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Old Mar 24, 2009, 07:20 PM
Registered User
Colne, Lancashire, UK
Joined Mar 2009
7 Posts
Question
Where do I start with CAD?

Hi there,

I'm planning on building an aircraft, from scratch, using some plans I've had for a few years now. I thought it would be cool to try and draw parts of the plan, such as the major formers and ribs, in a CAD program and then have them laser cut. I have a copy of AutoCAD 2010 but don't have a clue where to start as I've never used this software before.

I was hoping that somebody would be able to point me in the direction of a good tutorial explaining how I can get started? I've had a look around the forums but haven't had much joy.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Regards,
Sam
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Old Mar 24, 2009, 07:49 PM
Zor
Suspended Account
Ontario,Canada
Joined Feb 2007
9,742 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Dawson
Hi there,

I'm planning on building an aircraft, from scratch, using some plans I've had for a few years now. I thought it would be cool to try and draw parts of the plan, such as the major formers and ribs, in a CAD program and then have them laser cut. I have a copy of AutoCAD 2010 but don't have a clue where to start as I've never used this software before.

I was hoping that somebody would be able to point me in the direction of a good tutorial explaining how I can get started? I've had a look around the forums but haven't had much joy.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Regards,
Sam
Sam,

AutoCAD has an extensive help and learning assistance.

Start AitoCAD and click on help button. The drop down menu gives you choices.

You can also get help from the website.

Have fun,

Zor
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Old Mar 24, 2009, 07:51 PM
sneezes for lack of balsa dust
ME
Joined Oct 2008
501 Posts
...great advice, my dad had the software and I played about with it for a bit...
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Old Mar 24, 2009, 08:00 PM
Registered User
Colne, Lancashire, UK
Joined Mar 2009
7 Posts
Zor,

Thanks for the advice, I'll have a play and see how I get on. I thought that maybe there would be a tutorial out there that was more specifically aimed at the use of CAD for this purpose?

Sam
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Old Mar 24, 2009, 08:38 PM
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fly4fun's Avatar
Gilbert AZ
Joined Jun 2001
9,323 Posts
I have the same delima. I have autoCad LT 2009 and have no clue how to use it.
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Old Mar 24, 2009, 10:41 PM
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hayashiox's Avatar
Los Angeles
Joined Nov 2008
14 Posts
I never use this program, but the one I'm using is AutoDesk Maya.

http://www.cadtutor.net/tutorials/autocad/
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Old Mar 24, 2009, 11:16 PM
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Gary, IN, USA
Joined Jul 1999
950 Posts
AutoCad is not intuitve. It is loaded with several ways to accomplish the same end. Much of what you want are tools buried in drop-down menues. My idiot boss was computer illiterate and wanted to send one person to AutoCad school and teach the rest; It was quicker to hire a consultant to come and set-up programs and teach the tools for the work the business requires.
There used to be a few aeronautical design softwares that were much easier to use for the hobbiest. They included digital templates for airfoil shapes and model parts. I too am looking for one of these programs but haven't seen a source for years. Maybe one of our readers can point the way.
Digital Drafting is a secure and interesting career field.
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Old Mar 24, 2009, 11:18 PM
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Colne, Lancashire, UK
Joined Mar 2009
7 Posts
Thanks for the link hayashiox, I've just had a quick look and there seems to be quite a few useful tutorials for beginners like me. I have decided to use AutoCAD LT 2009 instead of AutoCad 2010 as it seems easier to use and is specifically designed for 2D drawing.

I was also wondering how you guys manage to precisely draw the curves of ribs using these programs? Is it trial and error or is there a more logical way of doing this? I don't want to become an expert in CAD, I just want to be proficient enough to produce accurate parts for my future aircraft so your help is much appreciated.

I'd love to hear from those of you who often use CAD to produce parts for your aircraft, I really need your help and advice!

Sam
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Old Mar 25, 2009, 01:16 AM
Reduce the drama...
rick.benjamin's Avatar
USA, OR, Damascus
Joined Apr 2004
4,043 Posts
Sam and Folks
I use TurboCAD v12
As to "how you guys manage to precisely draw the curves of ribs"?
A curve is actually a lot of tiny straight lines.

There are a lot of CAD tutorials.
Using advanced Search, search titles only

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=921959
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=916936
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=740117
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=710812
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=675021
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=654157
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Old Mar 25, 2009, 02:25 AM
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vintage1's Avatar
East Anglia, UK
Joined Sep 2002
29,693 Posts
A plug for corel draw

Because it IS intuitive.

You draw a shape and mess with it till its right.

Its a far easier transition from pen and paper to it, than to a CAD style program

Many videos available for CAD and Corel, and worth every penny.

We had one that came with a version of Corel, and I took it home and watched it..many years gone now.
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Old Mar 25, 2009, 09:17 AM
KSU Flyer's Avatar
Manhattan, Kansas, United States
Joined Oct 2001
3,503 Posts
Sam

It sounds like you really want to accomplish a couple of things, (1) learn how to use CAD software, and (2) learn how to scratch build model airplanes.

Try to view the CAD software as more of a tool than anything...and to be able to build nice things with a tool such as this, you need to be proficient at using it. You really need to learn the basics of the software, and this can and probably should be done without trying to draw a model airplane. That means you should probably just pick up any AutoCAD text on Amazon and work your way through it even though it has nothing to do with model airplanes. (going this route you'll learn how to use the software the "right way".)

Next, and this can be done concurrently, is to learn a bit more about designing model airplanes. You can do this on rcgroups, but I think you'll find the information a bit scattered, so I would recommend Amazon for this as well. These are the books I like, and if you take your time and make sure you understand them, you'll be able to design about any model airplane you can dream up.

Basics of R/C Model Aircraft Design: Practical Techniques for Building Better Models by Andy Lennon <---this one is my favorite

Model Aircraft Aerodynamics by Martin Simons <---a close second to my favorite

Best of luck to you!

-Mike
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Old Mar 25, 2009, 09:30 AM
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fly4fun's Avatar
Gilbert AZ
Joined Jun 2001
9,323 Posts
But I want to learn cad and design models in 24 hours.
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Old Mar 25, 2009, 09:37 AM
I am the BBQ Ninja
Willmsy's Avatar
United States, MN, Woodbury
Joined Jan 2003
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fly4fun
But I want to learn cad and design models in 24 hours.
Don't we all! J/K I already know CAD!!!
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Old Mar 25, 2009, 09:38 AM
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LesUyeda's Avatar
San Diego, California
Joined Dec 2004
3,387 Posts
Sam. I use AutoCAD for all my designs, but ONLY because I have been around it since DOS version 9. I do not recommend it for such mundane tasks as our airplane design. It is much too powerful, and the learning curve is very steep. I would more recommend Turbo Cad. Much cheaper, easier to use and learn. It will manipulate .dxf and .dwg.

For ribs, I use Winfoil to define the rib, then export into .dxf, import the .dxf into CAD and manipulate them.

Les
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Old Mar 25, 2009, 09:39 AM
internet gadfly
nmasters's Avatar
Colorado
Joined Aug 2006
2,162 Posts
acad scripting

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Dawson
I was also wondering how you guys manage to precisely draw the curves of ribs using these programs? Is it trial and error or is there a more logical way of doing this?
Autocad is an expensive general purpose program. It has a lot of functions that a hobbyist will never need. If you're looking for a CAD program Turbocad looks like a good deal for the money and many people have used Corel Draw for all their 2D (I know Carlo Godel did). But if you already have ACAD you might as well learn to use it.

Here's a tip. You can use a .COR file as the basis for a script to get an accurate airfoil into ACAD. You just open the .COR file with notepad and use the <replace> function to swap the blank space between ordinates for commas. Then you put a command at the top and two blank lines at the bottom. Then <save as> and change the extension from “.COR” to “.SCR”

Your script file should look like this:

pline
0,0
0,1
1,1
1,0
0,0
<enter>
<enter>

This would draw a square so naturally it would be named “square.scr”. I use <pline> because I'm a dinosaur and I'm familiar with editing polylines but you could just as easily use <spline> and have a fair curve, ready for making templates, without editing. Attached is a script that I made this way a few weeks ago. To use it type “script” in ACAD then a file menu will come up on the screen. It will draw a 1 unit long PW106 airfoil with the LE at 0,0. Scaling it is pretty straight forward since the chord is 1 so I won't explain that but when you do scale it notice that one of the options on the scale menu is <reference>, it's really handy

--Norm
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