Learning CAD


This post is not about which is the Best CAD, it is about learning CAD.
Due to a cast on my Right foot for the next 9 weeks or so, I thought I might try my hand at learning CAD. My Shop is off-limits with a cast and crutches.
I took a drafting course in High School back about 1964, but don't remember much. As I recall, the big thing is just to do, start simple, and work to complex, but most important just draft.
I purchased a 'learning to draft' book from Amazon a few years ago after one of this NG Lo-o-ng CAD debates.
So my question, does anyone have a suggestion as to learning TurboCAD, CADopia (intelliCAD?), DesignCAD, and so forth. Looking for WEB sites, Forums, or just simple projects to learn from. As I figure it, the CAD program with the most help for me to learn on my own, will be the most useful program, so I will buy that program.
TIA Phil
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You are way ahead having had drafting in school. Having drafting experience also I learned the CAD programs with out any instruction at all. IMHO the biggest obstacle is knowing how to draw and how to make the program do what YOU want it to do rather than to learn the program. IMHO AutoCAD LT and Intellicad were the easiest to get to do what I wanted them to do.
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On Thu, 15 Jun 2006 19:40:55 GMT, "Phil-in-MI" <NO Spam &
Not sure what your purpose is in the long run, and don't let me stop you picking up trial copies of proper CAD programs too. But one cool piece of software I came across is free, and is useful for sketching 3D representations of things (like furniture for example).
Google's sketchup has a unique method of rapidly extruding a 2D design into 3D and then applying textures for visualization purposes. You can even dimension those drawings. Now, it's not going to be able to generate CNC lathe instructions etc, and if you need that, then skip this and move directly a proper CAD suite.
But for hobby or rapid 3D visualization, Sketchup works pretty well.
http://sketchup.google.com/product_suf.html
Run through the tutorials that come with it - they only take a few minutes and are very helpful.
Google have a large archive of objects you can use too. Start here:
http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse /
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Phil-in-MI wrote:

Most of the mfg's have forums; I'd sub to a few of those, lurk awhile, and try asking some basic questions.
IMO, the way to start is 2-D, especially since you already have a background. Your biggest problem will be learning the new syntax, most likely. Vertex, node, layer usage, etc..
Visualize something. A simple box made from sticks and 1/4" ply, say. Draft up a rectangular box, all views: Front, Side, Top, Bottom, whatever. Then add in the hidden lines, say. Once all components are in place, next thing is to dimension it so you can make a cut list. Now lay out all the individual parts, dimensioned, complete with rabbets, dados, half laps, whatever you used. Now calculate the amount of lumber you need. Bingo! Then move to layers, so you can show it with and without a skin, say.
When you feel confident, pick something reasonable simple that you want to do in the shop. When you finally get to your shop, or have a friend test the plans, try cutting everything out from the cutlist and material list and see if they'll go together the way they're supposed to. They probably won't the first time, BTW; don't be too disappointed. It's normal.
Then you can decide whether to flesh out your 2D abilities or not, and whether to continue on to 3D.
Google Sketchit is a good visualization program, and free, and a lot of people seem to like it. If you have a legitimate CAD program though, you'll find shortly that Sketchit cannot do a lot of things your own CAD can do. If Sketchit had better export functions, I'd probably use it myself by doing a lot of initials in it, and then finessing with my TurboCad, but ... remember, you get what you pay for<g> in most instances. I'm not belittling Sketchit; it's a good program, but actually more a modelling program than a CAD program, but it can do a respectable job with most things.
Mostly, play, play, play! THEN you'll hopefully know where your weaknesses and strengths might be. Reality can be a real education! <G>
HTH, Pop
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If you can find someone in your area, who either used it professionally, or took a full study of it in school, that is the best and quickest way to learn. It is worth the money given to an individual to learn how to use it, because it is worth nothing if you can't. Put an ad on a board at the supermarket, etc. Some of the schools aren't worth peanuts. I've got a honours 2 yr full time CAD/CAM college diploma (don't ask), and I could have no problem giving you the whole package, and nothing but the package: AutoCAD, at least. Though there are more than one way to do it, in whole and in part, it is a systematic duty. Without a solid quantity of hindsight, it can be completely hopeless.
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Over the years I had to learn and use a number of CADs. ALL a big waste of time compared to "Solidworks"!!! I was producing quality needed models in less than two hours just by doing the built-in tutorials. It's VERY expensive but they have offered it free to hobbyists and non-commercial people. I can't tout it enough, and I'm not that easily impressed with software.
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What order or how you draw is one thing. Knowing why text is big or small, how to drop in a title block with the correct scale and position, importing/exporting seemlessly and making sure things are up to spec for all time is another. Avoiding pitfalls and being part of the solution, not the problem.
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