What gear do I use in my home office for CAD and simulation is commonly asked of me. Because of this I have created this post so that you can see and have links to what I’m currently using. In some cases I show what I would buy today because of upgrades or because my version is unavailable. Some of the suggestions are for computing in general and some are specialized towards CAD. Ergonomics are very important to me, I do have a concentration in bio-mechanics after all! If you would like to chat or get updates to this blog and other news please use the form on the right.

 

My Setup.

3D Mouse

A 3D mouse is a second mouse usually used with your left hand. It’s primary purpose is to rotate, zoom and pan 3D models. I find it more intuitive, faster and more precise than a traditional mouse. More importantly there is no standard for view manipulation in CAD or simulation software. The scroll wheel is usually used for zooming but the programs that I use zoom in different directions and I never remember which one is which. My biggest complaint with Catia is that their view manipulation is especially weird, persisting from the Unix days with 3 buttons and no scroll. The scroll now moves the feature tree, which is very useful but then can’t be used for zooming. To zoom you need to center click and hold then click the right then mouse up and down!?!?! Abaqus/CAE has my favorite CAD feature of all, you can set the manipulations to be like many other CAD programs such as SolidWorks or Catia. The 3D mouse fixes this so all programs manipulate the same way. I personally set the zoom direction to be if you pull up on the ‘puck’. In my abstraction of mouse manipulations I imagine the regular mouse is on the screen not my desk. Keeping this frame my 3D mouse would also be mounted on the screen so lifting the puck would bring the model closer and zoom it in.

If I were buying today I would get this one. The case is a must in my opinion if you are traveling.

3Dconnexion SpaceMouse Pro Wireless (with Carry case and Universal Receiver) 3DX-700075

This is what I have and it’s been a workhorse there is a cord though which I have always worried will be it’s downfall since even when packing nicely in a case it folds and I’m expecting a fatigue failure of it.

3Dconnexion 3DX-700040 SpaceMouse Pro 3D Mouse

I’m intrigued by the customizable screen but don’t think that I would use it since I don’t take my eyes off the screen while working. I may be missing something here though.

3Dconnexion Space Mouse Enterprise (3DX-700056)

I’m not a fan of the travel one because there is no palm rest but to each their own. I would not get the corded one as I mentioned before due to the potential fatigue failure of the cord though this has not happened yet to me. A travel mouse I would expect to have many more packing cycles.

3Dconnexion 3DX-700066 Spacemouse Wireless (with Carry Case and Universal Receiver)

Boring 2D traditional mouse

Here ergonomics and hand size are critical. I have been using my Logitech MX Master since I passed down my Performance MX, it’s predecessor. Both are still going strong and can work even on glass or a leg. The precision is excellent when you are trying to grab a single point, node or pixel. There is a clutch on the scroll wheel to free spin or click. Also, there is a thumb wheel that I use extensively in Excel to scroll sideways.

The MX Master 3 is the newest version and I would get this without hesitation. I do think the MX Master looks cooler though with the triangulation pattern.

Logitech MX Master 3 Advanced Wireless Mouse – Graphite

I have 2 of these for my laptop and desktop and I love it and they still look brand new even though the laptop one gets tossed in the bag regularly.

Logitech MX Master Wireless Mouse – High-Precision Sensor, Speed-Adaptive Scroll Wheel, Easy-Switch up to 3 Devices – Meteorite Black

Keyboard

A split keyboard is an absolute must in my opinion. It allows for a more neutral hand position. When I type with a traditional keyboard I can feel the difference immediately. It’s only downside is that it’s BIG. I’ve been using these for so long that the right side of the spacebar is completely polished. I apparently use the right thumb much more than the left.

Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000

Standing Desk

Switching to a standing desk has helped my lower back and posture in general more than I could have imagined. I wanted my standing desk to be a frame only because I want to upgrade to a nice piece of solid wood once I get around to it. It needed to be motorized with memory functions so I would adjust it often. My 3 settings are: ball/chair height, elbow height and armpit height. When typing or mousing I rest my entire forearm on the desk so my keyboard and mouse are pushed back a bit. Between this and my large split keyboard I’m going to upgrade the wooden top to be 36-39″ deep (I think this is the first English unit on this entire webpage!). The stand is also adjustable for lengths of 40” to 90”, width of 24” to 44”. Having a really long desk is great especially when your kids want to do work with daddy. Daddy makes pretty pictures on the computer and I make pretty pictures crayons. We are both working very hard. I digress. Awesome stand.

VIVO Black Electric Dual Motor Stand Up Desk Frame with Cable Management Rack | Ergonomic Height Adjustable Standing DIY Workstation (DESK-V103E)

Standing desk mat. Cubefit was a Kickstarter campaign and I like to support the inventors over all the me too products unless there is a clear superiority. I fiddle with the different zones all day. I’m often barefoot since I have a home office. If I’m in sitting mode for the desk I just push it to the side.

CUBEFIT Terramat | Anti Fatigue Mat and Standing Desk Mat with Built-in Massage Mounds, Acupuncture Balance Bar and Power Wedge to Stretch, Support, and Stimulate Your Feet and Legs

Exercise ball, Swiss ball, Yoga ball, Big ball: not sure if there are other names. 65cm (back to metric!) works for me but I’m short at 5’6″ (grrr English) I chose the ball and how much I inflate to have my femur roughly parallel to the ground. For sitting I almost exclusively use the ball. For extended periods it can become uncomfortable which reminds me to stand back up!

Gymnic Plus Burst-Resistant Exercise Ball, Black (65 cm)

The Herman Miller Aeron chair is the best chair I have ever had but it ain’t cheap. I would upgrade to the aftermarket roller blade wheels.

Herman Miller Aeron Ergonomic Office Chair with Tilt Limiter and Carpet Casters | Adjustable PostureFit SL, Arms, and Seat Angle | Medium Size B with Graphite Finish

Video and recording

Having a good mic is key for recording webinars, VOIP or video chatting. The Blue Snowball is a good balance of cost, performance and form factor for me. I have the original but the iCE is newer and slightly cheaper.

Blue Snowball USB Microphone (Gloss Black)

Blue Snowball iCE USB Mic for Recording and Streaming on PC and Mac, Cardioid Condenser Capsule, Adjustable Stand, Plug and Play – Black

As with the mice I trust Logitech so I use their cameras too. This has worked flawlessly. My only complaint is that I wish it was optically zoomed in a bit more. I have the predecessor but that’s not available now. I was skeptical that the clamp would hold on my monitor since the design relies on friction not spring force but it works.

Logitech C920 Hd Pro Webcam (Black) Black

Laptops

What laptop specs you need are highly dependent on what you will be doing so I can’t recommend a specific model. I do have a strong preference towards MSI laptops. They are a gaming brand that has added mobile workstations. They are thin, light powerful and durable. I’ve been using them for 6 years and the original one is still kicking! Nuff said.

MSI WS65 9TK-687 15.6″ FHD Thin and Light Mobile Workstation Intel Core i9-9880H Quadro RTX 3000 32GB 1T Nvme SSD Win10 Pro TPM2.0 TB3 Fingerprint

MSI WS65 9TL-685 15.6″ FHD Thin and Light Mobile Workstation Intel Core i9-9880H Quadro RTX 4000 32GB 1T Nvme SSD Win10 Pro TPM2.0 TB3 Fingerprint

MSI WS65 9TJ-003 15.6″ FHD Thin and Light Mobile Workstation Intel Core i7-9750H Quadro T2000 32GB 512G NVMe SSD Win10 Pro TPM2.0 TB3 Fingerprint

MSI WS65 9Tk-688 15.6″ Thin and Light Mobile Workstation, Intel Core i7-9750H, NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000, 32GB, 512G NVMe SSD, Win10 Pro

Workstation

Since the form factor and build quality on a workstation isn’t critical in my mind I base my decision on price vs. specs and I have no brand loyalty here. Remember for CAD go for the highest clock speed since it in general does not parallelize well and for simulation more cores are better assuming your licenses support it.

Monitors

Like workstations not much loyalty here. I have ASUS and have been happy. Bigger is better, 2 is better than 1. Height adjustable and being able to angle it is very important especially if you have a standing desk. I like 4K but be warned that some programs do not and your icons and font will be tiny.

 

That’s all for now. I’ll keep this updated if People find it valuable. Please enter your info on the right if you have questions or want to be kept up to date on the blog and other news. Thank you.

Rob