DIY blog

Personal tech blog focused on cars, 3D printing, and DIY electronics.

OnShape CAD Software - Is it Good?

Back in college, I took a couple of CAD classes. This was before 3D modeling was mainstream, so it was all 2D. And, it was all in AutoCAD. It was great, no complaints, but that was for a 2D world. I needed something new for 3D. I found that there were 4 popular programs that people recommend: TinkerCad, Fusion 360, OnShape, and Solidworks. I eventually ended up with OnShape due to its cost, simplicity, and features.


Right off the bat, here’s what I learned about each:

  • TinkerCad - very easy to use, browser based, but hard to make complex shapes

  • Fusion 360 - I couldn’t get this to run on my Mac. Which is a bummer because it’s used by a lot of people.

  • OnShape - New from some of the developers of Solidworks. Browser based.

  • SolidWorks - King of 3D. Packed with any feature you want, however no free trial.


Breakdown of costs

  • TinkerCad - Free

  • Fusion 360 - Free

  • OnShape - Free for education, pay per month model, moderately expensive.

  • Solidworks - Pay per month, very expensive


I would say that Fusion 360 and Onshape are the same. Both have hobbyists using them, and both user groups seem to be happy with them.

Since I couldn’t install Fusion 360, I went with OnShape, and I think it’s great. It was made from the ground-up as a 3D modeling program, whereas Fusion 360 has a lot of 2D first features.

I really like that OnShape is completely in the browser. No software compatibilities to worry about, it just works.

I’ll probably never be able to make something like this image below, but it’s nice to know that others are.

My new desk setup

Screen Shot 2019-06-04 at 12.11.06 PM.png

I just recently left my job of 11 years in tech and was left without a computer for personal use. After 11 some years at a company, you just kind of live, eat, and breath work so a personal computer gets left behind. So, after finally deciding to leave (which was a tough decision in itself), I was able to procure reuse some old items, and procure some used items to tide me over until I figure out what I really want.

Computer - Mac Pro (Late 2013)

I know, this one is a weird one because it’s old, and coincidentally yesterday Apple announced a new Mac Pro. lol. In any case, I was abele to get one for pretty cheap. Here are the specs:

  • Processor: 3.7 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon E5

  • Memory: 12 GB

  • Graphics: AMD FirePro D300 2 GB

Not very powerful. But, I bought some upgrades that hopefully help tide me over for a bit. I thought I wouldn’t be able to upgrade this Mac Pro, but you can actually upgrade most everything except the video card. So, I purchased

  • New CPU - $500 - 12-Core 2.7GHz E5-2697 v2 Processor - This is amazing in itself because it’s a $2000, but you can get one from OWC for $500. Contrary to what they say, the installation looks easy for anyone that’s built their own PC.

  • 64 GB Memory Upgrade - $200 - Got this on eBay. Pretty straight forward.

I wish I could upgrade the video, that’s the weakest link in this system. There are some external GPU (eGPU) options, but they are kind of volatile due to how old this Mac Pro is and Apple seems to not really care about this feature much. has a ton of info on this.

Here are some benchmarks I did before any of the upgrade:

Screen Shot 2019-06-04 at 12.02.40 PM.png

A comparison score that uses the same CPU i’m going to upgrade to. It has a multi core score of 27483, so almost 2x perf. This puts it up to 2017 performance levels, so yay?

Monitor - LG 27” Ultrafine 5k Display

I love this monitor. It uses a one cable for data and audio, so you get everything you need with just one wire. I had this from before and would use my work laptop on it, and it was so convenient.

The 5K display is amazing and the clarity is unmatched (Apple’s new 6K monitor says otherwise!). Here’s a comparison to the old apple cthunderbolt display when zoomed in. Notice that the LG on the right has less jaggies.


Desk - Autonomous

I have an Autonomous Smart Desk. It works pretty well, but honestly I never use the stand feature anymore. I wanted the option, but could probably have saved $100 or so. The components are nicely made.

Misc items

Monitor stand

I use an Amazon basics dual monitor stand. One arm for the LG 5K display, the other was for my work laptop. I may mount a second monitor, but not 100% sure yet.


I’m an Apple Fanboy, and so I have the Apple Magic Keyboard 2 and Magic Mouse. They just work.

That’s about it!

$10 Airtight Filament Storage and Spool Holder (Drybox)

I made a very simple spool holder. It’s been holding up pretty well. After using it for a month, it’s definitely the easiest one to print and use. The best part about this is that you only have to open it up when the filament runs out, otherwise there isn’t a reason to open it up.

Although many people have used this container, it was complicated by the printed parts. I designed a very simple holder for the filament using OnShape

The specific container can be found on amazon via this link.

For the STL dukes and instructions to make one yourself, check it out on thingiverse!

NSX cassette tape phone mount

1991 NSX Interior with mount

1991 NSX Interior with mount

Cassette Mount

I designed a cassette mount. It’s universal, but was specifically designed for the NSX. I designed this using OnShape, and it was one of my first designs that I’ve created with intent to actually use. I think it came out pretty well. On the NSX, it doesn’t block the vents and the radio controls can still be accessed. It does block the AC controls, but that can’t be avoided due to how close all the controls are in the center console.

There are two pieces to print: a cassette mount and a phone adapter.

  • The cassette mount comes in with a straight surface or a 90 degree mounting surface. The straight surface can be used for vent mounts and the 90 degree edge can be used with a ball joint adapter or a printed mount.

  • The phone mount, used with the 90 degree cassette mount, has a ball joint adapter that can be used with other universal mounts, or a fully printable holder.

Download and print

You’ll need to download a cassette mount, and depending on how you will mount your phone, an adapter. Click images to download files.

Print these out of PETG or ABS because they’ll be sitting in your car and you don’t want them to deform.