HeeksCAD, my favorate Open Source CAD/CAM software

I have been using HeeksCAD for a little over a month now, I started using it because I only use Open Source products with my RepRap (I only have windows on my laptop because my wife prefers Windows). It has the look of Sketchup, but with a much more “clean” CAD/CAM GUI. I have used OpenScad, and it’s great for modifying existed objects, but I just can’t think that abstractly when prototyping. I need the ability to “draw & measure” my prototypes. Unfortunately, even though HeeksCAD is a great software, their Wiki and tutorial choices honestly leave a lot to be desired.

This program has a lot going for it:
-Able to import STL, STP, DXF, STEP, IGES, and Gerber
-It can export as STL, STP, DXF, STEP, and IDGES
-VERY easy boolean function.
-Python scripts available
-Active development
-Open source
-VERY good GUI, with very long Undo Redo string

The current documentation can be found at:
http://code.google.com/p/heekscad/ (offical site, including VERY bare wiki)
http://groups.google.com/group/heekscad-users (very underpopulated user group)
http://groups.google.com/group/heekscad-devel?lnk=srg (amazingly active development forum, when was the last time you saw a development forum busier than the user forum?)
linuxgraphics.org a french forum, with a gentelman named Andre who is the moderator, great guy, and has made some awesome tutorials for this program. I have linked to Google translate version of this site for us anglophones.

I no longer use blender to modify my STL for the most part, this program renders STL in a much more informative manner than Blender (even though it only allows you to reorient, not modify the actual STL)

I have created a 5 video series on how to uses this Open Source CAD/CAM to make items specifically for RepRap printers. I also uploaded the 1st in a series of project videos showing how to make STL files, and then use Skeinforge to troubleshoot your parts. These are the project videos that I have shot so far, or made more than once and ready to film.

1. Wine Glass (took about 4 minutes to make and skeinforege), already uploaded
2. Spiral Shot Glass (shot, but not uploaded, going to see if there is any interest before I do more work 🙂 )
3. Circuit Board Spacer 4 off re design (shot but not uploaded)
4. Bed spring 4 off (introduces arcs, drawn but not filmed)
5. Frame vertex 6 off (drawn but not filmed)
6. Drive pulley 3 off (drawn but not filmed, I show how to “cheat” a gear out of stl)

Anyway here is the 1st set of videos. I have also filmed the full construction of the Mendel X and Y carriages, but the video still needs to be edited, unlike these screen casts. If I should continue this project, please let me know in the comments.


About spacexula

RepRap, Newspace, Makerbot
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7 Responses to HeeksCAD, my favorate Open Source CAD/CAM software

  1. Dave says:

    It is great to see that this tool exports STEP. I've been working for a few months on a slicing tool that can create toolpaths directly from STEP files. No more huge bloated files of tiny linesegments, and bizarre mesh errors due to leaky STL meshes.slicing STEP is also nearly 10x faster because it is a good boundary representation of a solid.I'm in test now, hoping to have a useful product soon. The vision is to go from Solid CAD–> STEP –> gcode quihttp://code.google.com/p/emcfab

  2. geo01005 says:

    Neil, Good to see some people discovering HeeksCAD/CNC. Unfortunately you seem to have missed one of the great features of HeeksCAD, the ability to use parametric sketches. I haven't had a chance to improve SketchSolve for some time now, but I think that you will find it very useful in it's current configuration. A simple video of the sketching is shown at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nibjuxCbUag

  3. Anonymous says:

    Just discovered your tutorials today on Youtube, not knowing they were yours until I saw your blog.HeeksCAD seems to be a great tool. Have been looking into FreeCAD/PythonOCC as of late. Keep the videos coming!RepRapNC

  4. Tony says:

    Looks good! I haven't gotten the chance to watch the video, but I've been looking for software like this for a while. Blender was, as you've said, not meant for technical drawing, and the other package I found (avoCADo) was just too new to be useful.Does this support assemblies?

  5. Jaco Vosloo says:

    Great stuff! Thanks for your effort!

  6. Tony says:

    Hey, installing Opencascade and HeeksCAD from Arch Linux's unsupported repository was easy, no problems at all! Haven't fully tested it, but it's a path I recommend for linux users.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Great tutorial. Thanks!

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