LEGO CAD: Get Started!

Hi folks! CAD program installations and model rendering are not very fun experiences for someone new to this neck of the woods. It could take a lot of steam from one’s enthusiasm reserves to even figure out how to get started. Since some of the manual installation steps are a bit unclear and/or hard to follow from one site’s page to another… I have finally started to do something about it. As a Host in the Official LEGO MindStorms Forum over the last 8 years I'm often faced with repeat questions and pleas for help. CAD installation help has always been one of the biggest topics. I feel strongly for (and cannot emphasize enough) the importance of rendering any creation and recording it with a CAD program before it is lost forever. The possibility of saving something forever is worth a billion times its electronic weight in gold. Not to mention the completely invaluable worth renderings offer as learning tools when generously shared with the world of fellow builders. So, please use it…it is free for the taking and only costs a little to share. It really isn’t that hard!

This is my attempt at compiling a Quick Install Guide for the essential LEGO CAD tools. It is the first document in a series that I am working on. I am not completely satisfied with it yet. But, please review it and provide some feedback. I have a few worries but will take on any harshness that may follow. Sadly, (well sort of sadly) it is only for the Windows based installations of the programs I feel are the best. MAC folks will have to fend for themselves. I blame my Father for my unfortunate Windows addiction (a habit I wish to crack someday).

For the "LEGO CAD Quick Install Guide"..Click HERE to download a PDF version. If you need a different file type email me directly or offer a clue in the comments area.

Thanks! Christopher


I will say that there is an "All-in-one" installer at that installs everything you could possibly imagine (LDraw + tools'wise). But, this installer has never worked cleanly for me on my PCs (7 different old and new Windows OS'ers). It was/is the first of it's kind and has not seen much in the way of updates. Try it if you dare. Or, stick to the tried and true method of manual installations that are sure to work.

Unknown said…

You're a hero by having taken up this task! I'm cocksure that many many people will appreciate the results of your efforts.

As for the file format: how about a pdf? It's a quasi-standard document interchange format for the following reasons:

- the reader is freely available (with installation a child's play)

- the file size is much smaller compared to a WORD file

- the document is read-only (which may be of relevance for the author in case of re-distribution)

- it's much less virus-prone than a WORD document (as a matter of fact, virus filters of many companies are blocking WORD files)

Last but not least a pdf can be created easily from a WORD file.

Matthias Paul
MAtthias, Thank You for your comments! Man, it really slipped my mind. I will exchange it now. Thanks!

David Levy said…
Great work! I will certainly be using this as my guide as I'll need to install these components an many computers.

Here is something that would make a good addition to your guide:
LPub It's a publishing tool that converts ldraw files to html. An alternative to uploading ldraw files - esp. for the people who want to see others designs, but are unwilling or unable to install ldraw .

Thanks again for creating the guide!

Anonymous said…
I use the installer that is included with Kevin Clague's LEGO Software Power Tools. This installs everything you need (LDraw, MLCAD, LPUB, POV-RAY, etc.). Syngress has discounted this book ($15 is a steal) so you may want to take a look at it and compare it to what you're writing. These freely available tools for LEGO CAD are truly amazing and it's great that you're helping more people to be able to take advantage of them.

LPub is cool, but it still needs LDraw, L3P and POV-Ray to convert the LDraw renderings into HTML pictures, etc. LPub is included in the second part of my install guides. The "Installing Advanced LEGO CAD Rendering Tools" guide. Which I'm working on right now. I will then start covering the How-To-Use the software guide series.

Yes, I know of Kevin Clague's wonderful book. It's a fine read (e-read for me). However, it is getting a little out-dated being published January 2003. Some important updates have occured since then and getting that stuff in order is a bit of a hassle and still needs a clear path to follow. While the information in the book is solid and still very useful it, unfortunately, doesn't cover several things I will be covering in my Guide Series.

David Levy said…
"LPub is cool, but it still needs LDraw, L3P and POV-Ray to convert the LDraw renderings into HTML pictures..."

Yes but once the instructions are converted to html, the rest of the world can view them without having to install anything. (assuming that the creator uploaded the html files to a repository rather then the ldraw file ( or maybe both would be a good idea ).

David, You're right with that. Kevin's LPub is the best option if your not an official LEGO instruction book creator! And, both the pictures and the file(s) would be good because if the files are not created properly (ie. some areas are not showing exactly how to build) some difficulty could be experienced. So, having the file on-hand one could go into the structure (hiding parts and such) and find out how a part is placed.

Anonymous said…
I need a copy of it in pdf format or anything because the link you posted no longer works. You can email it to me at

Thanks in advance
Thanks for the note. The link is fixed now.


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