1.6 CAD Hardware
There are basically two types of devices that constitute CAD hardware: a) Input devices, and b) Output devices. A brief description follows.
1.6.1 Input Devices These are the devices that we use for communicating with computer, and providing our input in the form of text and graphics. The text input is mainly provided through keyboard. For graphic input, there are several devices available and used according to the work environment. A brief description of these devices is given here.
Mouse: This is a potentiometric device, which contains several variable resistors that send signals to the computer. The functions of a mouse include locating a point on the screen, sketching, dragging an object, entering values, accepting a software command, etc. Joystick and trackballs are analogous to a mouse device, and operate on the same principle.
Digitizers: Digitizers are used to trace a sketch or other 2-D entities by moving a cursor over a flat surface (which contains the sketch). The position of the cursor provides a feedback to the computer connected with the device. There are electrical wires embedded in orthogonal directions that receive and pass signals between the device and the computer. The device is basically a free moving puck or pen shaped stylus, connected to a tablet.
Light Pens: Lockheed’s CADAM software utilized this device to carry out the graphic input. A light pen looks like a pen and contains a photocell, which emits an electronic signal. When the pen is pointed at the monitor screen, it senses light, which is converted to a signal. The signal is sent to the computer, for determination of the exact location of the pen on the monitor screen.
Touch Sensitive Screens: This device is embedded in the monitor screens, usually, in the form of an overlay. The screen senses the physical contact of the user. The new generation of the Laptop computers is a good example of this device.
Other Graphic Input Devices: In addition to the devices described above, some CAD software will accept input via Image Scanners, which can copy a drawing or schematic with a camera and light beam assembly and convert it into a pictorial database.
The devices just described are, in general, independent of the CAD package being used. All commercial CAD software packages contain the device drivers for the most commonly used input devices. The device drivers facilitate a smooth interaction between our input, the software, and the computer. An input device is evaluated on the basis of the following factors:
Lecture Notes © by R. B. Agarwal
Computer Aided Design in Mechanical Engineering