CAD for desining rockets

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Dan Griffing

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I've been using AutoCAD software since 1997. Use it for my work and my hobbies. It's great software. But for the last year or more AutoDesk has been trying to "buy back" my software packages because they are "buy once and use forever", and the full software packages reside on my computers. Their new licensing arrangement takes that away. The monthly/yearly fee structure is a bit of a financial bite (annoyance too) on small businesses (like mine) - and I cannot see a hobbyist being able to justify the expense. I also work in parts of the US and overseas that either have sketchy or no Internet access, so cloud-based systems are pretty much DOA. So if I was to look for a replacement software package I think I would consider Alibre. I have only experimented with it, and I know a couple of individuals that use it. It's a respectable program, been around for years, fully supported, price is reasonable, only buy once, download and done. Simple is good.
Thanks for the advice, that’s the kind that I was looking for.

I’ll look into Alibre.
 

QFactor

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Thanks for the advice, that’s the kind that I was looking for.

I’ll look into Alibre.
Everyone offers 30 day trials for their software. It's usually not enough time with CAD programs - especially ones that have extensive features. They all have a steep learning curve (no matter the sales pitch), and are not always intuitive for the user (for some people it's soda and others it's pop). But that's the price you pay if you want a very capable CAD program.
 

Sandy H.

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I've been using AutoCAD software since 1997. Use it for my work and my hobbies. It's great software. But for the last year or more AutoDesk has been trying to "buy back" my software packages because they are "buy once and use forever", and the full software packages reside on my computers. Their new licensing arrangement takes that away. The monthly/yearly fee structure is a bit of a financial bite (annoyance too) on small businesses (like mine) - and I cannot see a hobbyist being able to justify the expense. I also work in parts of the US and overseas that either have sketchy or no Internet access, so cloud-based systems are pretty much DOA. So if I was to look for a replacement software package I think I would consider Alibre. I have only experimented with it, and I know a couple of individuals that use it. It's a respectable program, been around for years, fully supported, price is reasonable, only buy once, download and done. Simple is good.
I hate that Autodesk changed their policy. I don't like renting software.

Since you own a legal/perpetual license, I suggest that you might want to look into a virtual machine at some point. If nothing else, when the next version of Windows breaks the software completely, requiring you to update and therefore succumb to the subscription model, you'll have an option to stay on more modern hardware, but using the older version of Windows that lets everything work just fine.

I think my company is locked in at version 2020 right now and we chose to tell Autodesk to go 'enjoy themselves' and cancelled our annual support that we've been paying since the late 90's (technically, I think we opted to go to a single subscription license in case someone sends in a newer format file, but the other 20 licenses are now perpetual and frozen at 2020). We will at some point, likely migrate those to W7 or W10 virtual machines as the world continues to evolve.

Sandy.
 

lakeroadster

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Well thanks for the snark.

Many of us spend over $200 per motor reload, so spending twice that amount for a 3D CAD package that does the job is no problem.

I just don’t want to pick something because its free now, only to have that deal that was too good to be true, go away after I’ve invested a lot of time with it.

It was a similar situation with RockSim versus Open Rocket and I’m quite satisfied now with RockSim10.
Yeah, that was a bit snarky. I apologize for that.

I'm crazy frugal and run my old Inventor Pro copy on an old Dell computer that's not hooked up to the internet. When the computer dies beyond repair..... I'll be on the hunt also.
 

QFactor

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I hate that Autodesk changed their policy. I don't like renting software.

Since you own a legal/perpetual license, I suggest that you might want to look into a virtual machine at some point. If nothing else, when the next version of Windows breaks the software completely, requiring you to update and therefore succumb to the subscription model, you'll have an option to stay on more modern hardware, but using the older version of Windows that lets everything work just fine.

I think my company is locked in at version 2020 right now and we chose to tell Autodesk to go 'enjoy themselves' and cancelled our annual support that we've been paying since the late 90's (technically, I think we opted to go to a single subscription license in case someone sends in a newer format file, but the other 20 licenses are now perpetual and frozen at 2020). We will at some point, likely migrate those to W7 or W10 virtual machines as the world continues to evolve.

Sandy.
Thanks for that tip on the virtual machine. I have one old Dell desktop running AutoCad 2008 because of my HP plotters. When AutoCad 2015 came out I needed to update, and Windows also did a major update. After the updates the software would not work with my plotters. And one plotter wasn’t even two years old. Turns out it was not a glitch in the software. They decided they would no longer support that plotter system architecture.

I’m about to retire my current Dell laptop; 7+ years old. The new laptop will require some finessing to install AutoCad 15. But then I’ll probably step into Alibre when Windows 10 goes away.
 

Dan Griffing

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Yeah, that was a bit snarky. I apologize for that.

I'm crazy frugal and run my old Inventor Pro copy on an old Dell computer that's not hooked up to the internet. When the computer dies beyond repair..... I'll be on the hunt also.
Apology accepted.

I loaded the free version of Fusion 360 onto my 12-year old Dell workstation but I first had to upgrade it to 64-bit Windows 10. A hardware problem already required me to replace it’s Raid drive and upsize it’s backup drive with fully sold state ones.

I’m amazed at how much faster everything is. I was afraid the whole computer had died and needed replaced. But no, its like a fully state of the art system.

I’m thinking beyond my L3 and want a 3D cad system that will take me there.
 

Meatball 1

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Meatball do you use the CAD to 3d print or design the rockets? How do you determine if they are stable?
For calculating stability of scale projects I used VCP and then Rocksim v6. I have fiddled with OpenRocket, as well, but it's probably not as useful for things like Saturns (short, squat designs--I got wildly different results for the SA-5 Saturn I in OpenRocket vs Rocksim), but we did use it to help the kids with their own custom rockets back in 2013. I used 2D CAD for designing all scale projects 2001 through 2008, including templates, internal component layouts, decals, etc., as well as for actual Scale Data drawings. Of course now I make much more use of 3D for various things, including 3D printed parts from Shapeways.
 

Meatball 1

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I've been using AutoCAD software since 1997. Use it for my work and my hobbies. It's great software. But for the last year or more AutoDesk has been trying to "buy back" my software packages because they are "buy once and use forever", and the full software packages reside on my computers. Their new licensing arrangement takes that away. The monthly/yearly fee structure is a bit of a financial bite (annoyance too) on small businesses (like mine) - and I cannot see a hobbyist being able to justify the expense. I also work in parts of the US and overseas that either have sketchy or no Internet access, so cloud-based systems are pretty much DOA. So if I was to look for a replacement software package I think I would consider Alibre. I have only experimented with it, and I know a couple of individuals that use it. It's a respectable program, been around for years, fully supported, price is reasonable, only buy once, download and done. Simple is good.
If you enjoy working in AutoCAD, it might be worthwhile looking at DraftSight. They introduced some 3D versions, as well, though I don't know how they compare to AutoCAD since I have not tried them (for the record, I really dislike doing 3D work in AutoCAD and much prefer TurboCAD Pro/Platinum for non-parametric 3D, though 2D AutoCAD is not bad, particularly when using keyboard shortcuts).
 

QFactor

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One conclusion a person may come away with in this thread is that there is no perfect CAD program. And I think most comments have come from experienced CAD software people. The more capable (or powerful) the software is, the more patience you'll need.
 

lakeroadster

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One conclusion a person may come away with in this thread is that there is no perfect CAD program. And I think most comments have come from experienced CAD software people. The more capable (or powerful) the software is, the more patience you'll need.
In my experience, the less powerful the software is, the more patience you need. 2D/3D CAD vs Solid Modeling Parametric Based Programs is a good example of that.

I looked at Alibre today... it looks impressive. But I wasn't willing to jump on the free trial bandwagon due to the 66 MB download size, at least not at this time.
 
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Dan Griffing

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Thanks for the advice, that’s the kind that I was looking for.

I’ll look into Alibre.
FWIW — the full cost of Alibre (expert) is $1451.25. This includes 3D part design and assembly, which is one of the main reasons why I was looking for a 3D CAD to help with rocketry design.

I’m not griping because most of my engineering career was related to software and I know how much work goes into creating and maintaining quality software products. People who earn their living in software can’t be expected to work for free.
 

lakeroadster

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FWIW — the full cost of Alibre (expert) is $1451.25. This includes 3D part design and assembly, which is one of the main reasons why I was looking for a 3D CAD to help with rocketry design.

I’m not griping because most of my engineering career was related to software and I know how much work goes into creating and maintaining quality software products. People who earn their living in software can’t be expected to work for free.
Seems like a lot of money... but in comparison to Inventor or Solidworks, that's a fair price.

There are some videos on YouTube that shows the various features of Alibre.
 
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Meatball 1

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In my experience, the less powerful the software is, the more patience you need. 2D/3D CAD vs Solid Modeling Parametric Based Programs is a good example of that.
The more capable (or powerful) the software is, the more patience you'll need.
Both of these statements are true for different reasons. A "less powerful" program with obvious limits may cost more effort, time, and frustration to achieve certain goals that could otherwise be done efficiently with better software tools. But there can be such a thing as "too powerful" or "too complex," such that advanced programs are difficult and to work with (e.g., steep learning curve, too many superfluous tools, too much redundancy, non-intuitive interface, legacy code limitations, too many hidden default settings or options, too many mouse clicks for simple procedures, etc.).

To sum up, one needs patience for both (1) the limited capabilities of less-advanced software and (2) the difficulty of getting powerful software to do what it's supposed to do.
 
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