Free Technical Software – Part 2

from Educators' eZine

This is the continuation of last month's article showcasing free or very-low-cost software for many technical areas.

Before we begin, here's a bit of friendly advice. Malicious people have been known to embed viruses and other nasty things into sites offering free downloads. To protect yourself, always create a special folder for such downloads, download ONLY to that folder, then right-click on that folder and invoke your anti-virus scanning software. Once the downloads have been scanned you can move them to any other folder. It's a little bit of time well-spent, as it could save you from much unhappiness.

Binary Things
Two great applications, HiDigit, a scientific calculator and GraphSight, sophisticated graphing software make a visit to the Binary Things site a must.

DesignBots
For those who want to experiment with Robotic arm software, here's a FREE application that will allow you to try those ideas that you have. I believe that this field is an up and coming one and kids in high schools are taking robotics classes now.

PhotoModeler
This those pictures you took of buildings, cars, artifacts, then turns them into 3D pictures or animations. Remember you started out with only a 2D photograph and different overlapping shots from other angles. The site offers easy to follow tutorial directions and a great CAD tool for those that can use this type of application for pleasure or for work. The program does not have a time limit or other restriction except this one. You can only use the tutorial files that they give you to try it out.

Nvidia Gelato
This is a rendering application that can do wonders for your creative side for animations and movies. The two applications are free but it works along with the last three Maya Versions, if you have that. This is mainly for the TV and Film industries but I know there are students out there that are learning these applications, so teachers take notice.

Here's a few of their gallery screen shots. Pretty impressive stuff I think. This is a free give a way from the fine folks of the great NVIDIA graphics cards. Don't let this one get by you.

RapidForm
The INUS Technology Company has 3D scanning and reverse modeling solutions for all your needs. They give away a free viewer that will allow you to check out those medical scans and STL file formats if you have to deal with them in your work. There are also an assortment of video tutorials to help you get up and running quickly. Start at their opening page to find out more about what this spectacular company offers.

Vectric.com
This time we will try some really cool art work with CNC machining from the Vectric Company. First create a design similar to that shown by using the very simple user interface shown here, the Vcarve Pro technique.

Then you can try something they have called Cut3D, which is a fantastic looking form of art work. If I had a machine that could do this I would be making some of these.

SPICE-Based Analog Simulation Program
Here there are plenty of downloadable schematics and PCB circuits from Texas Instruments You will find the program and much more if you do a search for "Spice Tina"

OneCNC-XR2
Now here is a chance to really get some good training on CNC. But one caveat – the company advises that, "The only limitation within the XR2 Evaluation is posting a program. The ability to post a program and generate an HTML base job sheet has been disabled. Other than that, it gives you access to all the functionality that the full version of Mill Professional would give you."

The below explanation was taken from the OneCNCXR2 web site.

Screen Shots Below.

Rhinoceros
Take a look at Nurb Modeling. No one out there does it better today than Rhino CAD. Many modeling applications have elected to use the Rhino application as a supported application to their own. You cannot deny how useful a program is until you see for yourself and that is exactly what the good people at RhinoCAD want you to do. This is a free trial version loaded with useful things. Also check out Rhinoceros Related Products and Services

MathType5
A very useful application but with a limited shelf-life. The site says: "You will have 30 days in which to enjoy all of the features of MathType. After 30 days, if you have not purchased a registration number, MathType will become MathType Lite. This is exactly like Equation Editor, with the bonus of MathType's fonts and symbols."

Or you could follow this tip from a professor of mathematics:

  • To express an Algebraic Equation in Microsoft Word use the built in Microsoft Equation 3.0 add in.
  • Click where you want to insert the equation.
  • On the Insert menu, click Object, and then click the Create New tab.
  • In the Object type box, click Microsoft Equation 3.0.
  • If Microsoft Equation Editor is not available, you may need to install it. If you originally installed Microsoft Office from a network file server or from a shared folder, you must install Equation Editor from that location. If you installed Office from a CD-ROM, you must install Equation Editor from the disc.
  • Click OK.
  • Build the equation by selecting symbols from the Equation toolbar and by typing variables and numbers. From the top row of the Equation toolbar, you can choose from more than 150 mathematical symbols. From the bottom row, you can choose from a variety of templates or frameworks that contain symbols such as fractions, integrals, and summations.
  • If you need help, click Equation Editor Help Topics on the Help menu.
  • To return to Microsoft Word, click the Word document anywhere.

PSCAD
Whether you are working on Electrical Power, Research with Analysis, Power Electronics, Alternative Energy, Electric Transportation and lastly Energy Utilities, you need and will want this tool for your toolbox. They offer a painless sign-up without a lot of questions. Starts out by downloading the Student Version and from there you add certain compilers and other add-ins to get the more beefy version. If moving electrons around as an electromotive force is your forte then you might really benefit from this find.

I hope you got something out of this massive effort to find things you can use. Consider it my donation to all of you hard working guys and gals. Here is hoping that someone, somewhere, at sometime will be happy that I wrote this article so I can be happy about it all the time. Drop me a line if you liked it and even if you didn't.

Email:Richard Williams

Once again, I dedicate my article to two wonderful mentors in my life, Mr. Joe Greco and Louise Elliot.

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