Why Use Design Software

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Wynand N, Nov 6, 2004.

  1. Wynand N
    Joined: Oct 2004
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    Wynand N Retired Steelboatbuilder

    Most of the times it is possible by just looking at boats, to figure out what software was used for the design. Althought you have some control over the design, the software still uses the programmers model for the end result. For this reason I aviod yacht design software like the plague.

    I am designing yachts since 1992 and have two commercial design software programs, well known American and Australian versions aswell as AutoCad 2000 and although they do have some merits, drawing, hydrostatics, etc. they are lying in my deskdrawer.
    I designed my own software on Excel to do (assits) all the hydrostatics, mast calcs etc etc for me.

    Nothing beats the feeling of pencil on paper design. It has soul and you have total freedom over your design.
    The anticipation when sitting down in front of that piece of blank paper with your design brief, seeing it take shape, from the lines drawing down to sailplan. All the fustration and *##*#! when reshaping hull or recalculating data manually is worth it when you are finished and satisfied with the end result.
    This is what makes you a yacht or boat designer.

    Software is only a tool. Add in some numbers or minupilate a spline curve and voila, you have designed a boat. How convenient, anyone can do that. How many young people knows what Simpsons multipliers are, calculate disp, righting moments Cp etc to name but a few.

    My advice to people who would want to become a yacht designer is to forget about software initially, get a good drawing board, get some excellent design hand books, and take it from there. Or enroll with a yacht design school.

    Wynand Nortje
  2. SailDesign
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    SailDesign Old Phart! Stay upwind..

    Why use design software? Because Word just can't draw a fair line. :)

    Actually, I use a computer to design boats because I CAN get the hull I want. I started with pencil and paper, used them exclusively for 10 years, and then migrated to computer. Was it simple to achieve the shapes I wanteed? No. Is it worth it after all this time? Definitely Yes.
    Since you can tell which package was used for which hull, how 'bout this one. What am I using?


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  3. Gilbert
    Joined: Aug 2004
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    Gilbert Senior Member

    Hi Wynand,
    I can relate to what you're saying.
    My reasons for using a CAD program are (1) if I decide to change something on a design that I've manually done an ink drawing of I don't have to redraw the entire drawing with the attendant risk of ink blobs (start over AGAIN) and (2) since I can draw full size on the computer I don't have to crawl around on my loft floor for days, weeks, or however long it takes to get things right for the full size of the boat.
    The down side is related to the small size of the screen and it's resolution plus "How good is it to stare at a CRT for so long?" and "What is the GETNUM funtion of your chair?" This last I mitigate with a gel cushion rather successfully.
    And a final comment, I was never all that comfortable, physically, bending over my drafting table.
    I don't have any of the stand alone boat design software packages. I'm a typical, poor, have to watch the pennies mad boat designer.
  4. redcoopers
    Joined: Dec 2003
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    redcoopers Member

    I can also invert a 1000x1000 matrix by hand, but I have other plans for this next year...

    I think the answer is automation and efficiency. A good package should free up the details so that the designer can see the "big picture."

    Why does Boeing use computers to design airplanes? The answer is that you can have 100 qualified engineers working on a project, or 20 engineers and 80 drafters. This isn't to say that these engineers will make fewer mistakes, it's simply about efficiency.

  5. Wynand N
    Joined: Oct 2004
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    Wynand N Retired Steelboatbuilder

    Thanks guys for your views. :)

    My last two paragraphs were in essence my message. With so many yacht design software programs available, and so many "new cyberspace aspirant designers" around, I will pose the question again. How many of this new breed can actually design a sailing vessel from scratch, do all the necessary calcs from disp to stability graph without the aid of software.

    Needless to say, this question excludes design school candidates and self taught designers (the hard way) but address the new instant computer designer.
    Do they know what causes a sailing boat to have leehelm or how sail plan lead affects that to name just a very simple fact. What about form stability against ballast stability, desirable hull design features for going to windward or downwind, properly designed rig with the correct inertias and mast loadings. Simple things that makes a sailing vessel good or bad.
    This only comes from learning the basics and building on it through experience, and only then, yes, go for software as a design aid for the merits pointed out by fellow members.

    Remember, software cannot think our solve problems. You have to feed it and for that you need to know the basics. (not applicable to old hands)

    :!: As for drawing a fair line / hull, must we split hairs. All that beautiful classics from, Stevens, Herreshoff, Cherubini to name but a few of the real great designers, were drawn by hand and have arguably the fairest lines and most beautiful sheers. Real individualism and class in today's look-a-like boats.

    A fiar computer generated line do not make the boat, that's up to the builders precision. As with everything in yachting, nothing is absolute; every wave is different, winds changes all the time (thats why I frown on stability and prediction programs) etc, and the same applies to building your dream design, especially in steel.
    I once build a 65ft steel hull outside, could not fit in my workshop, and believe it or not, LOA measurement in the morning and midday (summertime) in the sun differed by 35mm or about 1.5 inches. Measurement with quality stanley tape measure kept at a temputure of about 23 degrees celsuis.
    There goes that perfect cyberspace generated fairing line. :D

    Ps. Steve, I mention most of the times it is possible to see, looking at the hull forms (sailing hulls), which software was used. Not always. As for your photo, I would take a change and say the software used look like Rhino.... :?: Hope I am right. Please, no further challanges.

    People, be fair with me, I am a sailing man, dislike powerboats, trawlers etc and have never drawn any of those.

    Fair winds

    Wynand Nortje
  6. SailDesign
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    SailDesign Old Phart! Stay upwind..

    I was glad to see the ":)" in your reply.

    I think most of the "new breed" are as capable of designing a boat "from scratch" as Ford's engineers are of dsigning a car from scratch. Read that how you will, but there are millions if Firds driving around quite nicely. :)

    As far as the other stuff (lead, lee helm, etc.) they are probably just as knowledgable as the "old school" crowd, because they probably have been sailing most of their lives instead of leaning over drawing boards making fair lines.

    Your stretchy-boat problem shouldn't have created unfair lines, just a smaller or larger boat. :)

    Rhino was the rendering package, yes. The actual hull was created elsewhere. I have always felt that the mark of the experienced designer (not "good" necessarily, but experienced) is that they can create the shapes they want in whatever medium they are using, from pencil to computer.

  7. fcfc

    fcfc Guest

    All depends on what you think the naval architect role is.
    As for me, doing a pretty rendering, or fair lines is a very minor part of the job.

    When you speak of CoG or scantling, it is bit more important, And the most important for me, before speaking of wind and waves, is that the boat MUST be BUILDABLE with a REASONNABLE amount of effort.

    I have seen plans of a known architect, where the lines were good, the structure was correct, but the buildability was an awful nightmare. And where simply modifying the "engeenering", without modifying lines, strength or weight, reduces the build time by more than a factor 3 the man hours needed for building.

    You can find a 3% difference in speed between designs, but a 300% difference in build time.

    And for what I call buildability, I have not seen much helpful software.
  8. Wynand N
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    Wynand N Retired Steelboatbuilder

    fcfc, to are okay, I am with you - buildability is the buzzword.

    As an ex yacht builder I can relate to your views. Some designers have never build a yacht, hence the difficult ones.

    I have build 18 yachts, (8m - 20m of various designers) in the past and here are some highlights.

    The easiest to build was the Van De Stadt designed 34 & 40ft frameless multi chined designs. A 34ft complete bare hull and deck, welded took me 3 working weeks to complete.

    The best steel hulls to build, were the Dudley Dix designed 38, 57 & 65ft. Highlights indeed, all of them raduise chined. For ease of construction, speed, nothing beats old Dudley.

    1991 Myself and 4 helpers lofted, framed, plated and welded the Dix65 up in 6 working weeks, excluding weekends, (fishing time) ready for turning over. These great Dix yachts were all designed with pencil and paper. The Dix65 is indeed a very beautifull yacht. This yacht can be viewed at Dudleys site. Note the fair hull plating without any filler after primer coat. The true sign of a pencil sharp designer and capable builder.

    Not to embarress the designers of the two difficult ones, I'll keep my big trap shut, but let it be know they are from USA and Australia.

    Back to designs: no matter how fair or accurate the computer offsets are, any builder worth his reputation, will loft the lines. Full stop.

    Wynand Nortje
  9. Sean Herron
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    Sean Herron Senior Member

    Can someone find my chair please..


    'Steve' uses the sensitive application of vertical stems and otherwise psuedo traditional inner canal British hull definition software probably offered by some programming student who got fed up with David Vacanti...

    I like the big plastic fat white egg software that was spit out by New Wave - no pun intended - it was the 80's...

    I have given up - I am crazy - I am not as smart as my mother told me I am - I think I must let go of the fat egg...

    Cant seem to find my chair - fell out from under me like a shot...

    I gave up on sharp pencils long ago - dangerous things in your fist point end up when you finally flop after the hours spent doodling - that and the temporary suicidal tendencies from same - add in the chair thing - odd how it happens on Sunday nights like clock work... :)

    Dudley Dix has a computer - or two...

    "1991 Myself and 4 helpers lofted, framed, plated and welded the Dix65 up in 6 working weeks" - yeah well - just now I folded a piece of paper onto itself 26 times - yeah - by myself in 10 minutes - so nah nah... :)

  10. MikeJohns
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    MikeJohns Senior Member

    Wynand N

    Don't worry about Sean he's been sedated!

    I have a very buildable 46 foot (LWL) 56 OD single chine ketch design. The design brief was for easy to build, I had a retired steel boat builder excited as a school boy watch the magic of creation on a computer. From his pet hates I learnt a lot .

    I find I can sketch lines then use a digitiser to input them into a cad package where I fair the lines and pull everything into a nice 3d form.
    The great CAD experience is pulling up an old design and reworking it to suit without starting anew.

    Back before computers could do CAD, we used all sorts of mechanical calculators on the drawings to find the vital statistics. These devices were Just another form of computer. Accuracy could be out a bit too. The modern hydrostatics data you get so easily from the PC is a dream come true, it takes the drudgery away and lets you be more productive.

    Also full true stability curves take away the need for the guestimating that used to occur in this area.

    I wouldn't recommend starting a student off on anachronistic full paper drawings other than concept sketches , the PC is here to stay. But I would avoid the hull design programs and stick to a 3D CAD package if you want anything 'different'.
  11. SailDesign
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    SailDesign Old Phart! Stay upwind..

    I want whatever he's on. :)
    Sounds like a nice way to view the world...

  12. SeaDrive
    Joined: Feb 2004
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    SeaDrive Senior Member

    Skill and talent are more important than technology.

    Just a comment: You can draw a fair curve with pencil and paper, but if you are going from a 18" drawing to a 50' hull, you better have a check on the smoothness of your line somewhere. Herreshoff and the others mentioned depended on the loftsman.

    Second (and last) comment: Pencil and paper is a technology of its own. Some things are easy and others hard with manual drafting just as with any CAD system you care to name. (Quick re-draw is one that has already been mentioned.) Seamless transfer of data to computer-controlled cutting machines does improve buildability.
  13. Sean Herron
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    Sean Herron Senior Member

    Where was I...


    Man I don't know what all that was about - good thing I did not have to drive anywhere...

    The fat egg is the Raven 22 - stuffing a 6 foot body into a 22 foot boat vertically - seems to be driving me to drink - or to drink more...

    I like computers full stop - mainly because I live in 880 square feet of condo and my wife has this tendancy to clean up any mess I make - namely chucking it - so a hard drive comes in handy until I am ready to go to the plotter...

    Plus - if I used a pencil and eraser all the time I would have to give up drinking so I could afford erasers - my cats eat them or lose them under furniture... :)


  14. artemis
    Joined: Oct 2004
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    artemis Steamboater

    Old and New is a "good marriage"

    While Phil Bolger (designer of some of the nicest - and ugliest - boats around) does not use a computeer for design; his wife does. He comes up with an idea and - sometimes - turns it over to her to draw up. When she's done, Phil takes the computer generated "hard copy" (paper) and "fairs things out" to what HE believes is a proper design. Getcher self a wife with a good eye and computer skills. What a team!

  15. D'ARTOIS
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    D'ARTOIS Senior Member

    Wynand's Thesis

    Wynand, I agree for 100% with you, with the exeption that a computer comes in later, when the hull lines are known.
    In Holland, we were about the first to use computer-softwarte, introduced at that time by Mr Van Oossanen's company Mc Surf to be operated from an Apple PC. At that time, eearly '90s, we were producing approx 45 motorcruisers a year and a little computerization showed to be very helpful for drawing everything except the hull and scantlings.

    When I designed Titania, the principal required something special. The first set-ups were done by hand, later on we used the computer to do the details but again, for a first set-up nothing beats a large drawing board. You cannot draw a 200 'hull line "just like that" in a computer.
    The first set-up of the "Esther-class" frigate, I did also by hand.
    It's just a matter of what you feel. Of course, there might be designers using also for their very basic work computers.
    At Boeing they do........ ********!
    If they have to make a brand new design everything is done by hand, starting with artist's impressions, modelling using huge libraries of already designed wing-profiles, yes, then comes a computer. But not for the preliminary work.
    You cannot from scratch design a 400' frigate in a computer as a total concept. I used to control the sheerlines of computerized designs finding that they did not run very smooth, defects that have to be eliminated on the yard's workfloor! But technology is changing fast. The craftmanship from the 20's and 30's of the last century cannot be found today.
    Olin Stephens used to set up the frames for the famous J boats just by pointing with his hand, there, there and there.
    Klaas Gouwerok, one of the best hull builders Holland have, used to work just till recently without the aid of computers.
    True, nowadays a computer is essential for speed, efficiency and costs.
    But a com,puter doesn't make beautiful boats, they help only, but the creational factor is still the master's hand.
    True, or not?
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