CAD + GamePad

So, I’ve wanted to simulate our teams CAD drawings in 3d space, and make them responsive to gamepad and joystick controls. Would something like Blender be appropriate to that, rebinding keyboard controls to XPadder, or would something like Unity be more appropriate.

This should probably go under the CAD subforum, but anyway…what do you mean by “simulate”? as in driving it around a la Catalyst, or…?

Sort of like Catalyst, but able to mess around with drawings, and able to map components to a gamepad, so we can test drive, even if it’s just in open floaty space. Thinking something like Blender or Unity would be best, maybe using Xpadder or Glove PIE for bindings?

I would think that Unity would be best, although you may run into some problems exporting from your CAD program into a format that Unity (or Blender) likes. That’s because game engines use mesh objects, not solid objects.

I don’t think the conversion would be an issue, it’s pretty straightforward to import a CAD model into i.e. Maya or Blender and from there output it to a game-engine-friendly format.

Still, I’m not sure I entirely understand what it is you have in mind. What do you mean by messing around with drawings and test driving components (to which I assume you mean parts of the robot, and not a whole robot like what Catalyst does), and why does this require using a game engine?

If you have a good method, I would love to know what you recommend. I spent at least an hour this afternoon attempting to get one of our SolidWorks models into Blender for rendering.

Well, we use mainly Maya and Inventor, with some SolidWorks and 3ds Max here and there, so I can’t say for sure about Blender. But well, it being open-source and Python-extendable and all, I’m sure someone’s already written an import script that can read something produced by one of those programs…

Before you try anything below…are you using the student licensed version of SolidWorks like we are? Because if not, I think the full version has more export format options, one of which Maya (and maybe Blender) might be able to read directly.

Anyway, getting models from Inventor to Maya is pretty easy, since both are Autodesk. Maya has an Inventor format importer built in already, or you can use one of the other CAD formats it reads, like STEP and STL. So if you want to try a somewhat longer way, you could try opening SolidWorks files in Inventor and then opening up the resulting Inventor files in Maya.

We did work out a slightly less tedious path last year though in trying to import a model from SolidWorks to Maya. You should be able to open up SolidWorks’ file in SolidWorks eDrawings, and then from there export it to STL, I think it was, which Maya can import.

Once you get it into Maya it’s easy to export it in formats like OBJ that Blender will easily import.

There are some drawbacks with most CAD->3D Animation package conversions, namely that most of the major CAD tools work parametrically and with NURBS-like approaches which doesn’t always translate that well if you try importing them as polygons; also if you set materials on the model it also doesn’t always carry over that easily.

I assume that by ‘rendering’ you meant ‘integrating into our animation’…otherwise you could just use SolidWorks’ or Inventor’ built-in rendering/presentation/animation features for that.

Edit: Also try this thread regarding Inventor->3ds conversion:

I have found STL to be the most reliable, but the problem is that it doesn’t import any color data from our SolidWorks model. Oh well…

I did this earlier for a quick animation. I had success by exporting the entire assembly to a single STL (it froze up if we imported too many STL files), then opening that file in Blender and applying a decimate modifier (because we had well over a million polygons).
We didn’t need color, but maybe you could select each part by CTRL-L and use vertex groups to assign materials?

Also, when you decimate, go nuts. I think we used 0.05 :slight_smile:

LOL dude I love Blender! I have made some pretty cool 3d things in it and actually have gotten pretty good at modeling humans! I’m an artist so it fit me perfectly. I am also the main one on my team CADing the robot. I didn’t think about using Blender for CAD, but tell me if you get any success using Blender! :smiley:

Blender really isn’t a CAD program, it’s an animation and rendering program. I would definitely avoid using it for CAD…but it makes pretty awesome animations!

The end result of all my exporting work today is this:

Which is a special sneak peek at our robot design this year :wink:

^ Whatever it was, it completely nuked Chrome on my machine, so I guess it’s impressive.

STL or STEP would be the best way to get into Blender, with a 3ds work around if you really wanted to pull some teeth. The thing that seems to be made for the stuff I want to do is Cogmation’s RobotSim,, but I haven’t gotten a response for the trial, so I’m guessing vaporware?