Design In 2 D

To be able to draw the structures and equipment we want to build, we need a CAD program. 2D programs seem better suited to documenting the details. 3D seems better for making presentations.

This part of the wiki will discuss 2D.

My tentative conclusion, so far:

Desirable features of a CAD program:

  • Runs on an inexpensive computer
  • Runs under most operating systems
  • Is available for free
  • Is open source
  • Is able to output in an Autocad format
  • Is able to output in a format that most users will easily be able to view


JFDraw could be used, but lacks output in Autocad formats. There is a program that claims to be able to translate one of more of its export? formats into DXF?.

QCad may be usable. It may be more difficult to get started with than JFDraw, but its native format? is an Autocad format.

QCad is available in two versions: Version 2.0 is the latest, with the most features. Unfortunately, it costs money. Since we want a free version, we will concentrate on the 1.5 version. (If you are working on a commercial project, where the cost can be written off on taxes, 2.0 is so inexpensive ($28 USA), you may want to consider purchasing it.) The other version is 1.5, which is free, so we will concentrate on it. Catch - 22 - if you are using Mac OS X, you have to go to 2.0.

QCad is available two ways. You can download it over the Web, or you can buy a CD from eBay (yes, the eBay CD costs money, but the program is free for download, so I assume I am free to pass along either one to anyone). I have used both and they each seem to be workable. If you buy the eBay version, it comes with both versions, but the 2.0 version is only a trial version. So be sure to use the 1.5 version. It will run from the CD, if you do not want to install it. I assume it can be installed to run from your harddrive, like a normal program. I will be testing this later.

QCad appears to be difficult to learn, as SolaRoofGuy has said Autocad is. It comes with a manual, but one that was written by the programmer. If we go with Q Cad, I will attempt to write a manual that eases you into using CAD. - Bobby