Constructing a Robot Digitally?

I’m quite new to Vex (Starstruck was my first year) and I’m looking forward to upping my game this year; including digitally designing a robot. I tried to download Autodesk Inventor, but to my dismay it was only available for Windows. Is there a program Mac users can download to substitute Inventor?

I don’t know about compatibility, but another program lots of teams use is SolidWorks, but be sure your mac isn’t running on integrated graphics, or SolidWorks will destroy your computer (I speak from previous mac experience).

If you are looking for a competitive advantage, I would say CAD should be very low on your list (it’s not necessary, and I would say mostly just impresses judges). If you are interested in mechanical engineering as a vocation, however, it would be very good to have that experience under your belt.

There’s also Autodesk Fusion 360:

Some teams also use SketchUp

I was considering downloading SolidWorks. Thanks for the advice :stuck_out_tongue:

CAD is more useful as a drafting tool. It’d be a good place to start for 2D.

There’s no Mac version of solidworks, unless they added Mac support in the last couple years.
Fusion 360 is probably your best option

I stand corrected thanks @JustinM

But in VEX, you can build a useful, working prototype so quickly that it doesn’t make sense to build a virtual model first. It will probably take the same amount of time, and the physical protoype will be much more useful moving forward, and could actually be used for part of your final robot.

As you get more experience in VEX, it is much easier to put the pieces together in your mind, so CAD is even less valuable.

That’s why I think CAD is only useful for impressing judges or preparing for industry.

That’s unfortunate.

I see your point. I’m not familiar with VEX to the degree of designing a robot in my head…yet. :stuck_out_tongue:

That was very challenging when I was a freshman. The robot I imagined looked nothing like the functional design I would end up with. By now, my mental pictures are pretty accurate.

I might disagree with the consensus here but if you are proficient with CAD software then it would be a great time saver. Hence the whole industry built around CAD.

Using CAD will allow you to prototype your design before you start to build and you can do it at the comfort of your desk. Most teams are making constant revisions while they build which could mean having to tear part of the robot down because they made a mistake. You get to figure out if your DR4B arm will crash before you tighten 50 Nylocks.

Be prepared to spend some significant time learning CAD, it’s frustrating at first, but once you have learnt the basics it is a very useful tool. I use Inventor, but I’m planning to switch over to Fusion 360 (on a Mac) when I can find some time to learn it. I usually build one robot for fun each year, although I’m skipping this year as work is way too busy, and move back and forth between CAD and physical design. The end result of using CAD can be very satisfying and allows you to keep a record of your design even after the robot has been disasembled. This was my 2016 effort.

In industry, the cost in time and resources of winging it is much greater, hence the reasoning to CAD first. VEX EDR, however, is great for prototyping.

VEX is an example of a rapid prototyping system; it’s a system meant for quickly trying out different designs.
This is sometimes called “sketching in metal.” It’s usually much faster to build a prototype in VEX and make changes to it than it is to CAD it up.

Very impressive! I’ve used CAD before, mostly for laser cutting. Have you run Fusion 360 yet? I’ve downloaded the program but it refuses to open.

I ran it, followed one tutorial, and then realized I didn’t have to 20+ hours needed to get over the learning curve so put it to one side. Perhaps I will try again over the end of year holidays.

If you have the time and are good with CAD tools, have a fast laptop or PC with a good graphics GPU then you can start with all the VEX parts that have been created over the last few years by various users using Inventor or Solid Works to model your robot designs. I am sure judges would be impressed by this extra work for a contest. In fact the Vexplorer robot came packaged with a 1 year license of Solid Works.

Both Inventor and Solid Works give out free educational licenses. Solid Works takes a little longer to get but both are simple and free.