MAX V14 the pick of the litter of the 3-D CAD programs he reviewed.
Autosketch 8 (Poor) DesignCAD 3D MAX V14 (Excellent) TurboCAD Deluxe V9.2) (Good)
It has been two years since Paolini's article. An eternity in software releases. DesignCAD is now up to V17 and has broken out the training CDs and priced them separately. Paolini claimed that training and design time of his test was at least twice as fast as TurboCAD and three times faster than Autosketch.
I'm long-winded here I know, but finally, here is my question(s). Any users of V17 out there with any opinions or thoughts, positive or negative? I would appreciate if they would post them here.
Thanks for your help,
John Flatley Jacksonville, Florida
--
One consolation about memory loss in old age is that
you also forget a lot of things you didn't intend to
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"John Flatley" wrote in message

I own/owned all three, and would reverse the first two in their current, 2006, versions.
Currently using AS9 to good advantage, and routinely open up/manipulate my architect's .dwg files from AutoCad with ease.
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Last update: 10/29/06
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John have you used a CAD program? If no, consider that 3D can be very complicated when compared to 2D. Many 2D programs will let you draw Isometric drawings and that is what I use. I have had formal drafting training with the pencil, t-squares and triangles and have been using CAD programs since 1986. 3D is cool but you have to be very familiar with a CAD program to turn out meaningful drawings in 3D. If you are not familiar with CAD programs the magazine ratings may never mean anything to you. Finally, most all decent CAD programs are available in trial versions. Toy with those before making a decision.

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Leon,
You make a good point about using 2D versus 3D. The article author, Paolini, is AutoCAD trained. He makes the point that if you think you will end up in 3D, select one of the 3D programs and run in 2D mode until you feel comfortable to make the change to 3D. This would avoid learning a new program when or if you decide to go to 3D.
I have almost no experience using CAD. I have played with various graphic and photo editors. I found that I never really used all the function and features of the programs. I suspect that it will be the same with CAD programs.
Paolini tested two 2D programs. He rated DeltaCAD over QuickCAD 8 for ease of learning.
I will follow your advice and get trial copies of the programs and play with them. Duh! Sometimes, someone pointing out the obvious is the advice I need.
Thanks, I needed that!
John Flatley Jacksonville, Florida
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Some folks are wise and some are otherwise. And some
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"John Flatley" wrote in message

There is no more QuickCAD ... it is now AutoSketch9, but the exact same program/functionality.
It all depends upon what you get used to, but I personally found QuickCAD/AutoSketch more intuitive than DeltaCAD.
YMMV.
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Another thing or two to consider John. Like a left tilt or right tilt TS CAD programs are good according to personal preference. Through the years I have probably owned 10 different combinations of brands and versions of CAD programs. I am self taught when it comes to CAD programs although I have has a couple of years training in the old stile manual drawing. I originally had IMSI Design CAD, moved to TurboCAD, to several versions of AutoSketch, which I might add were excellent value programs, and finally in 1997 I switched/upgraded to AutoCAD LT. I am now on my 4th version of AutoCAD LT and really like the program. AutoCAD LT for Windows, when I up graded, was like AutoSketch on steroids. Any way I like AutoCAD LT but AutoCAD LT is pretty pricey even if it is an up grade. IIRC the program goes these days for about $700.00. And runs about $300.00 for an upgrade. IntelliCAD is the next CAD program that I will buy. It can be had for under $100 and is virtually a clone of AtuoCAD LT. For me there will be no learning curve when switching. You can get free trial versions of ItelliCAD also. One last thing to consider. Isometric drawings are normally all that you will ever need when drawing. True perspective 3D drawing lets you look at an object from most any angle and makes the drawing appear as it would in real life. Isometric drawings show front, top, and a side view much like 3D but all the lines come out to actual lengths and do not change with viewing angle. Isometric drawings are as easy to understand as 3D and IMHO much easier to draw. No new skills are really needed to go from 2D to isometric.
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I'm going to download DeltaCAD trial version tomorrow and play with it for a while. See if it fits. If not, I'll take a look at IntelliCAD.
Thanks for your opinions and suggestions.
John Flatley Jacksonville, Florida
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Any tools or woods purchased or any time or money spent
in the pursuit of woodworking that employs our
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This is a very common misconception about 3D cad. It is often thought that the purpose of 3D is to generate a picture. Such is not the case.The true benefit of 3D is that each piece can be drawn, complete with all joinery, at full scale and the entire project built on the computer. Any "gotch's" will show up before any wood is cut. 2D drawings are generated directly from the 3D model. No need to draw them twice, the 2D drawings are semi or fully automatic. This does, as you have pointed out, come at a great deal of time and effort in learning how to do this. For the typical woodworker, the time and effort to get to that level with the chosen software is probably not worth it but there are serious advantages for those that do it.

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It costs slightly more, but I would also try Visio. You can get a free trial of Visio 2003 off of Microsoft's site. I find it much easier than the true CAD packages.
Mark
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John Flatley wrote:

Not here I'm afraid, but while I don't know your goals for the program, might I also suggest Google's Sketchup:
http://www.sketchup.com
It used to be licensed (and quite pricey), but Google, in its typical way, threw a free version on the market. Very intuitive to boot.
Suits my beginning woodworker needs, especially since I don't need too powerfull software.
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Best regards,
Vriendelijke groeten,
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Greetings and happy holidays to all!
Misc. replies, my two cents:
Penny 1: While Google did release a limited free version of Sketchup after they purchased the company (www.sketchup.com), the company still sells a non-free version. The program struck me as being quite spiffy -- especially it's user interface -- and well worth its cost (assuming one has a use for it).
Penny 2: If you are keen to purchase a version of DesignCAD -- a tact that I neither recommend nor gainsay -- you might well wish to purchase the very version (14) that your magazine recommended so highly.
DCAD 14 is, AFAIK, fully compatible with all versions of 32 bit windows, whereas the help system in Ver 15 -- and maybe 16 ??? -- is not compatible with Win 95, although the rest of the program is (version 17 also seems to be Win 95 compatible, despite what www.DesignCAD.com says).
Even if you're not interested in Win 95 compatibility, the help system is increasingly less helpful in post 14 versions (again, 16 is a mystery to me). Indeed, in version 17, attempting to get online/context sensitive help merely causes the program to launch the PDF version of the user's manual in another window, opened to the front cover (sort of like having the program scream "RTFM!" every time you are in doubt).
While a seasoned DCAD user might not suffer greatly from the diminished help in newer versions of DCAD, I assume that having online help available to a new user might be, well, helpful. <g> If you are a speed reader with a photographic memory, I'm sorry to have wasted your time. <g>
Remaining copies of DCAD 14 are generally obscenely cheap, meaning that you won't be out any great sum of money regardless of whether you disdain and discard DCAD 14, or if you fall so head-over-heals in love that you rush out an upgrade to version 17.1 (don't forget to download the 17.1 patch!).
You can find the user's manual for DCAD 14 here: http://www.turbocad.com/support/turbocad_documentation.asp (That they placed DesignCAD Version 14's user manual on TurboCAD's web site is, alas, just one example of their attention to detail.)
Manuals for other DesignCAD versions can be found here: http://www.imsisoft.com/support/designcad/documentation.asp
The manual for DCAD 17 seems to be available only bundled with the free trial.
Penny 3: (Bonus penny!) Based upon my EXTREMELY limited contact with Alibre, both the company and it's FREE Design Xpress 3D software (http://www.alibre.com/xpress /) seem to have much to recommend themselves. How difficult is it to master? I don't know, you tell me! <g>
Good luck!
Cordially, Richard Kanarek
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