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Topic: RS components free pcb software (Read 3201 times) previous topic - next topic

jabber

I don't know if this has already been posted, but in the UK and I presume Europe, RS components are promoting their new free (beer) schematic capture & pcb layout software, called DesignSpark. There is apparently a Linux version coming as well.
RS site  http://uk.rs-online.com/web/

Osgeld

#1
Jul 12, 2010, 07:18 pm Last Edit: Jul 12, 2010, 07:21 pm by Osgeld Reason: 1
looks interesting, I must try it out

not sure I like having to join a community to activate it but its not that big of a deal
http://arduino.cc/forum/index.php?action=unread;boards=2,3,4,5,67,6,7,8,9,10,11,66,12,13,15,14,16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30,86,87,89,1;ALL

RuggedCircuits

It is in the USA as well.

It is very interesting: no limits on layers or board sizes. It (presumably) imports Eagle designs, though when I tried it it failed.

Either this is the advent of completely free "commercial" schematic/PCB/autorouter tools (gEDA is not quite there IMHO) or DesignSpark is not as free as it looks. Given that you still have to register and obtain an activation code, I'm going to wildly speculate that at some point the free-ness will go away. What incentive is there for the authors to maintain and improve the software otherwise?

http://www.ruggedcircuits.com

jabber

It may be a reaction to Farnell acquiring the Eagle software.

I thought about the freeness part of it, but if it is reasonably bug free and is not time limited then we at least have this copy to use for ever, I still sometimes use dos pcb software I acquired in 1993.

For the moment, for new stuff,  I am sticking with gEDA and all it's clunks, wheezes & groans.

RuggedCircuits

That's the thing about the activation code...I don't think you can keep using this version forever as at some point you will presumably upgrade your PC and the software will ask for a new activation code. If they're not handing them out for free anymore, you're out of luck.

Yes, Farnell did acquire Eagle but it didn't become free. Again, I can't see Allied getting all THAT much business from its DesignSpark integration that it can afford to subsidize the maintenance and development of this program forever. But that's just bar sport speculation of course  :)

I also like the "openness" of Eagle with respect to being able to export libraries, use script files to create parts, ULP language, etc. The user is in control of their data in this way without the software actually being open source. I didn't see such an openness in DesignSpark.

http://www.ruggedcircuits.com

jabber

Yeah, point taken about the activation code, I wasn't thinking straight.
If I get a chance tonight, or maybe someone else can try the same code on 2 different installs & see what happens.

Udo Klein

You could install it into a virtual machine and keep the virtual machine forever.

Udo
Check out my experiments http://blog.blinkenlight.net

TonyD

Having downloaded DesignSpark PCB I think the activation code is for a single copy per PC, but reading comments on the DesignSpark website you can email them and ask for a second (or third ??) activation code if you want to run another copy on say a laptop.

Or you could register with their web site twice and get another activation code that way  ;)

If anyone is interested, I've converted the EagleCAD Duemilanove to DesignSpark PCB format. I'll post it in the forum or to my blog later today.

ill_switch

Any of you have enough experience to do a quick bulleted list of how it compares to Eagle? Say, with respect to:

-learning curve
-flexibility
-speed

I've finally gotten to the point in Eagle where I'm fluent with keyboard shortcuts and it's been months since I had trouble figuring out a new function. This new software sounds interesting but I don't see any incentive to switch.

TonyD

Quote
Any of you have enough experience to do a quick bulleted list of how it compares to Eagle? Say, with respect to:

-learning curve
-flexibility
-speed

I've finally gotten to the point in Eagle where I'm fluent with keyboard shortcuts and it's been months since I had trouble figuring out a new function. This new software sounds interesting but I don't see any incentive to switch.


DesignSpark PCB is a bespoke version of Easy-PC by Number One Systems. I've used Easy-PC for over 8 years.  

I've haven't evaluated EagleCAD for a long time so can't really compare DesignSpark PCB to it, but I found Easy-PC (DesignSpark PCB) to be pretty intuitive. The keyboard shortcuts are quick and easy, ENTER = draw signal/track, Ctrl-S = Save, F3 = Add component, A = Zoom All, Z = Zoom, U = Un-Zoom, G = Select Grid, T = Add Text etc. It's pretty quick, no perceivable delays redrawing screens, its quick swapping between schematic and pcb screens. Cross probing between schematic and pcb is very useful.

IMO it's best feature is it's very easy to make schematic and PCB components. I remember using OrCAD and CADStar I always found it a pain to make components in those packages.

It has some annoyances: On my Easy-PC version renaming signal nets involves several mouse selections and button presses. The number of component libraries aren't as extensive or as big as EagleCAD and my biggest gripe with DesignSpark PCB is it won't import Easy-PC designs or libraries :(

You can import EagleCAD schematics, PCB layouts and libraries which is very handy, its a two stage affair requiring you to have EagleCAD to export the design data as an ASCII file but its pretty straight forward.

The main differences between the free versions are:

DesignSpark PCB:


  • size of PCB board (its drawing area) is up to 1.0m by 1.0m (39" by 39")
  • allows up to 14 signal layers (not including silk screens) (*).
  • allows up to 99 schematic sheets per project (*)
  • no commercial restrictions (non mentioned on web site)


EAGLE Light Edition:


  • The usable board area is limited to 100 x 80 mm (4" x 3.2").
  • Only two signal layers can be used (Top and Bottom, not including silk screens)).
  • The schematic editor can only create one sheet.
  • non-profit only licence (you must buy it if you earn (or save) money by using the Freeware version of EAGLE Light)

   
Note: * Easy-PC has these features so I'm guessing DesignSpark PCB will have the same.

ill_switch

Thanks for the detailed and informative response. I'm left with one question. Almost all of the projects I'm working on right now are collaborative to some extent (either in the sense that I am literally developing with other people, or at least sharing the final design with other people.) Eagle seems like the de-facto standard for sharing. It has already been stated that Designspark PCB can import Eagle files, but can it generate them? In other words, if I do a design in Designspark, will I be able to save it in a format that my Eagle-centric friends can actually use?

Grumpy_Mike

#11
Jul 14, 2010, 10:58 pm Last Edit: Jul 14, 2010, 10:59 pm by Grumpy_Mike Reason: 1
Osgeld said:-
Quote
not sure I like having to join a community to activate it but its not that big of a deal


Well that's what I thought, so I joined and posted a small message saying Hi and linking my web site and saying check out what I do.

Then I got this email:-
Quote
I have unpublished your comment in the Arduino thread on DesignSpark.  Please see the community guidelines regarding content:
http://www.designspark.com/page/community-guidelines

Links are fine when they are in context with other content you've posted and don't look like pure self promotion.

That said, I did have a look at your site and you have done some interesting projects and good writing.  Would you like to come on board as a blogger?

Regards

Lee Stacey
DesignSpark


So they considered a simple link to a site that was not selling anything to be self promotion. The relevant term on their page says:-
Quote
You may NOT post:
........   anything that could be interpreted as self-publicity.  This includes spamming, posting the same or similar message across many discussions, advertising (including pyramid selling and chain letters), selling or soliciting.

So that also includes a single posting a link to my site that, according to the feedback I have received, has helped lots of people, and never sold them anything or carried advertising.

So if you have made something and want to offer to sell people say a PCB, because you had to order more than you need, then this would be right out.
I wouldn't have minded that much if my site was selling something, which is more than could be said for their site.

Note also that they were quite happy to publish me as a blogger publicising their site but not a simple link to my own.

I did have an exchange of emails with them about this which left me with the firm impression of something sinister going on, especially if you read their guide lines:-
http://www.designspark.com/page/community-guidelines
So I won't be going anywhere near them, you, of course, will make up your own minds.

PaulS

#12
Jul 15, 2010, 12:27 pm Last Edit: Jul 15, 2010, 12:27 pm by PaulS Reason: 1
I love this one:
Quote
Content

You may NOT post:

b)      any facts that are inaccurate or any opinions that are not genuinely held.


Not only must you be absolutely correct in any opinion you post, you must firmly believe it.

I believe that they are a bunch of idiots.

TonyD

Quote
Thanks for the detailed and informative response. I'm left with one question. Almost all of the projects I'm working on right now are collaborative to some extent (either in the sense that I am literally developing with other people, or at least sharing the final design with other people.) Eagle seems like the de-facto standard for sharing. It has already been stated that Designspark PCB can import Eagle files, but can it generate them? In other words, if I do a design in Designspark, will I be able to save it in a format that my Eagle-centric friends can actually use?

No it won't export your design as a EagleCAD file, it only imports.

If they're serious about the hobbyist market they should add the option to save as EagleCAD.

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