Jeff's Blog

My daily (well I am trying to update daily now) weblog covering topics such as wind power, embedded electronics, software development, CNC Machines and some fun stuff like travel and sailing.

Monday, May 18, 2009

There is a free lunch - Caligari Truespace

Truespace by Caligari

Two years ago my son and I were looking for a 3d modeling and animation software package. After much comparison shopping we decided on Truespace from Caligari. I paid over one thousand dollars for the software and some training videos. We were highly productive with this software.

Well, in a bid to compete against Google's Google Sketch-up (also a free tool from Google), Microsoft purchased Caligari and has made Truespace a free product. On top of that, all of the training videos are now free. For some reason, this has not received a lot of press. I highly recommend Truespace.

I recently attempted to design a vertical axis wind turbine blade using Google Sketch-up. I found that Google Sketchup has some excellent intuitive drawing techniques, but fell short as a CAD tool. I had no problem modeling the wind turbine blades, but found that trying to machine holes in the blades to allow machine screws to connect the layers together was an inaccurate and inconsistent process. I abandoned Google Sketchup after wasting days trying to get around these bugs. I also found that outputing to STL (stereo lithography file format) from Sketch-up was a dicey process. I need STL files to produce 3D objects on my CNC machine using the DeskCNC software (only option is DXF for 2D and STL for 3D).

I abandoned Google Sketchup and instead purchased and downloaded Viacad 2D/3D for $99 from Punch Software and was able to recreate my turbine wings in one day.

Several days after that, I came across the news that Caligari Truespace was now free so I downloaded that onto my Vista-64 Quad Processor workstation and began playing with that. My son is an expert with Truespace so I am now learning the software from him, and from the video tutorials. I hope to produce a simulation of my next generation wind turbines in Truespace, which also has some physically based modeling capabilities. The first thing I am trying is to export models created in Viacad into Truespace for assembly into a rotating VAWT.

I will post the videos of this at a later time.

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