Affordable CAD

I recently reached the point where I needed to find affordable CAD (Computer Aided Design) software. I’m primarily an electronics designer, not mechanical. When I was young my drafting courses used a drafting table, paper, T-square, triangles etc. My first circuit board layouts were done on mylar, using tape and stick-on pads. When I started using circuit layout software I learned also to use it for simple drawings with lines and circles.

I’d never used nor studied CAD, so my search comparisons were based strictly on stated capabilities, reviews, references and, of course, cost. I wanted to pay hundreds, not thousands. I found TurboCAD and selected one of its lower-cost versions, about $200 at the time (2017). I then became too busy to learn and use it. Now, I’ve started.

TurboCAD, even the lower priced version, has so many features, functions, settings and capabilities that learning it has been a mind-blowing experience for this novice. I suspect an experienced CAD user would find it less difficult. They have many excellent on-line training videos: I’ve studied several of them. My approach is to open TurboCAD, start the video, then pause it while I test doing what they’ve just said. One thing I’ve learned is, the videos move pretty quickly. Pause, go back, repeat and write notes. My problem has been, I later remember what they did but not where to find it in the many, many menus. The “help” part of the program is not very good.

I’ve not yet gone beyond basic two-dimensional drawing. Other capabilities include 3-dimensional views and architectural drafting. I’ll probably never study nor use all it can do.

I’m writing this only to share what’s worked for me in case you, too, are looking for affordable CAD. It’s not a recommendation or endorsement. TurboCAD has not been involved in writing this, although I will share it with them after it’s posted. I’m not a drafter or mechanical designer, and it’s the only CAD I’ve ever used. There may be similar offerings from other companies, but I’ve never used them.

If you’re interested, the site is They offer several versions, with a wide range of prices. I’m using TurboCAD Deluxe, a lower-priced offering.

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