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3Dconnexion CadMouse – Hands On Review

SWW15 3Dx CadMouse Floor Painting

I’ve been waiting for this device for some time! First of all I wanted a mouse designed for CAD and not gaming, but more specifically, I first got wind of the CadMouse around June last year. The anticipation has been killing me, I was then informed I would receive one of the early builds of the devices in time for Christmas. All in the name of hardware and driver ‘beta’ testing if you like. Thanks to Christmas mailing traffic and a couple of snafu’s it arrived safe & sound in early January. She’s been in the palm of my hand when using my HP ZBook ever since. So what do I think and how have I got on with CadMouse?

The Old Dunga

I’m embarrassed to say, that the CadMouse was always going to be far superior to anything I have used on a daily basis over the last 11 years. I really should be a ashamed of myself for not purchasing a high end mouse for my daily desk polishing. I’ve predominantly used the OEM HP, 2 button mouse, with crappy scroll wheel… then over the last 18 months I’ve been using a ropey mobile form factor Logitech wireless mouse. In credit to HP, their mouse lasted for years. The Logitech showed signs of giving up the ghost by serving up a spongy left mouse button around the 11 month mark.

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Driver Installation & Configuration

3DxWare 10 CadMouse & SpaceMouse ProIf you already own a 3Dconnexion 3D Mouse, then you will quite likely already have 3DxWare 10 installed. Then if you have updated that in the last few weeks, you will probably be running v10.2.2. In which case, you have to install precisely nothing. 3DxWare is a unified driver which supports ALL 3Dconnexion’s products, then within the driver configuration you can setup each device independently of each other. As a result each device can have different speed and direction settings. It’s this driver where CadMouse predominantly stands above the rest of the mice in my opinion, it’s CadMouse’s secret weapon.

Unlike other high end mice on the market, CadMouse’s 3DxWare drivers’ have been developed specifically for CAD applications and the unique environments they present to users. Most mouse drivers support programming their buttons to invoke different commands from one application to the next. Often though, you don’t have the ability to call up application specific commands, unless you can map those to keyboard shortcuts. As current 3D Mouse users will know, when their favourite CAD application supports and is supported by 3Dconnexion, you can assign native commands to the buttons on your device. But on top of that, the driver is often context sensitive. As an example with SolidWorks or Autodesk Inventor, if you are in a part sketch, you can program the buttons to one set of commands, but when you are in an assembly or drawing, you can program to buttons to use a different set. Non CAD mice drivers just aren’t geared up to work like that.

Out of the box I have found all the default button assignments to be just what I need for now. Even though I’m not old enough to have used a 3-button mouse in the work place before, my hand immediately settled into and appreciated using the full sized middle mouse button. As a result I need to find a good use for the mouse wheel button now. Talking about how my hand feels with the device, let’s move onto…

Ergonomics

At first glance I didn’t like the look of the CadMouse, its shape isn’t as sexy as other high end mice out there. From some angles it looks spot on, then at others, quite awkward. But once I started using it, I couldn’t have cared less. Finally my hand felt as at home as my backside does on a Sunday afternoon watching the Formula One with a good cider in my fist. 3Dconnexion have nailed it, every digit sat right where it should and importantly, they stayed there. It took very little effort to make sure my hand was positioned optimally most of the time.

The side buttons sit just above my thumb, I barely have to move it to depress the buttons, but they haven’t once got in the way of punting the mouse around my desk. I’ve naturally dropped into using them as the forward & back buttons in browsers and Windows Explorer, but rather unexpectedly I intuitively use them in both SolidWorks and Inventor to Quick Zoom In & Out. Quick Zoom is also another secret weapon 3Dconnexion have devised. I’ll show you the effect in the video at the end of the article.

My only gripe ergonomically comes with the gesture button, which sits just rear of the scroll wheel. I have two options for pressing it, I haven’t decided which is best yet, I find both quite awkward. I think I’m edging towards using the tip of my index finger:

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Personally I would have much preferred to see it in front of the scroll wheel. There is a natural spot for it there as a result of your index and middle fingers sitting apart from one another. Aside from that, I do still use the Gesture button simply because it is worth it, I’ll show you why in the video later. I suspect it ended up in its current location for the aesthetic.

The Middle / Third Button & Scroll Wheel

CadMouse Front ViewAs I mentioned early, my hand has naturally slotted into using the middle button. People will argue that most mice now have ‘clickable’ scroll wheels and the 3rd full mouse button isn’t that much of a benefit. I strongly disagree with that. As an example, a colleague of mine has a Logitech Performance Mouse MX, every time I’ve used it and tried to pan using the scroll wheel button, it tends to scroll before clicking, due to its wonderfully smooth scrolling action. This confuses CAD applications and frustrates me. I’ve found this with other mice in the past as well. Having a full mouse button dedicated to your typical middle mouse button commands, makes panning (Autodesk software) or orbiting (SolidWorks) fool proof.

I LOVE the scroll wheel on this mouse. It has a really soft but positive notched scroll, ideal for CAD, but a pretty clever digital scroll. It senses when you want to scroll long and fast, then digitally gets stuck into smashing up & down through the pages. This is probably one area where I’m spoilt by finally having a mouse more befitting to my profession. Irrespective of that, I think 3Dconnexion have nailed the user experience and quality feel with this scroll wheel. You have to try it!

Gestures

Some of you may be thinking there aren’t enough programmable buttons on this thing. I need buttons, my current gaming mouse has all the buttons I need and love it! Well you may have a point. But personally I’d prefer to minimise the number of buttons around my fingers if possible.Generic CadMouse Gesture Menu settingsAt first I was skeptical about this gesture button, I was too caught up in the fact that Autodesk Inventor and SolidWorks both have decent context sensitive gesture menus, so what was the point. The point is it turns one hardware button on your mouse into 4 buttons, right across the entire operating system.

The 3Dconnexion driver developers have been busy, they’ve put a lot of thought into which commands would be useful within various applications. Each time I click it in a new application, I think this will be the time it won’t make sense, but then it does. Of course, you can completely customise what appears in this gesture wheel and when it appears, in true 3DxWare 10 style.

If you don’t end up buying a CadMouse, you can assign this gesture menu to your SpaceMouse Wireless buttons if you want instead.

Conclusion

Would I buy one? Yes…. but I didn’t buy a high end mouse previously when I really should have. So why would I this time? For exactly the same reason why I bought my SpaceNavigator way back when, it was a seriously well made device, designed specifically for CAD users. I was happy to part with US$99 for that then, so I would be for CadMouse. Would I buy it at release or wait for the wireless version they may or may not produce? Tough call. My personal opinion is this mouse should have followed the same formula as the SpaceMouse Wireless, and used a magnetic charging cable, à la Apple Macbook. A straight up USB solution wouldn’t have worked for a mouse like it does for the static SpaceMouse. That way both the wired & wireless camp would have been satisfied. However, I can honestly say the cable hasn’t bothered me or got in my way once since I started using CadMouse in early January. The only time its got in the way is when I’m packing up my laptop as I leave my office, it’s just so much more convenient chucking a wireless mouse into your laptop bag. Knowing that now, I would probably still go out and buy this mouse because it works so well. Finally, be sure to check out the video below to see CadMouse in action. Thanks for reading, and if you have any comments or requests, then please fire away in the comments below.

Images courtesy of 3Dconnexion

Disclaimer: 3Dconnexion provided this mouse free of charge for the purpose of providing pre-release product feedback. They have had no influence over this article beyond that interaction.

Autodesk Inventor RAL Colour Libraries?

Autodesk Inventor RAL Library

LOTS of people have to use RAL colours during their design process on a daily basis. However, due to licensing rights, Autodesk can’t provide them out of the box. But that doesn’t stop you from being able to create your own as and when you need them. BUT. The power of the Internet and staggering CAD community has come to the rescue, Tobias Zetterberg has hooked us all up like a true champ. He’s only gone and created a substantial Autodesk Inventor appearance library with a solid whack of RAL colours! It appears the entire list as defined on Wikipedia is in this digital nugget of awesomeness. Well done Tobias! If you download and use this, make sure you let him know on the forum and hook the man up with some Kudos! Also some credit goes to Paul Munford for sharing the post on Twitter in the first place.

There are some issues with the Zip file on the forum, so I’ve hosted a copy of the file RAL_colors.zip on our server.

If you need to know how to load up, or make use of these appearance assets, then you can refer to these posts I’ve written in the past:

Inventor | Creating Custom Materials & Libraries in 2014

Inventor | Materials Editor Navigation

Inventor | Appearance In-canvas overrides

How do I deal with style differences in Autodesk Inventor?

Edit: In addition, the Inventor Wizard has provided 3 different RAL library variations, Generic, Metallic High Gloss, Metallic Matte.

The World’s First Mouse for CAD Professionals – 3Dconnexion CadMouse

7 years ago I purchased my first 3Dconnexion 3D mouse, the Space Navigator, but what I set out to buy at the time was a professional programmable mouse for CAD. To my utter disbelief, as a relative NOOB in the industry, I couldn’t believe that such a product didn’t exist. The only programmable mice in existence at the time were designed for ‘Gamers’, some were adequate but others simply weren’t. Fast forward to today and 3Dconnexion have stepped up to the plate to deliver the world’s first 2D mouse, specifically designed with professional CAD users in mind. This means they deliver a device with 3Dconnexion build quality, 3 full sized buttons on the top of the device… which means no more awkward fumbles for the scroll wheel button just to pan around your drawings, and their signature CAD context sensitive programmable buttons. Those points alone were enough for me to get my geek on when I was first approached for feedback about the 3Dconnexion CadMouse.

3Dconnexion CadMouse - 3 button mouse

You can now take a look at our review: 3Dconnexion CadMouse – Hands On Review

I’ve been using a CadMouse everyday for about a month now, as a result I have a few opinions…. but you will have to wait a little longer to read about those. So what do 3Dconnexion have to say about it? Well here is my cut down version of their press release and FAQ they made available earlier today:

Press Release

3Dconnexion today announces the release of the 3Dconnexion CadMouse, the first mouse designed specifically for CAD professionals. By combining powerful, ergonomic hardware and smart, easy-to-use software, the 3Dconnexion CadMouse provides a level of performance ordinary mice just can’t match, inside and outside the CAD environment.

For more than 20 years, 3Dconnexion’s SpaceMouse product range has enabled a superior 3D navigation experience for CAD professionals. With a SpaceMouse in one hand taking care of 3D navigation, the “ordinary” mouse in the other hand is free to click and select. But over the years, 3Dconnexion saw firsthand how frustrated customers were with an ordinary mouse. They wanted something better—so we built it.

“We developed the 3Dconnexion CadMouse because CAD users asked us to.” says Antonio Pascucci, VP of products at 3Dconnexion. “We took the time to understand what they needed before developing a combination of smart hardware and software features.”

“With the introduction of the 3Dconnexion CadMouse, we are excited to be meeting the demands of CAD professionals across a broad range of industries and professions,” Pascucci says. “The icing on the cake is that CadMouse enables a new level of Two-Handed Power for our current customers. In other words, using a CadMouse together with a 3Dconnexion 3D mouse like the SpaceMouse Pro or SpaceNavigator makes it possible to interact with digital content in a way that wasn’t possible before.”

Discover why CadMouse’s features outperform and outclass an ordinary mouse:

  • Dedicated, Full-Size Middle Mouse Button — Every CAD user knows how much they rely on the middle mouse button, but ordinary mice bury it under the scroll wheel. The CadMouse has a dedicated, full-size middle mouse button, so it’s no longer necessary to click the uncomfortable scroll wheel thousands of times per day.
  • QuickZoom – Effortlessly zoom in and out of your models or drawings with a single click of a thumb button. Combine this feature with the 6-degrees-of-freedom navigation enabled by a 3Dconnexion 3D mouse for previously unseen levels of Two-Handed Power.
  • Smart Scroll Wheel* – Automatic scroll wheel performance depending on the active application. Precise “click-to-click” zooming in CAD applications or speedy scrolling in browsers and documents. It’s a seamless experience that ordinary mice just can’t provide.
  • Advanced Laser Sensor— With 8200dpi and a poll rate of up to 1000Hz (responsiveness of 1 millisecond) you’ll click exactly where you need to, when you need to. The CadMouse has the level of precision CAD professionals demand—and deserve.3Dconnexion Gesture Menu
  • Gesture / Radial Menu Button – The CadMouse’s gesture button opens a context sensitive on-screen radial menu. Simply move the cursor left, right, up or down to activate the command.
  • Optimally Shaped PTFE feet – Because 3Dconnexion specializes in CAD, we pay acute attention to details like how materials and geometry affect friction. It’s especially important when you consider that serious CAD users can be moving their mouse up to 1km per week. CadMouse has optimally shaped feet made from PTFE, a material with one of the lowest coefficients of friction against any solid, resulting in a near perfect equilibrium. The result? CadMouse moves exactly how you mean it to—every time.

* patent pending.

Pricing and availability

The 3Dconnexion CadMouse will be available at the end of February at a suggested retail price of USD $99 (excluding tax). Customers will be able to purchase the CadMouse from approved CAD and online resellers, as well as the 3Dconnexion online store.

FAQ

Will there be a mouse mat?

3Dconnexion are also introducing the CadMouse Pad. A high-quality (rigid) mouse pad, specifically optimized for CadMouse. The suggested retail price will be USD $29 (excluding tax).

Does buying a CadMouse mean I don’t need a SpaceMouse anymore?

Absolutely not, especially for people who are serious about working with 3D content. Despite all the cool features of the 3Dconnexion CadMouse, nothing can replace the smooth and simultaneous 6-degrees-of-freedom (6DoF) navigation that’s possible with a 3Dconnexion SpaceMouse.

In fact, the introduction of the 3Dconnexion CadMouse enables a new level of “Two Handed Power” that’s only possible by combining a SpaceMouse and CadMouse. For example, a user can QuickZoom to their point of interest with a single click of the CadMouse QuickZoom button and then undertake a detailed inspection thanks to the SpaceMouse’s natural and precise 6DoF navigation. An example of this is shown on the CadMouse web page.

Why is it important to have a dedicated middle mouse button and scroll wheel?

3Dconnexion CadMouse TopMost CAD applications rely heavily on the MMB so some CAD professionals are still using older 3-button mice (that have a dedicated MMB). However, these 3-button mice do not have a scroll wheel so they are inconvenient to use in office application or browsers.

Some users are turning to higher precision mice (including gaming mice) that can move the cursor across the screen without having to repeatedly pick it up and move it back into position. However, making this decision means sacrificing the dedicated middle mouse button, so users have to press the scroll wheel to activate the MMB which is far from ideal. When you consider that a serious CAD user can activate the MMB several thousand times per day, it’s easy to see how users find this a frustrating and uncomfortable experience.

The introduction of CadMouse with its dedicated MMB and Smart Scroll wheel provides a high performance, all-in-one solution that CAD users will immediately recognize and appreciate.

Does CadMouse use a different driver to 3Dconnexion’s SpaceMouse product range?

3dxware 10 CadMouseNo, 3DxWare 10 is a unified driver solution that supports all 3Dconnexion’s products. In other words, users with a SpaceMouse and a CadMouse only need to install one driver and can customize and optimize each product via one clean, consistent interface.

What influenced the size and shape of the CadMouse?

Customer feedback indicated that the majority of users prefer a full size mouse and our ergonomic testing indicated that the full-size design worked well for all hand sizes. For this reason, and to accommodate the full size middle mouse button we designed CadMouse to support the users hand in a comfortable and natural position hour after hour.

Why isn’t the 3Dconnexion CadMouse wireless?

For a variety of reasons including security, IT management and performance (sensor precision, battery life) and because the majority of 3Dconnexion’s customers are accustomed to working with wired input devices, we felt it was sensible for CadMouse, the first product in this new category to be a wired device.

Is CadMouse suitable for use in the left hand?

No, CadMouse is designed for use in the right hand as this caters for the majority of users.

What operating systems does SpaceMouse Wireless support?
At time of launch, all features of the 3Dconnexion CadMouse will be supported on Microsoft Windows 8, Microsoft Windows 7 and Windows Vista.

The product is optimized for applications running on Microsoft Windows as this operating system offers extensive support for 3-button mice. Users of other operating systems (e.g. OS X and Linux) may be able to take advantage of certain hardware features like the dedicated middle mouse button and advanced laser sensor but not the additional features including QuickZoom, Smart Scroll or the gesture button.

Learn more about the 3Dconnexion CadMouse.

Read the full press release.

More information & FAQ’s.

So what do you all think about this? Are you chomping at the bit to get one of these slippery desk rodents into the palm of your hand ASAP? I know that for a number of people, the end of February can’t come soon enough. Let us know in the comments.

Born for CAD? What are 3Dconnexion conjuring up?

Yesterday 3Dconnexion posted a new video on their YouTube channel. It doesn’t give a lot away, but remarkably there are buttons involved! In addition the video shows off some kind of ribbed and rubbery or plastic vertical surface on the side of the product. The final panning shots in the video show slots running across the top of the product as part of a convex surface. The video using tag lines such as:

  • A New Venture
  • Anything but ordinary
  • Intelligent ergonomic design
  • Smarter than average

The video give no clues as to when this new product will be launched or when more details will be revealed, other than to say it’s coming soon.

Check out the video below, and let us know what you think it will be?

Are your Autodesk Inventor Drawing views moving on your sheet?

Autodesk Inventor Drawing Views moved position Over the years, both myself and most of my colleagues or staff I’ve had working for me, have suffered with Inventor allowing drawing views to ‘float’ across the drawing sheet as if they have a mind of their own. The effect of this phenomenon is misaligned sections and detail views… as well as their respective dimensions and annotations becoming ‘sick’. There is a way to stop this from happening, however, frustratingly there has been a policy at Autodesk to keep legacy settings as the default settings, so as to not upset the established users. This policy even applies when it makes A LOT more sense to use the new setting instead.

Inventor View Justification

The setting under focus in this post, is the View Justification option within the Drawing tab of Application Options.Inventor Drawing View Fixed CenteredIt’s best if you set this before creating any drawings within Inventor. Otherwise each view you place will take on this setting. However, if you haven’t and you have a particularly important drawing in a bit of a state, then there is a workaround which will allow you to rectify the situation. Check out the video below for further details.

 

Mindset: Tools to Anticipate, Plan for, and Create the Future – Selected Quotes

Autodesk University 2014: Mindset Tools to Anticipate, Plan for, and Create the Future

Today during the last day of Autodesk University, the final live streamed Innovation Forum session took place; Mindset: Tools to Anticipate, Plan for, and Create the Future. I haven’t watched it myself yet, but a number of tweets from attendees certainly got me interested, they even had Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s grandson Fabien Cousteau listed as the main speaker! So I will definitely be taking the time to watch it later on this evening. I’ve genuinely been impressed with this AU from afar and I’m super gutted that I didn’t push through with getting to the event like I have managed for the last two years.

Class Description

It’s clear that we’re living a world that’s volatile, uncertain, chaotic, and ambiguous. And within every industry, we’re seeing dizzying examples of new ways to make things. But what’s less clear is how organizations can systematically learn to understand, align with, and act on the broad forces of disruption. Join the MindSet Innovation Forum, which highlights essential skills to take advantage of new technologies applicable to every industry.

Selected Quotes

Angelo Vermeulen, visual artist

  • “I work with people to recycle wastes and build living ecosystems inside the computer networks that use those wastes”
  • “A culture of living organisms is collaborating with technology – symbiosis”
  • “Entangled reality – imagine having sensors inside your ecosystem that capture the dynamics, and using that data, real world getting into the virtual”
  • “Evolvability – the deep belief as a biologist that technology will accumulate more and more properties of living biology”
  • “I’m inspired by hardware”
  • “I am using a very specific design approach in my projects, approach things from multiple angles”
  • “Cross cultural dialogue is crucial to gaining a larger perspective on possible solutions for problems”
  • “I have a very different approach – we use no plan we just start building and slowly but surely everything emerges. It’s a very different approach than other design strategies”
  • “We approach building things from different angles simultaneously, without having a master plan”
  • “A second characteristic of how I am working is I am using a lot of waste – on one hand it makes the creators and the designers way more resilient , it makes humanity way more resilient”
  • “This approach leads to a discovery of questions as you go, leads to a very interesting way of designing things”
  • “The consequence of working like this is that you bind community – putting people in a position of such empowerment glues the community together, it gets people truly excited”

Bob Richards, CEO, Moon Express

  • “My passion in life, what drives me, is to help humanity become a multi world species”
  • “We live in an ocean of awesome, we live in a water planet that we are only just now beginning to discover, we’ve only scratched the surface”
  • “We live in an epic where we are now just leaving our world, starting to cross the ocean of space”
  • “When generations look back on us, this is the moment that we are leaving our planet for the first time”
  • “The moon is our sister world like the 8th continent”
  • “We’re proud to say we have used Autodesk tools in our design. Only by the power of simulation and computation, are we able to do what only superpowers have done before”
  • “What last year was a design, this year is a reality”
  • “The moon has water, a recent discovery, we are going to learn to use water as fuel, the moon is a fuel depot in the sky”
  • “We’ll help the interplanetary move from earth to earth’s orbit to the moon and beyond – making the humanity a multi world species”

Fabien Cousteau, aquanaut, oceanographic explorer, conservationist, and documentary filmmaker

  • “Oceans are the inner space of adventure”
  • “We have explored less than 5% of our oceans and yet nearly 95% of our worlds biodiversity is said to be living in and round that water body”
  • “When I was a kid I have to admit something to you all, in front of all the cameras, I was a terrible student. I grew up in a family of explorers and my imagination was going out the window in the school room – my imagination went way beyond that window”
  • “We were able to do 3 years’ worth of scientific research and data collection in one month because of the unprecedented access this opportunity afforded us”
  • “We were able to use new technologies to be able to see what goes on in that environment when were not around – what happens with climate change and acidification, what happens with pollution issues”
  • “As these systems get thrown into more and more chaos because of the unpredictability – we are realizing very real world repercussions on health, on the economy and of course on the future viability of these platforms”
  • “I’m a toy guy, I’m a technology guy – I’m not a scientist – the point of my adventure is to bring that knowledge back to the general masses so we can infuse them with a passion and knowledge so they can make better decisions”
  • “With technology, we’re able to get better insight into the biological realm so we can see biomechanics”
  • “Through the use of these innovative technologies we can imagine a new type of underwater habitat”
  • “As I mentioned bringing this to the general public is extremely important to me, especially youth – so they can learn to be better human beings”
  • “This adventure made me dream, made me dream about the future potential of what an underwater city or network of cities could afford us”

Pete Kelsey, Strategic Projects Executive, Autodesk

  • “For me, cool isn’t enough. Cool doesn’t pay the bills”
  • “The elephant in the room in terms of marine infrastructure is the oil and gas industry. That is next great opportunity for all the work we’ve being doing at Autodesk.”
  • “I can’t think of a better answer to “so what” than this – we at Autodesk are investing – Autodesk Maritime R&D, into something that is worth the investment and the time
  • “For me there was always something missing, something nagging, there must be a way to share that connection with data or a place with a much broader audience”
  • “Physical to digital to physical again”
  • “With Wow – all things are possible”

Tom Wujec, Fellow at Autodesk

  • “This century’s literacy is about design”

Mouse McCoy, world-class racer, stunt man, and the founder and creative director of Bandito Brother

  • “We are dreamers, designers and makers”
  • “We’ve always played with cars and cars have always played with our imagination”
  • “Evil Knievel holds one world record and that’s for the most broken bones”
  • “We are looking forward to the future of smart systems, data, engineering to take us out of the cowboy realm
  • “Looking forward as we look at what’s possible to reframe man and machine, how can smarter systems evolve what we do”
  • “Stunts are just going to become engineering, we can turn that into STEM and STEAM curriculum and in that process, refine what’s possible for man and machine”

Watch for yourself

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