CAD Tech Tools

Does anyone use any fancy “tech tools” to help with CAD-ing? By tech tools I mean a special mouse, or a special headset etc. Just anything like that.

Or if not, feel free to share your ordinary CAD-ing setup as well. :smiley:

Currently, I am working on a “custom” keyboard with labeled keycaps for all the various shortcuts of Inventor, I will post pictures when I am done :stuck_out_tongue: . I also find using my Logitech Mx Master helps a lot because of the secondary horizontal scroll wheel and extra buttons (and comfort).

I use a combination of keyboard shortcuts, and a logitech g700 with 3 sets of commands for Solidworks.

I tried out a g600, but it’s just too many buttons and too awkward of an angle for my thumb.

Every once in a while I get my spaceball out and try to get in the groove of it, but I find a combination keyboard commands and middle mouse + middle mouse click is quicker for me to navigate most of the time as I don’t have to pull hands off the keyboard.

I use a g600 which is mapped to various solidworks tools along with a variety of shortcuts I standardized among my team.

The amount of buttons and ring click is really nice if you can get used to using it.

I use some kind of nice mouse with two buttons on the side of my thumb. I mapped the two buttons to “.” and “enter” so that I can get through windows a bit faster and type numbers quickly.
Sometimes I use it, other times I don’t. In all honesty I find that hotkeys are the biggest improvement that I have made, while the rest remain very minor in effect.

+1 to all of this. I use the same setup and it’s great.

I’ve never used one but 3D mouses are an option. Here’s a thread discussing them.

I tried using one for a little while when I had access to one. It’s definitely a huge learning curve. People I know that are able to use them constantly all the time swear by them and say they can’t CAD without them now, so maybe worth looking into.

Our teams have always told us that for CAD they really like our MasterKeys series. Being able to program the keys and color code them on the fly makes the workflow quicker. For mice, the Sentinel III is currently the most popular choice. We have out MasterMouse coming soon which will be AMAZING and super modular.

For those of you that attended our seminar, you got to check out all of these and more.

+1 to this. I previously had access to one, and it was pretty helpful.

I also use a Logitech g600, I cannot live without it. It’s a bit awkward at first but once you have that many buttons there is no going back.

That thread is almost 5 years old! Here’s what I said then:

Since then, I’ve had the chance to try a 3d mouse with Solidworks, and I could not get into it at all. It’s much easier to use a shortcut key and a mouse/mouse wheel to rotate and zoom into place. Probably because I’ve been using a mouse interface forever, and going through a big learning curve to get used to a joystick seems pointless when there’s almost nothing gained from it.

(Unrelated: but I’ve changed my mind about possibly using one as a robot controller as well. Mixing so many control axis into one joystick always seems to be cumbersome, regardless if it’s shaped like a joystick or a doorknob.)

I tend to try to keep most of the hotkeys I use on my home machine close to the default ones in Solidworks. This is mostly so I don’t feel completely disoriented when trying to demonstrate something while jumping from computer to computer at the school.

When I was doing a lot of CAD at my job last summer, I loved using a 3D mouse. There’s some learning curve, but it’s absurdly fast at a constant task (rotation/panning/other movement). It also avoids having to think about whether rotate or pan is the default mouse wheel click behaviour (it’s different between Inventor and Solidworks). Altogether, it definitely made me faster (and this was in my 8th year of doing CAD).

I did find the default controls to be unintuitive. When you rotate down, the object shouldn’t rotate up. It’s like scrolling on an Apple mouse. Once I flipped the controls, the learning curve wasn’t bad at all.

I’m a big fan of my G600. I really enjoy having three physical buttons for CAD not tied to a scroll wheel, I think it’s a must. When I did Inventor I mapped some of the shortcut buttons on the left to hotkeys, but I haven’t set that up for Solidworks yet. My plan is to use the three sets of hotkeys for sketches, assemblies, and view rotation, but I haven’t figured out exactly how I’m going to map the buttons yet. (Suggestions would be really appreciated if anyone else uses this mouse)

After playing with different 3D mice I went with a 3DConnection Space Navigator. I do agree there is a learning curve but its not that bad. It will quickly make CAD go a lot faster. Especially for someone that knows and uses the keyboard shorts cuts. It also works with almost every program on your computer you will use it way more then you think.

On a negative note it does make it difficult to teach someone to CAD when they won’t have all the same tools on there system like they did when using yours.

On our team we just teach the students to use their mouse for CAD. When you are working on a robot which has relatively small parts and the top assembly is contained within a couple feet I think it is no big deal to use a mouse.

At work a 3D space ball is a must. When you are working on planes or spacecraft that are massive models it is easier to manipulate with a 3D mouse. System performance also becomes a factor as some models at work of a whole airplane or satellite really bog down your machine. A mouse can be “too” reactive if you are trying to change your view by only a little bit… At work I use the spacemouse pro and most people on the program will not work without one. It also allows use to make adjustments in multiple axes at once.

However, when I am working on the robot I dont feel like it is necessary since the parts are pretty small and performance is super fast.

We are beginning to use a 3Dconnexion SpaceMouse for our lead CAD and CAM students. It definitely takes several hours of practice to become proficient, but they’re beginning to like it, and they’re faster on it than just a standard mouse and keyboard combo. After practice, I’m still about the same speed as my classical methods.

I was very reluctant to try it at first, and I felt like I was not very good at it, but it’s starting to grow on me. The real benefit is for orbiting CAM simulations in Inventor HSM. It’s very smooth with this mouse. I can also see it being good for doing demos and lessons when I’m teaching, and not necessarily working really fast, but want to focus on the task rather than on constantly manipulating viewing tools.

If anyone in the Western US is looking for some more info on the 3Dconnexion stuff, PM me; I know their product rep for this region quite well.

touchpad and judicious use of “Select other…” :wink:

Or rotate the view with the arrow keys. I pull out CAD when I’m on the go with my laptop and I’ve got something I want to mock up real fast. Assuming it can’t be done on the back of a napkin.

Accident. Mods, please delete.

I’ve used a 3DConnexion “SpaceExplorer” spaceball (USB interface, forget wireless) forever, both at work and with my own laptop for running/teaching Inventor. With the spaceball in my left hand and a 3-button mouse in the right, I can zoom and rotate the part/assembly much quicker and more accurately while selecting features with the mouse. I find that having the wrist rest attached allows me to more accurately move the image (unlike the SpaceNavigator, which has no extension).

Yes, spaceballs are expensive (mine was free from work :rolleyes:), but I swear by them, and I highly encourage all of my students to get one (or something similar) if they plan on getting serious with CAD–makes working in 3D so much easier. They are always fascinated when I pull out the spaceball and show them how to use it…plus, they get jealous after seeing how fast I can maneuver.

As someone who was excited about the space navigator (the base model one), bought one, used it, then left it untouched 98% of the time, I don’t understand how anyone can possibly think they are faster using it than a mouse and keyboard. You have to take your hand off of it every 3 seconds to use keyboard shortcuts if you are generating parts and actively editing assemblies.

If you are giving a presentation or just viewing an assembly then sure, maybe it could be faster. Anyone expecting it to revolutionize their CAD experience is going to be disappointed. Anyone who thinks it’s “way faster” is either not doing much editing of parts/assemblies or falsely thinks they’re doing it way faster because they’re using a cool toy.

As I said before in another thread I could potentially see why a specific use case would allow the space mice with the additional hot keys to be useful, but let’s be real, FRC teams aren’t doing anything that crazy.

I also bought a space navigator. It’s okay…I do find it a bit faster than a mouse in getting just the right view that I want, but it’s at the expense of several hotkeys. I did bind the keys on there to keys that would allow me to make measurements, mate and reset the views.

I also bought the cadmouse from 3dconnexion. It’s actually a pretty legit mouse that works great for CAD. I also got the enormous mousepad. The mousepad really isn’t too necessary because the mouse works on pretty much every surface well (a distinct difference with the previous 2 mice I used). It’s also got a bunch of keys that can be bound to various functions. The only downside is that it’s wired, but it’s a sufficiently long cord that can reach pretty far if you need to route it through a desk. I’m on a laptop most of the time, so the cord generally just gets in the way, but I can see it for desktop use. The big difference this mouse has over a lot of others is a 3rd mouse button plus a scroll wheel (not too many mice have that). The middle button acts as a scroll wheel click, so you can scroll wheel click without worrying that you’re going to zoom in or out accidentally.