Best free CAD software for vex iq?

Are there any good CAD softwares for vex iq out there that are free? I know some CAD softwares that work with vex iq are free for students, but my vex team is associated with a different school to the one that I attend. Will the free student sign up on most softwares still work? If not, are there any good CAD softwares that work with vex iq parts that are totally free?

You may want to check out FreeCAD. It is totally free and runs on multiple platforms.

Yes, your student status will still be valid. Fusion360 for example allows student to use for free. See my other forum post for the 1 thing to look out for when using fusion.

I highly recommend onshape, it has a library for vex iq already, (It might be a bit out of date but I am working on fixing that) It is entirely cloud-based, and the student sign-up will still work.

Feel free to ping me if you have any questions!

SnapCAD by VEX is a good free starting software for IQ robot assembly. But, if you are to use FreeCAD to do VEX robot assembly and, later on, parts design, FreeCAD is a good choice.

VEX already publishes the parts CAD files in STEP format online. So for robot assmbly, you will just use the A2plus workbench inside FreeCAD to do it. If you want to do parts design, there are also many workbenches in there to choose from.

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Which school should I use for the sign up?

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Sorry For the late response, the school you are studying at should probably be used, but both could most likely be used without any issues.


You could use either. Ask your coach at the school that you do vex at to provide a letter stating:

  • my name is __
  • this student is using autodesk software for educational purposes (eg. robotics)
  • Your name (make sure it matches with the name given to autodesk)
  • You attend __ school

I am not a representative of Autodesk or any other organization, and you and/or your coach may want to double check all requirements, but I believe that I have the important parts listed above for the proof.

If your school issues student IDs, then uploading a picture of that is easier and quicker.
Report cards/transcripts may work as well, but please double check the requirements from autodesk before taking my word.

TinkerCAD works well for very baseline/rough CAD, and only requires a google account and is simpler to access. No download needed is a plus.


I believe for onshape all you have to do is follow the steps here - Signup for Onshape for Education


I personally recommend LDCad, it is quite comfortable to use and has a very accessible interface.

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Just so you have this if you start going down the onshape route, this is the link to the forum post on how to use onshape with VexIQ, it skips a ton of the hard parts that I had to go through when first starting out. - Help with VexIQ parts library for Onshape - #15 by jrp62


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I use Fusion 360. It is a great parametric modeling software and is SUPER useful for modeling the robot.

I also made a folder organizing CAD parts for Vex Iq into separate folders and sub-divisions.

link to my vexforum on the cad parts

If your goal is “learn to use general-purpose CAD software”, then by all means go for Fusion/Inventor/Onshape/etc. Onshape is my favorite in that space, but much of that is personal preference, and I mostly use it for designing things to 3d print rather than building complicated assemblies.

But if your goal is just to model VEX IQ assemblies as easily as possible, then an LDraw-based editor is the way to go, and I think LDCad is by far the best of them.

Here’s a video I put together a while back with some more information on the topic, and a demo of the basic usage of LDCad:

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I use SNAP-CAD from Vex, it works just fine and same as these other programs.

First, I (also) like Onshape. Good for VR5 as well, and if you need more VR5 SHAPE files, look at McMaster-Carr. details on almost all parts enable you to download SHAPE file.
Second, there’s a dark truth in CAD and REC… They make parts, but will not distribute their CAD files to the CAD family (over pub/sub model). Therefore, ALL CAD will always be a problem. I found a NEW point in fact.
The VEXIQ Full Volume references a. This is REALLY helpful, but needs work…
First, this year Long Intake Flap (228-2500-242) will be very important. But you can’t buy that. Only the Tank Tread & Intake Kit (228-2878). First, on this product, in the “docs&downloads” tab (where SHAPEs appear), there are no CAD files. This WOULD be important because I’ve regularly used Onshape to measure parts, and I would then be able to find out how large “Log” really is. ((The V5 Winch (276-1546) package was done right)).
This story gets even more complicated, because the good book just sited, doesn’t list the tread (228-3450-231) as a legal part, though part of the same packaged product, and probably necessary for the Intake Flaps!!

My net is REC/ VEX have a low commitment to CAD (though a very relevant engineering). They seem to be making progress, but it’s a huge step to think you can count on “assemblies” of parts that you can count on in an platform…

Hi Paul,

If you have any issues with .STEP files, I encourage you to reach out to the VEX Support Team to let them know we need to update a file, or starting a quick thread here to help bring it to our attention. This Page also has a download link to CAD for the entire VEX IQ Library of Parts. You can find the CAD for the intake flap part in this download link.

For the intake flap you mention, you are correct that it is only available for purchase outside of larger kits via the 228-2878 Kit. The intake flap part number you are looking at (228-2500-242), and the attachment link it mounts to (228-2500-231) can be found on the legal parts document on the top of page 26.



Balley, you have a lot of good info here!
Why wasn’t “this Page” included in the doc for “legal parts”? I almost got what I needed…
The “legal parts” page would seem to be valuable to Judges as well as Team builders. But for the Team builders, it gets pretty complicated to use. An easy example the single link for the tread… called “Tank Tread/Attachment Link 288-2500-231” in the “legal part”, but when you search the catalog for “288-2500-231”, it is found in package " Tank Tread & Intake Kit" as “Tread / Attachment Link”. My point is “too much interpretation of parts to make a straight forward purchase”. (and what SKU Identifier is 2500, as it isn’t in the catalog to order).
On CAD, no one would expect VEX to enable every CAD system. But likewise, noone would expect each CAD vendor to chase VEX for the latest “this page” for each Competition. The only workable solution would be to have VEX use a Google/Amazon pub/sub technique to make SHAPE files available when finalized. Then it would be up to CAD vendors to keep a library up to date. VEX must take the first step, then the market will put the pressure on the CAD vendors. VEX, after all, is an assembly driven CAD user, and you need the library of assemblies to be complete and current…