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AutoCAD LT for fire sprinkler design
3

AutoCAD LT for fire sprinkler design

AutoCAD LT for fire sprinkler design

(OP)
Sorry if this has already been asked. I couldn't seem to find anything when I searched.

I have not been doing this for too long but I would like to get myself set up to start designing from home. AutoCAD is pretty pricey but I see that LT is significantly cheaper. I only do 2D system designs but before I pay for it, I was hoping If you guys could tell your experiences working with LT to create submittal sets. I appreciate the help!

RE: AutoCAD LT for fire sprinkler design

In my opinion this would not be a good software to use if you plan on doing larger systems or lots of projects. There are better software packages that are tailored to sprinkler design. You can use LT to do design work, but I suspect you'll find it much more cumbersome and labor intensive than initially thought.

Unfortunately, I don't think you'll find a cheap solution, but if you're efficient you should be able to recoup the software investment within a few good projects.

Just my $0.02 worth.

RE: AutoCAD LT for fire sprinkler design

Don't use LT. I wouldn't anyways. AutoCAD can count the number of blocks etc in your file which makes BOM much easier along with all the other productivity tools.

Maybe just for a few small projects until you can upgrade. That's what I suggest. With the new subscription program you can probably upgrade whenever you want.

RE: AutoCAD LT for fire sprinkler design

For exclusively 2D it is not really a bad idea to consider Autocad LT but don't confine yourself. You may want to do much more in the future. For example Autocad LT does not support any customization through Auto/Visual LISP (integrated language of Autocad) or the .net platform which, depending how deep you would want to go, could even almost eliminate other commercial software. This is not a suggestion that you shouldn't consider other software but only to give you an idea that with programming, depending the time and effort given, you can accomplish wonderful things.

RE: AutoCAD LT for fire sprinkler design

(OP)
Thank you for your responses. It looks like i should invest into full ACAD so there is little to no chance i run into issues. Thanks again, guys!

RE: AutoCAD LT for fire sprinkler design

It is all cost benefit. Getting something like AutoSprink, you could greatly improve your production, so either you get paid more / hr or you have more free time.

Remember, "just doing this at home" can have some very high risks. Will you carry professional liability insurance? If not, what happens if you are at fault and a fire overtakes the system and a building is destroyed? That could wipe you out financially.

What will you use for resource material? Are you going to purchase your own or "borrow" from a current/former employer?

There are lots of issues to consider before "just doing it at home." Each year with software, insurances, computers, office equipment, etc; I bet I am at close to $30k before I even do the first job.

Travis Mack
MFP Design, LLC
www.mfpdesign.com
"Follow" us at https://www.facebook.com/pages/MFP-Design-LLC/9221...

RE: AutoCAD LT for fire sprinkler design

(OP)
Wow, that is a lot I did not take into consideration. I'll have to rethink my approach to this and what it's going to require to start doing this. Thank you for that information, Travis!

RE: AutoCAD LT for fire sprinkler design

I didn't mean to scare you. Just a lot of guys start this "on the side." I did that as well. But I always made sure I had coverage of Errors and Omissions insurance.

Things to consider as you start up:
Software costs - Can lease some companies
Office equipment - Computer, Desk and chair
(note; you may have these already, but you will want to figure in replacement costs of all equipment)

Liability coverage
Access to codes/standards

Accounting software - how to bill, track payments and help get paid.

These are just things to get you started.

You can always email me if you have direct questions.

Travis Mack
MFP Design, LLC
www.mfpdesign.com
"Follow" us at https://www.facebook.com/pages/MFP-Design-LLC/9221...

RE: AutoCAD LT for fire sprinkler design

ACAD or ACADLt, it is a general drafting/drawing tool question,
- It is not a sprinkler design software issue.
- If 2D is Ok for you go LT, it only lacks some usefull comands like "ALIGN", and all the 3D functionalities, but can draft isometrics.
- If dwg format is a must.
- If you draw faster with the original Autodesk tool.
- If a licensed Autodesk is not required, I´d go for BricksCad, good, good quality and manufacturer support, full dwg compatible, and cheaper. it is well designed as to compete with the giant Autodesk traditional tool.

RE: AutoCAD LT for fire sprinkler design

I work from home from time to time, although it is company work, not side work. At the office, we have a subscription seat for AutoCAD, and I use HydraCAD as well. AutoCAD lets you use their product on more than one computer, but only on one computer at a time. HydraCAD can be used on any computer, as long as your lock key is installed. So, when I have ot work from home, I take my HydraCAD lock key out of my office computer, install it in my home computer, and I am set, using the license from my office. As I stated though, I only do this for company work. Somedays, I like to work from home to eliminate distractions. Or, I might cut out early on a Friday when its nice out, and make up the time at home, when the weather sucks, or at night when I can't sleep. If you are planning to start designing on the side, I would think your company would frown upon this setup. But if it is for company work, you should be able to use what you use now.

RE: AutoCAD LT for fire sprinkler design

3
I usually don't post, but I cannot resist jumping into this.

I've been designing for 35 plus years, and when I see "I have not been doing this too long", my skin crawls.

In addition for running my own design company for 16 years, seeing a "newbie" jump out there in the freelance market frightens me.

Fire protection is not a job. It is a career. You don't just do this to make money. You have the lives of people in your hands.If your system fails, buildings burn and people die. If you do not understand the aspects of this industry, DON'T FREELANCE! If you can't handle complex projects, DON'T FREELANCE! This isn't here to supplement your pocket book. If you can't do a hydraulic calculation by hand, DON'T FREELANCE! If you can't do a fab list by hand, DON'T FREELANCE!

I run into issues constantly that I've never seen. I've worked on projects everywhere, but there is always one that plexes me. I have the connections and experience to get through. If you don't, DON'T FREELANCE!

I once asked a freelance designer, with 15 years experience, what his most challenging project was. His response, nothing is challenging because I've seen it all. He never got a project from me. That is foolish, childish arrogance.

Don't get me wrong, I am as arrogant as they come. I can design anything you throw my way. If I haven't designed it, I'll get with the right people and figure it out. But I have those connections, it took me 35 years to develop them, but I have them.

Personal opinion, but if you have 3, 5, 7 years in, you don't know squat. If you took your NICET, and stopped at III, you have no motivation or personal drive. This industry suffers because of you.

Apologies to those of us who get it. To know this is higher calling. We may not run into the burning building, God protect and bless those who do. But if you think this is an income stream. Get out now, otherwise, learn more and teat this business with the sincerity and focus it requires.

RE: AutoCAD LT for fire sprinkler design

Agree, design is a serious matter. Sometimes some questions are more relevant, specific or interesting, others don´t, but often this forum gives me a third option, a pillow to think the things better, a hint to continue solving a problem, so I don´t judge, all posts may include some interesting points, and your never know how valuable your comment or help is to others.

RE: AutoCAD LT for fire sprinkler design

Boy, there's some pretty scary posts here but I'll give you my few cents:

You can try out a free version of ZWcad - it's a lot like the older versions of autocad and might be just the thing you're looking for. I'm about 20 years into the design industry and have been running my own design firm for 11 years now. Sure you can get a tailored program like hydracad or autosprink but you're talking big bucks (especially with autosprink with annual fees)and a large learning curve. Here's what I've been using throughout my 20 years and which I still use to this day:

Autocad 2008 Full verion ($4,000)
Hydracalc ($2500)

Both of those were one time purchase fees with no annual renewals.

Code books: Just under $500 every three years. I purchase hard copies of the 13, 13R, 13D, 20 standards every three year cycle and select electronic versions of various codes.

Professional liability insurance: Around $3600 every year should you decide to use it. I did when I first started, then didn't during the majority of my design career, now I have it again due to my largest client requiring it. Adjust your prices accordingly to make up for it.

If you wanted to go on the ultra cheap you can get zwcad for around $700 I think - TSHC (the simply hydraulic calculator) for around $250, basic codes for a couple of hundred and get going for real cheap. It won't be ideal but you can make due.

But here's the gist of it. Since you're new to this I would say stick to working for companies, take every opportunity on the company's dime to educate yourself, train yourself, be surrounded by people who are more knowledgeable than you, ask questions, be humble, make mistakes on their dime and learn from your mistakes - this is serious business and a simple design flaw can end you real quick when you go solo. But most of all be the best that you can be and earn a reputation for quality work. THEN, start taking side jobs, then consider going out on your own. You need a reputation for good work otherwise you will not make it. The fire protection industry is a small, close knit, community and if you're known to be a screwup you'll be eating Ramen noodles for the rest of your life if you stick with this industry. On the other hand, a good rep will mean you never have to spend a cent on advertising. People you knew at the companies you worked for disperse to other companies and they tell their bosses about the great designer they used to work for then you get calls from them asking for your services and work will be plentiful.

Now my additional two cents on the dedicated software for fire sprinklers. No offense to those who use it but I'll share a little of my experience. I'm a straight autocad guy with plenty of custom lisp customization that makes a lot of chores very simple and fast. W/ autocad (full) you can do that with a little programming knowledge. But anyway, I used to work for one of the largest union companies in the nation and they were officially an Autosprink office - each office officially adopted one program or the other (usually hydracad or autosprink) and you were expected to learn and use that software. I entered the scene of an Autosprink office and they needed me to get to work right away (they couldn't wait a couple of weeks for me to learn Autosprink) so I started with what I knew: Autocad and HASS for calcs (which this company also had). I hit the floor running and could design in 2D, manually calc with HASS, and hand stocklist and still turn out my projects MUCH quicker than the Autosprink guys designing in 3D. Yes, sometimes 3D is required for BIM but the fact is that there is a lot more data entry for automated stocklisting and auto calculating to get it right. The irony is that the company would not trust the designers to click the button and autolist the project anyway because they kept getting really bad fabs shipped out because the designers didn't have all the parameters set up right so they still had the designers go over the automated fab list, outlet by outlet. In the end - they wanted me to keep doing what I was doing because I was efficient at the tools I used and I think that is really the bottom line. The tools don't make the mechanic.

I'm glad you see some opportunity in this field - hang in there, get some experience and go from there. BTW, NICET III is a must.

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