Recommendations for software to mock up or plan before buying materials

Started by No More, May 18, 2020, 11:56 am

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No More

I didn't really know which board to post this on - it may be that some of the stuff that people use in the Virtual Consoles etc is also the right stuff to use for this...  We'll see whose attention this one grabs.

As part of the design process, or in CAD preparation for finalising measurements before buying materials or starting cutting, I'd like to do some level of dry run in software.  It may be that it's enough to make me go "no, won't build that then", or that I want to take it all the way through to "this is how that hinge will fit round there, my clearance is OK for it to open but I won't be able to get a screwdriver to it in the first place".

I used FreeCAD a bit a few years back and that took some getting used to.  I don't need exciting textures or lighting effects, though if they came for free then fine.  I also don't really have lots of time to get to grips with something new - there's always a danger of starting projects and not finishing them anyway, let alone when adding extra time in to learn a new tool.

Are there any recommendations for software tools that would allow me to do things both at the "quick mockup" end and the "detailed CAD stuff" end, that don't take forever to learn?
If there's something that works for half or two-thirds of that spectrum but not all the way to the fine detail for exact construction that's probably still useful.
Some people will also be interested in things that can output files for 3D printing; also potentially useful and I'm not going to try to control where this thread wanders  :)

I do have a sneaking suspicion that I'll only get as far as plans, as I don't really have the room for builds, but I'd rather end up with viable plans for a build that never gets made, than a sketch on graph paper that may or may not be meaningful.

Thanks!

KIT-KAT

google sketchup 2017? idk if its particularly professional but its very useful for a pre build digital mock-up
No, not the mind probe!

davidnagel

I recently started learning Fusion 360 and didn't take too long to achieve what I was initial planning to do. Does take some googling some times but otherwise its quite an easy one to get into.
Kind Regards,

David

www.spiffinglyniceguy.co.uk

Volpone

I've actually used PowerPoint for basic planning.  Granted, I'm used to looking at 2D plans and interpreting them and it won't give the level of detail it sounds like you're looking for, but it can help you estimate materials (and thus cost).  Once you figure out a scale that works, you can scale rectangles to represent all your dimensional lumber--plywood sheets, 2x6s, 1x4s, etc.  Then you just copy-paste however many rectangles you'll need.  Do that for 1 side, multiply by 4...you can even add text boxes to keep a tally of how many of each piece of lumber you need, hardware for the lamp, etc.  I did one of a Met box...in my build thread, IIRC.  It sounds like you're looking for something a lot more advanced, but just throwing it out there.  
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No More

Thanks.

David the Autodesk Fusion 360 subscription is more than I can justify I think - I'm not sure what is the top end of what I can, but a few hundred dollars a year is going to be above it I think.  Proper CAD product though so I doubt there's anything I'd need that it wouldn't do.

Kit-kat the paid versions of Sketchup are more reasonable than Fusion 360 (I'm sure it does less, but I'll have to try it to find out if it's in areas that would make a difference to me); as far as I can see from the website (no longer under Google branding but Trimble) the UI is probably the same for the free browser-based version so I might experiment with that and see how it suits me, knowing that if it works for me there's also an upgrade path for fancier functionality/extensions.

Volpone I think the bits I'll get most benefit from will be the 3D bits ("Is this the correct angle to chamfer these bits so that when you put them together they - oh.  Apparently it wasn't.") so I think I won't be able to avoid the pain and complexity of a 3D tool.

davidnagel

Quote from: No More on May 18, 2020, 07:33 pm
Thanks.

David the Autodesk Fusion 360 subscription is more than I can justify I think - I'm not sure what is the top end of what I can, but a few hundred dollars a year is going to be above it I think.  Proper CAD product though so I doubt there's anything I'd need that it wouldn't do.


I'm on the 30 day trial or person run at the moment, and undecided if I'll buy into it by the end.
Kind Regards,

David

www.spiffinglyniceguy.co.uk

questwalnut

This might not be helpful, and probably doesn't apply to you, but students can get fusion 360 for free.
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