If you are interested in learning about Computer-Aided Design (CAD), or are assigned by your team to learn CAD, use this channel for resources.
First, read this webpage.
CAD is not necessary for FTC to build a successful robot.
Many successful teams don’t CAD their robot at all. Other successful teams only make parts of their robot in CAD. Of course, few teams do fully design their robot in CAD, especially those that regularly show up at the world championship.
So, what’s the point of CAD, then? It is encouraged that new/rookie teams try their hand at CAD, especially if you have a mentor or parent who is experienced in such an area. CAD is beneficial for multiple reasons.
CAD solves a lot of preventable headaches, such as spacing issues. Thus, it will save time when you discover problems in CAD that you can remediate before you build your robot.
CAD is a professional tool that is used in many STEM fields. Having CAD knowledge and skills will be beneficial in your future career, should you study and work in those fields.
If you desire to create 3D-printed or machined parts, CAD will be necessary to do so.
However, CAD is not the magic genie that will guarantee you success in FTC. When used properly, it is a great tool to aid teams in building their robot.
Keep in mind, though, that many teams have had success without CAD.
1. The Software We Use - Fusion 360 by AutoDesk
Fusion 360 is a cloud-based 3D modeling, CAD, CAM, CAE, and PCB software platform for product design and manufacturing.
While it's $495 per year for professional use, it's free but needs verifying every year for education use, such as FIRST Tech Challenge.
A cloud-based all-in-one CAD/CAM package, made by Autodesk. Fusion 360 is cross platform compatible, although it doesn’t run very well on low-spec computers.
It has a powerful CAM environment for machining your parts, and it has intuitive and easy cloud rendering that gives the heavy lifting to Autodesk’s servers. To maintain a simpler UI, Fusion skips out on a lot of the more advanced features found in SolidWorks and Inventor, although this isn’t really much of a problem.
However, a more noteworthy difference is that Fusion ignores every single industry standard, creating its own structure and organizational system. Beyond simple sketches and extrude features, Fusion’s modeling and assembly system is unique and not compatible with any other CAD software, making it hard to switch away from Fusion.
Because of this, if you aren’t careful, Fusion’s file hierarchy can actively encourage bad design habits and discourages reusability by allowing users to create new parts without designing them individually first.
If one is careful to follow good design practices, Fusion is a solid option.
2. How To Install Fusion 360 by AutoDesk
Since we only have limited subscriptions available, the school is only able to give out a handful students access to Fusion 360..
Furthermore, since this is a 'cloud-based' software, messing files up can affect the entire robotics CAD server.
Only those that are selected by their team managers, or those who are deemed dependent and responsible enough, and eager to learn CAD, will be given access to Fusion 360.
If you are interested in using CAD, please ask Mr. Han for a subscription.
Once approved, follow instructions as follows:
You will receive an email from Mr. Han to your school assets-school.org email titled:
"[Action Required] Your Autodesk Account is waiting"
It should look like this (may show up in Spam)
Press "Create My Account Now"
Once registered and signed-in using your school email
Look for "My Account", then proceed to "Products and services"
You should see "Fusion 360" as an option for downloading. You do not need anything else, only the "Fusion 360"
Press "Download Now"
Wait for the file to finish installing. When it's ready, it will auto ask you to log in.
DO NOT TRY TO LOG IN YET!!! (Important)
Proceed to the next step to set up your "Team", so you have access to our shared CAD files/assets.
3. Join the "Assets Robotics" Team
(Kind of like a "Google Drive" for Fusion 360)
(Kind of like a "Google Drive" for Fusion 360)
Look for another email (different than the one from part a, for signing up) titled:
"You’ve been added to the shared drive Assets Robotics" It should look like this. (may show up in spam
Press the blue button "Open shared drive".
You may need to log in again. After logging in, you should see the "Assets Robotics" team with all projects displayed. (See screenshot below)
With that, you are ready to learn CAD. You may now open the "Fusion 360" program, log in, and your installation is now fully complete.
Note that each student is given only 1 subscription (hence the login). If you are trying to use fusion 360 on more than 1 computer, you will be prompted to log out of your existing registered computer. It's a hassle. You are recommended to stick to one computer only.
4. How to upload/insert existing robot parts
First, you need to be completely familiar with ALL robot parts and understand what parts are made by what companies. The major and common parts we use are from:
1. Pitsco Tetrix
2. REV Robotics
All vendors above provide 3d models of the parts they sell in STEP format, which can be imported by any CAD program including Fusion 360. Some vendors also offer repositories or zip files containing STEP files of all the models they sell.
Each company has its respective CAD files under its product listing pages. For example,
For TETRIX channels, you can download the CAD files right off the product listing page.
Once you find the file you need, download it, it will be a .STEP file.
This is the file you upload into fusion 360.
Find the right folder and upload. (You can do this via the application, or via the website, since this is a cloud-based server.)
First, go to the correct folder (by the company) so it's easier for others to find the same thing in the future.
For example, if it's a TETRIX part, open the TETRIX folder.
Then "Upload" the .STEP file you downloaded from Step 1.
Once uploaded, the CAD model is ready for use. You may double click on the object to preview.
Keep the file name the same as when you downloaded from the official store pages.
DO NOT RENAME ANY FILES!
This is to prevent us from having duplicates of the same CAD model.
These assets will be regularly updated as we purchase more and new parts in the future.
We do not have to go through them later. It will be a mess!
Do not delete any assets! (CAD model uploads)
All assets are stored in the cloud like "Google Drive". All of you have access to add/remove files from the cloud. Do not delete things as it affects everyone.
5. How to actually use Fusion 360 to CAD a robot
Probably the most important section and the reason why you are here. If you are here, it means you have done all three steps above. (If you haven't, scroll all the way up and read the instructions on setting up your CAD software).
This section will be updated later. For now, here's a perfect playlist made by FTC Team Primitive Data:
Another useful video that's straight forward to understand:
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