DesignSpark PCB layout software – the new kid on the block

by Stephen Hobley on September 9, 2010

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Up until recently Eagle CAD has been the de facto standard for home-brewed PCB design. The free version has some limitations (The useable board area is limited, two signal layers, editor can only create one sheet) but these are very rarely a problem for the hobbyist.

Now there is Design Spark, a tool created by the component supplier RS – this has no such limitations, and in addition to the autorouting functionality it also supports component autoplace.

I had a chance to use it recently and I’m pretty sure that this will be displacing Eagle CAD as my design tool of choice. The interface seems a little easier to work with than Eagle – more of a Windows feel and less of a CAD feel from the 80s. Which is a good thing.

It also imports all the standard component libraries from Eagle, along with the BRD and SCH formats.

The only thing I found lacking was no image export function – something I use in Eagle a lot to generate the etch masks for home production. I did notice a DXF output funciton, so I would assume that there is a way to get a rasterized version of board layouts through that.

All in all 9/10.

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mike October 1, 2010 at 5:39 am

I use KiCad and Sierra circuits for manufacturing my board, and will check this out.

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