Let's Make Robots!

Designing the new body for my robot...

The first robot that I have ever made currently has a cardboard body. As one can imagine, cardboard has its limits, both in durability and aestetics..  So the last few weeks I decided to look around for another material... I wanted something that is relatively easy to form and work with and not needing a whole set of new, special, tools... I came across plexiglass as an alternative and my choice was quickly made.

I have built stuff before and usually writing a few measurements on paper works fine to make simple things. A robot body is a whole different cup of tea. Any holes of the separate pieces of plexiglass should be perfectly aligned, as a few millimeters off could break the plastic when screwing in the screws too tight. So, as precise as possible is important!

Now, when I was young, and because of my fathers' engineering profession, I have been able to dabble in AutoCAD (version 3.XX, running in DOS on a 80286 with a '287 mathmetical co-processor, ahhh the old days....), giving me a head-start on the digital engineering way of thinking...

Though now, more than 20 years later I don't have any access to a machine running AutoCAD... So I had to look around for a decent piece of CAD software -- software without any "typical" way and a steep learning curve to go with it. (Learning is good, but when you want to progress, it only slows things down.)

The body is designed "around" these rounded "attachment thingies" that keeps everything together.Enter CADuntu, which has recently been renamed to LibreCAD, a multi-platform CAD software (Windows, Linux and Mac OSX). I've tried other alternatives before -- but in the time I was still figuring out how the interfaces worked I was already designing in LibreCAD. If you ever used things like the command line, or  "relative" coordinates by prefixing them with "@", it's a very comfortable environment.

It does not do 3D design -- so it is not possible to "shade" (render) a model, which would've been a nice bonus.

For saving files it uses the DXF file format; so any design could be imported into an application that does do 3D and modified/finalised in there.

But for now, 2D works just fine to get all the holes on the bottom and sides aligned correctly: I am now able to plot the "hole plan" and overlay that on a piece of plexiglass and cut right through -- so that's awesome! (The plexiglass is still in transit, sadly..)

Occasionally, I run into something that works so much nicer in the AutoCAD I've grown to love, but for which I still need to figure out how it's done in LibreCAD. For instance, I do miss the "JOIN" command (I doubt one must need "blocks" for that use -- blocks can't be "hatch"-ed either).... but other than that it's the best free CAD program I have run into so far!

Curious... Are there more people here that use this software?

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Hey, thanks for the info on that LibreCAD program.  I will go check it out (to see how easy or hard it is to work with)


Oops, I just saw that it does not do 3d...  Hmmm, bummer. That sucks.


Ok, I just downloaded a couple that are supposed to work with 3D.  I will check them out and let people know if they seem worthwhile.    Open Cascade and BRL-CAD.  I won't know till I try them.


... is also worth a look. The latest version 2.5.x does not export to DXF currently but 2.49 does and it does 3D too. I use it to design my projects currently. 

... to load generated DXF from Blender, as saving the DXF from Caduntu ensures best compatibility with other importers. 

Also I use it to align the design correctly realtive to origin :)

Not much else ...