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Mercury
26-01-2005, 10:14 AM
Hi,

Does anyone have any recommendations for a CAD freeware program for architectural drawings that is quick to learn and use?

I trained as a draftsman years ago in the paper and pen days, have been doing other things in recent years but have been back at the drawing board a few times lately.

I want something to play with but only want to spend money once I've figured out the basics. If an upgrade is required for more features it wants to be 10s rather than 1,000s of dollars.

pixeldust
26-01-2005, 10:45 AM
No recommendations from me, but you might find something useful here (http://www.download.com/3120-2001_4-0-1-0.html?qt=CAD&author=&titlename=&desc=&dlcount=&daysback=&swlink=&gfiletype=&os=&li=49&dlsize=&ca=) :)

Edit: This one (http://www.download.com/Home-Plan-Pro/3000-6677_4-10205943.html?tag=lst-0-4) looks good. 30 day trial and US$39 to purchase

Murray P
26-01-2005, 11:29 AM
Have a cruise around this lot (http://freeware.intrastar.net/cadsoftware.htm).

A slightly different range here (http://www.freewarehome.com/Graphics/Drawing_and_CAD_p.html).

Some more here (http://www.caddprimer.com/Free_CAD_software/cad_shareware_freeware.htm).

TurboCad (http://www.imsisoft.com/all_products.asp) used to have afree version, it looks like it's a trial or learning version now. Worth checking out though.

tutaenui
26-01-2005, 09:21 PM
As an Engineer/part time draughtsman with 45 years experience, and working the last 10 years on CAD I would say there are not many simple CAD systems. They all have a pretty steep learning curve. I would suggest you go straight to the program you want and concentrate on that. It will take about 3 months to become proficient, but I must say after 10 years I am still finding new tricks on the program we use. I am not an architect, so I dont know what is the favoured program in that field, but for general use Turbo Cad is pretty good.

Atreides
26-01-2005, 10:19 PM
I'm not sure what you're looking for in a CAD program, but for me just starting out in 3D design on computers I found simple paper-to-screen conversions of traditional drawing methods a bit boring.

I recommend having a look at SketchUp (http://www.sketchup.com) - it uses a fully 3D perspective interface for drawing... lines turn different colours for the three axes, it has "inference locking" for drawing relative to existing lines, automagically makes solids where lines join...

I haven't used any of the high-end CAD programs (AutoCAD etc.) so I can't really compare programs, but I quite enjoy Sketchup's style. Plus, there are heaps of great video tutorials on the SketchUp website. (http://www.sketchup.com)

The trial version gives you 8 hours' design time. The full version is far from free at US$475 but... well, the trial will show you an alternative CAD program style.

Mercury
26-01-2005, 10:41 PM
I've avoided CAD for years on the grounds of a steep learning curve (Dad showed me his copy a few years back and I thought then this is one program I'd have to do a course on to understand!) and large dollars. A simple cost benefit analysis based on the amount of drafting I still do indicates that spending vast sums is out - I'm unlikely to recoup the cost.

The other thing is that my papa, a mechanical engineer, was self employed for a few years before retiring. Every few months he would be howling and screaming because architects and others that he worked with would do a software upgrade - and drawings would become incompatible (not to mention Word docs and the like).

The odd spot of drafting I have been doing lately includes things like a 2nd bathroom (within an existing room), minor alterations and a couple of Town Planning site plans for consents. Not exactly big dollar stuff.

But there again I prefer playing with computers to slaving over the drawing board.

I downloaded CadStd Lite a couple of days ago and am thinking of forking out $US25 for the Pro version - (complete with tutorial!) unless anyone can recommend anything better.

I'm only looking at 2D Cad at the moment.

Murray P
26-01-2005, 10:58 PM
For your type of work 2D is all you really need.

If I needed one, I used to get perspectives done by an artist or draftperson who was adept at presenting designs, in architectural terms, that's usually just a birds eye perspective to put in the proposal and slap on the cover sheet, which is probably not telling you something you don't already know.

Trial 2 or 3, settle on what you like. As you say, if your not doing a lot of work, the tens of thousands required for full blown architectural packages, not to mention the gear to run them, can't be justified.

Mercury
26-01-2005, 11:22 PM
For your type of work 2D is all you really need.

Exactly. We learnt perspectives at Tech but the two or three I did looked cold, flat, boring and not quite right. Mind you, when I was doing this for a living we had someone in the office full time turning out amazing creative 3D works so my poor skills were never called on.

Will probably have a go at CadStd unless anyone can suggest something better in a similar price range (under $US100).

Mercury
28-01-2005, 12:09 AM
Well I outlayed all of $US25 and upgraded to the Pro version of CadStd this afternoon and spent a couple of hours working through the tutorial that came with it. Suddenly the whole thing makes sense. Why did I have so much trouble before?

I've now progressed from a square box to a garage floor plan (to scale). Cool.

Anyone got a 5 storey tower block with circular turrets they want drawn up? Should be able to fit it in after lunch tomorrow!

Rob99
28-01-2005, 12:20 AM
What part of the country are you in?

Mercury
28-01-2005, 09:24 AM
Auckland.

Rob99
28-01-2005, 09:56 AM
O well, I'm in Chch. I'v been having a go myself drawing up some plans, hopefully it will make it easier for a draughtsperson when I hand my plans over.

Mercury
28-01-2005, 10:25 AM
Just kidding about the 5 storey building with turrets. A bit more study required first. Maybe next week.

From what I've seen of it so far CadStd is a very good learning tool and exactly what I need. It has an elegant interface, a short learning curve and it is dirt cheap.

In a few hours I picked up the basics and it made sense. Reading the manual now to work out how to snap things together properly - a wall came loose when I tried to change the dimensions.

Mercury
29-01-2005, 02:11 PM
Time for a review of CadStd.

I spent a couple of hours going no where, paid for the Pro version (comes with tutorial and extra features), did the tutorial in a couple of hours (note: tutorial is in feet and inches - may confuse the younger viewers!), played a bit more for a couple of hours then read the manual - flicking back and forth to try things out.

I particularly liked this comment:

The User Prompt Status Bar provides information about the current
command engaged. The instructions in the User Prompt should not be
ignored. Following the user prompt instructions will save your time and
temper.
They are right on that one!

For entertainment I then took a CAD drawing of a floorplan for a relatively simple building that I had done a pen and paper fitout for and tried to recreate it. The wall that was 10.990 long came out at 11.000 and I was definitely having trouble with some of the smaller details but it was passable - and yes, I could create drawings for a permit with this.

There are limitations - it's definitely a basic program - no cross hatching for bricks, single font (in 5 sizes) etc etc. If you want a template - eg a stencil for a toilet, basin, HWC... - you create your own and import them into your new drawing (do it big and it will scale itself to the right size as required).

It also doesn't have the inter-relation of bigger programs as it doesn't have the plot lines to link things together. Move a wall and you move it piece by piece wherever it's shown - floorplan, elevations, cross-sections... Although some of it can be done as an entity.

Overall a good, simple and quick to learn, basic program. I still have to try it out on a real world example properly - which is where the limitations will become apparent - but I strongly suspect that the learning time on this program are transportable. If ever I go for a more advanced program I'll have a good grasp on the basics.

bartsdadhomer
29-01-2005, 02:22 PM
Sorry wish I'd seen this earlier
I use HomeplanPro, it's simple & does a great job
Not for architects obviously but great for a builder or homeowner wanting to draw their own plans
http://www.homeplanpro.com/

Terry Porritt
29-01-2005, 02:24 PM
Then there is the business of producing a print. There have been some large HP A1 pen plotters going very cheaply at Turners Auctions Wellington from time to time over the last year ot two. By cheaply I mean round the $100 mark.

Graham L
29-01-2005, 02:31 PM
That much, Terry? I paid $10-$15 for my plotters. ;) The problem is getting the pens these days.

Mercury
29-01-2005, 02:41 PM
I don't think I'd be game to use this program for anything that wouldn't fit on either A4 or A3. Much bigger and the job itself would probably require a more complex program - for editing reasons.

Have been contemplating seeing if Dad's A3 printer still works and if he uses if for anything. I might also acquire his copy of autocad - now I have an understanding of how programs work. It would be about 6 or so years old now (and no, this wouldn't be piracy. Due to deteriorating eyesight he is no longer capable of using it). This idea was unthinkable before due to the learning curve from zero. He showed it to me once and my eyes went like this :@@:

Mercury
29-01-2005, 02:50 PM
Home Plan Pro looks quite interesting with a lot more features than CadStd. A pity I didn't see it before. How did you find the learning curve?

Scouse
29-01-2005, 03:29 PM
HomePlan Pro was one receommended by Pixeldust on 26th. :cool:

Mercury
29-01-2005, 03:59 PM
Oops... true. I missed it.

mini_magget03
22-01-2006, 06:15 PM
hello all, this is my first time here :) just wondering if you guys know where i can find some kind of a CAD tutor? i know most of the drawing/editing sections in cad, but feels like that there is still alot that i do not know of...(i taught myself from books...)