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Printrbot Talk Forum • View topic - Alternative to Skechtup

Alternative to Skechtup

Discussions about CAD use and designing

Alternative to Skechtup

Postby ElmoC » 2014-Dec-Sun-14-Dec

I am fed up with Sketchup and need to find something to replace it. The last straw with it was when I guess I moved the scroll wheel when I should have clicked and it deleted over an hours worth of work and disabled the undo so I couldn't restore whatever it had done. This, along with sever other annoying problems with sketchup has put it on my don't recommend list.

So I need to know what else is available out there. I don't mind paying, but funds are limited so it can't be too expensive of a package.

Any suggestions?
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Re: Alternative to Skechtup

Postby Munson » 2014-Dec-Sun-14-Dec

I use cubify invent,49 bucks but I am a simpleton with cad design,my objects are very simple
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Re: Alternative to Skechtup

Postby killbox » 2014-Dec-Sun-15-Dec

123D or fusion by autodesk. but get ready for a sharp learning curve and some menu digging to get started.
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Re: Alternative to Skechtup

Postby Mooselake » 2014-Dec-Sun-17-Dec

Here's some other free tools.

OpenSCAD, but it's a programming language that produces parts and might be difficult getting started with if you're not a programmer. However, it's a very simple programming language.

FreeCAD. A bit rough around the edges, but it's under active development.

Autodesk Fusion 360, free for personal use.

DesignSpark Mechanical.

HeeksCad, although the latest version is $20 or so.

TinkerCAD, now owned by Autodesk but still has free accounts.

Doesn't the scroll wheel in Sketchup zoom in/out? Could you have just made it too small to see? I've done that before...

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Re: Alternative to Skechtup

Postby KD6HQ » 2014-Dec-Sun-23-Dec

For What It's Worth:

Which ever CAD system you end up with perhaps you should consider saving your work ever 10 or 15 minutes if not more often. I know how frustrating it can be when that happens. Also look to see if the program you are using will create an auto-backup every so often. It's usually in the settings area somewhere. So even if you do forget to create a backup it does it for you.

I use a combination of Sketchup and FreeCAD, both of theses programs create backups. So there is a good chance that you did not really loose all of your work. Lets say that I'm creating a file called Microscope. If you look at the file directory for Microscope you will see a fill called Microscope.skp. That is the active file you are working with. Look further and you might see a file called Microscope.skb. This is the backup file. So in Sketchup open up a file like normal, when it asks you for the name of the file, click on the down arrow button on the right and click on "all files". Now you can scroll to the *.skb file and open it. The same holds true for FreeCAD, except the file extensions are different, *.FSCtd1 instead of *.skb.

If you are going to be around 3D printing for a while, say a couple of years then I would seriously look into using one of the AutoCad free products. I will most likely switch to AutoCAD's Fusion 360 in the next couple of months because it is free to non-commercial users such as 3-D hobbyist. First I need to upgrade my computer.

Anyway like it says "For what it's worth".

Good luck

Click on the "Windows" pull down menu, then "Preferences", then "General" then set the "Auto-save" timer.
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Re: Alternative to Skechtup

Postby ElmoC » 2014-Dec-Tue-09-Dec

Thanks for the input.

As for the scroll wheel zooming out, that wasn't it. I tried using the camera to zoom to extents, but there was nothing there.

I did have the auto saved turned on, but trying to revert back to it didn't work.

Think I might try going back to Sketchup 8. 2015 just has too many bugs still and all the tutorials I found are based on it.
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Re: Alternative to Skechtup

Postby wd5gnr » 2015-Jan-Sun-15-Jan

Bear with me... this is on topic. When I got started with FPGAs (a kind of electronic circuit) I thought "Why learn all these text-based tools? I'll just draw schematics." But I came to realize that what would take me a long time to draw in a schematic could be described very succinctly. For example, a 7 segment LED decoder looks like this: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-o94_8UNhQvk/U ... driver.jpg But I can describe it in about 8 lines of Verilog or VHDL:

module LED_7seg(
input clk,
output segA, segB, segC, segD, segE, segF, segG, segDP
);

// cnt is used as a prescaler
reg [23:0] cnt;
always @(posedge clk) cnt <= cnt+24'h1;
wire cntovf = &cnt;

// BCD is a counter that counts from 0 to 9
reg [3:0] BCD;
always @(posedge clk) if(cntovf) BCD <= (BCD==4'h9 ? 4'h0 : BCD+4'h1);

reg [7:0] SevenSeg;
always @(*)
case(BCD)
4'h0: SevenSeg = 8'b11111100;
4'h1: SevenSeg = 8'b01100000;
4'h2: SevenSeg = 8'b11011010;
4'h3: SevenSeg = 8'b11110010;
4'h4: SevenSeg = 8'b01100110;
4'h5: SevenSeg = 8'b10110110;
4'h6: SevenSeg = 8'b10111110;
4'h7: SevenSeg = 8'b11100000;
4'h8: SevenSeg = 8'b11111110;
4'h9: SevenSeg = 8'b11110110;
default: SevenSeg = 8'b00000000;
endcase

assign {segA, segB, segC, segD, segE, segF, segG, segDP} = SevenSeg;
endmodule

What's even more interesting is that if I make a mistake on the 2nd one, it is trivial to go patch a bit pattern. If I made a mistake on the schematic. Ugh. I am starting to think the same way with regard to CAD, at least for the majority of kinds of things I design for printing. Suppose I have a front panel for an electronics project. I have 7 or 8 holes and 4 mount screw holes. Now I decide to make the panel wider and add some holes. Draw draw draw... or I can change the description just a little and everything goes to the right place (if I did it right). That's how OpenSCAD is.

Some people think if they aren't a programmer they can't understand OpenSCAD, but actually it is the other way around. OpenSCAD has some strangeness to it that makes it more difficult to learn if you are a traditional programmer. There are tons of tutorials (and, yes, I wrote a book on it you can find on Amazon --working on another related title right now). For simple things, you just can't beat it. Now, granted, with high end CAD programs you can still sketch and set constraints to get similar effects, but it is a lot harder (at least to me it is).

The part that people think is hard--and they may have a point--is that you sometimes have to figure out how to describe some strange shape you want. Using CSG is pretty intuitive, but might lead to designs that don't automatically adjust --which somewhat defeats the purpose. So some general purpose OpenSCAD libraries you see are chock full of trig and geometry equations to figure things out. For example: If this object is X mm wide, what is the radius of this curved part? But 90% of the time or more you won't need to do all of that, especially if you are just drawing things for your own use. You can just add and subtract shapes of sizes until you get what you want and be done with it.

I find I am going to GUI-based tools less and less lately.
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Re: Alternative to Skechtup

Postby sssidney » 2015-Jan-Fri-10-Jan

I've been using MOI 3d for a few months now and really like it. It just seems more intuitive than other CAD programs I've used.

They have a 30-day trial version that you can test drive.
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Re: Alternative to Skechtup

Postby thawkins » 2015-Jan-Fri-12-Jan

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Re: Alternative to Skechtup

Postby Mooselake » 2015-Jan-Fri-15-Jan

It's better to poke things with a long pole instead of a mouse. You never know if they'll bite back.

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Re: Alternative to Skechtup

Postby DaveG » 2015-Feb-Wed-16-Feb

I'm new on this forum but not to 3D cad. Switched from SketchUp to Rhino a few years ago and never looked back! Rhino was originally written by and for product designers. It's hand's down the best 3D modeler I've ever seen for 3D printing. The learning curve can be a little steep but there are lots of online tutorials. A fully functional 90 day(!) demo version is available and if you work on a Mac, the fully functional, and pretty bug free, beta version is available for unlimited use, at least until they release the pay version.
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Re: Alternative to Skechtup

Postby Bill.Brown1951 » 2015-Feb-Tue-06-Feb

Autodesk 123d Design is easy to learn, and is free. It does have limitations. However, If you are like me I do not require anything complicated to design and print. If you want something a bit more professional step up to Autodesk Fusion 360. It is also free.
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Re: Alternative to Skechtup

Postby mak3r » 2015-Mar-Sun-22-Mar

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