I have previously talked about LeoCAD on openSUSE and it is a pretty fantastic experience. There is a lot of fun to be had with designing or documenting your designs using this application. I also find it incredibly enjoyable, just because it runs so well in Linux. In my case, of course, openSUSE. I have been using the AppImage as of late, mostly because of the reduced hassle in dealing with installing the parts library. It seems that some sets I have downloaded from LDraw.org to recolor (that’s another story) didn’t have the correct geometry. Rather than dink around with that, I decided, the AppImage is the way I will go for now.
I am using AppImageLauncher to manage all the AppImages on openSUSE Tumbleweed with Plasma as my desktop environment. The LeoCAD AppImage can be downloaded from here. The “installation” and menu integration is all handled incredibly nicely by AppImage Launcher, so you can easily forget this is not managed by the system package manager.
I have been running version 19.07.1 of LeoCAD and it matches my system theme perfectly, so my previous reasons for using the native packages really went right out the window.
Since this isn’t my first time using LeoCAD, I am quite comfortable with the interface. It is a bit different than PTC Creo that I use for employment or Fusion 360 that I use for designing personal project but I seem to easily be able to move between the applications well enough. I think that the navigation method LeoCAD uses may now be my favorite… I think… ask me again tomorrow, I will have probably changed my mind.
Since I am perhaps stuck in a bit of a rut, I can’t help but to design and build sets in the vintage (but awesome) Blacktron Space theme from late 1980s. I designed (in collaboration with my kids) a modification to a set called the Blacktron Invader that can carry 6 passengers. The intent of this was like a troop transport but also be like a porcupine and look aggressive to have adventurous battles with my boys or, alternatively, if I am playing Legos with my daughter, to carry all our friends to the shopping mall or equestrian farm. When I started on this design, it was my intention from the beginning to publish another MOC (My Own Creation) on Rebriclable.com.
Creating a little “Story”
Part of the fun of this is to create a little story about your MOC. Using a bit of imagination to explain your MOC. I do with all my MOCs, so far, and some of them get a little feedback, largely because “Blacktron” were the “bad guys” and I have rejected that narrative. I have turned the script a bit to say that they are the good guys.
This is the most difficult part of the publishing. What do you call the thing you created. In this case, I created a variation on a set called the “Invader” and since my design intent was to be an “Assault” module, I called it the Assault Invader. Kind of a silly name, severely lacking in creativity and doesn’t exactly sound like something every kid is going to exclaim to their parents that they want for Christmas but this will do. I can change it if necessary.
Build Instruction Viewer
After uploading the “directions” I noticed (maybe missed it previously) a really awesome build instructions feature in Rebrickable. You can go through, step-by-step the build process in this fantastically executed virtual instruction viewer called the “BI Viewer” (Build Instruction Viewer).
I thought this was so dang cool. Not only can you see each step like modern Lego build instructions with pieces required for each step, it also shows where they go on the model and you can rotate it around and zoom to get a detailed look at it. So incredibly cool. This means, I had to make my uploaded CAD files properly stepped in the timeline tab so that it would be an enjoyable experience to build, should anyone actually do that.
Adjusting the Timeline in LeoCAD
When going through the instructions on the BI Viewer, I noticed that it was a mess. The steps were all kinds of nonsense. You can’t hold pieces in mid-air and build beneath it. So I took the appropriate time to properly order the steps in LeoCAD using the “Timeline” tab.
The process in which I found this worked best was to start with the last step and pick off the top most parts, or take it apart step-by-step to put on a new step at the end of the timeline. This was the most efficient way I found to order the steps quickly.
Uploading CAD file for Inventory
This is an important part of the process so prospective builders can make it for themselves. Here is where I ran into some issues with my models. It appears that LeoCAD has parts that are now considered obsolete; they cannot just remove them from the inventory of parts as it would “break” some designs. That said, Rebrickable lets you know if the parts are not current or correct. Thankfully, they have a way of selecting an alternate part.
I don’t generally have a lot of time to “play” with Legos, either real or virtual. When I do, it is mostly with my kids as a fun, family activity. Using LeoCAD is a great way to document the designs or work out ideas without having all the appropriate pieces and also makes for a great education tool to use with children or adults.
I am able to take time, now and again, to explore my limited creativity and to share it with those that have similar interests on the Internet. Sure, my reach is probably only a dozen or so people scattered around the world that are approximately my age but that is just enough. The positive is, it ensures that when I go to Bricklink.com to order the parts I want, they are not in high demand and I can get what I want pretty reasonably.
I can’t thank enough those that are volunteering their time to create LeoCAD and all the tools that make my openSUSE Linux machine possible. Not to mention the various web services and sites that make sharing possible too. It’s a pretty great time in which we live, especially if you are a nerd.
CubicleNate MOCs on Rebrickable.com
LeoCAD.org Project Page
Companion Video on YouTube
LeoCAD on openSUSE on CubicleNate.com
Distracted by LeoCAD once again on CubicleNate.com
LDraw Model Repository
Bricklink.com Lego Marketplace
Assault-Invader MOC on Rebrickable.com