Author Topic: Thoughts on FreeCAD  (Read 5889 times)

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Offline apelly

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Thoughts on FreeCAD
« on: March 21, 2016, 09:11:21 pm »
The other day I wanted a complex outline for a board  in KiCad. This has no solution in KiCad, but you can generate the outline in some other software, like FreeCAD, which is a lot more capable on this front. I know this is not news to most people, but I had no experience with FreeCAD so that put me off a bit.

Anyway, finally accepting that the learning curve would be steep, I decided to spend a couple of days fooling with the basics of FreeCAD.

I’m Impressed!

There are some great introductory tutorials on the toob, and after a few minutes I was doing cool things. After a few hours I was doing very cool things.

It is quite crashy though. At least it crashes quickly and only takes a couple of seconds to start again. And I have stumbled across a few bugs, but if you save often and you’re patient it’s still very cool indeed!

I’m also still missing a few more advanced things, like collision detection and animation. I can’t find a great deal of info about these on the web yet.

On the one hand it’s been a big time sink and I haven’t finished my board yet, on the other it’s been great fun, and I reckon I could design just about anything!

It’s enough to make me think seriously about getting a 3d printer.
I'd rather a Google clue, link, or some theory than "do this" (generally)
 

Offline ChunkyPastaSauce

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Re: Thoughts on FreeCAD
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2016, 09:25:21 pm »
FreeCAD was probably the 'best' (if such a thing) option up until the last 2 years. However, AutoDesk Fusion 360 is pretty close to a full featured CAD package. Free licenses for personal use, or startups with revenues under 100,000k
OnShape is also good and free.

Fusion360 is seriously making me consider dumping SolidWorks. I need to spend some more time with it, but my feeling is it's not as good for large assemblies (models I work daily with have 1500+ components).... but 99% of users don't need that. Also im not sure the motion analysis is as good (know nothing about it). Fusion has integrated CAM...... which is amazing for being free. It also does some light FEA. And unlike solidworks, can do freeform surfacing (i have to pay an additional $1500 via thirds party to do that within solidworks). Does basic, but easy to use, rendering too.

Onshape havent tried yet but have heard it's worth trying it out.

Not saying FreeCAD doesn't have it's own merits btw.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2016, 09:30:21 pm by ChunkyPastaSauce »
 

Online sleemanj

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Re: Thoughts on FreeCAD
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2016, 09:30:20 pm »
I tried FreeCAD  a few years ago and found it (aside from crashy as you say) a bit confusing as to how the 2d sketch and 3d solid systems came together, for your board situation of course that's not an issue I guess.

Currently for my 3d printing pursuits I use Onshape in-browser CAD (onshape.com) which is *freaking amazing* especially considering it's running in your browser when I need to make something parametrically.  It's a commercial cloud-based system, but they do have a reasonably generous free level.

TinkerCAD (tinkercad.com) while being something like "3d modelling kindergarten" also comes in useful especially for "mashing up" existing stls into something new, it's crude but works.
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Offline ChunkyPastaSauce

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Re: Thoughts on FreeCAD
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2016, 09:56:04 pm »
Currently for my 3d printing pursuits I use Onshape in-browser CAD (onshape.com) which is *freaking amazing* especially considering it's running in your browser when I need to make something parametrically.  It's a commercial cloud-based system, but they do have a reasonably generous free level.

Have tried Fusion? If so, how did it compare against Onshape?
 

Online sleemanj

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Re: Thoughts on FreeCAD
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2016, 10:29:54 pm »
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Offline apelly

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Re: Thoughts on FreeCAD
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2016, 10:49:57 pm »
FreeCAD was probably the 'best' (if such a thing) option up until the last 2 years. However, AutoDesk Fusion 360 is pretty close to a full featured CAD package. Free licenses for personal use, or startups with revenues under 100,000k
OnShape is also good and free.
I should have known I didn't pick the best option.

Oh well. When I run into something I need that won't work with FreeCAD for I'll look at change. I still think it's damn cool. It also makes me smile every time I do something cool and complicated and think that my software's written just like geeks like me, just for the fun of it.

I tried FreeCAD  a few years ago and found it (aside from crashy as you say) a bit confusing as to how the 2d sketch and 3d solid systems came together, for your board situation of course that's not an issue I guess.

If you're still interested, check these videos out. They cover a whole bunch of stuff right from the beginning, including some different techniques for achieving the same results, and what I would consider some reasonable advanced functions like extruding along a path.

I'd rather a Google clue, link, or some theory than "do this" (generally)
 

Offline ChunkyPastaSauce

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Re: Thoughts on FreeCAD
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2016, 11:07:14 pm »
I should have known I didn't pick the best option.

Oh well. When I run into something I need that won't work with FreeCAD for I'll look at change. I still think it's damn cool. It also makes me smile every time I do something cool and complicated and think that my software's written just like geeks like me, just for the fun of it.

Yeah! Would be silly to switch to another program if the current program does everything you want and it's fun to use, unless you have a reason to switch. Also totally understand the community thing about it too. I'm also suspecting in the future, both onshape and fusion may go non-free at some point (they are both in pseudo-beta currently), they are both trying to capture markets share from the other guys currently.
 

Offline TinkerFan

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Re: Thoughts on FreeCAD
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2016, 11:25:22 pm »
I was pretty impressed by FreeCAD when I first used it too. Haven't checked Fusion360 though.
The only thing I'm missing in FreeCAD is a good handling of the object like moving it around and a proper rotation (shortcut). The other way would be to have the different views next to each other. But maybe there is a setting for this that I haven't found yet?
"A good scientist is a person with original ideas. A good engineer is a person who makes a design that works with as few original ideas as possible. There are no prima donnas in engineering." - Freeman Dyson
 

Offline apelly

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Re: Thoughts on FreeCAD
« Reply #8 on: March 22, 2016, 04:21:59 am »
I was pretty impressed by FreeCAD when I first used it too. Haven't checked Fusion360 though.
The only thing I'm missing in FreeCAD is a good handling of the object like moving it around and a proper rotation (shortcut). The other way would be to have the different views next to each other. But maybe there is a setting for this that I haven't found yet?
You must have had quite a quick look. Numbers 1 through 6 change projected side and number 0 switches to axonometric.

I think a spaceball is required if you are going to use it a lot.
I'd rather a Google clue, link, or some theory than "do this" (generally)
 

Offline ChunkyPastaSauce

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Re: Thoughts on FreeCAD
« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2016, 06:18:10 am »
blender mouse mode feels better to me in it.
My spacemouse does work with it (not that I recommend one)
Also I just notice openscad is in it... which is possibly pretty awesome.
 

Offline Karel

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Re: Thoughts on FreeCAD
« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2016, 07:21:30 am »
I use FreeCAD to check the IDF output of Eagle and convert it to a step file before I send it to our mechanical engineer
to check with the enclosure. Nice program indeed.

 

Offline TinkerFan

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Re: Thoughts on FreeCAD
« Reply #11 on: March 22, 2016, 08:22:51 am »
I was pretty impressed by FreeCAD when I first used it too. Haven't checked Fusion360 though.
The only thing I'm missing in FreeCAD is a good handling of the object like moving it around and a proper rotation (shortcut). The other way would be to have the different views next to each other. But maybe there is a setting for this that I haven't found yet?
You must have had quite a quick look. Numbers 1 through 6 change projected side and number 0 switches to axonometric.

I think a spaceball is required if you are going to use it a lot.

Yes, but that is about as good as it gets. If you want to rotate by 10° for example you have to go through the menu... I don't know if that is common though.

Please correct me, but I remember the program is in total not very good when it comes to hotkeys.
"A good scientist is a person with original ideas. A good engineer is a person who makes a design that works with as few original ideas as possible. There are no prima donnas in engineering." - Freeman Dyson
 

Offline apelly

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Re: Thoughts on FreeCAD
« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2016, 08:47:17 am »
You're probably right. I've only fooled around with it.

There is an extensive editable hotkey list, and python access of course, but I'm not sure how long it'd take to get everything set how you like it.
I'd rather a Google clue, link, or some theory than "do this" (generally)
 

Offline ian.rees

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Re: Thoughts on FreeCAD
« Reply #13 on: April 07, 2016, 10:21:06 pm »
Hi all,

     I'm an occasional lurker here and a FreeCAD contributor, finally got around to registering for the forum this morning.  Glad to see some interest in our project!

FreeCAD has improved considerably in the last few years, and we're just pushing a new release out the door now ( https://github.com/FreeCAD/FreeCAD/releases ), so I'd suggest to not let bad experiences with old versions shape your opinion too much.  If you have problems with the new one, we've got a great forum community over at http://forum.freecadweb.org and need all the bug reports we can get!

Some of the issues you might bump into are actually issues with the underlying CAD kernel, Open Cascade, but they've also got a new release out this week which looks like it'll be a good improvement when we get it rolled in to FreeCAD.

My spacemouse does work with it (not that I recommend one)
AFAIK, we support the normal space mice on all platforms now - what mouse and OS are you using?  FWIW, I have a basic Space Navigator and would personally recommend it.

There's a neat project in the works, KiCAD StepUp, which is aiming to allow for moving designs back-and-forth between KiCAD and various mechanical CAD packages, it's definitely under development, but seems to be moving along nicely.   -Ian-
 
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Offline ElektroQuark

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Re: Thoughts on FreeCAD
« Reply #14 on: April 08, 2016, 07:30:28 am »
FreeCAD and Space Navigator Wireless user here. No problem with it on Linux Mint and Windows 7, 10.

What OS are you using?

Offline Karel

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Re: Thoughts on FreeCAD
« Reply #15 on: April 08, 2016, 11:12:01 am »
I'm an occasional lurker here and a FreeCAD contributor, finally got around to registering for the forum this morning.  Glad to see some interest in our project!

FreeCAD has improved considerably in the last few years, ...

When are they going the fix the broken IDF import?

 

Offline ian.rees

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Re: Thoughts on FreeCAD
« Reply #16 on: April 08, 2016, 08:30:52 pm »
What OS are you using?
I assume this was directed at ChunkyPastaSauce, but I'm using MacOS 10.10 and Space Navigator works fine in recent versions of FreeCAD.

FreeCAD has improved considerably in the last few years, ...

When are they going the fix the broken IDF import?

To be honest, I didn't realise it was broken, thanks for the tip.  Is http://freecadweb.org/tracker/view.php?id=1738 the same problem you've experienced?  Could you send me an IDF file or two that demonstrate the problem?
 

Offline Alex Eisenhut

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Re: Thoughts on FreeCAD
« Reply #17 on: April 09, 2016, 12:04:18 am »
I installed it on a win7 laptop and immediately after the install the laptop started bluescreening with a driver related issue. A driver for what I don't know yet.
Does FreeCAD install hardware drivers willy-nilly? I have some reading to do...
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Offline ian.rees

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Re: Thoughts on FreeCAD
« Reply #18 on: April 09, 2016, 12:42:56 am »
I don't use windows much, can't help with this sorry.  I don't think installing FreeCAD would change anything to do with drivers.  You might try the Install/Compile section of the FreeCAD forum http://forum.freecadweb.org .  Be sure to post the version of FreeCAD you downloaded - there's a sticky post there with forum rules that explains the relevant versions to post.  Hope this helps!  -Ian-
 

Offline ChunkyPastaSauce

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Re: Thoughts on FreeCAD
« Reply #19 on: April 09, 2016, 01:38:23 am »
Hi all,

     I'm an occasional lurker here and a FreeCAD contributor, finally got around to registering for the forum this morning.  Glad to see some interest in our project!

FreeCAD has improved considerably in the last few years, and we're just pushing a new release out the door now ( https://github.com/FreeCAD/FreeCAD/releases ), so I'd suggest to not let bad experiences with old versions shape your opinion too much.  If you have problems with the new one, we've got a great forum community over at http://forum.freecadweb.org and need all the bug reports we can get!

Some of the issues you might bump into are actually issues with the underlying CAD kernel, Open Cascade, but they've also got a new release out this week which looks like it'll be a good improvement when we get it rolled in to FreeCAD.

My spacemouse does work with it (not that I recommend one)
AFAIK, we support the normal space mice on all platforms now - what mouse and OS are you using?  FWIW, I have a basic Space Navigator and would personally recommend it.

There's a neat project in the works, KiCAD StepUp, which is aiming to allow for moving designs back-and-forth between KiCAD and various mechanical CAD packages, it's definitely under development, but seems to be moving along nicely.   -Ian-

3dconnecion SpaceNavigator, on windows 10.       Also thanks for your contribution to freecad   
 

Offline ian.rees

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Re: Thoughts on FreeCAD
« Reply #20 on: April 10, 2016, 01:19:46 am »
I had a look through the part of FreeCAD that connects up with 3Dconnexion devices, it seems like everything is in place for 3D mice working on Windows.  That said, there's no logging in that area, so it's hard to debug remotely!

Have put in a pull request to add a bit of logging ( https://github.com/FreeCAD/FreeCAD/pull/134 ), hopefully that will be merged in within a few days and will be available in a pre release build ( https://github.com/FreeCAD/FreeCAD/releases/tag/0.17_pre ).

If you could keep an eye on that pull request, and once it's been closed try downloading the next pre release, then we can see what shows up in your logs.  Thanks!  -Ian-

[Edit: The latest 0.17 pre release now should have those changes.  You might have to run the FreeCAD executable from the console to see the output - not sure.]
« Last Edit: April 10, 2016, 08:24:42 pm by ian.rees »
 


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