What CAD/CAM software for a hobbyist (less than $200)?


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Thread: What CAD/CAM software for a hobbyist (less than $200)?

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    Default What CAD/CAM software for a hobbyist (less than $200)?

    I'd be surprised if this question hasn't been asked before, but I've been searching and I haven't found it. Similar questions for CAD/CAM advice resulted in recommendations for professional quality software that seems to be way out of my price range.

    I unexpected acquired a nice CNC mini-mill that is ready to make parts, although I do have to finish learning Mach 3 and some G-code first. It seems to me that eventually I'm going to want to be able to design a part my computer and then make it on my mill. To be honest, I don't know if I need CAD, CAM, 3d, 2.5d or whatever software. So I'm looking for some affordable recommendations.

    Here are my requirements (I think)

    • The software needs to be "modestly" priced. I'm just a hobbyist and $200 is the very most I might be able to justify paying. Free, of course, is good. However, I don't want to waste a lot of time learning a free or cheap program and then find out it won't do what I want I need it to do.


    • I live in a Windows world (although I have nothing against Linux).


    • Free and easy-to-understand tutorials have to be readily available for it. This is really important to me. I've played around with CAD software in the past and they all seem to have a long learning curve. That doesn't bother me, but what has scared me off is that many of them either seem to lack good tutorials for beginners, or you have to spend a large chunk of money for them.


    A local vocational school offers an inexpensive evening course on AutoCAD that will be starting soon. I probably I won't be able to afford to buy a copy of AutoCAD after the course, but will the skills I learn be easily transferable to another program?


    Thanks for your advice,

    Rob

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  2. #2
    Community Moderator ger21's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobosaurusRex View Post
    To be honest, I don't know if I need CAD, CAM, 3d, 2.5d or whatever software. So I'm looking for some affordable recommendations.
    What kind of parts do you want to make?

    Quote Originally Posted by RobosaurusRex View Post
    A local vocational school offers an inexpensive evening course on AutoCAD that will be starting soon. I probably I won't be able to afford to buy a copy of AutoCAD after the course, but will the skills I learn be easily transferable to another program?
    AutoCAD is about $4000, so just a little out of your price range. Depending on the software you choose, they may be transferable, or they may not be. There are free CAD programs that function just like AutoCAD. Here's one:
    http://www.doublecad.com/Products/Do...0/Default.aspx

    Gerry

    UCCNC 2017 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2017.html

    Mach3 2010 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2010.html

    JointCAM - CNC Dovetails & Box Joints
    http://www.g-forcecnc.com/jointcam.html

    (Note: The opinions expressed in this post are my own and are not necessarily those of CNCzone and its management)


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    Dolphin partmaster. They offer hobby pricing with CAM and the cad package while not packing the power that autocad does, it is free.



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    Default Out of the CAD / CAM hype

    If you don't need CAD and want to make parts now ... KipwareM ... creates G code using conversational, fill in the blank forms ... $365 ... a complete video training series is available on-line with unlimited access for all users.

    Info at www.KentechInc.com



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    Powerstation has an entry level software that runs about $150.00 on sale, and they run it on sale often. I started with that and have since upgraded to the Pro version. I Program for a living and I use it everyday. Lots of luck



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    my choice is to use progeCAD (http://www.progesoft.com/) which is freeware for non profit use and is a look a like to autocad. I have used both and really like this for a cad program.
    For cam, I use Sheetcam (www.sheetcam.com) is is not freeware, but reasonably priced and does the job very well for me.

    My work is all 2.5 D related and these serve very well.

    Art
    Country Bubba (Older Than Dirt)


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    Member lancut's Avatar
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    CamBam, get free version, if you like upgrade to CamBam Plus for about $150.00

    I'm using it and absolutely love it!

    My 2¢


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    Gold Member dertsap's Avatar
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    bit of a learning curve but its free and works quite well http://www.cnc-toolkit.com/cnc_toolkit.html

    A poet knows no boundary yet he is bound to the boundaries of ones own mind !! ........


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    Yes, revived thread because nobody mentioned MecSoft's Freemill. Absolutely free, as the company says.

    http://www.mecsoft.com/freemill.shtml

    I haven't used it but it looks good to start off with.

    But then, lots of people are just running Mach-3 and learning to G-Code. There was a 6-part (?) series in "Model Engineer's Workshop" (a UK serial) only quite recently about using Mach 3.



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    Gold Member dertsap's Avatar
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    I thinks Chucks onto something , has anyone else tried powerstation ? http://www.microcimm.com/PS.html
    seems to be well functioned for the price , the demo isn't time limited but the code is limited to two decimal points , which is good enough to evaluate at ones leisure , or for a new guy to catch on to g code , and probably good enough for anyone running a diy router , I've been playing with it a bit over the weekend , neat program

    A poet knows no boundary yet he is bound to the boundaries of ones own mind !! ........


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    I came across to the forum when I was looking for some information about the microsoft certifications but I really found it good by all means

    Mark


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    Default TurboCad

    Hi Rob
    I have been using TurboCAD and LazyCam in Mach3 combination on my mill and works well for me, probably the lowest cost combo that is easy to use. TurboCAD is around £70GBP not sure of cost in US as there are several versions. I have looked at some of the low cost CAM packages, but they all seem to suffer form classic instruction writer disease, that is the guy who writes the instruction knows how it works but is hopeless at explaining to others.

    Cheers

    Mike



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What CAD/CAM software for a hobbyist (less than 0)?

What CAD/CAM software for a hobbyist (less than 0)?