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IanR15/11/2012 12:24:48
780 forum posts
4 photos

If you're seriously interested in producing technical drawings, whatever the subject matter, then CAD is the only way. Especially these days when we all have computers and there are so many relatively inexpensive drawing packages available.

I agree with what's been said about sketching being easier/quicker on paper. But if you're actually producing a plan from which to build then there is no question that CAD is the only sensible way to do it. With CAD you don't need a ruler, or setsquare, or dividers, or compass, or protractor or, indeed, a rubber. Parallel lines are always parallel, squares are always square, circles are always round.

If you prefer to sketch a design before producing a definitive drawing then, as Danny mentions above, sketch on paper then scan your sketch into the computer and then use your CAD programme to draw round it. Having drawn the outline, discard the sketch and continue to draw formers and longerons etc etc in your CAD programme.

If you have a particular engine or motor that you wish to use, then take a couple of hours to draw it accurately in your CAD programme. You can then save this, separately, and use it in future drawings time and time again at the press of a mouse button. Or servos or props or prop adaptors or batteries etc etc.

I spent 10 years, at work, drawing with pencil and paper (and rubber!) and then discovered CAD. I wouldn't dream of using pencil and paper now.

The only people who argue that pencil and paper is better, in any way, are those who have not used CAD.

Respectfully, Ian

To Martin G

I have TurboCad ver 15 but it seems to not like working with Windows 7 for some reason so I use ver 9 which seems to do everything I need. I have come across the course which Danny mentions and, allthough I haven't used it myself, I would recommend it for starters. Ian

Ernie15/11/2012 12:37:10
2530 forum posts
21 photos

Hi, IanR

I'm not so sure for a couple of reasons.

I think that if you make a drawing by hand, then the thought processes are different to the thought process related to using CAD. A trad. draftsman has to have a better understanding of what is happening, especially in three dimensions. Its a bit like modern digital photography. Nearly everyone has a digital camera, but how many decent pix are taken?

If you know how to draw, parallel lines circles, etc are not a problem. And finally, who ever saw a beautiful CAD generated cross section?


Danny Fenton15/11/2012 12:43:34
9633 forum posts
4450 photos

I think cad can be beautiful. You can switch bits of a drawing off to make it easier to see the part you are working on in isolation. Not so easy with a pencil.

I think the problem really is justifying the time spent learning CAD before it becomes quicker than a pencil and paper. I spent a year learning enough to make a drawing, and if I dont use the software often I forget.

I think you have to decide how much designing you intend to do and then decide the best way to approach your needs.

Just my thoughts

Edited By Danny Fenton on 15/11/2012 12:44:21

Lindsay Todd15/11/2012 13:06:11
1741 forum posts
1810 photos

When I did my first CAD course many years ago I was all geared up to learn what was then relatively new technology. I was dissapointed to then find we spent the first month learning or re learning how to make descent pencil and paper drawings before we were allowed anywhere near a computer. In hindsight it was not a bad thing and implanted a certain structure which although changed by shortcuts and lazey bad habbits has largely remained. CAD requires a certain structure and logic to make the most of it I find whereas pencil and paper allows a more artistic approach. Hence my sketches remain pencil and paper then turn to CAD to finalise the design.

IanR15/11/2012 13:15:28
780 forum posts
4 photos

Danny, as I said, if you're serious about designing/drawing your own plans ie not just one project but many future projects then the time invested in the learning process will pay dividends.

Ernie, I must respectfully disagree. The thought processes are the same, believe me. I've spent hours, when half way through a drawing, staring at the computer screen waiting for inspiration to strike. Its only when you want to commit your thoughts to paper, or the computer screen, that the differances occur. CAD is just so much quicker and accurate.


IanR15/11/2012 13:18:42
780 forum posts
4 photos

Lindsay, +1


Mike Etheridge 115/11/2012 13:27:13
1553 forum posts
430 photos

CAD has been mentioned before on this website. I have certificates to say that I have been trained on Bentley Microstation and Auto Cad but never became that proficient with either system but preferred Microstation. It was essential with my job to learn both systems just to enable me to open CAD drawings as a minimum task. However I always missed using Rotring pens on linen and plastic film but somehow have kept the pens 'just in case'. If I was designing a model plane now I would revert to pen and paper / drawing board as the CAD process is so much slower. However alterations in CAD are so much quicker and if I was involved in any commercial process with model planes then I would use CAD as you can E-mail the drawings anywhere in the world assuming the recipients have the appropriate software. Alternatively CAD drawings can be E-mailed in Adobe format and can be read but not altered. If you wish to produce full size drawings on CAD you would need access to a plotter. Also Microstation and Auto-Cad software gets updated every year or so and the licences cost a few thousand pounds----where's my HB!


Edited By Mike Etheridge 1 on 15/11/2012 13:29:09

Martin - RAM Models19/11/2012 22:02:01
84 forum posts

Still many interesting comments that you are all adding to the discussion.

Danny your Apache looks stunning, I hope I can achieve something half as good.

One project I have wanted to do for a long time is slowly nearing the time to start. I have been given access to numerous manufacturers drawings for the type. This includes all formers, side views, information on the differant nose and fuselage rear end shapes along with nacelle structures and much more.

All the drawings are to differant scales and are some complex shapes. I think once mastered CAD could make for easier and more accurate work. Watch this space as they say.

Martin - RAM Models28/02/2013 00:05:58
84 forum posts

Just an update for all those that gave comment and to show that it wasn't time wasted.

I have chosen a CAD programme and am prsently awaiting its delivery.

Once again many thanks

IanR28/02/2013 11:04:40
780 forum posts
4 photos

Sorry, Martin, that won't do! You must tell us which CAD programme you've chosen.


Mike Etheridge 128/02/2013 18:17:07
1553 forum posts
430 photos

Martin and others,

Why not take advantage of the free download of Bentley Microstation and try it?. Its an excellent system but of course the full licence would only be purchased by companies of architects / engineers.


Bill Brown 301/03/2013 03:41:13
363 forum posts
234 photos

I have no problem with computerised technology as i, like millions of others, have to use and rely on it every day, but Lindsay and other like minded respondies have a very valid point, they are not totaly blinkered, but, in addition use the artists eye mixed with well proven engineering practices born out of experience, for many decades we have become totaly conversant with the old engineering drawing and construction practices which cad can make a simpler task of, but are you able to look at the result and spot a flaw? or do you completely trust that the input info is correct? and carry on until the mistake becomes obvious, before measurement devices were invented craftsmen made everything (astonishingly well) by eye alone, i feel that the loss of this type of skill causes people to rely on calculator/computor answers and trust them to be correct where an experienced eye would pick up an inacuracy, the real skill is in knowing what it should look like.

My ten pennerth for what it`s worth.

Martin - RAM Models04/03/2013 22:21:39
84 forum posts

Sorry Ian I should have stated what I have opted for. I have purchased the student edition of AutoCAD.

Mike Etheridge 106/03/2013 22:02:49
1553 forum posts
430 photos

Best choice Martin,most engineering offices use Auto-cad.

As I mentioned before I worked mainly on Micro-station, but both Auto-Cad and Microstation got together and in about 2003/4 they produced Auto-cad 2003 and Microstation V8 which were compatible such that you could open and work on the same drawings with both systems. This enabled me to carry out CAD work in Microstation format and save the drawings in Auto-Cad format. The only problem was that in the last office I worked in they would not accept my CAD drawings as they did not comply with their CAD disciplines.


Stephen Jones06/09/2014 11:07:55
2840 forum posts
1617 photos

Hi ,


Is there a Free program Like CAD but can be used to solve mechanics problems . I am trying to work out how to get scale landing gear to work . So i need to make arms links and disks to rotate around fixed points .

Or i may just cut up card shapes and use pins as pivot points .

I already have TurboCad 16 and TotalCad 14 and Draft sight.


Cheers Steve


Edited By Stephen Jones on 06/09/2014 11:09:11

birdy06/09/2014 13:02:22
1423 forum posts
110 photos

Quite a few CAD programs can do kinematics. I know Solidworks can, and I think FreeCAD can too. If you know any engineering students you could try to get the student version of MSC ADAMS which is nice, if overkill.

Probably easiest to use card shapes and pins though.

Andy Meade15/09/2014 13:18:23
2773 forum posts
717 photos

As we say at work - "The original CAD - Cardboard Aided Design!"

Even after using SolidWorks professionally now for 12 years+, I still sometimes fall back on paper and cardboard to solve some kinematic issues.

Edited By Andy Meade on 15/09/2014 13:18:39

Stephen Jones15/09/2014 19:32:18
2840 forum posts
1617 photos

Yes, the good old fashion Cardboard Aided Design still works in our modern day activates .

I have managed to get one leg worked out using draftsight but i need more than one part acting upon another >

I think i have fingered it out now but need to printout and stick on cardboard to see if it will actually work .

Cheers Steve

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