Thursday, March 13, 2008

Why no CAD?

In yesterday's article I mentioned a subtle difference in the design process. In the engineering world CAD progressed from 2-D drawings, to 3-D wireframes, to surface models to solid models. What is the difference? Wireframes & surface models do not have density - they are weightless - while a solid model has real world properties and can be measured as if it were in an idealized real world.

Recently at The Caddyshack, my friend Ian Andrew's blog, he referenced yesterday's article - I used him for a quote. In the article I described a new way to design - and what I was referring to was the switching from a 3-D wireframe to surface modeling. Currently almost all designers creating plans design by use of topographic contours - whether it is a pencil - PAD - or a computer - CAD. Both techniques create a 3-D "model". The output is the final drawings that can be bid on and built by a builder.

A different way to design would be to work with a surface model and contour or shape the land as desired. The computer would then create the contour lines and ideally process the drawings for construction. There are two technical problems, getting the data in and getting the data out - the article talks about those. For me it isn't worth the effort given how much work can be done in the field improvising. To paraphrase Pete Dye when asked why he spends so much time in the field "I'm here trying to make the course better than the plans!". so even with a full set of plans at Wolf Point, we spent most of our time working with them as a general guidelines.

The picture above is my workstation. So while it does look like CAD, technically it isn't. I use a drawing program to replicate the same manner of design as if one were to use a pencil -- the difference is that when I draw on the tablet it is instantly digital - and a host of other benefits. I created a table to compare the methods that didn't make the final version of the article - I'll try to find it for the weekend.

You can find one of those keyboards here - they work great.
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