Why You Should Learn Fusion 360

Computer-Aided Design (CAD) used to be only for those with high-end computers and very expensive software. I remember a designer at GM telling me 20 years ago that the company paid more per year for the workstation and software he used than they paid him. That has all changed with the average home computer becoming more powerful and low-cost or even free software. For many years Sketch-Up was the leader in free software. However, that has now changed since the free version has gone away, or at least hasn’t been updated in a few years.

Enter Fusion 360 from AutoDesk, a long-time leader in CAD software. This is top of the line software and get this, it is completely free for students and hobbyists. It stays free until you make something like $100,000 using the software. This isn’t a crippled version, it is the full version. I don’t believe that the free users will be using anywhere near all the features of Fusion 360, but everyone can learn and benefit from it.

Once you learn to design your projects digitally first, it will open up whole new worlds for you. You can try several things without using materials. You can discover and work out problems sitting in your office chair rather than in the shop or at an outside site.

There is a bit of a learning curve. I took drafting in school and since I work in the computer field I fully understand the concepts of CAD. However, I’ve tried several times over the years to learn it on my own without much success. Our local community college has classes, but that meant committing to going into the school twice a week for 3 months at a time, and my life is just too busy for that. I’m now going through a course called Fusion 360 For Hobbyists and Woodworkers at Udemy and it is just the jump start I needed. Further, right now the course is only $10

For anyone that wants to design their own projects, I consider this a must-have skill. Therefore why don’t you give it a try either with or without the class?

Plumbing Basics – Water Shut Off Valve

There are some things every homeowner should know, one of them is how to turn off the water to your house. Knowing this, and ensuring that the valve works, can prevent a small plumbing problem from becoming a complete disaster. If you have some kind of leak being able to turn off the water that prevents other parts of your house from damage. Replacing drywall and flooring can get very expensive very fast.

For most houses, the water enters at one point and if you have a basement it will likely come close to the floor. If you live in the north then it will have to be below the frost-line which in my area is at least 42″ deep. In my house, it comes in about 1′ off the floor.

In order for water valves to keep working they need to be cycled through on and off periodically. One word of caution, trying to turn off old plumbing can actually create problems. If it has become corroded then forcing it to turn can cause it to start leaking and then your problem just became worse. This means turning off the water at the street and replacing the valve. If you really know what you are doing and have the proper tool you can do this, but likely it means calling a plumber, and if you create this problem after hours then the price will be much higher.

The picture at the top is the main shut-off valve for my house. It is the ball valve type and is better than the gate valve type. Take a few minutes and find your main shut-off valve and assess it’s condition.