So Google has done it again: They've bought a company that makes 3D modeling software called Sketchup. I'm no expert in the field of 3D modeling software but I've tried out a few products here and there, and this one is head and shoulders above the rest. It is some of the most intuitive software I've ever used. By and large, things just work the way you think they would. There are very few tools to learn because the tools that are there can mostly do anything you need. It seems like in Sketchup you can build something in minutes that would take hours or days to do in traditional modeling software. Sketchup used to cost $500, but Google has now put out a slightly crippled FREE version (you can't export to other 3D file formats and you don't have the tools to make 3D contour maps). It's becoming obvious that one of the real strongpoints of Sketchup is the ease with which you can explore design alternatives; you can try things out quickly and easily, and see how they look (what if this part was longer, what if this piece was inset further, what if I make this side smaller, etc).
I've decided to use it to draw up the plans for the arcade. I'm almost done with the drawing already (I put in a couple of hours this weekend). I think in the future I'm going to use this to model my woodworking projects as well. It's just so easy.
BTW, in addition to working on the 3D model of the arcade I made a full size layout of the control panel (unfortunately, using boring pencil and paper).