Need some help from you guys.  My son is 13 and loves to design things on his computer - he spends hours on the Brickforce website designing stuff.  Does anyone know of any computer aided design software that is reasonably priced (under $200) and is something a 13 year-old can use.  The design can be for anything from buildings, homes, cities, amusement parks, machines - just about anything.  Appreciate any help you guys can give.

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Get him some Lego Mindstorms so he can actually create something and not just design it.

Thanks for the idea.  He used to love Legos and built all sorts of stuff - I'll check to see if he has any interest in the Mindstorms.

I'd start him with SketchUp - as a good starting point. There is now a pretty robust developer following and lots of add-ons as he grows with it, including some very top end rendering engines, and plugins for lumber work (cut sheets) etc. 

Never heard of SketchUp before - thanks for the info.  I'll check it out.

Thanks for the link.

Thanks for the link.

Definitely SketchUp. I'm an architect and it's so simple and easy to use that we use it at work when we want to get an idea across fast, plus it's free (or at least it used to be when Google owned it).

There is a free basic version. The pro version ($450?) adds some nice goodies and more robust support for rendering engines and really positions it well as a viable alternative for many other design programs (I haven't opened autocad in years).

AutoCAD Lite is like $30 for students.

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