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IMSI Instant Engineer: Ok for simple dwgs?

Discussion in 'CAD' started by Joerg, Mar 15, 2007.

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  1. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    My old DOS mechanical package won't work well anymore. Need a simple
    CAD, just for sketches. IMSI's "Instant Engineer" comes to mind but I
    could not find any reviews. Does anyone here use it?

    Supposedly it is AutoCAD compatible so I guess one could use the
    occasional AutoCAD model supplied by a parts manufacturer. I think this
    SW was bought in from another company (Upperspace?).
  2. Robert

    Robert Guest

    Did you see that Google is now offering a free 3-D Web App for sketches?

    It may be sufficient for your needs.

  3. Greetings.

    As I dimly recall, both "Instant" and "Quickie" Designer are
    simplified, elderly offshoots of the DesignCAD tree. In fact, I
    believe that both "Instant" and "Quickie" are more or less identical,
    differing only by distribution method (if there is a price difference,
    you may want to keep this in mind). Although I absolutely COULD be
    wrong (about this and most else in this post ;-), I doubt either has
    been kept up-to-date as far as AutoCAD compatibility is concerned --
    or in any other way.

    I doubt either was popular enough to generate many online comments --
    although both have an online forum. I am sure that at least one of
    their user manuals were available on line; that may be all you need.
    (The programs are sufficiently old so as to probably work. ;-)

    If you'll pardon my proffering unsolicited advice, a better tact would
    be to pick up a new, but somewhat elderly, version of DesignCAD 14
    Express (2D) or MAX (2D/3D). There is surely no 2D drafting command
    that DCAD 14 lacks, and it's user interface is both quite good and
    efficient. The 3D version's 3D abilities are impressive (for a 2nd or
    3rd tier 3D CAD program), and can be disabled entirely for 2D

    N.B. I specified the 14 version of DesignCAD for several reasons:
    + Obscenely cheap ($5 - $20).
    + Runs on Windoze 95 (yes 95) to XP. Maybe also "Vista", but
    who cares? <g>
    + Created (more or less) before programming was outsourced
    from Oklahoma to various, ever changing, parts of the third world.
    + Extensive online help system. (The help system in ver 15 was
    degraded; ver 16 was too trouble plagued for me to purchase,
    and online help in ver 17 is all but destroyed.)
    + Reasonably feature-packed; rather stable/bug free.

    Mostly off topic: Punch, an IMSI caliber CAD purveyor (???), is
    releasing a new 2D/3D PC/MAC CAD program called ViaCAD (MSRP $99,, - search for ViaCAD). While I
    doubt it will be in DesignCAD's class as far as 2D drafting is
    concerned, it (and its 3d abilities) may be interesting.

    Happy shopping!

    Richard Kanarek

    P.S. Your "old DOS mechanical package won't work well anymore"? Why?
    Have the bits rusted? Maybe if you sprayed it with WD40 and let them
    soak for a while they would start working again? Gosh, I've never read
    an obviously profligate urge so poorly defended! You are clearly
    inexperienced. I wish I were. <g>
  4. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Hmm, it would not be so good if newer models for AutoCad would error
    when loaded.

    That's one reason I asked here. All the review sections wherever I
    looked said "Be the first to review this software...". I didn't like
    that. Then again I don't mind new stuff from companies that were good to
    me before (IMSI was). In the same way that I bought a new car the year
    it was introduced. It never failed me in almost 10 years.

    ROFL! How true. I am still doing my biz book-keeping in Works. Because
    it works ;-)

    Thanks. I will definitely take a look at DesignCAD again.

    Well, that's one reason I switched to Eagle for schematics. Excellent
    and fast support. They keep it simple and use a plain newsreader format
    for support forums where both staff and other users have free access.
    Hardly any other company understands how to keep it that simple. Plus
    they speak English quite well ;-)

    Maybe I am. At least I wouldn't know how a friend was able to convince
    his wife that he needed a new car and that it absolutely had to be a
    Cobra. And even got her to agree.

    Maybe I give it another shot. It exhibits that dreaded Borland bug
    (runtime error) which can be fixed because CAD SW rarely has timing
    critical event handlers. Then there'll be the usual printer hassles, DOS
    reboot for fulls screen, etc. But at least I had placed a working copy
    onto a 3.5" disk. When I bought the program it came on 5-1/4". Just
    imagine, a whole CAD program in under 1MB. Those were the days.
  5. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    I tried that a couple of days ago. IMHO it isn't very suitable for
    mechanical drawings and it was really slow. Nice effects with that orbit
    function but I need plain vanilla here.
  6. JeffM

    JeffM Guest

    Why that app?
    Usually a bad sign.
    More obscure == More dificult to find help with syntax/UI/feature
    I never have.
    So is an app that often gets mentioned in a positive light here:

    It is gratis for *nix users who compile it themselves
    and very affordable for 'doze users.

    Even its most-often-mentioned shortcoming
    shouldn't bother you (considering that you use EAGLE). ;-)
  7. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Because my old Turbocad is from the same vendor and it's been good to
    me. But AFAIK this new package was bought in.
    True. But I have bought non-mainstream software before and never really
    had a problem. Some were highly unusual, like the one that had an
    English GUI but the more hardcore error messages appeared in Swedish.
    Luckily our bookstore had a dictionary and the only problem was that I
    started craving Saltrulle on hardbread whenever a message popped up.
    Thanks, interesting. Low cost indeed. The fact that they want an extra
    five Euros for a PDF invoice is a bit odd though. Almost like a
    restaurant charging for toothpicks ;-)

    This "new and improved" Google group page is terrible. Didn't let me
    read any post after Ken's. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't,
    depending on how the wind blows I guess.

    Yes, Eagle has it's command set weirdnesses, supposedly remnants from
    the DOS days. But it's just like getting used to a righthand-drive car.

    Long story short I've got ye olde Turbocad working again this morning.
    Had to fix the installer with TPPatch, and then again the executable. No
    more runtime errors and it prints alright. Where it gets old is
    exporting. You have to plot to file and fish it back out because it only
    stores in its native file format. Importing is pretty much impossible
    and that alone warrants a new software.
  8. JeffM

    JeffM Guest

    No arguments from me on that.
    Assuming that you tried all the usual tricks
    ("Expand all" at the top-left of the page;
    click on each username to toggle it collapsed/expanded)...

    As I said in a previous thread,
    any post which contains marked text will be auto-expanded
    (I marked the part of the QCAD thread I thought was most significant).
    Yup. One thing I noticed is that
    if I hover over a link *before* the page is fully loaded,
    parts of the JavaScript on the page can break.

    If worse comes to worse, I grab the icon in the Address Bar
    and drag and drop it to open a new tab.
    That usually gets a usable page
    --though sometimes it takes several tries.
    Yeah. That nonsense gets old REAL quick.
  9. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    A former neighbor has a house there and is a hunter. After he brought
    the meat for the first time and we pickled it I was hooked. But I am
    sure that Saltrulle can ruin your kidneys quite fast.

    I tried all that. But it happened before. Usually when there is a
    south-western breeze it works. Sometimes.

    Some, yes. But I can still read my biz files (all of them) into the old
    DOS-Works program and do data entry if I wanted to. I am not much of a
    fan of Microsoft but I must say they did a stellar job on that one. I
    used to do monthly filings with a German agency and they were blown away
    by my computer-filled forms. This was before they allowed electronic
    filing for anyone except for really large corporations. They told me
    that even the local CPAs there couldn't do that back in the 90's.
  10. Greetings again!


    Yes, DesignCAD was produced by (relying on memory) American Small
    Business Computers, who sold it to UpperSpace, sold it to IMSI, which
    has now bifurcated into two separate companies.

    While you might be happy with your elderly IMSI product -- and,
    indeed, I have no bad memories about the DOS error IMSI TurboCAD
    version I once tried hundreds of years ago -- I'm not sure that the
    modern IMSI is as worthy of praise or loyalty. I have heard rumblings
    of dissatisfaction in the TurboCAD world (of which I have almost no
    contact), and their management of DesignCAD thus far has been

    Richard Kanarek
  11. Howdy,

    Regarding your recent post:

    On Fri, 16 Mar 2007 14:59:46 GMT, Joerg
    Wow, a cad program on a 1.2Mb disk. What a hog! *MY* first CAD program
    -- CCSD (Complete Computer Service Designer?), an ever more obscure
    DesignCAD offshoot -- came on 360K disks. Two. One disk had the
    complete CAD program for computers without an 8087, the other one had
    the complete CAD program for 8087-equipped computers.

    I tell ya, you young'ins don't know how easy you have it! Running a
    CAD program on an 8mhz "Turbo XT" you built yourself
    (Heath(kit)/Zenith Data Systems); using your TV as a CGA monitor; now
    that's real drafting!
  12. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Actually the program itself is only 347K. I just looked. The rest is
    help texts, examples, models and so on.

    My first CAD experience was on a Racal Redac system but only briefly
    because they had only one seat for umpteen guys. Then came Futurenet
    Dash II, on an IBM that sported a whopping 4.77MHz. Wish I was, but I
    ain't that young no more ;-)
  13. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Thanks for the hint, Richard. Then it might be better to look for
    something else. The question is, what? I know the electronic CAD world
    pretty well but not the mechanical one. Oh well, maybe I just put some
    more WD40 on my old DOS-TurboCad and keep using it. If I figure out how
    to do import and export I'd be humming. Other than that, there is still
    that vellum pad from Clearprint. It has never crashed on me ;-)
  14. john jardine

    john jardine Guest

    I've been happily using DesignCad in it's various guises for the past 12
    years. Presently using 'DesignCad express V12'. (The same product also turns
    up as 'Viacad'.)
    Cheap, straightforward to use, no steep learning curve, no programmer
  15. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Can you import AutoCad models and other graphics formats, for example
    for large connectors and stuff like that? Is the file exchange with
    AutoCad users pretty smooth? Those were (and still are) some issues
    after I switched to Eagle because the de-facto standard here in the West
    is OrCad. At least for now. Right now that means my layouter who doesn't
    use Eagle must trace every schematic I send his way :-(
  16. Jim Thompson

    Jim Thompson Guest

    I'm puzzled why anyone would use a graphical tool to do schematics.

    It's been a gawd-awful length of time since I even remember seeing

    But I don't believe it can do netlists?

    ...Jim Thompson
  17. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    This ain't for schematics. It is to draw board outlines. I don't do
    layouts. When I work with my own layouter things are smooth because he
    understands RF quite well. But when a client wants to use their people I
    have to take, say, the outline of a VME board (such as the one John
    Larkin had just sent me) and draw into that where I want the preamps
    placed, where the laser diodes should go, where the ties for the fibers
    need to be fastened through drill holes and so on.

    I do have a layout module so I could use it for that purpose. But the
    instant you have to show something in semi-3D that falls apart.
    Although, there are power tools for Eagle that allow a 3D panoramic view
    of how an assembled board would later look like.
  18. john jardine

    john jardine Guest

    Yep. It's read OK the Autocad files I've had sent.
    Will export in Autocad 'format' but not tried it, as I avoid Autocad like
    the plague.

    ".DWG .DXF", another example of sheer marketing clout foisting a proprietry,
    poor quality format onto technical users.
  19. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Like PDF? I guess we are all a bit guilty as well as we have allowed it
    to be foisted unto us. HTML would be fine for pretty much all
    documentation purposes but I guess that format wasn't complicated enough
    for the powers to be. And, gasp, it is an open standard. At least it was
    until some dudes in the North-West, well, lets not go there again.
  20. JeffM

    JeffM Guest

    I've never been crazy about PDF either, but...
    I used to think that
    ....then I used different screen sizes
    and several HTML rendering engines
    ....and finally tried to get them to print as they appeared on the
    HTML is fine when doing what it was meant to do.
    Printing documents with a specific layout ain't it.
    As is PDF:*-accurate-specification

    It's even a *Federally-recognized* open standard:
    Despite the doom and gloom of the poster's intro,
    the proposal was accepted.
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