Just when you thought it couldn't get any sillier... I'm working on mechanical designs for the latest incarnation of the Office Chairiot: The Mark III. Not a generally amazing story in and of itself, except for the fact that I don't normally spend time doing CAD for my projects and the CAD I'm using on this one is a special one.
I'd like to introduce you to Onshape! A professional-grade, fully cloud-based CAD system that's also collaborative, mobile-friendly (and usable!) and it even has version control. It's in beta, at the moment, but even still, it's quite amazing and VERY easy to learn and start using.
Because this project will involve other people and more precision fabrication, I didn't have much choice in the matter of designing it. To run a water jet to cut parts from aluminum or steel, I need to have CAD designs to instruct the water jet how to cut. To explain to others how I envision a motor mount on the chassis so that they can CNC a pulley, I need something a bit more detailed than a napkin drawing. If I get stuck on a structural issue, I'd prefer to be able to invite someone into my CAD drawing to help me solve the problem. This is all completely doable in Onshape, thanks to the cloud!
I joke a little about never using CAD for projects. It's not completely true. I've used it to get better views on how parts might fit together, like in the case of my back yard fire pit. But, generally speaking, I just go with my instincts and start engineering on-the-fly in the garage and cut and drill until things mostly work together. That's great in the garage, but when it comes time to involve a team of highly-skilled and talented engineers and fabrication experts, like the ones at Local Motors, CAD is the only option, outside of the Vulcan Mind Meld.
If you haven't heard of Onshape and you're a regular CAD user or you'd like to get into using CAD, I highly recommend you stop over at their website and sign up for a beta invite. Your projects will thank you. ;)
This morning, I've been working on designing the hubs for the new non-marking tires. I bought some hubs to try out, but I'm not thrilled with their bolt patterns or with how much their axle thingies stick out. Since Local Motors has CNC and milling capabilities, I thought, why not just design my own to be milled there? Make it EXACTLY what I need, not what China offers? Boom! Inspiration! Fun! Such excite!
If you have questions about Onshape, please feel free to hit me up with questions or thoughts! If you're using it, I'd love to hear your stories! Also, if you see me post something from my CAD work or you get into one of my public CAD designs and you see better ways for me to implement features or to use best practices, let me know! I'm learning! This is a blast!