CAD Course
(revised 08/25/2007)


Why did we choose Rhino over other packages limited to naval architecture or over general design software?
Can one produce regular working drawings that can be printed out for shop use within Rhino?
Is it alright to take your CAD Course even though I am a student at a competing school?
Should I do the YDS main curriculum entirely using manual drafting, entirely in CAD, or some combination of the two?
Should I take the Computer Assisted Design Course before, after, or during the YDS main curriculum?
Will I need the special naval architecture plug-ins to add functions to Rhino for yacht design work?


Why did we choose Rhino over other packages limited to naval architecture or over general design software?  Rhino is the single package capable of handling the design of yachts and small craft, the normal calculations specific to naval architecture, the production of working drawings, and the production of files for cutting parts, jigs, and even complete plugs and molds using computer controlled equipment. It is also possible to do analysis of the basic engineering characteristics of shapes for use in other programs. Rhino files can be used directly by an increasing variety of special purpose programs such as computer numeric cutting (CNC), finite element analysis (FEA), and computational fluid dynamics (CFD).  Further there are an increasing number of special purpose "plug-ins" which work within Rhino to add or streamline special naval architectural, structural analysis, production, and performance prediction functions.  While one must be careful as some of these purport to add functions already inherent in Rhino, there are some very good plug-ins.  We suggest NOT buying naval architectural plug-ins without consulting with us first as some actually restrict your ability to get the most power out of the software.  Rhino is easy to use and more cost effective than other packages or combinations of packages. Further it was rapidly adopted by yacht and small craft naval architectural firms and stock and custom boatbuilding firms of all sizes world wide.  There is no doubt that it has become the standard for use in all phases of marine design and construction. Those trained in marine drafting using Rhino are in great demand in the industry today.

Can one produce regular working drawings that can be printed out for shop use within Rhino?   Yes, you can.  Curiously the Rhino tutorials do not stress this. Indeed they only demonstrate the relatively primitive automatic 2d drawing function which is quick and useful but not as versatile as the methods we teach.  However by transferring information to particular layers, projecting or pulling objects to the construction planes, and adding borders, notes, different line types, shading with varying line widths, etc., you can produce very nice, and very compelling technical drawings.  It is now possible to produce higher quality and more artistic drawings with CAD than is reasonable to try to create manually.

Is it alright to take your CAD Course even though I am a student at a competing school?  Yes, of course. YDS was founded to help our profession as a whole to raise our standards of knowledge.  We don't exclude anyone.  One of our competitors does require the use of CAD in much of their curriculum but does not teach it, and there is certainly no need for them to.  We are happy to help out everyone who wishes to acquire an in depth knowledge of the use of Rhino for yacht and small craft naval architecture and we do not desire to take students away from other schools.

Should I do the YDS main curriculum entirely using manual drafting, entirely in CAD, or some combination of the two?   We now encourage students to do the main YDS curriculum entirely in CAD.  It is too frustrating these days to try to find and purchase no longer manufactured manual drafting equipment.  CAD is now dominant in yacht designing since Rhino came on the scene.  Before then CAD was taking over much more slowly.  CAD is even changing, for the first time, the nature of the profession. Instead of the builder being responsible for lofting and pattern production, the designer increasingly tends to do everything right up to the point where machines or people start to cut materials to make building jigs or molds.  With the growing presence of firms which will prefabricate interior kits, make molds and mold parts, etc., the role of the “builder” has become much more that of kit assembler.  We are just at the beginning of this era.  CAD is especially compelling for people living on boats or people who are going to need to work from a wheelchair, reclining chair, or powered adjustable “hospital” type bed due to various physical limitations.
            Most students take the "CAD Course" first and then the YDS main curriculum.  We have reached a point in the history of yacht design where, it has become too severe a handicap to not know CAD if one wishes to design boats.
            Even though manual drafting has become obsolete, the basic mental attitudes and conventions of how you define and conceive shapes and think about them come from the experience of hundreds of years of manual drafting development and there are still many times, even when using CAD, that we find ourselves with a problem too tricky for the built in functions of CAD and find ourselves essentially duplicating the manual methods on screen to make sure we are getting the results that we want.
            Rhino has taken over the entire yacht and small craft design industry. 

Should I take the “Computer Assisted Design Course” before, after, or during taking the YDS main curriculum?  Remember that starting both the study of yacht design and the study of CAD at the same time would mean learning two relatively straight forward but quite deep subjects simultaneously.  You probably should take our “CAD Course” first and only after completing it continue with the main YDS curriculum.
            If you have a basic understanding of hull lines, however you acquired it, you should have no problem with the CAD Course.  If you don’t, you should read at least “Understanding Boat Design” by Edward S. Brewer, “Preliminary Design of Boats and Ships by Cyrus Hamlin, or "Ship and Aircraft Fairing and Development" by S.S. Rabl.  These are all available from our Pen and Anchor Publications.
            By suggesting in the CAD Course that you should have a good grasp of general hull lines “as discussed in our Yacht Design School” main curriculum, we don’t mean that you actually have to have taken the lessons on lines development.  Only that when we mention the terms and construction used in lines drawings you should be reasonably comfortable with the concepts.  In other words you should be comfortable in "reading" the shape of a boat by looking at her lines.  We don’t want to make a big thing out of this.  We just mean that the CAD Course should preferably not be studied in total isolation from other sources of knowledge about yacht and small craft naval architecture as it is really not intended to teach yacht design per se but rather how to use this “tool” in yacht design.
            The most logical strategy under which you are going to learn CAD in conjunction with taking the main YDS curriculum is probably going to be taking the CAD Course first, and then take the main curriculum.

Will I need special naval architecture plug-ins to add functions to Rhino for yacht design work?  In the past some plug-ins were sold under confusing names which tended to make students think that they were produced by Robert McNeel & Associates to "adapt" Rhino for marine design use.  This was not true and Rhino has always had a strong emphasis on built in functions for yacht and small craft design.  Recently these types of plug-ins have been adapted and renamed but are still being promoted as "adding naval architecture capabilities" to Rhino.
            Unfortunately this confusion has placed a heavy burden on us in that we have to explain over and over to customers as carefully and fairly as we can what the actual situation is. We are a very busy school and time we must spend on this issue amounts to time taken from us which should be used for correcting lessons, and revising our lesson materials to benefit our students.
            This has forced us to post this information in this FAQ, which we would rather not do, as printed material like this will be taken negatively by some people, even though our only intent is to explain, and we prefer to keep our outlook and our web site firmly positive and proactive rather than negative and reactive.
            We have asked a number of alumni trained by us to test these plug-ins and add-ons and report to us.  So far they all find all these plug-ins too limiting to be useful in their work.  In our opinion these plug-ins are most suitable for the amateur sailor who likes to tinker with design ideas.
            By and large what these plug-ins and add-ons really seem to do is automate or script processes already inherent in Rhino, for people who have not been fully trained in the naval architectural uses of Rhino.  Since for anyone who has taken our “CAD Course” these processes are pretty well in their heads, most of our students wouldn’t bother to use the plug-ins.
            Our “Computer Assisted Design Course”, most often referred to as the “CAD Course”, is based entirely on Rhino 5.0.  It covers virtually everything that the plug-ins producers advertise that they cover but shows you how to do it within Rhino rather than having to pay extra.
            As an example, hydrostatic flotation and stability calculations are all built into Rhino.  We teach our students to do extremely accurate stability modeling using Rhino, which works very well.  If you need extremely powerful damaged vessel and grounding stability calculations, which are generally only used on large commercial vessels, you can export information from Rhino to the GHS program done by another company, but for yacht work you won’t need that.
            Other examples are that there is a plug-in which will produce simple hull lines very quickly.  But all of our students who’ve tried it have come to the conclusion that, while this will produce reasonably usable but ultimately crude hulls in a limited range of types, it tends to keep you from doing really excellent work, especially on hull forms beyond the most simple round bottom types.  We tend to think of it as “fun for amateurs”.
            Another example is a plug-in which they offer which breaks a model up into smaller files which can be worked on one at a time while viewing all of them so that individual files load and save faster and multiple people can be working on one project simultaneously.  However this is essentially the same thing which is done automatically by Rhino’s Worksession Manager which is an inherent part of Rhino.   Worksession Manager is so simple that it hadn’t occurred to us until recently that people needed teaching in it, but we have found that some people don’t seem to perceive its value and how to use it and certainly will teach it to those who can’t use it intuitively.
            All this means that our take on most naval architecture plug-ins is that if you have seen them advertise a capability and look at Rhino you normally find that Rhino can already do that.  If you take a list of what most of these are supposed to do and compare it with what we teach in our “CAD Course” you would see that you can pretty much do all of this with the standard Rhino package.
            In some things this means you should take our “CAD Course”, in others it is just a matter of looking up the capability in the Help files or the on disk manuals.
            We don’t want to be overly critical.  We’re sure these products work and do everything that they are advertised as doing.  It is just that in the minds of many students they appear to imply that Rhino doesn’t contain these abilities and that they are somehow “extending” the power of Rhino which we do not see that they are.
            We believe this explanation would not be necessary if not for the confusion created by the producers of these plug-ins.  We do not like to post long explanations about other people’s products, if we are not enthusiastically and fully endorsing them, but we cannot continue to spend hours per week going over these matters with students and potential students.


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