Open Vehicle Sketchpad

Discussion of aircraft design, new designs and designing your own

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Open Vehicle Sketchpad

Post by ColinC » Sun Jan 26, 2014 10:34 pm


Am not sure if people are aware of this, but there is an interesting airframe modelling tool available via NASA that potential designers might find interesting. It is called Open Vehicle Sketchpad (OpenVSP) and the web site is here:

It's interface is a bit non-standard, but it is remarkable in many respects and easy to learn. Models generated in OpenVSP can be exported to various modelling formats. It comes with a lot of useful features that would be useful when developing ideas as it provides very accurate data on surfaces, areas, volumes etc.

As I am posting plugs for software, I should probably also also mention Trimble Sketchup which is our parent company's superbly well designed free 3d Modelling offering! I haven't had the opportunity to fully exploit it myself, but there are all sorts of free add-ons available that are worth trying out and an immediately obvious use would be in developing sheet metal fitting details that can be converted to CAM files for water jet cutting.


Colin Cheese

Ian Melville
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Re: Open Vehicle Sketchpad

Post by Ian Melville » Mon Jan 27, 2014 7:09 am

I prefer a more traditional CAD package, but I do use Trimble Sketchup for a couple of things that cannot be done cheaply elsewhere. Both via plug-ins. projecting a loft beyond two profiles and flattening skins to make a pattern.

Since the sale by Google to Trimble, I cannot help feeling that the Sketchup product may not be free at some point?

I wish there was a single product that did all my needs, but as long as I can export without errors between free or low cost packages I can live with that.
Ian Melville

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