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open source 3D rendering software


Many of you have expressed interest in free software to design your robots in 3D. These are four recent programs I have come across, but I havent tried any of them.

If you try them, please report your findings to us!

you forgot Google Sketchup
and I have tried blender- and failed, it is very complicated and not very user friendly, I tried to learn it for about two months and when I still couldn't make the models I decided it was a waste of my time.
Sketchup is not geared as much towards the extremely accurate aspect of 3D modeling, but if you spend the time to lean to export the images in correct orientation and scale- it is well worth it. I find the interface to be exceptionally good and even better than some $1000 CAD programs I have tried. I would also suggest that you spend the 5 hours or so it takes to go through all the video and interactive tutorials- as you will learn all the shortcuts and controls that allow you to work quickly. And best of all in my opinion is googles 3D Warehouse, so people are constantly uploading 3D models of prettymuch anything you can imagine. So before you spend 5 hours making the Arduino board from scratch like I did, I found out later that someone had already made it. Regardless, I was able to recreate each component to scale in Sketchup and I used the 2D export to make the cutting and drilling templates for my robot. You can check out my current progress in pics here and you can download the 3D drawing if you have sketchup here

I've used blender, but I deleted it.  It was a very nice program, but when I tried rendering, nothing worked.  It needed a program called Python, you should probably include that link with it.  I tried installing/reinstalling it with minimal success.  It wasn't very reliable.

It is also a program more built for 3D animation.  If you had a robot with moving parts and you wanted to see how it would work, this is the program for you.  You can 'run' your robot in real time, but it would only do the extent you designed it to do.

Yes, Google Sketchup is a big one.  After a few minutes you can have a scaled sketch of your robot and can do various things with the sketch.  It's pretty neat.  I made a 3D model of my robot I'm working on for Batelle with it.  Then I can work on it from home, because I know the general sizes and such of it, and can place little parts on it that are similar to sensors, whatever.

A final program you might want to include is solid works.  Peticularly built for mechanical stuff, but costs money:

solidworks has a steep learning curve, and does cost a good bit. (student edition is the way to go)


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