I talked with OnShape.com, and they said they have talked to about 10 other FRC teams, who are you?
When I contacted OnShape about the possibility use it for our robot team they had one of their employees (a FIRST FRC alumni, and graduate from MIT give me a call) he explained that OnShape was founded by the people who created Solidworks, which instilled me with more confidence in the company. He expects just the free version would take care of our robot team’s needs, or if we need more than that they would be willing to figure out how to arrange a sponsorship if we need the professional level (basically it provides more private storage). I also learned in that conversation that they just added 2D drawings about a month back, which eliminated one barrier about why I had not been considering OnShape more seriously.
When I ran across OnShape.com (cloud CAD at onshape.com) and it eliminates so many barriers that have been in our way, mainly getting powerful enough computers to the students to run Solidworks (it runs through any browser and even runs on an Apps on iPad, iPhone or Android). Plus onshape adds so many more capabilities like 1) modeling multiple parts in one part file (allowing ties between the part geometry to be simply connected and parameterized) 2) concurrent editing of the same CAD file or Assembly by multiple people and 3) built-in versioning and branching that allows everyone access to the latest plan or option under consideration. Another bonus that I think the students will like is the higher-level mating.
We are a third year team but still do not have any students with any significant CAD skills. We lost our CAD mentor who knew 3 other CAD systems but was learning SolidWorks. The students have been trying to learn Solidworks but it has been slow going. I have played with CAD over the years but it has never been part of my job, so I too have been trying to learn how to do CAD at an FRC level, specifically using Solidworks.
After my conversation with OnShape I have been using OnShape and really like it, they seem to have taken what they learned over the years with Solidworks and used the to create a new cloud based product that from the ground up is just way better. I never understood how I was supposed to design and take full advantage of parametric CAD, when all the parts are in separate files and I then had to bring them together in the Assembly. The only way it seemed it would work was if I coordinated many things in my head or through some other mechanism I have yet to learn.
The only downside I see is not having the students leave the team with experience in a marketplace accepted CAD system (e.g. Solidworks).
For teams that will be using OnShape in the upcoming season is anyone considering creating an OnShape-Team for all FRC teams that could hold a standard library of FRC relevant components, like all the Andymark CAD files and the Field components once they are made available. For me Importing Andymark components into OnShape.com has been effortless, so it should not be hard to create a library, it would just take a little time but all the teams using OnShape would benefit.
We still have not made our final decision but I would like to know what the other teams, especially those considering OnShape have to say.