I made the transition at a very early stage. Autocad version 2. It was
written for the Tandy 2000 (Radio Shack).
I had many experiences with breakdowns of both hardware and software and
finally gave up. We had an eight person office at the time. Any problems with
computer hardware and/or software could be expensive.
I played aroung with various programs in Cad. I came to one conclusion.
AutoCad was too expensive and had too many bells and whistles. I didn't need
many of the features.
Today, AutoCad is even more of a problem. We have AutoCad 14 on one computer
in the office and we NEVER turn it on to do Cad work. We use that particular
computer for a program called Timeslips which keeps track of all of our time
and does all of the billing. Forget and and all versions of AutoCad.
FastCad is an easy to get up and running Cad system. I guarantee that you
will be reasonably proficient in a couple of days. In a week almost an
expert, but sufficiently competent to produce some meaningful work. In order
to consistently produce drawings faster than by hand you will have to work
with any Cad system for awhile.
The real advantage of Cad is in reproducing something that has already been
drawn for another job. Then the time savings screams at you and you will
deserve to attempt to pat yourself on the back for being so smart.
When you hand draw, you can borrow a standard from another job, or a
standards library by:
1. Tracing the detail; or
2. Making a copy of it on a sticky back and pasting it to your drawing;
3. Cut and paste your drawing together and making a xerox original.
When you draw using a Cad system, you can simply locate the detail, notes,
etc., and insert it into your drawing. Much easier and very fast, provided
you have a good system to locate the detail in the first place.
The cost of a Cad system must always include a plotter. Simple plotters are
fairly cheap. If you have a fast computer (350 Mhz or higher) with a lot of
ram (128 MB, or more) you can always configure your plot "in computer" and it
is not too bad. However, if you really start producing Cad drawings you might
want to look into an HP1050. They are not cheap, but they limit the time your
computer is tied up with "in computer" conversation with the plotter.
I currently have an HP600 and it works fairly well. My computer is tied up
for about 20 seconds per 24"x36" plot. Not too bad.
For small plots made on a printer this is not a problem. So for awhile you
can play with the Fastcad and make small plots until you get good at it. Then
I am sure you will want to obtain your own plotter. The HP600 is not made
anymore. However, I am told that on the used market they can be purchased for
around $1,500 to $2,000. The HP1050 runs about $6,500 new.
Hope this helps.