Hey fellow FIRSTers,
so I’m trying to prepare my new team as much as possible before build season, and thus I have a few questions.

  1. What program exactly will be used for CAD? AutoCAD?

  2. Do you have any links or resources that really teach well how to use the CAD program?

  3. Do you have any links or resources that can get rookie teams on their feet with the basics of what they will have to know in robotics?

Thanks!! bump

You can use any CAD program you’d like. Autodesk Inventor is provided to all FIRST teams as is the only program eligible for the the Excellence in Design Award (sponsored by Autodesk).

Many other teams use SolidWorks, which FIRST teams can get for free by requesting sponsorship.

Other teams use Pro/E, or any number of other 2D or 3D programs. I’d recommend 3D for FIRST, but your best bet at this point is likely anything that you can access and that your students and/or mentors have the best familiarity with.

For at least Inventor and SolidWorks, the included tutorials really are quite a good starting point. Also check in your community and at local universities for seminars or workshops, and try to get professional mentors who use this software. After you know the basics, the best way to learn is basically by doing, hopefully with an educated guide.

We use Inventor, and there are many, many tutorials on the Autodesk site to get you started. I can imagine Solidworks is no different.

Get the software, load it onto the most powerful machine you can get, and build things for practice. Wheels, brackets, levers, whatever. Keep it simple to get started them move to more complex stuff.

The ultimate goal is to actually design and build mechanisms in CAD first, make sure they work, and only them commit to metal. Many teams under-use CAD by building things in metal, getting them to work, and then making a model in CAD. This consumes time and materials unnecessarily. Just look at how Boeing designed their 787…

Step one is to start playing with it ASAP. You only have a bit over a month to get any good at it.