How can I convert paper plans to CAD plans? - RC Groups
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Aug 04, 2012, 12:00 AM
Headed to Naval Flight School!
PiperCub49's Avatar
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How can I convert paper plans to CAD plans?


Hello all,

I'm rather proficient in AutoCAD and a fellow modeler just opened my eyes to the possibility of converting some old paper plans to CAD plans for laser cutting. Could anyone describe how to get started with this process? Any bit of help would be greatly appreciated (and useful!).

Thank you,
Kody
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Aug 04, 2012, 01:09 AM
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wizard of odd's Avatar
I use a different program but the process should be the same:
Scan the plans to a format supported for import by Autocad (.tif, .gif, .jpeg or whatever). Import the plan from file, assign a separate layer to it. Scale to the correct size. Carefully trace the parts. The Bezier and Mirror function are your best friends.... Check and re-check for accuracy of your tracing. It gets a bit more complicated if the plan parts are designed to interlock- you then have to cross reference the tab and slot sizes of the interlocking areas to make sure they fit one another. You may also want to compensate for the width of the laser beam cut if a really tight fit is required.

The hardest part is finding a laser cutter who is willing to do your cutting for you. When you do, they will usually specify in which format they prefer the files, and how to lay out the parts for cutting. You then need to arrange your parts, with hold-in tabs added, to those specifications.

You can also use raster-to-vector conversion software to do the tracing. This function may be part of your CAD program, or a stand-alone program like Print2Cad etc.can be purchased. In my experience this has been a waste of time, as "cleaning up" the vectorised drawings takes a lot more time than just tracing them yourself.

For cutting I've had excellent service from Bob Holman of Bob Holman Plans fame. Set the files up right and he will have the parts back to you in super quick time, beautifully cut and at a very reasonable price.

Best of luck

Odd.

PS: Brad Heller of Laser Cut Kits Australia will do the tracing for you for free, when included in a cutting job. You need to supply the plans, or he can source them for you at your expense (If it's a "name brand" designer's plans, chances are good that he is already licensed to cut it). The plans will be returned to you when he's done. Contact him via the website if you are interested. Postage of the parts across the pond is expensive though.
Aug 04, 2012, 03:58 PM
Registered User
What he said.
The raster to Vector programs can be more of a pain as allready stated. At least for what we are doing.
Aug 06, 2012, 09:31 AM
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rcav8r2's Avatar
FWIW, here's what I do...
As printed plans can be rather large (too large for any scanner I have access to) ; I will hang them on the wall when I can get decent lighting (i.e. enough daylight to give it even lighting) and take a picture of them. Make sure you are square to the plans. I shoot so I am 90 degrees to the very center of the plans. I've done this a few times for guys at the field. Last one I did was for a quarter scale Extra 230 where he wanted me to cut some formers to fix crash damage. Every thing fit like a glove.
For REALLY large plans where my wall wasn't big enough, I've taken them and laid them out on my deck. Then climbed a ladder to get high enough to get the whole thing. I had to do them in 2 shots, but it was a simple matter of stitching in a Photoshop like program to get the *.jpg to import.
I'm sure there is some distortion at the edges, but so far it hasn't been enough to cause me any issues.

Also I use DevCAD, as it has a snap to raster feature. You need a nice clean image for this to work well, but with good even lighting, my picture method works well enough. It is also a no-brainer to scale with DevCAD. I always seemed to have problems doing that with AutoCAD. On old plans where the paper has taken a brown tint, and the blue lines have faded, a Photoshop like program can clean that up with a few clicks.
Aug 08, 2012, 07:44 PM
It wasn't me...
DanSavage's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by PiperCub49
I'm rather proficient in AutoCAD and a fellow modeler just opened my eyes to the possibility of converting some old paper plans to CAD plans for laser cutting.
Hi Kody,

Out of curiosity, are you the copyright holder to these older paper plans?

As a model designer who's had his designs/plans appropriated and sold without my permission or licensing, I am a little sensitive to this issue.

Dan
Aug 08, 2012, 10:28 PM
Headed to Naval Flight School!
PiperCub49's Avatar
Hey guys,

I'm on a bit of a layover right now with this project, but I'm excited about giving it a try. I appreciate all of the advice and personal experiences that have been shared. You've given me a good foundation build off of.

Dan,

I just reread my original post and I definitely see where your concern comes from. It sounds like I'm saying, "You know what? I think I just found a way to get rich off of other people's hard work!" I am very careful with my use of other modeler's designs. In this instance, the plans were made by the modeler who would give them to me to convert. I would then get a portion of the kit sales.

I am also interested in converting some plans for personal use ONLY. Do you think that this is acceptable?

Thanks again,
Kody
Aug 09, 2012, 04:23 AM
Registered User
wizard of odd's Avatar
If a modeler wants to use a laser cutter in stead of a scroll saw/blade etc. to cut out parts from a plan he/she has legally obtained, that's his own business and nobody will have any issues with such.

If the same modeler then chooses to market those CAD files or laser cut parts without the blessing of the designer, it would be a totally different matter in which the legal system may become involved.

Odd
Aug 09, 2012, 08:14 AM
Registered User
rcav8r2's Avatar
FWIW, when I do this, I only do this ONLY for purchased plans, and for personal use.... When I do this for club members I don't charge.. they supply the materials. Should have added that to my original post.
Aug 09, 2012, 08:31 AM
Registered User
Corel Draw X4 and newer has a pretty good centerline trace program that I use for converting raster to vector for laser cutting.

I agree that importing a scan and tracing in AutoCad is the best and quickest way.
Aug 09, 2012, 02:16 PM
It wasn't me...
DanSavage's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by PiperCub49
Dan,

I just reread my original post and I definitely see where your concern comes from. It sounds like I'm saying, "You know what? I think I just found a way to get rich off of other people's hard work!" I am very careful with my use of other modeler's designs. In this instance, the plans were made by the modeler who would give them to me to convert. I would then get a portion of the kit sales.

I am also interested in converting some plans for personal use ONLY. Do you think that this is acceptable?

Thanks again,
Kody
Hi Kody,

Yep, that's how I read your original post, also. Thanks for the clarification.

If you're working with the plans designer/copyright holder, then you're doing it the right way.

IMO, if the plans copyrighted by someone else and the resultant laser cut parts are for your personal use only, then I think that's okay, also.

If you're going to distribute these laser cut parts to your buddies, you might want to contact the copyright holder to make sure they think it's okay.

Dan
Aug 09, 2012, 02:27 PM
It wasn't me...
DanSavage's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by rcav8r2
FWIW, when I do this, I only do this ONLY for purchased plans, and for personal use.... When I do this for club members I don't charge.. they supply the materials. Should have added that to my original post.
Technically, unless the copyright holder has given you permission to redistribute his work, then that would be a copyright violation, even if you aren't charging them money. If you read copyright law, it doesn't make exceptions for free vs. paid. As far as copyright law is concerned, redistribution is redistribution.

It's exactly the same as giving copies of CAD software to anyone who gives you a blank CD they bought at Staples.

Dan
Oct 20, 2017, 10:08 AM
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Minare's Avatar
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