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


Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 37

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

  1. #1
    Registered
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    US
    Posts
    8
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0

    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

    Similar Threads:


  2. #2
    Community Moderator ger21's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Shelby Township
    Posts
    34988
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0

    Default

    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)


  3. #3
    Registered
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    496
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0

    Default

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



  4. #4
    Member BlueChip's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    198
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0

    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



  5. #5
    Registered
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    usa
    Posts
    22
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0

    Default

    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



  6. #6
    Member Bubba's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    LaGrange, GA USA
    Posts
    1802
    Downloads
    24
    Uploads
    0

    Default

    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)


  7. #7
    Member lancut's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    406
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0

    Default

    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¢


  8. #8
    Member dertsap's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    canada
    Posts
    4233
    Downloads
    1
    Uploads
    0

    Default

    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 !! ........


  9. #9
    Registered Toolrunner's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    17
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0

    Default

    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.



  10. #10
    Member dertsap's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    canada
    Posts
    4233
    Downloads
    1
    Uploads
    0

    Default

    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 !! ........


  11. #11
    Registered
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    usa
    Posts
    1
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0

    Default

    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


  12. #12
    Registered
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    151
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0

    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



  13. #13
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    uk
    Posts
    256
    Downloads
    4
    Uploads
    0

    Default

    Well, I have said all this before...

    For CAD I suggest ViaCAD 2D @ $49 or ViaCAD 2D/3D @ $99. Both use the same code-base, with the option to upgrade to higher end products if you need to. There're plenty of examples and tutorials built in and a super set of import/export options.

    In my opinion there is nothing to touch CamBam at its price of $149.
    As if full featured, bug free 2D/2.5D CAM weren't enough, powerful 3D machining is included as well, that has waterline roughing and finishing amongst its strategies.
    CamBam's done everything I've needed it to do and done it easily.
    Oh, and it also has a useful CAD system - as well as the ability to scale, rotate, duplicate and move objects etc.

    Martin.



  14. #14
    Registered ImanCarrot's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    1468
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0

    Default

    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.
    Oh man! I downloaded that and it is just awesome! I've been using AutoCAD for years and I could seriously not tell the difference! Progesoft gets my vote, and it's free for home use.

    Oh, the free version is V9 (link is down the bottomof the page).

    You can upgrade to the pro versioni for about 100 quid, dunno why everyone is not using it.

    I love deadlines- I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.


  15. #15
    Registered
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    America
    Posts
    663
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0

    Default

    http://www.gsimple.eu/index.html

    it now works in inches



  16. #16
    Member CNCRim's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    usa
    Posts
    952
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0

    Default

    OEM

    The best way to learn is trial error.


  17. #17
    Registered
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    597
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0

    Default Entry Level 2D CAM Software

    Cut2D is $149 and will open / import most standard 2D CAD
    and Graphic file formats - DXF, EPS, AI, PDF. The software
    is an entry level CAM engine and also includes 3D toolpath
    preview to simulate what the toolpaths will create when
    run on the CNC machine.

    A Fully working Trial version and Training Videos are available
    to download from the Vectric web site. Toolpaths for the supplied
    evaluation files can be saved to run on your own CNC machine.

    Cut2D Information >

    Let me know if you have any questions.

    Tony



  18. #18

    Default

    So far I have not found a wonderful CAM package, and all the cool affordable CAD packages I have looked at seem to not have any CAM capabilities.

    These are the affordable Cam packages I have tried so far. They work after a fashion.

    Lazy Cam can be tricked into doing an ok job for strictly 2D pocketing and engraving by using layers. Its not intuitive. You can engrave at X per pass to a certain depth so you can work backwards into some jobs like ball milling grooves by engraving a line. Has some fun play features for working with image files. I found I could outline from inkscape and then use those files in Lazy Cam to geenrate engraving files. Strictly artistic. No precision.

    DeskCNC is slightly easier to use, but does funny things if you try to do two different operations. On the flip side you can append one machine file to the last in a single file and get a passable result with only minor manual editing of the resulting g-code file (delete the M05 M02 at the end of each section). Basically a decent 2d engraver and pocketing tool. It does have some image processing capabilities. I found I could use it with certain types of image files to do some decent engraving. It has a grey scale to deptth tool also, but I never got anything I liked with that.

    CamBam seems to do some neat things, but it wants to do any engraving in a single pass no matter the depth you want to engrave. Not a good idea if you are trying to ball mill a groove to the depth of its hemisphere. As near as I can tell its strictly 2D. It also either has a glitch if you try to do too much or it needs a heck of a lot more processing power than I have.

    For CAD its even worse in some respects. None that seem to do a good job in 2D or 3D that are affordable seem to lend themselves to CAM.

    COREL DRAW makes passable 2D DXF files if you export them. If I convert all objects to curves before exporting Cam Bam will read them just fine. If I then convert splines to polylines and explode them DeskCNC will read them, but sometimes segments get lost. Corel draw easily lets you locate and size shapes by their center point, but be prepared to keep your calculator open if you want to locate stuf reltive to a the edge or corner with accuracy. Speaking of accuracy. It strictly rounds to a precision of .001. This can lead to cumulative error across a document if you are just using the location of one objects center to locate another object.

    Gsimple does simple CAD and CAM and its not bad, but its very touchy about tool selection. Its also limited, but you can locate objects by their corner relative to zero easily enough and with precision. I found it was too simple, but I did use it to generate some DXF files that I then used to produce code in other CAM programs. It does not appear to have any major bugs, but it could use a little larger font library if you want to engrave with it.

    GMAX is a pretty good 3D solids CAD program and its free. Unfortunately it saves in its own proprietary format. There is another script/program/something called CNC Toolkit that is supposed to work with it to produce something useful, but I have not figured it out yet. There does not appear to be any CAM component available for GMAX and it does not appear to be designed to work specifically with another CAM program to generate useable G-code.

    Punch VIA CAD 2D 3D has what looks like an awesome ability to point and shoot 3D solids, but I didn't want to shell out the cash before making sure I would be able to produce something I code turn into code. I e-mailed them and asked if it had any CAM components or if there was a CAM processor that worked well with it. This was their reply. "Thanks for contacting Punch! CAD. None of our CAD products have CAM components within them, and add-ons for CAM are not available." It might still be useful as it seems to perform like Autocad or Turbocad, but I'm not going to shell out the bucks to find out if I am just going to be cranking pretty solids too look at.

    TurboCad has a CAM components available, but I've never used it. Don't know if its does 3D. I have seen some 2D work generated by it and it looks good.

    AutoCad is just plane freaking expensive for a hobbyist. It seems to be one of the standards for architects. I've never used it, but I've seen tons of blueprints generated by it.

    BobCad has CAM components, but I never got past the first salesman who called me and tried to hard sell me after I downloaded their demo. If you contact BobCad in anyway be prepared to be hounded for life. I downloaded their demo. It took a while so by the time I had it installed I needed to go back to work on other things. A couple days later I got a call from one of their aggressive used car salesmen. He wouldn't take no for an answer. He told me that the demo was worthless and I couldn't do anything with it. He told me that buying a copy third party was a bad idea and that I had no guarantee it would be supported or even work even if I paid for a ownership transfer, etc etc etc... basically everything in the world to try and railroad me into buying his software before I even had a chance to execute it and try it for the first time. I finally had to hang up on the guy. I then uninstalled the demo without ever executing it and deleted the download from my computer. It might be wonderful, but the first guy who called me pretty much moved it to the end of my list to ever try again. Since then I've gotten perhaps 20 calls and hundreds of e-mails trying to sell me BobCad. I keep blocking their e-mails, but they just change the address they SPAM from.

    No doubt I'll get some flack for this post, since some of my opinions dramatically disagree with some of the other opinions stated in this thread. This has been my experience. Noteably in regards to CamBam which many have said does 3D, but I have not been able to trick out of it. Of course I haven't found a good easy to use 3D CAD package yet to generate open or compatible 3d files with as of yet. Also, the fact that when I do more than a couple tool paths with it I get computer lockups.

    Bob La Londe
    http://www.YumaBassMan.com


  19. #19
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    uk
    Posts
    256
    Downloads
    4
    Uploads
    0

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob La Londe View Post
    So far I have not found a wonderful CAM package, and all the cool affordable CAD packages I have looked at seem to not have any CAM capabilities.

    These are the affordable Cam packages I have tried so far. They work after a fashion.


    CamBam seems to do some neat things, but it wants to do any engraving in a single pass no matter the depth you want to engrave. Not a good idea if you are trying to ball mill a groove to the depth of its hemisphere. As near as I can tell its strictly 2D. It also either has a glitch if you try to do too much or it needs a heck of a lot more processing power than I have.

    For CAD its even worse in some respects. None that seem to do a good job in 2D or 3D that are affordable seem to lend themselves to CAM.


    Punch VIA CAD 2D 3D has what looks like an awesome ability to point and shoot 3D solids, but I didn't want to shell out the cash before making sure I would be able to produce something I code turn into code. I e-mailed them and asked if it had any CAM components or if there was a CAM processor that worked well with it. This was their reply. "Thanks for contacting Punch! CAD. None of our CAD products have CAM components within them, and add-ons for CAM are not available." It might still be useful as it seems to perform like Autocad or Turbocad, but I'm not going to shell out the bucks to find out if I am just going to be cranking pretty solids too look at.


    No doubt I'll get some flack for this post, since some of my opinions dramatically disagree with some of the other opinions stated in this thread. This has been my experience. Noteably in regards to CamBam which many have said does 3D, but I have not been able to trick out of it. Of course I haven't found a good easy to use 3D CAD package yet to generate open or compatible 3d files with as of yet. Also, the fact that when I do more than a couple tool paths with it I get computer lockups.
    I can only speak for my experience with the software I have used and recommended. That being CamBam and ViaCAD.

    Engraving in CamBam is done in 1 pass per MOP at the TargetDepth you set, so use another MOP to engrave deeper.

    CamBam is a 2.5D and a 3D CAM system - no doubt about it and certainly not strictly 2D.

    You'll need to be more specific about the glitch and processing power comments as I've not had this problem.

    I don't understand why you say that affordable CAD programs don't lend themselves to CAM. What do you mean?

    ViaCad can export STL files which can be read straight into CamBam and cut with little effort.

    You probably need to spend more time learning to use these apps to get something from them.

    Martin.



  20. #20

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by blowlamp View Post
    I can only speak for my experience with the software I have used and recommended. That being CamBam and ViaCAD.

    Engraving in CamBam is done in 1 pass per MOP at the TargetDepth you set, so use another MOP to engrave deeper.

    CamBam is a 2.5D and a 3D CAM system - no doubt about it and certainly not strictly 2D.

    You'll need to be more specific about the glitch and processing power comments as I've not had this problem.

    I don't understand why you say that affordable CAD programs don't lend themselves to CAM. What do you mean?

    ViaCad can export STL files which can be read straight into CamBam and cut with little effort.

    You probably need to spend more time learning to use these apps to get something from them.

    Martin.

    I guess I'm just a big dummy then. Cam Bam I am relatively new to I admit. Punch's response to my query about using ViaCad for or with CAM was almost on the "go away kid you bother me" level.

    I'm not a mathematical idiot though. I've been doing all my 3D work by modeling on paper or doing 2d profiles in Corel and then writing the raw G code by hand or using Excel and some reitterative processes and a macro to copy the values into a line of code.

    As to processing power requirements. On three different computers once I get over about a dozen MOPs Cam Bam stops responding when I tell it to generate code. There is either a problem in the program, it doesn't swap out to drive space when it runs out of memory, or I just don't have enough processing power. Up to 4 or 5 MOPs it does fine. Imagine how many MOPS you get if ball milling grooves your way. 13 MOPs to cut one half of a 1/8 spure or vent in a mold. Never mind the cavity of the mold. LOL. I can work with that by just appending one code file to the next, but it kinda takes away from the reason for using a CAM program. I could write that code faster in Excel with my macros.

    As to engraving. Of the three CAM programs I use its the only one that does not have a depth step increment for engraving. DeskCNC calls it contouring without compensation, but its the same thing as engraving.

    I of course knew I would catch flack for saying anything about somebody's baby.

    Most of the affordable CAD programs (you can read that as cheap or free if you like) that do really cool 3D do not save as STL. Since ViaCad's response was almost on the "go away CAMboy" level I just assumed their software was comparable to their response. I apologize for being wrong, but it certainly made me want to look at alternatives since it don't lead me to believe it saved things in a CAM friendly manner since I specifically asked them about using their software with or for CAM. That is my experience.

    If I take a chance and contact somebody hoping to buy a product that will work for me I get turned off pretty quick with a very terse... sorry can't help you response.

    Sorry if I stepped on your baby's.

    I've been looking for almost two years now for a setup to do visually intuitive modeling and g-code generation that is affordable and I have asked on lots of different places. It was only very recently that anybody even mentioned CamBam to me. Via Cad I found by accident a couple days ago searching for something else with Google. I've tried and played with a lot of different software in the last two years. Most of it is less than it claims to be. I have bought a lot of it too. I was most impressed with the video commercial for ViaCad but very turned off by their response.

    So... having been properly chastised by you I'll take another look at Cam Bam and see if I can figure out how to generate some STL files to play with in it, and see if I can power the modern day equivelant of a CRAY to run it on and see how it does.

    Bob La Londe
    http://www.YumaBassMan.com


Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  


About CNCzone.com

    We are the largest and most active discussion forum for manufacturing industry. The site is 100% free to join and use, so join today!

Follow us on


Our Brands

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

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

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