Posts Tagged ‘software’

CAD Software


Don't really know why I like this photo.

Don't really know why I like this photo.

I wanted to like Vectorworks. I really did. It just did not click with me.

Of course it would have helped to have a computer that met the minimum, the software was having trouble displaying all of the vertex points and edges on a basic wireframe model I imported. I still have it installed and might try it out in the future when my deadline is not quite as close.

Instead I went to a computer lab on campus and used Solidworks. I have used it in the past so there was no learning curve and I finished what I needed to model. This of course does not mean that I like Solidworks. In fact I don’t like it.

I think it has to do with it being a piece of CAD software that I want to act like a 3D Modeling/Animation software suite. I learned on 3DS Max and now that I don’t have access to that I use Wings3D whenever I feel like modeling (not often). There is a fundamental difference in the fundamental approach between Vectorworks, Solidworks and Wings3D.

I just wish that either Wings3D or even Blender (I semi-understand it) could output drafting files with dimensions and screw holes.

I can only dream.

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Building software is not that relaxing.

Building software is not that relaxing.


I need a good CAD program on my mac laptop (Powerbook so no Windows emulation) and I have found my choices quite limited. As a student I want something free, legally free. Not due to not wanting to pirate software, rather there is not much software our there to pirate for what I am looking for.

Taking the advice of a TA I looked into the QCad community edition. The company releases their CAD software commercially with the binaries released under GPL. I like free open source software when available so I thought I would try it out.

I needed to build it myself, I have never done this before. I turned to my good friend Google and found this post. This gave rough instructions on how to do it and assumed a much deeper knowledge of the process then I had. I was starting from scratch. Here is what I did:

  1. I already had XCode and X11 installed on my computer from a while back so I did not need to install them. They can either be installed from the system install disks or downloaded from Apple (XCode at least).
  2. Next I downloaded and installed fink. fink is a program/terminal command that allows for easy acquisition and installation of packages.
  3. With fink I installed qt3mac by using the terminal command “fink install qt3mac” followed by the supplementary packages qt3mac-shlibs, qt3mac-apps and qt3mac-doc. These are installed by adding the “-shlibs” onto the fink install command.
  4. Next I used cd to go to the directly with QCad in it (the one that was downloaded) and set the path to qt3mac by using the command “export QMAKE=/sw/share/qt3mac” and “export QMAKESPEC=/sw/share/mkspecs/macx-g++”. This sets the correct paths for the build command of QCad.
  5. At this point I realized that I did not actually have gcc installed, I reinstalled it using the XCode installer. gcc is a C++ compiler or a collection of compilers. I think at least.
  6. There site I originally found has instructions regarding a patch but I could not figure out how to get it to work. So I skipped this.
  7. cd to the qcad directory /scripts/ and enter “./build_qcad.sh”. This will start the build of the program which should result in a nice QCad.app program to drop into your applications folder.

For me building the program failed. I think I needed the patch but since I could not apply it (alright I don’t know how) it failed. While doing all of this I found a pre-packaged version of QCad on this nice website. I think I also saw an intel version floating around somewhere, don’t know where I saw it though.

So none of this had to be done if I had just found this pre-compiled version first.

Ironically I finally opened up QCad to find out that it does not do what I need it to do.

I have installed Vectorworks 2009 instead with a student license and will try that out now. I could just break down and go use SolidWorks at one of the computer labs on campus, I just want to have a copy for me to use.

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Now it is most definitely winter.

Now it is most definitely winter.

Yesterday I fell upon a link to a MacHeist software giveaway. And I love free software.

By signing up you get free copies of Synergy and Enigmo 2. Synergy is an iTunes extender program that I did not really care about, Enigmo though is a casual puzzle games and I thought I would try it out.

First I downloaded and installed Synergy. Since it normally cost money I figured that there must be some inherent value to it, it also downloaded faster then Enigmo 2 so I had some time to kill. 

Turns out to be a useful little program. It is active as a preference pane and a background process (4% CPU (G4) when used and 20MB memory). When a song in iTunes changes a transparent display pops up listing the new song, artist and album artwork. The size, transparency, duration and location can all be changed. It also automatically sets some iTunes hotkeys. While these can be set through the normal preference panes (Keyboard -> Keyboard Shortcuts) I never thought about doing it before. It also adds three buttons in the menu bar for previous, next and play/pause. So far a simple and handy program.

Enigmo 2 is a 3D puzzle game with the goal of getting dripping beads, lasers or plasmas to their respective location through the use of drums, mirrors and other tools. It feels slightly reminiscent of Lemmings. While an entertaining game with moderate difficulty there is some major problems with it. It could be that I am using a trackpad but the camera controls are really bad. I may be spoiled from using the control schemes of programs like 3D Studio Max and Wings3D but I cannot get the hang of the controls. The second problem is the minimal preference settings. There are little options to change the camera controls and no settings to adjust music and sound (if you wanted to play your own music in the background). The last one is that if you want to play in a window it is limited to the default window size (about 800 x 600 I think).

Getting past these problems the game is fun, especially for the price of free. 

As the second part of the giveaway there are two more free programs that will be available Christmas day plus two more if you refer two friends. So on Christmas there can be a total of four more free programs.

I like this Christmas spirit.

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