In the light of some of the questions and problems that have come up after presenting the latest TBs TechChallenge I have decided to prepare some simple instructions for a first time install of the LDraw Parts Library, MLCad and LDview, the basic package you need to participate in this challenge. Rather than using the all-in-one installer provided on LDraw.org
I have just completed this installation on a clean Windows 7 Ultimate, so if you follow these simple steps and the on-screen instructions you will get while installing you should be able to complete installation without any problems. If you still run into any trouble do not hesitate to mention it in a comment and I'll do my best to help you out. If you are using Mac or Linux... I suppose you know what you are doing, but in case there is sufficient interest in some instructions for those OSes I can prepare something later on.
1 - Installing the LDraw Parts Library
First of all you should install the complete collection of parts provided by LDraw. You can find an installation program on this LDraw page. (There is also a zip file with all the parts for those of you who know what they are doing.)
The installer will suggest extracting the files to C:\LDraw and you should probably accept this suggestion. The installer doesn't actually install anything. That is to say, it does not place anything outside the folder it installs to. The only real difference between the zip file and the installer is that in the case of the zip file you have to create the location you want to extract the files to.
There is a good chance you may need parts that have not been officially released yet (for a number of reasons - I will explain something about that at a later time). As you can read in the LDraw Tutorial - Part 2, you can find those parts on the Parts Tracker, but you can also install all of the unofficial files at once by downloading and extracting the full set of Unofficial Parts Files to an appropriate location. To keep things simple use C:\LDraw\Unofficial and make sure the final result is that you get two new subfolders under Unofficial named C:\LDraw\Unofficial\p and C:\LDraw\Unofficial\parts.
2 - Installing MLCad
To install MLCad, go to the MLCad website, select the language of your choice (English or German) and in the navigation bar on the left click on Downloads. Download the latest version V3.30 now (1,1MB). Save the zip file to a convenient location on your computer and then extract it. Where? Well, that's up to you, but in the original LDraw all-in-one installer, applications (programs) were installed to the Apps folder under LDraw (C:\LDraw\Apps\MLCad in this case for example).
The first time you start MLCad it will ask you where the LDraw Parts Library is (which is why you should install that first). By default it will suggest you to look in C:\LDraw - another good reason to place the parts there.
You are now ready to start working with MLCad. If this is your first time or you need a refresher course, please read the LDraw Tutorial - Part 1.
3 - Installing MLCad.ini
MLCad is not complete without the MLCad.ini file. It's main purpose is to populate the minifig generator with every available minifig part, but there is also a section in MLCad.ini that describes where official and unofficial parts are located.
You can download the latest version of MLCad.ini from the dedicated page on Holly-Wood.it. Extract the file in the same folder as MLCad.exe. If you already have a previous version of MLCad.ini, note any manual changes you may have made to it and overwrite it with the most current version.
If you have installed the Unofficial part, now is the time to make a small change in MLCad.ini. Open the file with your favourite text editor (e.g. Notepad) and scroll down to the section that begins with [SCAN_ORDER]. By default it will look like this:
1 = SHOW
2 = HIDE
; 3 = SHOW
; 4 = HIDE
; 5 = SHOW
; 6 = SHOW
As you may have already guessed, you need to delete the semicolon ( ; ) at the beginning of lines 3 and 4 to tell MLCad where the unofficial parts are. Save and close and you are ready to go.
Don't forget to rescan the parts library so MLCad actually sees where the parts are and what parts it has available (open MLCad and go to File > Scan Parts...) This and much more is also described in LDraw Tutorial - Part 2.
4 - Installing LDview
In order to be able to supply a decent quality render of your creation, you will also need to install LDView. You can download the program from its official Download page on SourceForge .
Installation is straight forward, simply follow the instructions and accept default settings. You can ask the program to install to C:\LDraw\Apps\LDview if you would like to keep everything LDraw related in the same place.
You should now have all the necessary tools to participate in the TBs TechREVERSE Challenge!