As our teams haven’t had access to team computers during quarantine, and not everyone has a Windows PC at home, I’ve been looking at alternative CAD software that can use the LDraw-based parts catalogue created for SnapCAD. Another coach developed the following instructions for using Brickmaster, which is an LDraw-based program for MacOS. I have not tested it personally, but he said it worked for him, so I’m posting it here in case 1) anyone else finds it useful, and 2) you discover any problems that can be fixed. I’d also love to know if anyone is using any LDraw-based platforms on a Chromebook. I know that Fusion 360 is cross-platform (and it’s what I prefer myself), but it’s a bear for elementary kids just starting out on CAD, and requires you to create an account.
Without further ado …
Installing Bricksmith to Design VEX IQ Models
To design VEX IQ models with a Mac, you will need to download Bricksmith, an entry-level CAD program originally designed for creating LEGO models, and a VEX IQ parts library that will work with Bricksmith.
It will be easiest to use Safari to download the required files, as it will create folders in your download folder that can be easily moved to where you want them.
To get Bricksmith installed and set up to build with VEX IQ parts, follow these directions:
- Download VEX IQ parts library
- Go to https://www.philohome.com/snapcadunoff/snapcadpartsunoff.htm and click on “Parts Package” to download the parts library. This will create a “VEX IQ Snapcad parts package - 2018-01-19” folder (the date may be different).
- Move that folder out of downloads to the location of your choosing. I made a “VEXCAD” folder in “Documents” and put the “VEX IQ Snapcad parts package…” folder there.
- Download and Install Bricksmith
- Go to http://bricksmith.sourceforge.net and download the “Application Only”
- Once downloaded, move the “Bricksmith.app” file to “Applications”
- Run Bricksmith. When running for the first time, you may need to go to the System Security and Privacy settings and allow the program to run.
- When running for the first time, you will be prompted with a message that “the ldraw folder you selected is not complete”. Click “OK” to continue.
- When Bricksmith first opens, you may be prompted to select a parts folder. If so, select the “VEX IQ Snapcad parts package” folder that you downloaded and moved above. Skip Step 6.
- If it didn’t prompt you to select a parts folder, go to the menu and select Bricksmith >> Preferences. Go to the “Parts“ tab and click “Choose”. Navigate to and and select the “VEX IQ Snapcad parts package” folder that you downloaded and moved above. After selecting the folder, click “Reload Parts” and close the “Preferences” window.
- From the Bricksmith menu, select Tools >> Parts Browser. You should see a long list of VEX parts. Single click on one of them. If you do NOT see an image of the part in the lower window of the parts browser, close out of Bricksmith completely and re-open it. You should only have to do this the first time and/or when switching between parts libraries.
There are some brief help files to get you started by going to the Bricksmith menu and clicking “Help”. Note that “Getting More Parts” is for finding LEGO parts, not VEX IQ parts.