Seriously, I realize this won't be of much interest to most of my friends list.
I've always thought CAD (Computer Aided Design) was interesting. Recently, Google acquired the CAD software of another company and decided to make a FREE beta version available for download. As a curiosity, I d/l'ed it and gave it a whirl. I am now mired in some type of design/play/crack habit of 3D addiction. I am really having fun with this program and I couldn't even tell you why. My wife is certainly baffled. Anyway, I have some pics of the stuff I've been "making" or really just playing with to learn how to use the software.
This is a 3D representation of my outbuilding (the so-called "Cabana") with the puny deck and our above ground pool. Eventually I will redesign and expand this deck so I began by rendering it in its current version. I didn't bother putting the rails on it or the understructures just yet because all that will be changed anyway. The large "ball" in the pool was my greatest success. It took me forever to figure out how to model a simple sphere using the software tools. Finally, I broke down and read enough of the manual to do it. Duh!
This is another view which shows the solar panels I am planning to build from scratch to heat the pool water so we can get a month or two extra swim time out of the season. This project probably won't come to fruition this year, but I'll do it eventually. Note the brackets and PVC pipes I've routed, too! In the program you can move all around the objects, underneath, inside, etc. It's really cool!
This is an idea I have for a dog food stand and cover. It will keep the birds out of the dogs' food because right now, they raid it daily and poop everywhere. I am already changing this design. One of the great things about this software is that you can have an idea, "build" it, then learn the flaws and make changes without ever having picked up a tool. Also, you can have the measurements for all your cuts so you know what materials you will need and in what sizes. Awesome! This design allows the dogs to step on the lever board and cause the cover to lift up off the dishes. When they are done eating and step away, it will close over the bowls again. At least, that's the theory!
Now Marisa, if you've read this far, are you still interested in plans for flower boxes? It will be very quick and simple for me to do it with this program, and I can send you pics, measurements, etc. Just let me know!