Free nanoCad .dwg draughting program

I’ve been working on a project in BIM and I’ve got to the detailing part. Some of the cladding details are pretty standard and I have a lot of them in CAD format that I wanted to use using a link.

The details needed some modification so I needed to use a cad program to do some minor alterations. I decided to go and use a Trial Version of DraftSight by Dassault Systemes. It used to be free but you now have to purchase a license for it at about $199 US /annum. I downloaded the trial version and have been using that.

I started looking into CAD software and came across ACTCAD that you can get a perpetual license for $199 US. I thought that was a good deal. It does the basics and also alows for lisp programming too. You get a key code and so can load it up onto other PC’s but can only have one PC active with the key.

Then I came across nanoSoft Nanocad that you can get for free. So I thought I’d load that up and give it a try.

When you go to the product page the free program is in bottom right corner and you need to license it. The license is attached to the one PC so you have to re-apply if you want it on another PC.

nanoCAD is for Windows only (I think) and has a 32 & 64 bit version.

The interface just looks like AutoCad classic and the print setup too, see the video below:

I think you have limited functionality, like BricsCad Shape, but some for the fastkeys are embedded in the software. I tried looking for a .PGP file to alter the fastkeys but couldn’t find it ( I looked in C:\Users\XXX\AppData\Roaming\Nanosoft\nanoCAD Int 5.0\ but could not find a .pgp or .cfg file to alter the fastkeys. You can do it manually in the program, one command at a time

If you didn’t want the hassle of doing all that manually then you can pay $180/annum for nanoCad Plus.

End comment

For the fiddly little things I want to do I think the free version may be adequate. I’ll use Draftsight while I have the free trial version.

An alternative is to get AutoCAD LT for $375/annum or $55/month.

AutoDesk seem to be the only one doing a monthly subscription, and maybe for less hassle that may be an attractive alternative.

I find I do not use CAD that much, but there are still Architectural Suppliers out there with only .DWG or PDF details, so these need to be incorporated into the documents package and having the use of CAD is handy.

Also I came across the scenario where a Civil/Structural engineer gave me some re-contoured plans in .DWG format & I would have liked to alter them before linking them to my model. I didn’t at that time but I will be able to clean them up in future using nanoCAD.

If I find nanoCAD a bit too much of a nuisance I’ll trial and possibly purchase ActCAD. Upgrades are about $80. So if in future there is a decent upgrade that I require then I’d go for that. There does seem to be an interesting feature that you can load and edit a PDF inside the package, I’ll be interested in trying that, as the rest of the CAD stuff is standard fare.

Other free cad programs like LibreCAD and FreeCAD save to a different format than DWG so they are a real nuisance to use as a lot of my archived stuff is in .DWG format, so I’m not interested in file exchange format, its too much of a pain.