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How to encourage community members to learn and use CAD as tool to make open source sharing stronger

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Looking through the AdaBio Autoconstruction book this weekend, it occurred to me that a weak link in Farm Hack's open source idea exchange is our ability to document tools accurately with measurements and scaled drawings. It seems that facilitating community members to learn CAD would be a useful path forward. Perhaps a Tool that is for CAD learning resources would be a good place to start. Maybe we can make an effort to team up with people/institutions who each/use CAD to bring them together more readily with Farm Hackers in some way. What do other think about how we can encourage more thorough documentation on the site?

Lucas_Rumler's picture

One thing I have found problematic with CAD is the cost. Certainly there are free resources out there, like Google Sketchup, but I have found dimensional drawing on it is problematic. It is certainly not as useful as AutoCAD, but of course AutoCAD is prohibitively expensive. What are you using to make drawings?

bgirardot's picture

Google doesn't own SketchUp anymore unfortunately.

I have not tried the new SketchUp Make version, which is the free hobbyist version, but the standard SketchUp Pro is now USD$590.

I think one of the best applications for starting out with CAD is TinkerCAD, owned by AutoCAD, it is very basic and only useful for basic items, but it will get you started.

AutoCAD's 123D application is one step up from TinkerCAD, but also more useful and a pretty natural progression from TinkerCAD.

dorn's picture

There are still free versions of sketchup - but they are harder to find on the site because they don't promote it.

Options are Sketchup Make or 8. Here is the link


DGrover's picture

I recently downloaded FreeCAD, an open source CAD software. Does anyone have experience with it? What are its limitations?

Dorn--why do you choose SketchUp over CAD? Do you find that it has enough functionality to do everything you need to do?

dorn's picture

I will have to give FreeCAD a try. It may be a good option. I primarily use sketchup because it was accessible and free. I have become comfortable with it, models are easy to share, and I can export to CAD if I need to. Some of my buddies work in solidworks a lot too, but I have not tried that yet either.

I think that maybe a stand alone wiki tied to the getting started page & tool template might be a good way to start to document CAD training resources, techniques and tips etc? Other ideas?

dorn's picture

For communicating and sharing design elements I have found sketchup really helpful.
We have had sketchup introductions as part of some of the events and I agree it would be good to emphasize how helpful it is to get drawings done of the project. It is nice that these can also be so easily embeded.

I started a 3d-warehouse library here with farm hack models and related components - but this could be greatly expanded and more clearly incorporated into the site too.


DGrover's picture

Making this more clearly incorporated would be great--where on the site might it belong?

bgirardot's picture

I agree 100%, CAD tools are one of the biggest barriers to 3D printing becoming more common and useful.

I think a place on the this site to allow folks to post links to tutorials that they have used and found useful would be a good first step.

DGrover's picture

You could make a tool that is "CAD tutorials".

To other, more experienced users of FarmHack--is that the best way to organize such information on the site?