Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pic of the Day: Fort Pickens CAD pt. 4

I'm mostly finished with the horizontal section view (see Pt. 2); just a lot of little detail work. I got tired of looking at this part of the project (had to go back and re-do some sections several times because something was off) and started doing the top plan instead.

QCAD has turned out to be a pleasant bit of code. It doesn't have all the features of AutoCAD, but the price is much friendlier ($40 vs. $1500 or more) and I don't really need more than what it offers. There are some annoying issues, though:

--Architectural measurements could allow for American-style measurement (feet, inch, fraction). At the very least the manual should explain that QCAD is expecting everything to be in inches. Working in feet and inches this way requires you to type "12*" first (converting feet to inches), so 12' 6 1/2" is typed as "12*12+6 1/2". I had to hunt online for this piece of information. (RibbonSoft is in Switzerland, so it's understandable that they don't normally work in feet and inches like us Stateside dinosaurs)
--The manual should be fleshed out with examples of each command and better descriptions. As written, the description for the command to draw a line at a given angle wasn't very clear. Another online search for that.
--Some of the more frequently-used tools on the Modify menu could be echoed in the Lines menu to make work flow a little quicker.
--No support for graphics tablet input (at least in version Mouse only.
None of these is a deal-killer. I survived the learning curve.

--Main tools are Point, Line, Arc, Circle, Ellipse, Text, Dimensioning, Edit (Modify), Measure, Hatch, Insert Image, Selection, Blocks, Isometric Projection. Each tool button has its own set of sub-buttons.
--You can enter commands from a command line, from the Menus toolbar, or from the button bar.
--Layers. Parts of a drawing can be drawn on different layers, each with its own color, line weight, and line style.
--Absolute and Relative angles and coordinates.
--Works in DXF format (supposedly also works in AutoCAD's DWG format, but I haven't found how to make that happen).
--Export Bitmap, SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics), PDF.
--Support for a parts library for frequently-used items like doors, fasteners, bathroom fixtures, and such. None are included with the program, but a small set of parts can be downloaded from the RibbonSoft website.

There's a slight learning curve, mostly because of the too-sparse manual, but once I figured out the worst issues everything else came easily. Installation is as simple as unzipping the files into a convenient folder. QCAD runs right from there.

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