CAD/Drafting on Linux - What software for strange bicycles?
April 25, 2016 5:00 PM   Subscribe

What software should I use to create a parametric model of a bicycle and have the software generate plan views I can send to a welder/framebuilder.

Things I've tried:
- GeoGebra - It's great for ensuring that a folding bike's parts will end up in the right spot. Not great at drawing solid geometries like frame tubes, or generating plan views.
- OpenSCAD - I love it for 3D printing, but the dimensioning modules available are way too clunky for complex designs.
- Blender - nice for animation, but true parametric modelling is tricky, and it isn't designed to output dimensioned plans.
- FreeCAD - it'll probably be a great piece of software within the next decade, but doesn't seem to be there yet.
- BikeCAD and RattleCAD - nice software for designing a regular diamond frame. But the world has enough of those, so I design folding/recumbent bikes.

Features I would like:
- Parametric modelling (I can define variables for wheelbase, seat height, etc. and let the software calculate dependent points, which change dynamically as I edit the basic parameters)
- Outputs plan drawings I can drop off with a framebuilder
- Runs on Linux
- A supportive community that generates lots of tutorials would be awesome

I'm willing to pay for it, but not really excited about the prospect. If it's paid, a demo version would be handy.
posted by sibilatorix to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It could be worth your while to check out the CAELinux distribution. It comes bundled with the type of software you have described and a lot of similar goodies. You can experiment with its live cd before getting your hands on the binaries for your existing distro.

It may place you back into FreeCAD, which could end up being the most relevant option though perhaps not perfect. I hope its accompanying packages will help.
posted by mr_bovis at 7:47 PM on April 25, 2016

Have you seen Onshape? I'm still learning how to fully drive it, but coming from a Pro/E background it's by far the most powerful free CAD software I've tried.
posted by trialex at 2:53 AM on April 26, 2016

Onshape looks neat - and I'm normally wary of webapps! But I don't think my graphics card supports WebGL, which Onshape requires. So no dice there, unless I upgrade from this ancient netbook to a modern computer. (-:
posted by sibilatorix at 3:35 PM on April 26, 2016

Well, I never did get OnShape working.

I think I'm going to use FreeCAD after all. It does have the tools I need for parametric bicycle design, they're just clunky and unintuitive. Folks on the FreeCAD forum answered some questions and offered a few tips.
posted by sibilatorix at 11:01 PM on May 4, 2016

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