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Old 28th October 2011, 04:21 PM   #1
Join Date: Dec 2007
Default designspark PCB software free downloads

I have been using EasyPC since it was a Doss program and flopy disk.
Recentley I got the Window version at £quite a lot.

This was purchased from RS components.

Now RS have its own out. Engine and icons look is wery much similar to Easy PC.

You can download for free from DesignSpark | The gateway to online resources and design support for engineers

Go for it.

See Elecktor November 11 page 9 for adwert.

So nothing new here but hey maybe you missed it....

Last edited by Bksabath; 28th October 2011 at 04:24 PM.
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Old 30th October 2011, 08:38 PM   #2
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I was very disappointed with design spark, I found it very un-intuitive to use. I am pretty certain it is an old version of EasyPC cobbled together for RS.

I also remember EasyPC in the 1990's, I was so impressed with its bugs I went away and wrote my own CAD package !

A good CAD package should have lots of error checking, you can lose the cost of a CAD package on a bad batch of PCB's.
Murton-Pike Systems PCBCAD51 pcb design software.
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Old 30th October 2011, 11:50 PM   #3
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Hi agree with you They look very much the same

Thing is I paid £300 + for easy PC so realy no worth making that mistake as you can get the free version.

About un-intuitive use I got used to it and it serve me well.

About mistakes I don't know I make simple single layer PCB for myself and again it works for me.

All I wanted to say is that it is out there and free so maybe it could help someones.
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Old 31st October 2011, 03:29 AM   #4
BrianL is offline BrianL  United States
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I find it excellent and quite intuitive. There are a few klunky features, but more so because of lack of fancy documentation than poor user interface.
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Old 31st August 2015, 02:48 PM   #5
rsavas is offline rsavas  Canada
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Hello folks,

Rather than start a new thread I will use this one instead.
It is now 2015, maybe it is time to revisit this software again.
I do not know what version was evaluated when this thread was started.
I am evaluating DesignSpark PCB version 7.1 on a HP DV6500 laptop running Win Vista :-)
If it runs on Vista so what does that say :-) I get authorization failure when I try to run it on my HP DC5100 desktop using WinXP.
I read the articles in Elektor, written by Neil Greunding. Started from June 2013, to May/June 2015 = quiet a long time. Not too bad a tutorial, missing a few important points.
But all in all so far, it is what I consider as okay or worth while investing some time for a learning curve. IMO not as good as orcad, but better than eagle or diptrace. I have used, Cadence Allegro and Mentor BS before, what are considered some of the high end pcb s/w.
Thought this DIY forum, seems to have standardized on using LTSpice but yet can figure out a free usable ecad pcb pkg = nuts. I see people using Eagle, DipTrace, Sprint with all their limitations, God-damit, there must be something these days we can all agree to use and share our designs.
I am work with Terry(still4given) to help him learn to use a ecad tool. Hope he does not give up and can be productive and make use of this free s/w.
I guess the thing to do, is do up a design and post it here, so others can use it and follow along in this tutorial.

Cheers Rick

Last edited by rsavas; 31st August 2015 at 02:52 PM.
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Old 31st August 2015, 02:57 PM   #6
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I have written PCBCAD software since about 1990.
I noticed with PCBCAD360 my C++ version that it no longer runs on XP.
However, my C# version PCBCAD51 still does.
Its surprising how many of my customers are still using XP.

There are so many pcbcad packages out there its hard to find the perfect one that is cheap enough for hobby use yet has all the functionality required but is still easy to use.
Murton-Pike Systems PCBCAD51 pcb design software.
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Old 31st August 2015, 03:10 PM   #7
rsavas is offline rsavas  Canada
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People use old o/s & s/w because they have $ invested in old s/w and are not about to cough up more $ for a new version. If the old one works just fine then why spend more $. Yes I do understand that the h/w can fail at any time but if you have cheap spares that base is covered.
Your points are noted in this thread and probably many others.
I have not evaluated your pcbcad s/w and this thread is not about your s/w.
I will check for a pcbcad360 or pcbcad51 thread.
DesignSpark v7.1 is free and that is what we are evaluating here.

Feel free to contribute to this thread if it is about DesignSpark v7.1 or whatever version is newer.

Last edited by rsavas; 31st August 2015 at 03:21 PM.
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Old 31st August 2015, 03:13 PM   #8
rsavas is offline rsavas  Canada
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Some of my notes so far.

Well playing with this ecad s/w some more, I find it to be a bit clunky. As usual a mind of its own. Neil's tutorials are well now a bit thin for sure, lots of things missed as far as getting to understand the tools operation. I have not gone hrough the DesignSpark tutorials. I find sometimes it is better to read a bit, dive in and then go back to the doc if you get stuck on something.
It is not as feature rich as the orcad. The libraries are, well poor by my standards. They require work to say the least.
Neil should have provided some of his libraries as examples of working libraries, not the crap that is supplied by the ecad vendors, this one included. But they do give you enough to work with to get started.
Good ecad libraries are like IP, people make $ having good libraries available to pump out designs.
Knowing that RS comps are involved they should have put a much bigger effort into creating better libraries, since they insisted in always wanting their part number to be included in a comp (attribute) property.
The wizard helps you build components rather easily. One problem is that you have to figure out the linkages between the component,symbol,footprint, which is not so obvious.
The schematic parts(components) are done so that you have symbols that are referenced from the component library. So many comps, like a resistor, will all reference that one symbol. That is a good thing generally speaking. The comp also references the footprint.
DesignSpark.cml (leave alone) & User.cml (use this for your own) or create more specific ones for say R,C,L etc. Isue with saving to user lib, have to change folder/file permissions.
The thing to do is to start to make a separate comps for each type of resistor or other part that you do. You will eventually find out that a bulk of the design work is making good libraries!
Here is no for you, in the example "riaa amp"
I selected the AD844AN symbol U1a, it references a symbol call "AD-56", how in the hell are you supposed to make sense of that name? The idea is to taking an existing component and use as a template to make a new comp with ans still use the existing referenced symbol. Problem is when you are making a new comp from scratch you have to know/understand all the symbols in the lib to be able to determine which one to use. For resistors this is easy, as there are only two "R" & "RA" for ansi of course.

So good understandable component naming conventions are usually in order. Everyone has their system, some orgs have even got names standardized, that is the IPC. But for schematic comps it is wide open. I have my method as follows.
C-TH-4.7u-25V-10%- UKL1E4R7KDD

As you can see some are through hole, some surface mount, some general purpose with many vendors, some specific with the mfg part number included. If say you make a dedicated bjt library you can just use the device number, like KSA1220A etc.
When I build the comps I include all the important info, manufacturer(s), distributor part numbers, always Mouser, Digi-key other distributors if needed. This information will come out in the BOM so it easy to load the BOMs into the dist BOM managers for ordering. Putting time in the libs up front saves lots of time when the boms get sorted out. If you the same parts over and over you save so much time in the backend.
I have started to build a library for this tool which basically comes down to doing it again as I have a big orcad library from years of use.

I am getting this tool to actually do something for me. It really comes done to getting your head around its MoO, (Mode of Operation) Obviously knowing other ecad tools makes it easier to figure out what's up doc.
One unresolved issue I have, is when I output the cam data and read it into gerbTool, the drills hits do not line up with the pads. Need to work on that issue = pilot error, offset issue?
Got ModelSource libraries going. With out it, it would take a lot more time to get the libraries in order. It actually reminds me of what we used to use at HP in the 90's. But if a lib parts was not available at HP, we just ordered it up from the lib group in Santa Rosa :-)

MSource libraries are a good place to start. Basically, I read in comps, of different types (bjt,Al ecap,res) and then use them as templates to work off of. I then I added all my extra props like mouser_pn, duplicate(copy) from the templates and change the props like the mfr part number. Got to work on getting that info out into the bom report, but as long as you have a good mfg_pn, it is good enough to load into a dist import tool to save on a lot of typing.

Last edited by rsavas; 31st August 2015 at 03:20 PM.
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Old 31st August 2015, 03:19 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by rsavas View Post
Feel free to contribute to this thread if it is about DesignSpark v7.1 or whatever is newer.
I missed putting a the vital piece of information and that is my software was written after using EasyPC (Designspark).
In about 1990 I used EasyPC and it was full of bugs and shortcomings so I wrote my own using the same key presses and functions but minus the bugs.

Since then I have used designspark and found it very hard to use.
They seem to have made lots of changes making it worse instead of better than the original EasyPC software.
Murton-Pike Systems PCBCAD51 pcb design software.
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Old 31st August 2015, 03:38 PM   #10
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My advice in regards to free packages is dont bother with them.
Its better to buy somethin gtaht is bug free and is fully functional.
It just takes missed error check and your pcb's can be junk.
There is plenty of good software out there that will do the job much better.

A lot of companies make a lot of money out of disheartened free pcbcad package users.
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