Name Change! (And some thoughts on the CAD process)

Post date: Mar 6, 2012 2:34:22 AM

I found an old text file where I was brainstorming potential robot names. As you can see, there was one I liked better.

It has been an interesting romp with CAD. I've piddled with Google Sketchup on several projects, but never to this extent. Looking back, the process went something like this:

  1. Get the idea into a model.
  2. Refine the idea until it's actually a workable idea. (I went through several major changes before settling on the current general idea of the 'bot.)
  3. Make the idea practical; adjust the original measurements to fit the realities of available parts and materials, limitation of available tools, location of fasteners, etc. (In this instance, that meant adjusting for off-the-shelf Aluminum bar stock, making critical measurements multiples of 1/8-inch, insuring adequate space for running wires, keeping within weight budget, etc.)
  4. Repeat step 3 A LOT. Every refinement had a ripple effect -- changing the location of one component would affect measurements on several parts.

In addition, several general comments:

  • Use version control! (For the non-programmers in the audience: version control is a system for keeping a history of certain files that undergo frequent changes. By using it, you can "go back in time" and quickly re-create a past version of the file if you find you went in a bad direction. Software developers can't survive without it. In the context of CAD, version control means that if you try something out and decide it won't work you can go back a few steps and try a different approach.) I use TortoiseHG for all my version control needs these days. It just works.
  • Use the "grouping" and/or "make component" features to make parts.
  • Hide and Unhide parts to get them out-of-the-way as needed.