Hey Iggy have you tried heekscad?

http://www.heeks.net / http://code.google.com/p/heekscad /
From an article from a recent Digital Machinest magazine.
Work in progress. I'm tring to get it to install on hardy heron atm.
Wes
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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
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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 work.
http://img137.imageshack.us/slideshow/webplayer.php?id 049467.jpg http://img87.imageshack.us/slideshow/webplayer.php?id=1startingprofile.jpg
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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