25 April 2021

Took Midlana out for a few hours; it was nice to get out of the house and into the fresh air. Apparently everyone else felt the same way, because roads were really crowded, us all just slowly bumping along from one red light to the next.

In other news, as I gradually approach retirement age, in addition to the pond and garden, I’ve been gathering tools to keep myself busy in the garage, and one of those is CAD software. Because I plan to use it for many years, subscription software is a big No, yet unfortunately, that’s where the industry is headed. While it may be fine for a business, it’s a no-go for someone with a hobby that doesn’t make money. Worse, spending $500+ a year for  a decade or two is just nuts. I asked around on machinist forums to see what they use, and it was a bit funny/annoying that they kept suggesting “great” CAD packages that are, you guessed it, subscription-based. I was even offered a  free copy of SolidWorks, as in, an older version that doesn’t check the license. I decided not to for several reasons, one being that it’s like Robin Hood offering you a free flat-screen TV; it’s not their’s to give. Older versions of SolidWorks are indeed offered online—on what look like really sketchy websites. The copy I was offered might be fine, maybe, but I just can’t in good conscience go that way. After more research, I chose Alibre. Yes, there’s FreeCAD, but I’ve read enough about it that I don’t want to mess with it. There’s also the free version of Fusion 360, but the manufacturer recently neutered it a bit, souring me on what they might do to it in the future, and their pay-for product is, ta-da, subscription-based.

So, what’s the CAD for? Well, if there’s another car project, it needs CAD, and I refuse to use Google Sketchup again, so it means coming up to speed on another package. So much is going CNC: lathes, mills, routers, laser cutters, plasma cutters, and off course, 3D printers. Since CAD takes time to learn, it makes sense to start with that first, so Alibre is already installed and I’m starting in on self-imposed training. Some of you may remember me complaining about how expensive it is to get anything laser cut. If I build a CNC laser cutter, what I would have paid someone would pay for a big share of making my own.

The thing is, all the above takes space, a constant struggle for anyone working in a standard-size garage!