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        Question How to Learn CAD

#1 CoolBudz Jun 30, 2012 10:58 PM

How to Learn CAD
So I an a total noob at CAD, all I know is what CAD stands for, but I want to learn it and eventually become a pro, so does anyone know any good online or otherwise resources, or any tips on how to start.

#2 BillzillaAus Jul 01, 2012 09:05 AM

Just type in the things you want to learn, along with the name of your CAD program, into Youtube search.
There's a heap of info out there and lots of videos on just about anything you need.
(That's what I've found with Autocad at least)

#3 CoolBudz Jul 01, 2012 10:09 PM

There are lots of those programs which one is the best?

#4 BillzillaAus Jul 02, 2012 12:01 AM

A lot of people will give you different answers ...... Best try a free one first perhaps.
Then maybe Rhino ... ?

#5 Roto Rob Jul 02, 2012 02:43 AM

As far as what is best, thats a hard question to answer. The best is very expensive, so might not be the best for many. Some programs are great for certain types of projects, and fall short in many others. I have Bobcad V23, it is nice for most of the things I make, and it has Cam software integrated into it. It falls short in rendering nice images, and skins on very complex 3D shapes. Nice thing is most of the programs have free trials, to get an idea of what they can do. The problem is that it can take along time to really figure out what they are capable of. Many programs can surprise you at what they can do.

#6 samc99us Jul 02, 2012 01:06 PM

For aerodynamic (surfaces) and model work, reading through the tutorials it looks like Rhino is a very good choice. Rhino is ~$1k and would do everything you need.

I personally use Solidworks, which is arguably the go-to CAD program. It is very powerful and integrated into a lot of other engineering tools, for doing flow simulation and FEA. It is hard to recommend for the casual or home user, due to the cost (>$6K). I have used Autodesk Inventor and found that a pleasant experience, similar to Solidworks, but didn't do any advanced modelling in it (aero surface work is advanced modelling in most all CAD programs). They have a free trial I believe, as does Solidworks. If you are a student, both software packages can be acquired for much lower cost than retail.

Finally, as far as "pro" work is concerned, what is out there has become more limited. In the "old" days, you had engineers and drafters, the latter of which did the modelling. In the "new" days, the engineer is expected to do his own drafting. Hence, I suspect it would be much more difficult to get a job working as a pure CAD person without some additional qualifications (machinist or engineer), but I'm sure some jobs still exist if you are capable of doing very advanced modelling.

#7 tom43004 Jul 02, 2012 05:49 PM

Rhino (educational) is fully functional at $149 last time I checked. There's a downloadable demo that you can run a million times if you want to learn and there are downloadable tutorial files as well. The demo will let you save only 25 times though, so keep that in mind.

I have used SW and Rhino and love them both. I use Rhino every day.

It can be overwhelming to try to learn. I recommend downloading Rhino demo and all of the tutorials. Go through them one by one no matter how basic you think they are. They build foundational knowledge that's very important down the road.

FWIW, I run the Windows version on a MAC with VMWare Fusion. There's also a MAC native version but I've not used it.

Here's a link to the demo...


...and here's a link to the tutorials...


#8 CoolBudz Jul 02, 2012 07:28 PM

Thanks guys, so with CAD can I make animations?

#9 tom43004 Jul 02, 2012 08:18 PM

Rhino is very popular with animators, and has some specific plugins (VRay, Bongo, etc) for this purpose.

#10 Underthetire Jul 02, 2012 08:23 PM

Just figure out what end result you want. Some cad packages don't play nice with some cam software, so if your thinking cnc, be carefull. Bobcad works, just never give them your real phone number. They will call you every stinking day with some new deal they cooked up.

#11 tom43004 Jul 02, 2012 08:32 PM


Originally Posted by Underthetire (Post 22058248)
...Bobcad works...

That's debatable :)

I've been incredibly (and progressively) rude to them and still they call and call.

#12 Highflight Jul 04, 2012 12:38 AM

Rhino seems to be the sweetspot for CAD these days. It balances capability to cost and gives you a lot of capability for just under a grand.

I think Rhino is also the "go to" CAD software due to the large number of plug-ins written for it that specialize it beyond it's original purpose.
As already mentioned, the Bongo plug-in is to animate what you draw in Rhino.
And for CAM, you can spend much more with RhinoCam that can end up at around $6 grand total, but you may not need as much as RhinoCam offers so one of the plug-in CAM packages like MadCam might give you what you want for CAM work for only another $800 on top of the original $1000 for Rhino.

One of the things that made me go with Rhino in the first place was this list of plug-ins that you can pick and choose from for whatever you want to do beyond the basic Rhino package:

If you can't find in that list what you want to do after you have Rhino in the first place, then you're not looking hard enough.

#13 vtdiy Jul 05, 2012 07:31 PM

Download Google Sketchup -- it's ~ $1000 cheaper than Rhino. ie. free.

Then follow the Sketchup threads on RCgroups, and/or the online sketchup tutorials.

Once you've designed a few models with it you'll be in a better position to decide if you want to plunk down a grand for something else.

#14 Phoneman2005 Jul 07, 2012 10:38 PM


If you are looking at 3D CAD modeling a very good choice is Alibre.com they sell a personal edition of there software at $199.00. You can design parts and put them into assemblies. If you were to do like a steam engine you can rotate the crankshaft and see the pistons and valves move.


#15 rcav8r2 Jul 09, 2012 07:46 AM

Not sure what the OP's original intent is. If it is making traditional plans to build balsa plans from, then a simple 2D CAD program is all that is needed. Easier to learn, and use. Personally I use DevCAD as the tile printing works GREAT, and it also has a CAM piece that I use for my CNC machine.
If the OP is interested in making molds, and such.. yea, then 3D is needed.

For 3D I agree with vtdiy, Sketchup is the way to go before plunking down any serious cash. You can also get a 3D CAM plugin over on the Phlatforum for Sketchup

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