Skip to main content

Best CAD software for RC Sailboats

I am not a professional CAD guy, and making 3D models of RC sailboats in order to create laser-cut frames, is simply a hobby. So take my notes with a huge grain of salt. In addition, I only have real experience with two applications: SketchUp Pro and Rhino 4.

Both are great, and each has their advantages and disadvantages regarding RC sailboat work. In the end I'm using Sketchup Pro (early versions up through 2017) for most of the work because it is by far the easiest to use. The tools, features, capabilities and functionality are all perfect for most of what needs to be done, with one huge exception. That exception is curves, and along with that, curved and faired surfaces.

Rhino is what you would use if you were designing a full-size boat. It does remarkably well with curves and surfaces. You can fair curves, and it includes a curve analysis tool that graphically shows you how fair your curve is.

Sketchup Pro is much easier to learn though. Rhino isn't hard, but if you don't have the time or inclination to learn it to the level you'll need, then stick to Sketchup.

Here is my suggested workflow for creating a 3D model of an RC sailboat. I'm assuming that you are starting with existing lines of a previous boat. Perhaps, as I'm working on, an old Vintage Marblehead, that you'd like to reproduce:

  1. Start in Rhino and import the file that contains the picture of the lines. You'll be drawing over this file to create your curves. You'll need to VERY accurately scale your image so that the lines exactly the size you need. Here is a nice video that explains how to size your image in Rhino.
     
  2. Use Rhino's great curve tools to accurately trace over the frame lines. Save each curve on its own layer. For now, you really only need to do the outside hull curves.
     
  3. You'll probably want to use the offset tool to bring in your curves enough to account for the thickness of the planking materials. Perhaps 3/16" or so?
     
  4. Use the curve analysis tool to fair your curves.
     
  5. Do the same with the profile curves. 
     
  6. Then select all your frame curves and add a surface using the Loft tool. Make adjustments to the curves as needed. Save.
     
  7. From this point I would export to Sketchup Pro to build the rest of the frames, but if you're better at Rhino than I am (and most people are), then stay in Rhino and build the rest of your model. But from this point on, once the curves are established, then Sketchup does as good a job as Rhino, and it's easier to use. I also find that I like the visibility of Sketchup better.

Thoughts?!

Aloha!







Comments

Popular posts from this blog

IOM Rig Box (IOM Sail Box) plans

So all the cool IOM kids seem to have nice wooden boxes to store their rigs in. This might be my next quick project then, so that I can pretend to be cool too. :-P The rig box images that I've seen online are mostly similar, and would work well, but David Jensen from Bellevue, WA, USA (The same guy who designed a fantastic IOM boat stand I posted about earlier) has a really nice design that he shared on RC Groups . Or if that link doesn't work, the go here and search for " IOM sail box " or " IOM rig box ". It holds three sets of rigs for the A, B, and C rigs. He also has a nifty way to attach his IOM boat stand, with a boat on it, to the rig box. His rig box has wheels attached, so once everything is loaded up he just wheels it to the launch spot. Very nice! There are other sources online. They show different variations of the same type of sail box. Here's a nice looking one . Here's a YouTube video of a really nice one . Wil

IOM Alignment and Measuring Jig (UPDATED)

I need to start to consider how I'll mount the fin and bulb, and get it all straight, so I made a 3D modeled alignment jig: Ian Dundas in Scottland sent me pictures of his setup. I just bought a laser level too! He does amazing work and has been a great help in this project so far. There is also another jig featured on page 14 of the winter 2008 Canadian Radio Yacht Association (CRYA) newsletter that features one. It's by Lawire Neish. Read it here . I took both those designs and made my own version that features sliding cradles for the hull, a fixed waterline sight, proper depth to cradles for the bulb, etc... Most of the parts can be laser cut, and the two end pieces and the base can easily be cut on a tablesaw. It has fixed waterline sights that are 420mm above the top edges of the bulb sliders in the base. The fore and aft cradles can be slid up and down to adjust the waterline of the hull. You'll see that the overall interior length is 1003mm t

IOM Sailboat Stand

I made an IOM boat stand! The plans are from David Jensen in Bellevue, WA, USA. I found the plans through someone else's blog here , and a model sailboat club from Australia here . It was pretty straightforward to build. My only contribution to the design is that I laser cut the cradle out of 1/8" Lite Ply. I made eight copies, and then epoxy laminated two sets of four each. Turned out really well. If you wish to laser cut your own set, here is my DWG file . You'll have to have your own laser cutter, or send the job to a laser cutting company like National Balsa . Here are the original plans , and here are the original plans for just the cradle . Thanks to David Jensen!! Note that in the picture below, my boat is not finished! Yikes. You can't see it in this image, but there's a small chuck of self-stick foam behind the bulb to protect the bulb. I'll eventually incorporate some Velcro or a strap of some sort to hold the bulb in place so

Rip Tide RC Sailboat

Well I just hit the R/C Sailboat jackpot! Rod Carr, of Carr Sails in Redmond, WA, and the second ever member of the AMYA, just gifted me a Marblehead "Rip Tide" hull and many of the parts and templates to finish it! Thank you Rod! I'm not sure when I'll be able to work on this, but hopefully it will turn into a fantastic vintage Marblehead. The gentleman who started it did a fantastic job. He was a true artist and I will do my best to get as close as I can to his workmanship but it will be a challenge. Here are some pictures... He even cast his own bulb and the mold came with the hull! I could probably start making my own fleet of Rip Tides as he also gave me many of the templates and such. I will only need to pin and epoxy the bulb to the fin and fair it smooth. It will be easy to do. The frames look and feel like he hand cut them on a scroll saw, but they are very close to perfect. He used thicker plywood than I may have but they are very sturdy. The