Holiday Gift Guide, Part 2

7 Dec, 2006 By: Nancy Spurling Johnson

Whether conveying fact, fantasy or just funnies, our wish list writers had lots of wants for their CAD workstations.

In "Holiday Gift Guide: Make Your Workstation Smile" in the October 20 edition of Cadalyst Daily, we presented a rundown of some fun and amazing hardware on the market today for working in 3D. We also invited readers to send us their own workstation wishes, offering a SpacePilot 3D navigation device as incentive, courtesy of 3Dconnexion.

Selected in a random drawing, the lucky winner of the SpacePilot is Manuel Anthony Perez. Read on for what his workstation wants this holiday season, as well as the practical and pie-in-the-sky yearnings of other 3D CAD workstations and their operators who sent in wish lists.

Jason R. Melanson, a municipal CAD technician, writes: "Send me a Saitek Pro Gamer Command Unit or a Belkin Nostromo SpeedPad n52 ($39.95 each) to go with my cordless trackball mouse to ramp up my CAD speed -- but only if I can't get one of those Northrop Grumman Terrain Tables that you talked about for topographic modeling."

Engineer Ed Hade says, "My workstation would love a big Dell Ultrasharp 30" flat-panel monitor ($1,499+), although that's not much more than a fantasy in my workplace. And some 2.1 speakers would really be nice to replace the ones I have now, which don't sound much better than laptop speakers."

Dell's 3007WFP 30" widescreen digital flat-panel monitor.

Designer Aaron V. Holland says his workstation wants to sit beside a NextEngine Desktop 3D Scanner

NextEngine's Desktop 3D Scanner.
($2,495): "In today's fast-paced market, being able to make highly accurate measurements quickly is invaluable. A tool like the 3D scanner allows anyone working with a part or product to get these measurements without having to go through the difficult and many times frustrating pains of figuring out how to measure a piece accurately, then how to get it the model into a 3D modeling program. With the 3D scanner, this entire process is streamlined -- not to mention that almost anyone can live with its price and size."

SolidWorks user Corey Davis has several items on his workstation wish list: A SpacePilot 3D navigation device would help with wrist strain from constant scrolling and clicking with one hand. An NVIDIA Quadro FX 3500 graphics card [$928, highly recommended by Cadalyst Labs] would shorten regeneration time in PhotoWorks (a SolidWorks add-on) and other visualization software. The NextEngine Desktop 3D Scanner could shorten the time dedicated to modeling parts where internal feature representation isn't needed. And a Logitech G5 laser mouse

Logitech's GS laser mouse.
($69.99), with its adjustable weight cartridge, could be set for maximum comfort and usability.

Marv (of has his eye on the Digital Cowboy DCT-DPM1 dual-pointer mouse. "There are two pointers on your monitor, and you switch between pointers with a single click. You can park one pointer in your work area and the other pointer in your toolbars/palettes."

Senior drafter Chris Micallef is busy at work and keeps the request simple. Four words: "Dual flat-panel monitors." Harvey Berkin sent similarly short sentiments: "A 21" pen display from Wacom is my choice." Manuel Anthony Perez says just give his workstation "2GB RAM, two 19"+ monitors and a kick-butt processor."

Some wish list writers had less to hope for and more to lament. Leif Pedersen's workstation tells us that ever since a new Autodesk Inventor installation, it hasn't been the same: "Santa, I'm really slow now and even break down occasionally under the pressure of all those assemblies. I really need a tune-up, a more stable installation and maybe a couple of drivers. When all that's done, I can rest and dream of only one thing: the unbeaten SpacePilot."

CAD manager and senior technician Paul Dempsey has one wishful workstation: "I was getting so tired of being manhandled by sweaty hands and being pushed and pounded all the time. I can only interpret the information you give me and at the speed your limbs operate. The only input I really ever get is when my buttons are pushed, or my optical eye sees where you want me to go. I'm not a mind reader -- or perhaps I could be. What if I really could read your mind? How about if my user wore a head device, through which I could see what they're thinking, understand exactly the image or design they have in their mind's eye. That would be perfect -- no more physical interaction, purely cerebral communication, with information flow at electrical impulse level. That's it, that's what I want, for me and all the other intellectuals out there. Santa, please: All I want for Christmas is a neural front interface.

Civil engineering technician Mike Gross writes: "My workstation would like a new video card. It is sad, because it has only 64MB of video now. Whenever I try do any upscale stuff, it just cries, and then I have to get a counselor to come and talk to it. Otherwise I can't get anything done and it won't do anything else until I take care of its feelings. My boss won't give in -- he thinks my computer and I both have attitude problems. I hope your Christmas turns out better than mine."

Architect Brian Poppe tells us: "What would my workstation want? A user that takes full advantage of AutoCAD's capabilities. Or maybe that's just what my boss wants."

And finally, Frederick T. Wawra sums up the subject for many: "What does my workstation want for the holidays? Retirement."

About the Author: Nancy Spurling Johnson