DraftSight - Free 2D CAD

Discussion in 'Software and Programming' started by shred, Oct 6, 2010.

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  1. Oct 6, 2010 #1




    Well-Known Member

    Jul 19, 2007
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    I got a heads up on this from a contact in the CAD business--

    The Solidworks people (Dassault) have released a free 2D CAD/drawing program (in Beta now)

    I've not messed with it, but it could be worth a look if not too crippled. www.draftsight.com
  2. Oct 6, 2010 #2

    I downloaded Draftsight and loaded it.
    The info given warns that Beta programs can be unstable and should not be trusted with production drawings.

    I loaded the most complicated drawing I could find into it, about a 5 MB drawing, and tried everything I could to make it lock up, but the program operated perfectly.
    The screen layout is very good, and no jumpy cursor movement or other annoying things like the cheap programs.
    I used it first time no problem without reading any instructions.
    I just loaded it and started drawing. No problems whatsoever.
    Very intuitive program.

    It does ask you for an email address for registration, and then send you an email that you have to respond to just by pressing the link, but nothing else, no quart of blood or first born or anything.

    I must say, I am very impressed with this 2D product. It is not an el-cheapo. It is obviously a part of a larger very well designed interface.

    I did not figure out how to use "press-and-drag" with it, but other than that, it seems to do everything I want, and do it well.
    Press and drag eliminates having to click twice to select an object. You just window an object with press and drag and it is automatically selected. Much faster.

    It appears that the keyboard shortcuts can be customized easily, which is good since I use custom shortcuts extensively. I draw with two hands drawing, never taking my hands out of position, and never looking away from the screen. I use the left hand on the keyboard with custom keyboard shortcuts such as E for line, D for delete, F for move, C for copy, V for mirror, T for trim, S for save, A for match properties, R for rotate, B for block, X for explode, etc. The idea is to group the commands that are used most frequently under the left hand index finger, otherwise you can end up making some awkward hand movements trying to reach frequently used keys. The worst thing you can do is arrange your shortcuts so that you have to move your left hand out of position to reach a commonly used command, and worst of all, a key stroke that requires you to look away from the screen.

    I have to make a living using 2D CAD, so time is money for me. I even built custom key extensions for the ESC, F3 (snap to grip) and F8 ortho lock keys.
    The key extensions look like Rube Goldberg stuff, but they actually work, and keep my left hand in position. I also have to be careful for carpal tunnel syndrome, so less hand movement is better when you do it all day every day. It is amazing to me how may people put the keyboard and mouse up high so that you have to be like Moses holding up the tablets all day, and also put the screen up really high, so you have to crane your neck back all day to see it. Talk about a painful job when you have poor computer ergonomics.

    The program seems to have excellent grips, which is what I use constantly, and the thing that I have seen other programs fall short on. The grips seem to match the other commonly used CAD programs, ie: center, midpoint, endpoint, etc. Without a good set of grips in a drawing program, you are really screwed (pardon my frankness). This program has good grips.

    This program also allows you to "save-as" to a wide variety of formats such as version 2000, 2002, 2004, etc., and I think even to PDF, but I did not try the PDF feature.
    This program would be a useful conversion tool to change from 2010 drawings to 2000 version drawings.

    I use a few diesel routines, and some custom fly-out toolbars and scripts, but I think I could probably use Draftsight almost for production work, assuming they get it past Beta and can guarantee that it does not have any serious bugs. I could not find any bugs in it.

    I did try a variety of things to try and lock it, and it passed the test very well, no problems at all.

    It also has right click for repeat command, or other selections on a pop-up menu, and pan by holding down the wheel on the mouse. These are also two items that you don't want to try and do CAD without.

    Photo below is of my Rube Goldberg keyboard.

    Heck of a 2D CAD program.
    It is anyting but crippled, this appears to be a real winner.
    Normally you would pay about $750.00 for a 2D program like that.

    The other 2D CAD companies will be crying in their beer over this one (and probably brushing up their resumes).

    I assume it is a lead in to their 3D products.
    Most of the 3D programs are out of my reach cost-wise, and the ones that are within my reach, I would not consider using for production.
    I have heard good things about Solidworks, but have not seen it in action or used it.

    Thanks Shred, it appears to be a really good and really free 2D CAD program.

  3. Oct 7, 2010 #3




    Well-Known Member

    Jul 19, 2007
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    Thanks for the review. I could spend all day working with something like this and not pick up half what an expert would in five minutes.

    I may pass it back by my guy and see if he'll spill any more beans ;)
  4. Oct 7, 2010 #4

    Tin Falcon

    Tin Falcon

    Tin Falcon

    Well-Known Member

    Jul 9, 2007
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    Pat. J :
    thanks for the review. Getting a write up from from a CAD professional means a a lot . I am slowly getting used to Alibre 3-D and some 2d for mods. I am starting to draw at a decent pace but Am making mistakes that it takes me too long to find. one little glitch can don extrude.
    I may still download and try this program and I need something for work we have nothing. Sometimes C.O.C v 1.0( Pen paper and ruler) just does not cut it.
  5. Oct 7, 2010 #5





    Jun 26, 2010
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    Hi All
    Bin lurking for awhile now and havn't got round to an intro as yet, I second Pat J's review of draft sight I normally use Acad at work and i now prefer using draftsight so much so I've removed acad from my home pc.

    Its also got a "steering wheel" like acad2011 only they call it mouse gestures, hold right mouse button down and drag.

  6. Oct 10, 2010 #6




    Well-Known Member Project of the Month Winner

    Aug 26, 2007
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    Thanks for the review, Pat. I'm assuming that Dassault Systems will eventually market this program? More to the point, do you think the Beta will stop working at some predetermined date? I would hate to get used to using it only to have them pull the rug from under me.

  7. Oct 10, 2010 #7




    Senior Member

    Dec 7, 2008
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    Well, I DL'ed the file for the MAC version but it will not mount or install on my laptop. I am currently running OS X (latest version). I would like to break into the world of CAD for my simple uses but find it difficult to hack over the big dollars for a program that will be entirely too complicated or possess far more bells and whistles than I will ever need or want. I was hoping this product would help me solve at least some of those obstacles. No luck again. :redface2:

  8. Oct 10, 2010 #8

    My guess is that Dassault will offer this 2D program either for no cost or very low cost in order to get you warm and fuzzy with their 3D packages.

    The 3D packages they offer are (way) out of my financial range, although I certainly could use a good 3D package, and if I did 3D production, I would use them.

    The 2D program is so similar to AutoCad 2D that I did not have to read any directions or do anything appreciably different than I normally do in Acad in order to use Draftsight, I believe you could transfer anything learned to another 2D program.

    If there are HMEM members that would like to learn 2D, I can put together a tutorial that is geared towards drawing model engines.

    It was very difficult for me to learn 2D CAD, but part of the problem was that the tutorials are too generic, and special applications can really benefit from special configurations.

    I will thing about the best way to set up a 2D tutorial.
    Certainly many know 2D, but I am sure some may not.

  9. Oct 10, 2010 #9

    joe d

    joe d

    joe d

    Well-Known Member

    Nov 26, 2007
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    I for one am completely unlearned in any drafting that requires more than a piece of paper and pencils....
    I will be an eager student of a tutorial that actually makes sense to my late 1960s appreciation of three views on an
    a,b,c, or d sheet!

    Cheers, Joe
  10. Oct 10, 2010 #10
    Ok, I have loaded Draftsight on my main machine at home, and am going through it.
    It is basically just like AutoCad 2D, a clone basically.

    I will detail the steps further, but the steps I take to set up the program include:

    1. Turn on the toolbars that you want/need/commonly would use. Drag them around into a position that you prefer. ( I will detail this more later).

    2. Set all the variables such as units, cursor size and type, and a few other options. (More details later).

    1. I like to keep the drawings as simple as possible. I have found that many drafting people are of the opinion that if you are given 10,000 options, then you are a better drafter if you actually use all 10,000 options, and they feel better when they mix and match the options randomly so that only they can figure out what they did. I cannot emphasize enough....LESS IS MORE in 2D cad drafting.
    Keep your drawings simple and then you and anyone else can use your drawings without having a PHD in 10,000 options. Don't force other people to have to reverse engineer your cad setup just to be able to use your drawings. Simple drawings are also much easier to import into other programs, or to change versions within the same program.
    KISS (Keep it simply simple, it really pays off in the long run).

    2. Consistency is everything in CAD drawings. One should almost always draws a line or entity by snapping to some fixed point on an object that is already in the drawing. Never draw "floaters". Floaters are objects that just float around in space, and are not attached to or referenced to any point. A drawing full of floaters will prohibit you from having accurate measurements.

    3. Don't draw more than you have to. For most objects, you can draw just 1/4 of the object, and then mirror the remainder into place. The mirrored objects will be exactly identical to the original, and you only have to draw 1/4 of the object.

    4. Remember the UNDO button. Many times, I will have drawn a number of lines, only to remember that I started the first line wrong. Don't erase the drawing, just UNDO back to the correct point, and then start again.

    5. Either use the AUTOSAVE option so that the program automatically saves your drawing every so many minutes, or toggle this command OFF and do a manual save every so often. I toggle off the AUTOSAVE option, but I manually save the drawing after every command is completed using the customized keyboard keystroke "S". Whichever works for you. If you are not religious about saving, then by all means use the AUTOSAVE option. There is nothing worse than working on a drawing for an hour, only to have a power bump, and poof, it is all gone.

    6. Every day I do major work on a drawing, I save the file with a new Rev number, ie: ENGINE-NO-5-Rev-01.dwg, ENGINE-NO-5-Rev-02.dwg, etc. That way, if the file happens to get corrupted (which happens rarely, but it happens), then you can drop back to the previous rev number. Or if you realize you have made a massive error on day 5 of drawing, you can just drop back to the drawing created on an earlier day, without loosing the entire drawing.

    7. I never use grids (grids are a series of tiny dots that you can toggle to show up on the screen), and I find them very counterproductive. If you have a specific application that would lend itself to the grid, by all means use grids. If you do use grids, the F7 key toggles them on and off. If you see a bunch of dots appear suddenly that you were not expecting, you may have hit F7 accidently. Just hit it again and toggle the grid off.

    8. Get a text and scale chart (I will post one here). It is the CAD equivalent of a tap and die chart. Don't CAD without a chart.

    9. Draw EVERYTHING exactly the size it is in the real world. If you measure a screw 6" long with a ruler, then draw it 6" long. If you have a piston 2" in diameter, then draw it 2" in diameter. If you fail to draw things the same size as they are in the real world, then your will have endless trouble with dimensions, etc., etc.
    NEVER SCALE A DRAWING UP OR DOWN. That is a serious no-no, but it is so easy to do. Scale titleblocks up and down all you want, but not the drawing itself.

    10. I have a series of pre-drawn titleblocks for all the common scales, and I insert the whole bunch of them into whatever drawing I start. It is then a simple matter to just pick the one you want and the one that fits around your drawing. This eliminates having to scale titleblocks up and down. The titleblock that fits around your drawing will determine your scale factor. For small models, I like to stay with a 8.5"x11" sheet, and plot everything at a ratio of 1:1, ie: a 5" line in CAD plots on the paper 5" long.
    If you include correctly scaled text below each titleblock, then just copy the text that goes with the size titleblock you select, you don't even need the chart for that.

    11. I generally draw a horizontal and vertical centerline first, and then any mirroring uses the intersection of these two lines. Other lines can get trimmed, etc. and may not reflect a true center when mirroring.

    12. I use shortcut keys for the most frequently used commands such as "C" for COPY, "M" for MOVE, "R" for ROTATE, "T" for TRIM, "S" for SAVE, "M" for MIRROR, "O" for OFFSET, "E" for DELETE, "L" for LINE ( I actually have my own key shortcuts to minimize hand/finger movements, but many people stick with the stock shortcuts that come with the program, since it is easier to rember). Shortcut keys are keys on the keyboard that can be programed to start a particular command using your left hand using a single keystroke. (Remember to hit ESC to stop drawing a line, unless you want to continue to draw segment after segment.)
    Generally, a fairly consistent shortcut key arrangement will be as follows:

    E = DELETE
    R = ROTATE (you will have to set this in Draftsight)
    T = TEXT (I use T for TRIM)
    U = UNDO
    O = OFFSET
    A = ARC
    S = STRETCH (I use S for SAVE)
    F = FILLET
    H = HATCH
    L = LINE
    X = XPLODE
    C = CIRCLE (I use C for COPY) (remember, you can keep selecting additional points and dropping copies all over the drawing once you start the COPY command, ESC to stop copying).
    B = BLOCK (makes a block) (Making a block means that you select a number of unrelated lines and objects, and create a single entity such as a "CylinderHead". Once you have created the cylinder head, all of the objects in the cylinder head move as a single object when you select and move the block. Exploding the block returns the items to their original unrelated form.)
    M = MOVE

    I use custom shortcut keys designed to keep the left hand in place at all times, and to group the most frequently used commands under the left index finger, as mentioned above, but that makes for some odd shortcuts such as F = MOVE. Since most keystrokes seem to be are COPY, MOVE and ROTATE, then I can pick any of these with my left index finger easily using the F, C and R buttons.

    13. I use the OFFSET command frequently when drawing engines. Generally I establish a base line, and then offset from that baseline. The effect is to create a copy of the line at the offset distance that you specify. ie: Draw a line, offset it 1", and you have two lines representing a cylinder with the bore of 1". Offset the lines again, and you have the outer cylinder walls, and offset again, and you have the outer flange dimensions.

    14. I have seen a number of programs on the forum that calcuate hole layouts and similar things. You don't need most of those programs since you can easily create symmetrical patterns of holes in either a rectangular (rows and colunms) or polar (circular) pattern. For instance, for a cylinder flange, just draw one hole in the flange in the appropriate location, and then array the number of holes you want around a 360 degree pattern.

    15. AutoCAD has a very useful tool called DIVIDE. If Draftsight does not have this option, they need to have it. It allow you to draw a line, and then divide it into any number of segments. This is extemely handy in laying out holes in steam chest flanges, etc. where you have placed the holes at either end of the chest, and want for instance 4 holes in between these two. Just draw a line between the centers of the two holes, and use DIVIDE with a quantity of 5 (4 holes have 5 spaces). Remember that if you use the DIVIDE command in AutoCad, it apears as if nothing happens after you finish the command. What AutoCad actually does is insert nodes (nodes are just dots) beneath the line, and you cannot see them. You can carefully select the line only and erase it to see the nodes, or turn on the snap to node option to allow the cursor to snap to the nodes. Most people keep the snap to nodes off, and so they wonder why the heck the line they are trying to draw will not snap to the node.

    16. Using the F8 key toggles ORTHO mode on and off. With ORTHO on, the cursor moves only in the X or Y direction. With ORTHO off, the cursor moves in any direction.

    17. A nice feature that Draftsight has is if you start a command such as CIRCLE, and pick your first point, you can select the F1 key, and a help screen will pop up and tell you all about how to draw a circle. Seems to work with any command. Close the help screen at any time and continue your command.

    18. There are several ways to select an object or objects. One way is to just pick it with the cursor. Another way is to hold down the left mouse button and drag a window around the object from left to right. The objects selected when you window from left to right have to be completely within the window, or they will not be selected. If you draw the same window, but from right to left, you will see a dashed window (called the marching ants), and anything that this window touches, whether it be partially inside the window but hanging outside the window, or completely in the window will be selected. The windowing options between solid window and marching ants are extremely useful when your drawing gets complicated, and you want to select certain items and exclude others.

    19. Often people select items using one of the window types, but get more objects selected than they wanted, and thus they hit the ESC (escape) key and start all over. You do not have to hit the ESC key if you have selected too many objects, just hold down the SHIFT key and pick any items you want to remove from the selection set.
    Sometimes it is much easier to select a large group, and then deselect a few items with the SHIFT key.

    20. When using the COPY command, you first select the object you want to copy (preferably select a grip on the object like the endpoint or midpoint), and then select the location where you want the copy to go. If you want to copy a line over to the right 2" and up 4", use COPY, select any point in the drawing, and then type in @2,4.
    The @ symbol means copy the object relative to the first point you picked. I often forget the @ sign, and the copy goes flying off the screen, since it is referencing the 0,0 point in the drawing. No problem, just select UNDO.

    21. This is really rule No. 1. If you complete a command, and you do not see the result you anticipated, immediately use the UNDO button. I have seen people use a command which draws an object off the screen, or draws an object exactly under another object. Since they do not see anything happen after the command is complete, then they figure the command did not work, and so they repeat the command a number of times. BIG MISTAKE. Never proceed if a command does not yield the results you are anticipating. Stop for as long as it takes, ask questions, whatever, but figure it out before you move forward with the drawing. One time at work, I saw one object that had been copied on top of itself 255 times, and then that object was copied all over the drawing. "My goodness" I exclaimed after trying to use the drawing. "I erase things and they don't go away, and this little drawing has a huge file size".

    22. You can keep repeating the same command by right clicking the mouse and selecting "REPEAT COMMAND" in the pop-up dialog box. The right mouse button can also be used as ENTER. ( I have not completely figured out the mouse button options in Draftsight yet.)

    More to follow:

    Eugene likes this.
  11. Oct 10, 2010 #11




    Well-Known Member

    Nov 14, 2008
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    Is there a printed book version of the instructions? Google didn't find one.

    I have been using TurboCad V12 but my version is now fairly dated, no updates anymore.

  12. Oct 10, 2010 #12

    John S

    John S

    John S

    Well-Known Member

    Apr 13, 2008
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    Turbocad is now up to V17 but it's getting really bloatware now.

    John S.
  13. Oct 10, 2010 #13
    The Draftsight manual is a good one.
    For the beginner, it still overloads you with too many options, many of which have no importance.

    The manual says set the boundaries for the drawing. I have never set the boundaries for a drawing in 25 years of drafting. This is not necessary. I commonly copy drawings all over the screen, and boundaries would just get in the way.

    Layers is another example, people get too complex with the layers, and freeze some, thaw some, lock others, and do all sorts of unnecessary things with layers. I leave all layers on at all times, and never turn off layers or freeze them. If you start turning layers off, sooner or later you will forget what is on and what is off, then you have a problem. As I said KISS.

    I don't use lineweights, I use colors to designate the weight at which lines are printed. Using lineweights can get messy, and it is not immediately obvious which line is which weight.

    The beginner only need be concerned with a few simple commands used to draw the basic shapes, lines, circles, arcs, etc. and needs to know how to manipulate these shapes such as copy, move, rotate, trim, array. Let the rest go for now and just start drawing some simple things.

    Manuals are great, but learning is doing.

  14. Oct 10, 2010 #14




    Well-Known Member

    Mar 3, 2008
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    pat i would be interested in learning that stuff as i have absolutely no experence in cad work at all but i do enjoy seeing others post stuff that they made with it so i would like to learn . ill down load and play with this on here. just so i can at least say i tried anyway even if i cant learn it. (but i dont beleave that word (CANT)
    really exist does it)
  15. Oct 10, 2010 #15




    Well-Known Member

    Nov 14, 2008
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    Thanks Pat, I'll just have to get stuck in and get some experience with DraftSight.
    Thanks to Shred for letting us know about it.

  16. Oct 10, 2010 #16
    Hey Itow-

    I will give the short story on how I learned to draw. I started with a drafting class in 1978. We had drawing boards with new parallel bars, but still had a few of the old boards with the arm and "L" shaped drawing tool you see in the dinosaur photos.

    My drawings looked terrible, and I was making poor grades, so I notices this little Korean guy in front of me making straight A's (I forget his name, Sun maybe). I asked him "How the heck do you do that", and he said "Don't do anything they teach you. Do it like this." and he showed me how to draw. I made an A in every drawing class I took after that. In a later class, I was drawing in lab one day, and my instructor came up behind me and noticed that I was "doing it all wrong". Then he looked at my work, and was so impressed that he went and found several other instructors and had them come and look at the guy drawing not by the book, but doing well. True story.

    When I started drafting for an engineering firm, everything was pencil and vellum, or ink and vellum (vellum is linen or cotton based paper, very durable and erasable). We drew everything by hand, and it looked great, but was very difficult to change after it was drawn.

    Then came along mylar drawing film and the nice jewel-tipped pens of various widths. The mylar was heavy but waterproof, but don't erase a hole in the rough surface matt or you had to use a permapoint pen, and it looked bad.

    Then we went to the "slick" system, which was a clear plastic film material, and you could lay your mylar over the floorplan which was on the slick below, and erase your drawing without erasing the floor plan. You had to have a "pin bar" at the top of the sheets, and the sheets had a series of holes along the top for the pins to go through to align the sheets. The slick system did not last long because the sheets were too difficult to stack and print, and the sheets slipped when fed throught the traditional ammonia reproduction "blueline" machine.

    The basis of the slick system was transfered into the first CAD program, which was the layer system. The first 8086 and 8088 IBM and clone machines did not even have hard drives, and could be rather slow. The IBM AT machine was when my company got serious about CAD, and purchased two machines. CAD systems floundered at my company for many years since they brought in computer jockies to run the CAD machines, and the computer jockies had never learned drafting. The drawings looked like someone drew a stickman with a broken crayon.

    CAD systems improved with faster computers, and when they fired the computer jocks and taught the manual draftspeople how to use the CAD programs.

    The first plotters were pen plotters, and a plot typically took 45 minutes to complete, and invariably as the machine was making the last few pen strokes the pen would dry out and stop writing, thus ruining the sheet.

    We were (and still are to some extent) in a Tower of Babel phase, where each draftsman is prone to come up with her/his own unique and totally incompatible scheme for setting up drawings. There were no CAD standards in the beginning, and no good CAD books either. The drawings tended to be all of the same lineweight, and the art of drawing got lost for a long time.

    Then our company created a "CAD committee". I cannot think of a more counterproductive way of doing CAD than to have a committee create the standards. Three committees and three standards later, we had a big pile of cr*p, and still no good CAD setup. Committees are political things, and are about power and control, not effective CAD drawing. So each discipline basically went underground, and did what made sense, and ignored the committees and the worthless CAD manuals. The way we finally reached a department standard was when someone would leave, we would erase everything on his machine and load the standard we had developed. Eventually, everyone in the department was using the same symbols, layer names, line types, details, text sizes, etc. but it took a while, and was completely below the radar screen of our boss, who was right out of the Dilbert comic strip (but dumber than Dilbert's boss if you can imagine that).

    I moved to another company and took over a department, and we had several drafting people all using different CAD setups, different symbols, etc. Nightmare. We got that straightened out, and in the process added some very good automation to the process.

    The dirty little secret of CAD software is that most of the tools you want and need in a 2D CAD package were included almost from the very beginning. 99% of the tools that have been added since CAD became popular in about 1989 are designed by people who have nothing better to do other than think up new bells and whistles that we don't need, and things that can be used by the marketing people to justify you upgrading your software every year. To add injury to insult, these companies then sell you "advanced training" which is another way of saying that you pay them large amounts of money to learn usless gimmics. These companies seldom improve the core of the product, but just add "features" which are generally marketing talking point and little else.

    The 1% of the features added are golden, if you know which features these are and don't fall into the trap of making your drawings senselessly complictated with large numbers of features. A test for an overly complicated drawing is to take a drawing you made in 1986 and open it using a recent CAD program. Then take a new drawing that you have recently created and do a "save-as" to AutoCAD version 2000. Can you still open and use the drawing in AutoCAD 2000 or has your drawing become boated with things you don't need. Drawings should be about clearly displaying the required information, not about computer gimmics.

    I use AutoCAD 2004 for production and have not had the need to upgrade since the most modern 2D software available is still years behind what I have customized in the 2004 version. Most people do not realize how you can customize CAD, and how you can integrate spreadsheets into drawings dynamically.

    The 3D CAD softwares seem to understand that the power of spreadsheets needs to be included in CAD software, but the 2D folks never seem to have understood this point, and so its just individuals who have modified and highly customized their own 2D CAD programs to not only draw lines, but to complete very complex technical calcuations, and link the data automatically into the CAD drawing.

    Anyway, in my opinion, the hardest part of learning CAD was sorting out which parts are useful and critical, and which parts and features are marketing fluff.

    I am writing towards the guy who has never used CAD before, or just slightly, but has done some manual drawing and sketching.
    There is a tremendous amout of design power in CAD, and you can harness that power with the right guidance.

    Lastly, the biggest mistake I made in trying to learn CAD was to learn a little, and then wait a week, then learn a little more and then wait a week or two. Not good.
    The way to learn CAD is the same way that you learn machining. You master one skill at a time, and don't move to another skill untill you master the first one.
    Print out each item that you master, and make notes about what you did. Put your printouts in a binder next to the computer and tab them, so that 6 months from now, when you want to do an array command, and have forgotten what you did, you can pull out your binder and remember quickly from your notes.

    I recommend from 10 to 30 minutes of CAD practice every day. Don't practice too long or you will get frustrated, but make a little progress every day, and try and master one new item each day. At first it takes 10 minutes to draw one small item, then 5 minutes, then 1 minute, then you find yourself doing some very complex and time saving things very quickly. Expect a few disasters and setbacks. Your first drawings will be crap, but then that is also the way it is in machining.

  17. Oct 10, 2010 #17
    LESSON NO.1: Load Draftsight and set up the toolbars, units, shortcut keys, cursor size, etc.

    1. Download the program from here:

    2. Go through the setup proceedure, and then start the program. I think when you do your first "save", it will ask you for your email address, and they send you an email with a link that you have to click on to active the product. You don't have to do anything after you click the link, your software is ready for use.

    3. Most people set up their CAD for their own personal preferences, and you get a feel for this over time. I only know my own preferences, so I list them here, not that they are perfect for everyone, but a starting point.

    4. Open the program and move the cursor to the unoccupied gray area on one of the toolbars (See Attachment #1). Right click on the gray area and select "Toolbars".

    5. Attachement #1 has already been set up the the toolbars that I would commonly use. Attachments #2 and #3 show the toolbars I selected from the list. Click the checkboxes for the toolbars DIMENSION, DRAW, ENTITY SNAP, INQUIRY, LAYERS, MODIFY, PROPERTIES, STANDARD, STYLES, TEXT and ZOOM, if the these toolbars are not already on. You can drag the toolbars to the top, bottom, right or left side of the screen by picking the dots on the end of the toolbar and holding down the left mouse button and dragging and dropping the toolbar where you want it. You can slide it side to side using the same method, and also stack one toolbar on the end of another, assuming they both fit on the same line.

    6. Attachment #1 shows a typical screen layout that I use. The "PROPTERTIES" toolbar on the right takes up a lot of screen space, so I often toggle it off unless I need it to select an item and change its properties. For now, just leave the PROPERTIES toolbar on.



  18. Oct 11, 2010 #18
    LESSON NO.1 (continued):

    7. When I first started using CAD, I printed a copy of the toolbars, and labeled each button, and then posted the printout next to the computer screen. Soon you will have the most comonly used tool buttons memorized. If you move the cursor over a tool button and hold the cursor still, a label will pop up, so if you don't know what the tool button is, just hover over it until a label pops up. In actual use, I seldom use the toolbuttons, but generally use the programmed shortcut keys, ie: "C" for COPY, "R" for ROTATE, etc.

    Also don't let the large number of toolbuttons intimidate you, many you never use, and many are holdovers from bygone days, such as when computers did not have mice, or when the wrong type of zoom could create a 15 minute regeneration of the drawing (we had a lot of coffee breaks in the old days, but did not get much drawing done).
    Attachements #4 and #5 are the sheets I made up for a quick reference to the toolbutton names.

    8. In addition to the toolbuttons, there are also a series of pull down menus at the top of the page (FILE, EDIT, VIEW, INSERT, FORMAT, DIMENSION, DRAW, MODIFY, TOOLS, WINDOW and HELP. Many of these menus contain duplicates of the toolbuttons, and the reason for this is that initially, CAD programs were text-based, and there was no such thing as object graphics and toolbar buttons. In the old days, the entire program was operated from the pulldown menus only.

    9. To set the program properties (you only have to do this setup once). Here are the items I set from the pulldown menus:

    a. TOOLS, OPTIONS, SYSTEM OPTIONS, GRAPHICS AREA, POINTER SIZE, use the arrow button to make this value 100.
    (Note: Making the pointer size 100 makes the cursor crosshairs span the entire screen. I find this very helpful when I am checking alignment with objects located on opposite sides of the screen. If you like a small crosshair, do not choose this step.)

    b. In the same OPTIONS, SYSTEM OPTIONS dialog box, unde AUTO-SAVE & BACKUP, you may want to "Enable Auto-Save" and set a time period. If you are a proficient saver, you can leave off the auto save feature.

    c. In the same OPTIONS, SYSTEM OPTIONS dialog box, under DRAWING SETTINGS, UNIT SYSTEM, ANGLE, use precision of 0.0000 for angle, set your units (I use inches), LENGTH TYPE comes stock set as DECIMAL which is what I use.

    d. For text style, I generally use either ROMANS, or more recently ARIAL. I will have to look at that further to determine how to set that correctly for text and dimensions.

    e. In the same OPTIONS, SYSTEM OPTIONS, OPEN / SAVE AS, you can select the version that the program will use as the standard file format, ie: dwg version 2000-2002, 2004-2006, 2007-2009, or 2010. I use version 2004-2006, since not everyone I know has the very latest version.

    10. The program initially appears with a "HOME" box on the left side. You can close that.


  19. Oct 11, 2010 #19
    LESSON # 2:

    (Remember, to pan around on the drawing sheet, hold down the mouse wheel and drag the drawing around where you want it. To ZOOM in and out, use the wheel on the mouse. About the only ZOOM command I use on the toolbar is ZOOM FIT, which puts the entire drawing within the boundaries of the screen.)

    1. Draw one of each object from the DRAW toolbar. Attachement # 6 shows these shapes. If the command is not working as you expect, start the comand, and then hit the "F1" key. A help menu steps you though the command. Close the help menu at any time, or reduce it in size and set it off to one side as you draw. I had to use the help key for the polygon, since I have been making polygons using a six sided array.

    The POLYLINE is used when you need a thick line, but I generally do not use polylines since they can be hard to control.

    The SPLINE can consist of just three points, which would look like an arc, or multiple points, which is what I drew. When you finish picking the last point for the SPLINE, hit enter three times to end the command.

    The RECTANGLE can be stretched in any direction, and can also be exploded using the EXPLODE command to create four separate lines.

    2. Be sure to download the handbook that goes with this program.

    3. Attachment # 7 shows all of the objects that I drew after I selected them, either by picking them one at a time, or by using a window around all of them at the same time. Note that each object has blue squares at strategic locations on it, called grips (Draftsight may call these SNAPS.) For the line object, you can move the line by pressing and dragging the center grip, or make the line longer (stretch the line) by pressing and dragging a grip on either end.
    The other shapes can also be manipulated using the grips. You can experiment with that.

    Remember, you can try any command, and then select UNDO, and repeat that process indefinitely by trying other options.

    4. Attachement # 8 shows the one of the lines has been selected, and then the pulldown box is being used to change the color of the line. Each of the object's colors were changed in this fashion (Attachement # 9).




  20. Oct 11, 2010 #20
    LESSON # 3:

    1. For lesson #3, start a new drawing, and draw a couple of lines on the drawing at a 90 degree angle to each other, and touching at the end. After you draw one line and begin the next, you will notice that as you move the cursor near a grip, it will light up, and if you pick that grip, the line will start exactly at that grip. Generally, any line that you draw after the first line should begin at a grip or some other exactly defined point.

    2. Go through the MODIFY toolbar one item at a time, and try the DELETE, COPY, MIRROR, MOVE, OFFSET, (we will do the PATTERN later), ROTATE, SCALE, STRETCH, CHAMFER, FILLET, TRIM, and EXPLODE commands. (You will have to draw a rectangle to try the explode command). Note that the DELETE key on the keyboard works the same as the DELETE button on the toolbar.

    3. After trying each command, you can do the UNDO command (multiple times if necesary) to get back to the original object.

    Remember, you can toggle ORTHO at any time during a command to either lock the cursor movement vertically and horizontally (ON), or allow the cursor to move in any direction (OFF). You can also ZOOM in and out with the mouse wheel and pan by holding down the mouse wheel and dragging, at any time during a command.

    Note that the COPY command is a sticky one, ie: it keeps on copying as long as you keep selecting additional points.
    You can copy an object by just picking any two points in space, but that gives a random spacing between the copies. A better way to copy is to pick the object, start the COPY command, select any point in the drawing, and then type in @Number X, Number Y, ENTER.

    For instance, to copy two lines 6 inches apart horizontally from each other, draw the first line, select it, start the copy command, pick any point in the drawing, and then type in @6,0. Then hit ENTER.
    To copy two lines 4 inches vertically from each other, do the same but use @0,4.

    You can copy and move items in the positive or negative direction, and in the X axis only, the Y axis only, or move in both the X and Y axis at the same time with a command like @6,4.

    Once you have made one copy of the object the exact distance away from the original object, you can use the COPY command again to easily create any number of objects spaced the same distance apart by selecting the second object, start the copy command, and then pick a grip on the first object, then pick the same grip on the second object, and pick the same grip on the third object, and keep going for as many exactly spaced copies as you need.

    4. The CHAMFER command keystroke sequence is: start the CHAMFER command, type D and hit ENTER, enter a number for example 2, hit ENTER twice, select the first line to be chamfered, select the second line to be chamfered, hit ENTER.

    5. For the FILLET command, the keystroke sequence is: start the FILLET command, type R and hit ENTER, enter a number for example 2, hit ENTER, select the first line, select the second line, hit ENTER.

    6. For the TRIM command, I drew a line at an angle over the other two lines. There are multiple options with the TRIM command, but the sequence is you select the cutting edge first (the line that would represent the path of a cutting edge), and then hit ENTER, followed by the lines that cross the cutting edge that you want to trim off. You can select all of the lines for cutting edges, and then trim all the lines, or any combination. You can continue cutting as many lines as you wish. Use UNDO if you cut the wrong line.

    (Don't you wish there was an UNDO command when you are machining and you cut a part too small?)


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