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RE: Open Source or Inexpensive CAD/Drawing Program
To: CRTech <crtech@crtech.org>
Subject: RE: Open Source or Inexpensive CAD/Drawing Program
From: Bob Morris <Bobmorris54@outlook.com>
Date: Thu, 13 Sep 2018 08:18:00 +0000
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Thread-topic: [CRTech] Open Source or Inexpensive CAD/Drawing Program

In answer to the draftsight question, I think it supports blocks but not quite in the sophisticated way Autocad does. You can use dwg files for blocks in DS. I confess I have not used this feature yet so I can’t speak directly to exactly how the blocks concept is executed in DS. I think I will play with that over the next few days. Because DS supports AC files very well, I suspect any dwg files for pre-drawn components would work as well.

I have adopted DS as my goto CAD program but I still do all my stuff in Visio. I love Visio 2016. I have access to it through my regular employers home user program. When I leave that in a couple years, I will lose access to Visio. At that time, if I can afford a personal copy of Visio, I will stay with that. If not, I will pony up the dollars for Draftsight and that will be it for me.



Bob Morris

Recording Engineer, Wells of Salvation Studio (www.wellsofsalvation.com)


Engineer/Chief Fixer-Upper, Faith and Friends Radio (www.faithandfriendsradio.com)



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From: nathaniel.steele@icloud.com <nathaniel.steele@icloud.com>
Sent: Wednesday, September 12, 2018 5:44 PM
To: 'CRTech' <crtech@crtech.org>
Subject: RE: [CRTech] Open Source or Inexpensive CAD/Drawing Program


I have used Visio for years, you can make custom shapes, and you can do some cool stuff with the shapesheet and VBA. I’m not good at any of that because it always seems to take too long to learn and I just need to get work done. Also I have liked each new version of Visio less and less. 2003 or 2007 are my favorite, they seem to be dumbing it down with every new release (typical Microsoft).


I have demoed wirecad a few times (It takes an email address to get a demo, so probably once each at my last 3 employers) You get 14 days and again, I never seem to get past the learning curve with it, Though on paper it seems to be the absolute best for this sort of thing (Since it’s pretty uch the only CAD program DESIGNED SPECIFICALLY for this type of drawaing. I believe they now have a supscription plan as well as the hefty outright purchase (about 3K I think). The subscription isn’t cheap, but if you thought you just wanted to document once and probably didn’t need to change much later on it might be cheaper to “Rent” for a couple months then just “Rent a month once a year to update with any changes (Of course you need to keep track of those changes somehow….) I decided that probably wouldn’t work for me, none of my employers ever wanted to spend 3k on the software (visio is cheap comparatively), and I can’t pay that kind of money out of pocket, and none of my contract employers ever wanted to pay for time spent documenting……


Electronic PCB CAD programs are another decent option, stuff Like EAGLE(has a free version but gets more cripled every update), KiCAD (Free/Open source and has really gotten much better, I may need to revisit this one), Or the schematic software from Abacom.de (Splan I think, I bought a suite of three of their programs on sale for less than $150 US I think). These types of programs let you build up libraries of custom parts, and usually have the “Sticky Wiring” feature (and In my experience usually works better than Visio’s), can create Busses (think snakes and tielines), and really if you think of your facility like components on a PCB,  there are a lot of similarities. Most of these programs can highlight connect signals (NETS) letting you trace a signal.


I always seem to end up back at VISIO, not because it’s the best, but well it’s usually been available ( I have my own copy of 2007, and my last two employers have office 365 so I just get that version. I might just cancel it and go back to using my 2007 though because it’s not any better…..But it is useful, pretty easy to use (not  to customize though), can make quick flowcharts, building plans, maps, and diagrams, and can do a lot out of the box. I guess that’s why I end up going back to it all the time. I’m about to do a major facility rewire here at my current job and I may look into KiCAD again for facility documentation.


From: Dan Grimes <dangrimes@sosradio.net>
Sent: Wednesday, September 12, 2018 3:23 PM
To: crtech@crtech.org
Subject: Re: [CRTech] Open Source or Inexpensive CAD/Drawing Program


I would like to take this discussion to the next step and compare features, if anyone has some additional input.

I have used Visio and it provides some nice features for wiring.  For instance, you can use preset blocks with connection points.  As you move blocks around, the wires stay connected.  It also provides some anchors and custom lock points.  Unfortunately, the auto-location of wires after you move an object or block tends to mess up the wiring.  Also, I think you are forced to use their blocks; you cannot make custom objects and blocks with line connection points.

I have not used Draftsight.  Is anyone using it and have pre-drawn blocks for equipment commonly used in radio broadcasting?  I think this one might have some potential since it is a CAD program.  But I do hate dealing with AutoCAD demands.  I much prefer GUI gestures for creating lines and connections!

WireCAD is expensive but might be worth the money.  Does it have good blocks and templates for radio broadcast equipment?  I imagine it does which would be a real time saver.

Open Office Draw is a basic drawing program that is free but has no features for connections.  You can draw your own blocks but I don't think it allows for keeping lines connected to points on them.  Please do correct me if I am missing that feature.

I used to use ClarisDraw for Macintosh.  That was an incredible program and I had custom drawn every piece of equipment in my facility, complete with all connection points.   Too bad Apple bought it and discontinued it shortly thereafter.

So I think an important feature I require is to have the ability to make custom blocks with connection points with a wiring feature that will keep lines connected as you move objects around.  Anyone doing that?  Anyone have pre-drawn equipment (blocks/object library)?

-Dan Grimes



On 9/12/2018 11:05 AM, Bob Morris wrote:

Absolute best is Visio but it is pricy. Try Draftsight 2017 or 2018.  It is an Autocad equivalent even recognizing some of the same commands. Uses the Model space and Paper space approach of autocad. It is 2D only. File format is compatible with autocad so you can leverage your existing .dwg files. It is from the same company that makes Solid Works so it is a solid package. Best part is that it is free. You have to re-register it every six months but it is painless. HIGHLY recommend this package. You can upgrade to a Pro version for a very affordable $149 per year if you use it a lot. My hat is off to Dassault Systems for their generosity in making this free for us occasional users.


Bob Morris


From: Marcos O'Rourke <mo@kwve.com>
Sent: Wednesday, September 12, 2018 1:54:08 PM
To: CRTech
Subject: Re: [CRTech] Open Source or Inexpensive CAD/Drawing Program


If you want to go crazy, you can look at WireCAD. I use that and really like it.

Marcos O'Rourke, CBRE CBNE
K-Wave Radio



On Wed, Sep 12, 2018 at 10:53 AM kgms Tucson <940kgms@gmail.com> wrote:

I don't do many wiring diagrams and when I do them are super basic. I have used Open Office Draw. Libre Office has a similar product. 


Right now I am using Lucid chart. I mostly do network/equipment diagrams and Lucid chart is pretty cool because it you can import Viso stencils that manufacturers provide. They also have a lot of common icons available without importing icons. They have a Cisco, wiring, process engineering, flowchart, floorplan, rack, and more sets. It is $5 a month paid yearly for a single user. I find it easier to use than Draw, but maybe it's just because I have had more practice. 




On Fri, Sep 7, 2018 at 4:29 PM Dan Grimes <dangrimes@sosradio.net> wrote:

Fellow Engineers,

What do you all like to use for making wiring drawings that is
open-source or low cost and efficient to learn and use?

-Dan Grimes, SOS Radio Network

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Follow-Ups: Re: Open Source or Inexpensive CAD/Drawing Program
(Tom Van Gorkom <tomvangorkom@gmail.com>, 13 Sep 2018 14:31:32 -0000)
Re: Open Source or Inexpensive CAD/Drawing Program
(Dan Grimes <dangrimes@sosradio.net>, 13 Sep 2018 17:33:54 -0000)
References: Re: Open Source or Inexpensive CAD/Drawing Program
(kgms Tucson <940kgms@gmail.com>, 12 Sep 2018 17:53:08 -0000)
Re: Open Source or Inexpensive CAD/Drawing Program
("Marcos O'Rourke" <mo@kwve.com>, 12 Sep 2018 17:54:28 -0000)
Re: Open Source or Inexpensive CAD/Drawing Program
(Bob Morris <bobmorris54@outlook.com>, 12 Sep 2018 18:05:38 -0000)
Re: Open Source or Inexpensive CAD/Drawing Program
(Dan Grimes <dangrimes@sosradio.net>, 12 Sep 2018 20:17:25 -0000)
RE: Open Source or Inexpensive CAD/Drawing Program
(nathaniel.steele@icloud.com, 12 Sep 2018 21:44:02 -0000)
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