Jul 11, 2007

LDD is HERE!

Lego Digital Designer with NXT parts...

Check out the news here. Download and try it out here.

From the news: "The latest release of LDD has all the LEGO elements found in the MINDSTORMS NXT set #8527 so you can build robotic inventions in 3-D. Also included are three sample MINDSTORMS models to help get you started. They are exclusive attachments you can add to Tribot, and they can only be found on this version of LDD."

Please be aware that the installer for the Mac version is having some issues and is being worked on...

UPDATE: Here is a link to download a 5MB Word document containing a simple walkthrough/tutorial for using LDD and some of the basic controls. I may add more details to it, so please let me know what you think should be added. Thanks. - Jim

27 comments:

Christopher R. Smith (Littlehorn) said...

This is a very nice way to draw more people into CAD creation and model recording! It is extremely important to digitally render models that we have spent a huge amount of time perfecting. Don't let them be lost forever! Use LDD or MLCad.

This LDD version was a Beta Test bubble burster for me. Oh well.

Chris

Matthias Paul Scholz said...

Well, it somewhat needs getting used to that the software on the first start tells you that a newer version is available when you think you have downloaded the most recent version yet.
Does that happen for me only?

Yep, beta testing that wonderful baby was fun. :-)

Matthias Paul Scholz said...

Oops - the webserver seems to be somewhat too busy presently... lol!

Did bricks download work for you?

Jim Kelly said...

It took some playing around, but I've got it working now. Yes, I had to download and install the "update" and then it went through the installation process again!

Then, it informed me it couldn't connect to the web server, but after saying OK to offline, I shutdown LDD, restarted it and then it downloaded an 18MB palette of stuff. Then I opened it, clicked on the NXT tab and I have the ability to view the 3 sample models or start a new model.

Jim

Matthias Paul Scholz said...

Dear me, that will drive a lot of people mad. And maybe quickly prevent them from using it.

I know how good the software is, but, for truth to tell, if I downloaded a software and it behaves that way on start already, I never return to it...

Not in this case, though: I know from beta testing that this LDD version is a charm.

Yet, when I say "Ok" to offline mode, it crashes. Always. :-(

Maniac of Mayhem said...

How does this compare with Google SketchUp? If I already have that, do I need this?

Brian Davis said...

Well, ultimately with this, if LEGO adds the MINDSTORMS type parts to LEGO Factory (here's hoping), you could then take other people's LDD Technic models, and order the parts you need on-line. Additionally, if LDD filetypes get added to NXTlog as allowable uploads, you could finally have very detailed designs availible on-line at NXTlog for your (and everyone elses!) creations. Also, the collision detection and manipulation on LDD is really well done (I've not used Sketch-up, some I'm not sure what collision detection it does... does it?).

Personally, I'll be using LDD more and more - even in the beta form, it was very good, and now I've got something that I can run fairly simply right on my Mac, and detail my models. Wonderful!

--
Brian Davis
(who has not, it should be mentioned, downloaded or tried to install the latest release yet... what are the models included?)

Laurens valk said...

I have a short question: Is it possible in LDD to rotate the NXT motor shafts?

Brian,
Yes it does have collision detection. I have modeled one robot in Google SketchUp. I am making CAD instructions for my NXT brick sorter right now. The way it exports the PNG files is very good. They look almost just like official LEGO instructions :-).

This collision detection doesn't always work. I might be doing something wrong in here though...

The building instructions are finished. Currently I am at step 36 out of 70 of putting them in a PDF file...

I'll let you know when I am done.

Laurens said...

Oh, I forgot to ask:
Is LDD suitable for making building instructions?

David Levy said...

Laurens,
Yes you can rotate the motor shafts with the hinge-tool.

"Building instructions"?
Yes it has a facilty for that but the results are not that great. It's better to step through and take screen shots.
David

Guy said...

Playing a little with this new toy I have two quick questions:
1. Any way to reduce the 'light'? The Brick looks too bright on my screen, as well as any other part.
2. Anyone has experience importing LDraw models? The ones I tried (with worm gears and other parts all of the NXT set) didn't import well (it removed many pieces..).

Guy Ziv

Brian Davis said...

LDD will automaticly make building instructions, which I think are actually amazingly good - considering that it's figuring it out from scratch (not from how you assembled the virtual model). It still makes mistakes, but it's not too bad. Is stepping through a screenshoting it better? Absolutely - then it's completely under your control.

I don't know of a way to "turn down the light", unfortunately. The import process as well is going to have that issue that Guy mentioned, as LDD can only model parts in it's parts library... and unlike LDraw (with a huge parts library built over years be many many people), LDD is (right now) limited in this regard. But I suspect it will get better.

As to rotating, yes, there are ways to rotating elements (the aformentioned "hinge tool"), and although it takes some getting used to, it works fairly well.

--
Brian Davis

David Levy said...

Brian,
I was referring to the creation of building instructions for external use ( people that don't have LDD installed). This can be done with the LDD HTML BI generator which still appears to render pieces way too small for identification. As a result, I would recommend the use of screen shots.

However, if someone already has the LDD installed, then I'd say the LDD BI mode would be preferable.

David Levy said...

Has anyone had problems installing this from scratch? I had no problem with the upgrade on my laptop but when attempting to run this on the school's machines, they just hung at 50% cpu usage. I am eager to use this in my camp next week and time is running out.

These are new xp machines with 2g ram with 1.86 ghz cpu

graphics card dell 1707fpv on 256mb ati radeon x1300pro

Any advice would be appreciated.

thanks
David

Jonathan Daudelin said...

By the way, although the system requirements for Windows say you need a Windows XP OS and will even give you an error if you install it on Vista, it still works fine on it.

This is some pretty neat software!

-Jonathan

Matthias Paul Scholz said...

David,

I always get an error not on installation (which went apparently well) but on starting LDD: It keeps telling me "an error has occurred" and shuts down (hm..not very significant).

Am I the only one with that problem, I wonder?

Matthias (desperate)

Jim Kelly said...

Matthias,

I had that exact problem on the very last "beta" of the software - not sure if this was the solution, but I did finally get it working by doing the following:

1. complete uninstall of the "failed" installed version.

2. Manual deletion of ANY LEGO Company folders found in the c:\program files\ folder. There was also a remnant somewhere else that I had to search for and delete it... I think it was another LEGO Company folder that contained the preferences.ini folder or something like that.

3. I downloaded a completely new executable for installation and ran it.

4. I think I did the above twice and it finally started working.

I know this isn't very helpful and doesn't really explain what the problem was, but I think the moral is "keep trying" - good luck.

Jim

Matthias Paul Scholz said...

Jim,

THAT DID IT! THAT DID IT!
*jumping around and laughing like a man possessed*

Thank you very much! :-)
I owe you something ... (again)

David Levy said...

Yes it is a thrill when you finally get the upgrade to work isn't it?

The university machines that I installed the new version never had prior versions on them - yet I'm still dead in the water.

As soon as you try to do something, they just hang at 50% cpu usage. I am eager to use this in my camp next week and time is running out.

These are new xp machines with 2g ram with 1.86 ghz cpu

graphics card dell 1707fpv on 256mb ati radeon x1300pro


-david

Jim Kelly said...

David,

Sorry you're having such trouble.

1. I know that I had to upgrade my video driver at one point during the beta... would you have time to try and update one PC's video driver and report back?

2. Before installing, can you disable virus and malware checkers? That 50% processor thing occurred a while back when I tried to install some freeware and my virus checker was stuck spinning and wouldn't let the install continue.

Jim

David Levy said...

Jim,

I'm not sure if I want to mess with the college's video drivers. They are new machines so I'm under the impression that their drivers are up to snuff... but who knows.
( funny... they all run AutoCaD)

It could be a virus or firewall problem.... but I did install successfully. The program hung after I started it , clicked on the MINDSTORMS tab, and then clicked the start freeform editing button.
I'm going to go back tomorrow and try a few things related to virus and malware checkers?.

thanks for the advice.
David

Guy Ziv said...

Ain't meaning ruin the party, but LDD version 2.2 is a great software for building relatively simple models, but for large assemblies is lacks some important features of other lego CAD. In particular it does not have a 'Group' action (which let you later move the group as a whole, rotate it, clone it etc. I KNOW you can mark several objects and move them, but it is not the same. For starters you need to select them each time you want to move the group. This can be annoying especialy if you forgot to mark some tiny pins, and you find them floating in space...) and an 'Ungroup' option. It also can't allow you to make a 'submodel' and add it multiple times into the main model as a single entity. It should have an 'Advanced' user level which give more control on building instructions sequence and view angles. Finally, it has a limited number of available parts, and these can't be extended by community work. I REALLY like the graphical output (better then any other CAD program I know of) but I don't know if I am gonna make complex robots with this program.

Guy Ziv

David Levy said...

Guy,

You are correct.. There is no comparison to the other CAD tools. However, I can teach a third grader to produce a model with LDD in a very short time. The biggest challenge with the LDD is developing the proper hand eye coordination ( esp. with the hinge tool)

Again. no competition to MCLAD and the like. But for anyone previously unwilling to go beyond BI's constructed from photos, I'd strongly urge you to try this out.

I only wish the thing would work on the machines at my camp. I've got a 3 to 1 ratio of kids to robots and LDD would help fill in the downtime.

Some specific replies to your last posting

1) "it does not have a 'Group' action (which let you later move the group as a whole, rotate it, clone it etc."
I actually complained about this during the beta but then found that it had a 'select by connected' mode. The fastest way to get there is to hit 'shift-V' until the selection cursor shows "*".


2) "It also can't allow you to make a 'submodel' and add it multiple times into the main model as a single entity."

I've only been able to do this by saving the submodel as a separate LXF file and importing it later
- not the best solution.

3)"It should have an 'Advanced' user level which give more control on building instructions sequence and view angles."

Totally agree... it's way to arbitrary in that respect. Taking your own screen shots and manipulating them in another editor seems like the best alternative.

Guy Ziv said...

David,

The Select Connected feature is nice, completely undocumented in the User Manual. In fact, all the 'Select' modes are not documented, which is a pity. It is not exactly a substitute for grouping, but it makes life easier for sure. Still, if you have a large subassembly which you allready "connected" to the main body, and now wish to move it aside (for manual BI, for example, of for repositioning) the Select Connected will select the whole model.
As for the import - again, if the imported model was a 'group', this would have been much better. I would strongly vote to raise these issues to whoever was in charge of the beta program.
It would have been nice to have also the 'hide'/'unhide' options of MLCad. This way you can manually build BI by hiding parts and create model images for each step. This also could've been made an 'Advanced' user option, with some user level control in the preferences window.
Another issue - anyone knows why the Paint tool does not work in the mindsensors theme but does work in the factory theme?

I guess this program is not intended for AFoL as much as it is for kids ;-D

David Levy said...

yeeha!! I finally got LDD to run on the campus machines? All I had to do was upgrade Quicktime from 7.1 to 7.2.

Anonymous said...

I'm trying just to enter one of the robots from the 9797 manual and I'm having great difficulty connecting items. On pg 53, i need an axle with a small gear to slide across the motor and mesh with a larger gear. I tried putting sm gear on axle first but am having trouble sliding it in, then sm gear "fell" off. LDD places the gear on the opposite side of the axle and slides fine on that side but how can I change Z level to opposite side.

Is there a trick to this?
thanks.

David Levy said...

Anonymous,
Last I heard the LDD is stocked with pieces from the 8527 Retail Kit. Although you may not find all the pieces you need for the 9797 Edu Kit vehicle you may be able to improvise by substituting similar pieces.

The Axle / gear problem:
It sounds like you need to rotate the gear so the teeth fall inline with the other gear.
You may be better off logging in to the forum and posting a topic here
Attaching an LCX file to your question will also help.

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