Video Games meet CAD (at work too!)

Article by Rod Mackay updated April 26, 2011


Check out the YouTube video here

It’s the 40-hour workers’ dream: playing video games all day while getting paid to do it. But not many of us get to experience that daydream. The next best thing? Perhaps what I’m about to show you…

I’m about to show you a cool way you can add a whole lot of spice to your CAD-CAM work when you use SolidWorks – in fact, once your boss sees this he might just crown you employee of the month (just don’t tell him you’re actually having fun at work now.)

So what you’ll need:

  • Download this zip file which has all the files you’ll need…
  • SolidWorks (2011 hopefully – but it will work on older versions too)
  • iPhone (mine’s an iPhone 4, but will work with other versions as well)
  • 360 Panorama App (you`ll need to purchase this small iPhone app for $1.99 to take the 360 photos from your iPhone – this App is not affiliated with Javelin, you’ll just need it)


Here are the easy 1.2.3. steps you’ll follow to pull off this super-cool 360 environment customization in SolidWorks:


You`ll first need to go to the Apple Store and download the app called 360 Panorama


This will allow you to take full 360 degree photos automatically and very easily – so go ahead, pick a spot in the room and go take a 360 picture.

Tip: When using 360 Panorama, start with the brightest spot in the room, and then spin around in a full circle. Starting with the brightest spot will help setup the contrast of the photo. It also helps to “snake” up and down in a zig-zag pattern to capture the full top/bottom of the 360 photo (you’ll see what I mean).


You`ll get the hang of using this app in about 2 minutes, when you get a 360 photo that you`re happy with, simply e-mail it to yourself and continue on to Step 2…



Here is an example of a 360 Panorama photo I took at our new Javelin office (your’s might be in a meeting room, cubicle, or lunch room to give a few ideas…)






Now just a few easy picture-manipulation steps…

  1. Go to your email and open the 360 panorama picture you emailed to yourself in Step 1 – open it in Paint.
  2. Press Ctrl-A, then Ctrl-C to copy it…
  3. Open the Javelin_Blank.bmp picture from the Zip folder you just downloaded and press Ctrl-V to paste your 360 picture onto it…
  4. Click and drag your pasted 360 panorama photo half way down the Javelin_Blank.bmp – the goal here is to have equal sized black stripes on the top/bottom of your photo:

Use the Rectangle and Fill tools to draw black boxes to cover over the curvy white sections of the photo, like this:

When you’re done with these steps, your photo should look like this:

Now save all your hard work.. click Save As, then name it javelin360.bmp (this name is important) –



Now all we have to do is setup the files on your computer so SolidWorks will find your new 360 scene…

Open up the folder again, copy the 2 files as shown onto your computer – use the images below to see where to put each, also copy your javelin360.bmp you just made as shown below also…

Use the images below to sort the 3 files out…



That’s it! You’re done!

Now all you have to do to see this in action is:

  1. Open SolidWorks and set the background scene to “Javelin360
  2. Right-click / Edit Scene
  3. Select Background / Use Environment – and you’re done!

Click the picture below for a full screen view.


Now you’re ready to go impress your boss and friends – and just maybe your hours at work may seem a little more like playing your favorite video game, even if you end up having to do a little work from time-to-time!



Jake Middleton – CSWP



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Rod Mackay

Rod has been using 3D CAD software for over 25 years and has trained thousands of designers to use their CAD systems more effectively. Rod is the Javelin Webmaster and is based in Ottawa, ON., Canada.