My Quest For Mechanical Software

Review of Mech-Q

I've been on a quest for easy to use Mechanical Software for AutoCAD. Recently I was surprised to find an add-on called Mech-Q which not only fit the budget but was really quite easy to operate. Here's a review of Mech-Q and tips on how to install this engineering software and get started right away.

3D Piping In Mech-Q
3D Piping In Mech-Q

A Quick Into To Mech-Q

Mech-Q is a series of modules that can be added to AutoCAD, LT or IntelliCAD. It may also be purchased as a full suite, which contains all the modules except the networking add-on.

For those that don't have AutoCAD or a compatible CAD Application, Mech-Q offers a complete standalone option for the same price called ZWmech. For the same price as the Mech-Q add-on they include free CAD software that operates much like Autocad.

Installing Mech-Q

I found the the free trial to be very straightforward. There are specific installers - one for each for AutoCAD release. In addition you can choose between 32 bit and 64 bit Windows versions. The install will take a total of 5 minutes (including download time) with a good connection.

During the install I was asked which module or bundle I wished to install. I just chose the Full Suite, although you can choose individual modules.

The following modules are available:

  • Mech Q Piping - generates Iso, 2D & 3D plus p&ID
  • Mech Q Mechanical - great selection of mechanical symbols
  • Mech-Q Structural - loaded- a steel beam design and even stair designer
  • Mech Q HVAC Ducting - 2D & 3D with lots of options

Install notes:

Before installation Mech-Q sent me Windows 7 instructions  (I have WIn 7 64 bit). For those of you who have either Vista or Win 7 - a permission setting will need to be added.

To do this you will need to right click on your AutoCAD shortcut (Or Mech-Q shortcut in LT) and choose Properties, Compatibility and then check the "Run as Administrator".

Locating Menus & Toolbars AutoCAD:

Once you load AutoCAD you will see the toolbars and menu drop downs on top for Mech-Q. The drop down menu will be labeled Mech-Q and will be right next to the Help pull down for AutoCAD. Here you will find the four primary modules inside Mech-Q.

I found that a combination of both the toolbars icons and menu drop downs offer a quick way to access the engineering modules. If for some reason the toolbars are not visible you will want to verify that AutoCAD has a path to Mech-Q. You can check this in AutoCAD by typing CONFIG at the command prompt, then choosing Files Tab and Support Files Search Path, making sure that a path C:\Program Files\ASVIC\Mech-Q\A20?? - where A20?? is your CAD version.

Mech-Q Pulldowns
Mech-Q Pulldowns

The Mech-Q Toolset

The tools include many features including auto-insert elbows, scale configuration, fully customizable layer control. The modules are also equipped with Auto-BOM (with Auto-BOM balloon option) so that you can create schedules of parts in your drawing.

To get off to a quick start, I found it helpful to run through a PDF walk-thru on how to use the piping module to familiarize myself with the add-on. In addition there are short You Tube sessions, and one which which accompanied the PDF walk-thru. I though that Mech-Q was extremely intuitive, the dialogs prompted me though much of the process and I was able to create a sample piping schematic in under 5 minutes.

In Conclusion

When comparing Mech-Q to the AutoCAD Mechanical platform (MEP) for example, I would say this: if you want to get the job done and do so quickly, then Mech-Q is certainly a tool that can do just that. The learning curve is extremely quick and the program is really a pleasure to use. Sure, MEP has all the bells and whistles, but I found Mech-Q to be refreshingly simple. It's got an array of tools covering just about everything. A free 21 day trial can be downloaded at cadavenue.com - give it a try.

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