Wes, I tried it briefly, found it interesting, but I had other
priorities so I did not explore it in depth. It does look nice. I
cannot compare it with anything. I also wanted to say that the new LTS
version of Ubuntu 10.04 is really great.
I'm not Iggy, but I tried it on the old P3 that sits on my desk. It looks
like nice but it overloaded my machine. (it does have 2 gig of memory and a
4 gig dual head AGP card so nothing else is loading down the processor) I
have not tried running it on my newer dual core. It might run well on a
more powerful machine. Not that I didn't expect it to bog on an older
computer, but ViaCad 2D/3D (not free) runs on the old P3 and produces decent
I know, its not free, but it has capabilities way beyond mine, and its one
of the easiest to learn CAD programs I have tried. (When you actually sit
down and try to learn it.) It saves in its own native format, but exports
in a number of other formats which drop right into my CAM software. I have
taken several STL files from ViaCad and cut them using the 3D mops in
CamBam (also not free) to generate the code. Sadly the trial period for
ViaCad is only 7 days. For most of us that makes learning it well enough to
give it a fair shake fairly hard. I actually dumped it as one of many bad
ideas the first time, but when I made some negative comments about it on
CNCZONE I got read the riot act by its fans. I decided to give it another
try and downloaded it on a different computer when I had a weekend to play.
I was able to learn enough about it to go from concept to part on some
simple stuff the first day. The second day I designed and test cut that
spinnerbait body lead mold you see in the first slide show above. (The guy
I sent the finished mold to says it pours great).
I tried tons of free software and a lot of it works for some things.
G-Simple for instance is not bad for laying out 2D stuff.
Inkscape is good for taking image files and creating line drawings you can
import to CAM.
DeskEngrave generates nice single line text code.
I got tired of fighting things a while back and started buying software. A
couple of pieces were not that great IMO. I now use almost exclusively
CamBam & ViaCad to go from concept to part. Heck, simple parts I just draw
using the 2D CAD tools built into CamBam. If I had started with those two
tools 2+ years ago when I started learning CNC machining I would be an order
of magnitude ahead of were I am today. The main thing that annoys me about
those two pieces of software is that the viewing controls are slightly
different and it takes a minute to switch my subconscious from one mode to
the other. You would laugh if you knew how many times I was sitting out in
the shop screaming, "Why won't this f'n thing rotate!"
P.S. Lots of stuff you wouldn't think does fair 2D work. I even used Corel
Draw for a while since I already had it.
P.P.S. The one major problem I do have with ViaCad is that I tend to get
lost in a design and spend way too much time, going, "Gee I wonder if I
could make it better like this," instead of knowing when its good enough and
exporting my 3D STL file so I can start laying out the cut.
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