I’ve personally used VEX through Inventor as a jumping off point into designing more advanced objects and real-world things, so I’m not completely enthused about someone taking away one of the last “real-world” aspects of VEX that still remains. However, this looks cool, and I’m definitely going to try it. Hats off to you for, if it works like the videos would suggest, lowering the bar to entry for CAD and making it easy for new users to design robots virtually.
This is still not going to replace Inventor or other professional CAD software in my eyes, even for VEX. This won’t have the motion simulation abilities that professional CAD has (this was stated by OP in a previous post), and it won’t have the ability to make things like custom lexan, or holes drilled through c-channels, etc. (at least as far as has been shown in the videos) as is possible in other CAD to have a more complete robot CADded.
It looks to be really good for what I’m assuming is its’ target market, people starting out with CAD who are looking for something that won’t give them much of a barrier to entry, or any complicated things they don’t understand without some Indian guy on YouTube explaining. My main worry is that people will never graduate from this, and lose that one last link from VEX to the outside world that still exists.
The export would not be able to do simulations, as constraints don’t transfer in STEP files (or any non-native files), only solid bodies. Lexan would be nice though.
I don’t think it was ever cleared up by @DaveG if this will be able to export your file as a STEP (or at least a mesh if STEP is too hard plz) for use in another cad program, but I’d be surprised if it was possible. All depends on how he’s storing things internally.
I should remind you that this is a Beta version of the software and that the videos and current versions don’t represent the full version of what Protobot has to offer. Protobot will be constantly evolving over time. Keeping that in mind, future releases may have a possibility to contain the ability to import custom parts or simulate motion.
Also, I completely understand your concern for this as a possible further removed link from the “real-world” aspects that VEX provides. To calm those concerns, I’ll note that there will always be a point where Protobot is not as powerful as Inventor or other standardized CAD software. Same goes for really VEX itself as a brand. VEX can motivate a student to be interested in robotics and then go into a career of robotics in the real world. Protobot can motivate a student to become interested in CAD / Prototyping and then transition into more powerful CAD software that meets the needs of their projects. Software usage adjusts based on a user’s needs. A user will move beyond Protobot if it interests them to take their CAD into more advanced areas.
All in all, your concerns are very important and will be taken under more consideration as development continues.
Thanks for all the hard work, I don’t think the Protobot-replacing-Inventor concern is particularly realistic because if anything this software will get teams who don’t CAD at all into the CAD game in the first place. Hopefully it will be able to run on bad computers too because that is probably a big obstacle to some teams using CAD. I would definitely try it. Best case scenario Protobot can attract teams to true CAD software and can help them develop a better robot at the same time.