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Old 11-02-2023, 02:12 PM   #1
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Design Apps?

Hey y’all. We are getting to the place where we really gotta figure out our design. I am wondering if anybody has used any apps that have helped them rather than trying to hand draw the plans.

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Old 11-02-2023, 02:49 PM   #2
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I see a lot of people using sketchup. You could be old school like me and draw it by hand. Use graph paper. Get some that’s a little transparent so you can do revisions over an earlier copy. You could also go real world 3D with cardboard boxes
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Old 11-02-2023, 03:23 PM   #3
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i am on my second bus? even after being in construction for 28 years and my wife used to be a residential architect drafting/sketching our conflicting ideas gets old so both times now we used cardboard boxes to mock up furniture and cabinets and thing and then play jenga before finalizing a sketch. but the second bus is strictly for her to do her traveling job so she gets what she wants i only get to figure out how to build what she wants and make everything work like she see's in her head while she's gone but she will be home next week for about 3-months so she gets to do finishes.
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Old 11-02-2023, 04:11 PM   #4
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Although I didn’t do it, I think the cardboard box method is the best, especially in large buses. Since you’re dealing with a shell that already exists you get to see and confirm what is going to work and you might even find some gotchas or better ways in the process
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Old 11-02-2023, 05:56 PM   #5
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Try Vanspace 3D. It allows you to view from all angles and toilet things to you exact measurements. I haven't had time to really learn it but it's not expensive and very detailed
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Old 11-02-2023, 07:24 PM   #6
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I created a 3D model in Autocad, so we could see things from all angles and make tweaks as necessary. That was all fine and well, but a better design app was sketching out the floor of the bus on a piece of graph paper and moving around little cut-outs (everything was roughly to scale) until we refined our layout. The best design app turned out to be the build itself. Once we had things roughly planned out, and starting building, that's where things really started to gel. Every distinct area (kitchen, bath, bed, living areas) totally came together on the fly and, because of that, each area is comfortable and space-efficient. We lived in it full time for 2 years and were very comfortable in it.
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Old 11-02-2023, 08:54 PM   #7
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The building part for me isn't so much of a challenge. I plan to free form it with a rough idea of what I want to do. I'm crafty enough to figure it all out on the fly with little planning.

Where I suck at is maintaining the basic bus mechanics. Engine, Transmission, King pins lol.
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Old 11-02-2023, 11:37 PM   #8
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All Means Necessary

Just don't install your furniture upside-down 🙃.

Cad software, graph paper and painter's tape on the floor are all great ways to start planning.

Once you have a sharable concept, on paper, try laying it out inside & walking through the spaces. Mock-up & measure your framing.

You could use anything, magnetic hooks & towels, cardboard boxes, lawn furniture, wood pallets, shower curtain & rod...

Most builders alter their plans as they become more familiar with thier rigs. Be open minded to adjusting your own, too.
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Convert Hatch to AC & Roof Patch
🇺🇸 Frederick Douglass: "If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”
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Old 11-03-2023, 09:20 AM   #9
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one of the big things i see get missed on sketches and software is wall thicknesses and cabinet thicknesses.. these numbers can add up quickly and eat into space or cause issues when measuring say a table or a chair or couch etc that you are buting already made.. graph paper lines made on 1 foot or 6 inch grids dont account for this... your drawing should.. many CAD programs do have provisions for this, esp ones designed for architects...

just something to think about..
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Old 11-09-2023, 07:33 AM   #10
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All CAD programs have a significant learning curve before they become fun. It also really helps to know basic geometry. I'm old school - I started in a drafting room 40 years ago and loved it, but I wouldn't go back.

CAD is great at iteration and precision. Draw an idea, copy it and modify, rinse and repeat. Lots of Youtube tutorials if you've never tried one.

I use NanoCAD (free version) which emulates an older AutoCAD LT 2D program. Only because I'm very familiar with it. I also use Fusion 360 for modelling, but that's mostly because I'm an engineering geek and it helps visualize the space which is great for my GF.

I would suggest you do as much sketching or drawing as possible (paper or CAD) before you start using any 3D program for visualization or design. It's harder to draw in 3D without a good idea of where you're going.

Even with CAD, using painters tape and full sized cardboard templates is a great idea. I'm doing that too. A 28" shower pan seems fine on paper until you stand in one ;>)
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Old 11-09-2023, 09:31 AM   #11
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Going to double-up on the cardboard cutouts and model mock-up. It makes it very easy to see and feel if anything is off, and allows for incredibly easy changing things around and experimenting with alternatives before committing to anything.

There's something incredibly more "real" about actually seeing it and feeling it than you can possibly imagine looking at something on a screen. But I think if you're 'good' with CAD and know how to use it, then there's some advantages for doing things like weight calculations and balancing the bus.

I bought my rig as an incomplete assembly from another young army veteran that was walking away from it as the young wife just had a baby... Despite being in "intelligence", it was obvious that he wasn't dealing with a lot of engineering, so there were silly things like putting all the tanks on one side of the bus, so that the whole rig would list one side or the other depending on how full or empty the tanks were. There were a number of other problems that I corrected over time, and some that I just learned to deal with. Eventually, after I've got a suitable patch of dirt to park and work on it at my leisure, I intend to gut it again and rebuild it, although it may or may-not be an RV when it's done, and may be some other kind of vehicle.
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Old 11-10-2023, 04:44 PM   #12
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I did an excel sheet, or actually in my case it was Google Sheets instead, but it's the same thing. I reduced the size of the columns and rows to make a grid pattern as if I was working on graph paper. Each square equaling a 1in square. This allowed me to map out the top of the bus, inside the bus, and the undercarriage. I got my measurements from the bus; where the wheel wells are, windows, E-exits, gas tank, etc and put those in. Then started planning. Below is a screenshot and a pdf of the same thing, but the pdf allows you to zoom in a lot more.

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Skoolie Layout (3).pdf

After you come up with your first draft of the plan get some marking spray paint, the cans designed to work upside down, and measure/mark your lines. This will give you something to walk through and it is a way to double check your measurements.

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A laser measure is a great and cheap way to measure everything out. I found that the $40 Bosch unit from Lowes was accurate up to a 1/16 of an inch.
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Old 11-13-2023, 07:19 PM   #13
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I've found Sketchup to be the easiest to learn and have utilized it on several builds now. You can be as basic or as detailed as you want on your layout with ease. I use Sketchup Pro, but you can do almost everything in the free web viewer version.

However, between my first and second build I regrettably purchased Vanspace 3d, based on clever adverts, and found it to be to be extremely full of bugs, and just a huge pain in the ass to use. I gave myself a few weeks to try to adjust, but abandoned it completely and chalked it up to a moderately priced lesson learned.
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major oooooooof.
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