I have been working with Sketchup for a few years and have enjoyed creating my own designs and then cutting them out on my CNC machines. There is something really exciting about seeing your own design take flight and then have others build your airplane as well. Since then I have had a number of people ask me how to use Sketchup in creating plans for model aircraft. So I have decided to make a bit of a tutorial on what I have done in the hopes that it can help others play with designing aircraft as well.
To get started you need to first download Sketchup. They have both a paid version and a free version. The free version is all you need to get going. If you get into wanting to share your designs with other CAD users that don’t have sketchup you might find a need for the pro version or if your going to use it to develop commercial items for sale then you should also purchase the full version. However for now don’t worry about that and go grab the free version called Sketchup Make.
Once you have it downloaded and installed you will be able to open up the program to get started. The first thing you will see is the welcome screen. This screen will have the version information as well as any license information. You will also see a couple of tabs with the third being Templates. The template will setup your work area for a default style. These vary from Architectural, to engineering as well as others. The one I prefer is Product Design and Woodworking – Inches. This will setup the workspace for working in smaller dimensions which will be best for designing model aircraft. Select this template and click on the button “Start Using Sketchup”.
Now that your into Sketchup you will see the default view with a relatively blank screen. Across the top are the menus and toolbars. It’s best to start by exploring what the various tools do before jumping into a project.
The basic tools include:
The Select tool will allow you to select items, groups or components to manipulate with the other tools below.
The Erase tool allows you to clear unwanted items from the working area.
The Line tool is used to draw straight lines between points.
The Square tool will create a square or rectangle 2 dimensional object with a face.
The Circle tool will create circles with the size controlled by the length of the radius. The Circle will default to having a face as well as the other shapes.
The polygon will create a 6 sided polygon shape with a face. The size is controlled by the radius just like the circle.
The Arc tool will create an arc based on the distance from two points and then the distance of the bulge from the line created by the two points.
The Push Pull tool will take a face and created a 3 dimensional object. It can be pushed to any length specified.
The Offset tool will create a duplicate of an edge at a specified offset distance.
The move tool can be used to move lines, objects, groups or components. It can also be used to copy an object leaving the original in place.
The rotate tool is used to spin objects about the 3 axis.
The scale tool will re-size an object either in a single axis or uniformly in all axis.
The Measure tool is used to measure the distance of a line or objects as well as creating guide points and guidelines.
For more information on the basic tools listed above check out my video on how the tools work and interact with objects within Sketchup.
Part Two – Customizing Sketchup for RC
Feel free to leave comments below if you have questions or e-mail me direct using the following contact form.