4909 moved to OnShape this year and it’s been great. Making changes and having multiple kids work at the same time has been huge in our CAD development. It’s been awesome to see 20 kids in the lab all working on CAD. It also allows us to work on the model anywhere as opposed to having a computer that has the CAD program installed.
The only issue we had early on was having 10+ users working on one model at the same time. It would hang up or slow down. Quick fix was to repeatedly re-share the model. Better fix was changing the account to OnShape’s EDU program. That has solved the issue.
Onshape is, without question, the best decision we’ve made in the past two years. I firmly believe it is the best CAD solution for a FIRST robotics team.
Think of it as the Google Docs for CAD:
- Multiple people can edit the same document at one time.
- No need to worry about saving files or losing changes if there’s a crash.
- Full version and history control.
- Anyone can edit from anywhere without installing anything.
- Amazing public library support.
It also has some features and tools that make it more powerful than conventional CAD systems.
I agree with the upsides, but currently it’s just too slow for any serious CAD work…
I am very excited for when it’s able to bridge that speed gap though. It can’t be too far off in the future.
On poor network connections it can get pretty frustrating. I haven’t noticed any deal-breakingly slow performance, but it’s probably because I’m not fast at CAD by any means. Teach me your ways.
Those electronics components look familiar :p. It’s awesome that 319 has made their cad public in season and a really great resource for the community to learn from a top team like 319. Thanks for sharing!
The strides OnShape has made already since I first saw it in Beta a few years ago to now has already been amazing. As soon as this gap is closed a bit more, it will be very hard to argue against using it.
Freeing students from ‘good enough hardware’ to run a CAD program is definitely a game changer for teaching students.
Ty, what kind of “CAD team size” is in and out of these parts everyday? Would love to add that data point to my headspace.
We typically have 4/5 people logged in and manipulating the CAD on the build weekends and haven’t run into issues, but we’re a smaller team.
Loading times for models seem to depend on model complexity, network speed, and computer graphics/processing (in that order). I have no trouble whatsoever loading the full field with our full robot on my CAD station, but the same model can lag pretty significantly on the high school’s 5+ year old classroom computers.
The important thing for me is the lower barrier for entry. Our students can just sign up for an account, join the Onshape tea, and boom, there’s the CAD for them to start poking around on.
How does onshape compare to something like fusion 360? We’ve used fusion for the past 3 years and it has been much better than using inventor on the slow school computers we have. I played around with onshape many years ago when it came out and it’s awesome to see that it’s progressed far enough that FIRST teams are using it.
Next off-season, I will be interested in exploring new options for sharing CAD among our group. Currently we use GrabCAD and it usually works well enough, as long as people (me) remember to follow protocol in designing and saving parts and assemblies. This is a useful thread, I will continue to follow. Thanks!
We’ll probably cut down to 3 for the season, but it didn’t cost any extra to put the mounting for 4 in there. If we can fit it in, and still want to after week 1, we’re hoping to take another bot up with us in the end game.
I honestly feel like 319 is in the minority with an elevator, based off of the designs I’ve seen.
Does Onshape handle sheet-metal features? Have you played with it at all?
319, 1836, and 2930 were just featured in Onshape’s blog!
They do! I’ve played with it a little bit, but our team works mostly with tube and flat plate so I haven’t used it in a build season setting. It’s pretty different from the way SolidWorks handles SM, but quite easy to pick up.
It’s one of their newest features, and is getting a lot of attention in the community, so it’s improving all the time. Here’s a recent video going over their sheet metal features back in September of last year.
FRC 2090 (Honolulu, HI) is in its third season of using Onshape.
Recycle Rush was my first year with the team, before Onshape existed, and I remember how only 4 Solidworks-knowledgeable students were our CAD team and trying to use the GrabCAD Workbench feature. And, of course, the files were only viewable on computers with Solidworks installed.
Fast-forward and now our team of 40 students can all access our work at any time. We have 15 students who have modified or made use of the CAD and anyone who is interested can easily get on board. All you need is an internet connection and any device. (Did you know there are native iOS and Android apps? I haven’t even learned those yet!)
Yes, you are reliant on the internet connection, but overall, we do not have issues at school when multiple people are on the same document. But no more sending back files or making sure you have the latest version of the software. You can refer to the Onshape website to see all the features, many of which are highlighted in this forum thread.
Over the last 3 years, we have taught Onshape to nearly 500 students ranging from Gr 7-12, only a subset of which is on our FTC teams or FRC team.
I was a Solidworks person before and can’t imagine ever going back.
Now, at the end of the day, a software tool is only good if you make use of it, so if your team is already set on another CAD program, I won’t go out of my way to persuade you. Also, I understand for non EDU, Onshape costs money for non-private files. However, since my use is in teaching students and other teachers, and not for commercial gain, it is the perfect tool. I highly recommend giving it a try.
Lastly, as a side note, Onshape has created many good video tutorials and resources for learning. In our classroom settings, however, we realized that the normal way of teaching CAD relied on (a) a lot of time, e.g. a full 12 week college course where you are focused on it, (b) an assumption that you are engineering-minded and © teaching to an older audience, that is, they have the patience to go through click by click from bottom-up in how to make a part.
For us, we only have about three 2 hour sessions (at most) to cover the basics, so we’ve come up with a way to teach fundamentals that is a lot more accessible to the non-engineering types. Start by showing what Onshape can do and then slowly go backwards to show how it is done. For example, have a template of sketches ready to go to go through the basic Part creation tools (Extrude, Revolve, Sweep, Loft) and then go to the Sketch tools. I haven’t had the time to document it, so if you are interested, I’m happy to converse more and share the outline of what the instruction is.
Full-disclosure: I am college friends with one of the employees there and also have conversed with one of the co-founders before, although before Onshape was public. I would not go out of my way to compliment Onshape if I did not use it and believe in it.
This is the third season that FRC 2090 (Honolulu, HI) has used Onshape. This is my fourth year with the team. In the first one, Recycle Rush, I remember how we only had four students who knew Solidworks and we trying to use GrabCAD Workbench to manage the files.
Fast forward to now and oh how things have changed. Of our 40 students, a good 15 of them play a significant role in CAD development and any of our students can get quickly on board. And actually, many of them not involved with CAD for FRC know Onshape from other contexts.
Sure, you need internet connection to do you work, but aside from that, the listed advantages of Onshape make me never want to go back (I learned Solidworks in college). We have not had issues with many people working on the file at once. I also understand that Onshape is not free for the non-EDU folks who want to have private files, but since I am in an educational setting and don’t need my own side-private projects, that is fine for me.
We have taught Onshape to nearly 500 students in Gr 7-12 since it became public. Only a small subset of these students are from our FRC team or our FTC teams.
Onshape has many solid resources to bring people up to speed from other CAD systems. However, for our contexts, we are teaching students younger than they normally learn CAD (i.e. high school and college) and we only have a handful of hours with them to teach the basics. We found that our younger students have trouble following the traditional click-by-click tutorials that work better with an older audience who have more time to learn and also a better context of engineering.
We’ve come up with our own way of guiding them through the modelling journey, but haven’t quite documented it yet. If you’re interested, I’d love to share. To give you a taste, we start with a number of sketches that are each ready to Extrude, Revolve, Sweep, Loft. This Onshape Document is downloaded from the Public repository. Right away, they see how easily you can make 3D parts. Then we dive into Sketch tools (with pre-made Sketches that they need to fix), so on and so forth.
Thanks to all the teams who’ve shared their resources. Hopefully in the off-season, we can share more of what we’ve done for training.
Full-disclosure: one of the Onshape employees is a friend from college and I spoke with one of the founders shortly before they went public. They have not asked me to write this post. I would not speak with such admiration of the product if I did not believe in it and use it day-in and day-out.
At the end of the day, software tools are only useful if you make good use of them. If your team is used to something and it works, then no point in changing. However, if you have frustrations with your current CAD program, I encourage you to give Onshape a try.
Bob’s been through a lot of iteration since we posted this, so I figured I’d update. There’s a brief description of the major changes below. If you have any questions or advice, we’d love to hear it.
We bent the .0625" wall elevator upright tubes in a hard fall during the North Shore District finals. To remedy this, we’ve remade the upright tubes out of .125" wall with a lightening pattern and moved the supports right up to the top of the elevator. This gave us a much more rigid system that we’re sure is plenty skookum.
We’ve been using a collector inspired by 3847 all season. This latest version has polycarbonate plates connecting the collector to the wrist and some beefed up top and bottom plates. The collector geometry hasn’t changed, but we did end up bending a few things when collecting under heavy defense so we decided to make it compliant in some areas and more rigid in others.
This past weekend, we decided to add a forklift in an effort to get more of those all-so-important ranking points at NEDCMP. We took a lot of inspiration from 2056, 973, and 3476 and would like to thank these great teams for their help and advice. The forklift is 2x1x.0625" tubing flanked by .125" plate that 4925 helped us cut on their CNC plasma cutter. It’s deployed with two pneumatic pistons and supported by spectra cable anchored on our new elevator supports. We really like 2056’s “rampy things” and hope ours work as well as theirs. It would’ve been really nice to use .75" square tubing on the ends, but we couldn’t get it delivered in time (maybe for Detroit?).
Going full transparency is commendable, going full transparency and being the #1 pick and winner of one of the most competitive events in the world this year is down right impressive.
Ty and 319, awesome work this season so far, way to keep pushing and iterating. Looking forward to seeing how things play out for you at North Champs.
Thanks a ton for the updates, Ty. Between this and Spectrum’s blog, my kids will have a fun offseason project in the works with a ton of great resources.
Congrats on an already awesome season! Best of luck in Detroit!