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Hello, SpaceCAD 7!

Hello, SpaceCAD 7!

June 23, 2024

Today, I am proud to present you SpaceCAD 7, the new version of SpaceCAD that offers many improvements, most notably: The new visual designer, updated databases and the database selection dialogs. Also, the overall application has been upgraded to ideally work with Windows 10 and Windows 11.

SpaceCAD 7 screenshot

Here’s an overview what has changed and what has been improved:

Visual Editor

The most important feature is the new visual editor. SpaceCAD is the first model rocket software that now provides you with a real CAD-like-experience. You can use graphic design software like Microsoft Powerpoint? Then you can use SpaceCAD!

Edit your model rocket just like in any other design software, without having to use the dialogs. Click on the elements to select them and move and resize them with your mouse. It’s an extension of the classic “rocket treeview” that other rocket software uses.

Of course, this is also covered by the full undo support, so you can undo all your actions.

Edit screen
The new SpaceCAD 7 visual editor

You can resize elements with your mouse - which is especially helpful for fins and move elements with your mouse. You can also use the cursor keys and use the tab key to cycle through all elements.

When you select an element, you can view and change important properties without having to open the edit dialog. You change the material, have a quick access to printout and SVG export (e.g., for laser printing your fins).

Centering ring screen
SpaceCAD 7 Centering Ring top view

When you select a centering ring or bulkhead, you also get a top view that shows you where the elements are intersecting. You can also print this or export it so you can print your centering rings with a laser cutter (export button).

Edit screen
SpaceCAD 7 allows you to build more complex designs - with its expanded parts tree

The hierarchy now allows more sub-elements, for example motor mount with tube -> inside tube -> bulkhead. This gives you the flexibility to model more realistic designs.

Start visual editing now!
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Parts Databases selection dialog updates

The databases included in SpaceCAD are very large - and it is difficult to choose the right element. So we added a new filter that allows you to drill-down into the list to easier find the right part. This is available for parts like the nose cone or body tubes, but also for material and engines.

The engine database makes it easier for you to choose the right engine - you can preview the thrustcurve and see important data points.

Many databases that you find on the internet are not of very good quality. That’s why we decided to hand-optimize the files and improve them step-by-step. The result: The new parts database is fully quality-checked.

By default, the database selection is filtered to the fitting diameter of the selected tube… you can of course remove this filter if you want to access all parts.

Parts database selection dialog

Database selection
The new parts database selection provides tools to search and filter the elements
  • Pre-Filter: When you add an engine to a tube, it makes no sense to see all the engines. So the list is pre-filtered to display only fitting engines. You can easily remove the filter.
  • Facets: You can reduce the list with preselected options. Manufacturers, body tube diameters, …
  • Full text search: You can now search the database for a text
  • Engine database: Updated engine selection - see all the engine data like thrustcurve in the selection dialog.

Material database selection dialog

Preparing for SpaceCAD 7, we went through the complete material database to make it easier to use. Cleaning them up was a major challenge and we also found the list to be very long. So we decided to improve the selection dialogs.

Material database selection
The new parts database selection provides tools to search and filter the elements

You can now filter by material type and search the material by typing the name. Highly convenient!

Extended Flight Prediction

The flight prediction has been extended to display flight events that will provide you with deeper insights into your rocket’s flight.

SpaceCAD 7 also allows for “bumper” setups, where the upper stage has no engine.

Flight Events

During the flight of a model rocket a lot of things happen, sometimes very quickly. The new flight events display shows these events in a clear way.

SpaceCAD 7 covers the following flight events:

  • Main Engine Cut-Off (MECO) or engine burnout: The powered phase of the flight is over and the coast phase begins.
  • Launch Tower Cleared or end of launch rod reached: the moment your rocket loses contact with the launch rod and starts the free flight. This is an important information for Level certifications.
  • Stage separation: The moment the burnt stage is disconnecting from the stage and the weight of the rocket decreases. Usually, this takes only a fraction of a second.
  • Stage ignition: The moment after the separation, when the next stage ignites.

Since these are sometimes difficult to see in the graph, we added a new element to SpaceCAD 7 to make those events more visible.

Additional new features

Update Manager

Updating SpaceCAD is now much easier with the new update manager, that checks for updates and provides you infos about the new release. You can upgrade directly from within the SpaceCAD.

Welcome Screen

Sometimes, you need a little inspiration to get started. The new welcome screen gives you exactly that. You can choose from three demo models - the classic Estes Alpha III, a two-stage model named “Dash” and an egg lofter, that might come in handy when preparing for a competition. But it also gives you access to all the previous designs you have worked on in the past. Simply start where you left of the last time.

And more…

The menu also gives you access to your recently opened rocket designs and the example rockets.

Summary

The new version of SpaceCAD is a huge step forward and is an excellent tool for your rocket design. The overall experience is now much smoother and the overall quality has been improved. Now is the right time to upgrade!

Should you have any questions, please post them in the comments. I’ll be glad to answer them!

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