In my May post about CAD software for the Mac, I promised to revisit the topic once I reviewed the 3D version of TurboCAD Mac. I have since purchased a copy of TurboCAD Mac Deluxe and used it to redesign the Benchwork for my FREMO project. The redesign was in part triggered by a comment from a FREMO colleague after he reviewed the 2D drawings.
The new drawings are using a construction method first used for the Black Forest FREMO:87 modules featured in the March 2009 issue of Continental Modeler. Instead of using cross beams to reinforce the module frame, this approach has a 6 mm board that is slid into a groove on all four sides to maximize stability. A beam is inserted in-between the center board and the track baseboard forming a sturdy double-t-beam – a measure to minimize track warping.
Getting used to the 3D workspace
Working with the Deluxe version took some getting used to, as I have never drawn in a 3D workspace before. At first, I used 2D outlines of the existing drawings and used the extrude tool to make solids out of them. One problem I kept running into as I was making adjustments to the outlines was that lines ended up on different z-levels. Keeping an eye on the coordinates in the bottom status bar and using the isometric view, I was able to get a grip on the issue over time.
After having spent a few hours with the software, I changed my MO and started building solid block primitives first. In subsequent steps, I made adjustments to the shapes by removing profiles from solids and adding solids together. This method increased my drawing speed considerably.
Along with the line, move and mirror tools, I found the following tools most helpful.
- Rotate about an axis – make sure the appropriate angle and axis is selected.
- Create a solid block primitive – enter length, width and height… Done.
- Extrude text or profile to create solid – make a solid based on a 2D outline.
- Remove profile from solid – the most important tool to make changes to existing solids.
- Add two solids together – merge two solid block primitives.
- Model to sheet – easily create a 2D drawing of a solid.
Most missed feature
One thing that slowed down my work considerably was the fact that the software only has keyboard shortcuts for three out of the eight possible views: Top, Right Side and Front. Most importantly, there is no shortcut to isometric view, which I needed often to re-orient myself in the workspace.
All in all, I was happy with the workflow and tools offered in the TurboCAD Mac Deluxe. And at $129, the software offers an affordable way to get started with 3D drafting.