1. Welcome to our site! Electro Tech is an online community (with over 170,000 members) who enjoy talking about and building electronic circuits, projects and gadgets. To participate you need to register. Registration is free. Click here to register now.
    Dismiss Notice

Entry-Level 3D CAD for Electronics and Boxes?

Discussion in 'Robotics & Mechatronics' started by Wirth's Law, Nov 27, 2017.

  1. Wirth's Law

    Wirth's Law New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2016
    Messages:
    7
    Likes:
    1
    Location:
    North America
    One question I've been meaning answer over the past few months is how to get started miniaturizing old projects using 3D CAD software.

    Not long prior to that, I was finishing up a filter project complete with circuit board, circular connectors, and panel-mount LEDs. It was functional, it was fairly water-tight, it looked reasonably cool; but it was BIG. This excess size was more of a painful design choice: where I opted to make the box over-sized and not risk having too little space for the internals once I closed the lid. Normally, to make sure things fit, I'll sketch things out on paper before-hand, but usually in 2D. And usually, that drawing changes way more often than I would like. It would nicer to have a CAD program do it.

    Question: Can anyone recommend a free or inexpensive 3D CAD program for this type of dilemma?

    I've seen Altium products do this, but the price is high compared to what I can get out of it as a beginner. If your suggestions can import .stp and .igs files; or function in either Windows or Linux, that's a nice bonus.
     
  2. Pommie

    Pommie Well-Known Member Most Helpful Member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2005
    Messages:
    10,161
    Likes:
    340
    Location:
    Brisbane Australia
    You might find an answer over at CNCZone.

    Mike.
     
  3. KeepItSimpleStupid

    KeepItSimpleStupid Well-Known Member Most Helpful Member

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2010
    Messages:
    9,970
    Likes:
    1,099
    ONLINE
    BricsCAD doesn't look too bad and it's both W an L. My favorite package is Vectorworks which is Mac and PC. I used early versions that were cheap for acedamea.. It was so easy to get stuff done. I did only do 2D at the time.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QCad is a 2D package for all three platforms.

    On big problem for me would be a license manager server. None of the license managers seem to like Virtual machines. I would like to consider a system running a license manager. My server is Linux and ARM based, so the lm software won't run. The CAD programs don't like to support dongles.

    I'm not sure if the CAD packages would run say under VNC on a separate box just for that?

    I's like to see working in both environments. Virtual machines for say laptops would still be better with a license manager.
     
  4. dave

    Dave New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 1997
    Messages:
    -
    Likes:
    0


     
  5. dknguyen

    dknguyen Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 6, 2006
    Messages:
    6,761
    Likes:
    72

    If you're willing to be tied to a single fabricator you can use proprietary software such as that from ProtoCase or FrontPanelExpress.

    eMachineShop also has software that is a bit more general that can do something similar. At the very least, even if you don't get it fabricated with their service, the eMachineShop is good for quick and dirty sketches that can be repeatedly updated and modified more easily than your hand-drawn 2D drawings. You could also print it out with dimensions in PDF and give it to another fabricator if you wanted to.
     
  6. Wirth's Law

    Wirth's Law New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2016
    Messages:
    7
    Likes:
    1
    Location:
    North America
    Interesting. This BricsCAD looks like a really good start. I think I'll start with that one; and try it for the trial 30 days and see if it works out pretty well.

    It's funny you mentioned eMachineShop. I just tried the service for the first time less than a month ago, and it turned out really well. Very satisfactory! I'm still learning the basics, but I think as long as the tutorials are followed step by step, it's pretty easy to pick up.

    [edit] Here's a quick photo of the finished eMachineShop tray. I made this tray to hold my keyboard and mouse as part of standing workstation project. (I know my lower back likes the difference). The whole thing is carbon steel with a protective finish and VESA mounting holes. The design is really basic, but I might write up a short walkthrough on the steps I used if anyone is interested.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Dec 9, 2017 at 4:36 PM

Share This Page