Author Topic: Is anyone using DesignSpark  (Read 55325 times)

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Offline EEVblog

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Is anyone using DesignSpark
« on: July 02, 2011, 05:25:14 am »
I haven't tried it yet, but it doesn't have any restrictions unlike Eagle and DIPtrace.
As mentioned on TheAmpHour, is anyone using it? and if not, why?

Dave.
 

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2011, 05:42:19 am »
I haven't tried it yet, but it doesn't have any restrictions unlike Eagle and DIPtrace.
As mentioned on TheAmpHour, is anyone using it? and if not, why?

Dave.

I tried to load it but after all the kerfuffle of registration it now has decided that I've loaded two copies and reached my limit. Haven't got a single copy running yet.

I'll have another try when time permits.
 

Offline FreeThinker

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2011, 06:22:27 am »
Yep tried it and (as a completed novice) found it ok. I think the Library is geared towards RS part numbers etc but that is to be expected. Latest plugin allows the 3d pcb model to be loaded into sketchup for mechanical design. Seems quite professional but I'm no expert. Lots of good things and support on the forum. I prefer Diptrace as it just seems to be easier to use, but as I say I'm a total noob  :).
PS Dave do you still call RS Radio Spares? or is it just me and my ever increasing years? :-\
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Offline EEVblog

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2011, 06:59:38 am »
I just tried to install it.
On first run is hangs on "installing part maps"

FAIL.

Dave.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2011, 07:01:25 am »
PS Dave do you still call RS Radio Spares? or is it just me and my ever increasing years? :-\

Yeah ,sometimes.
And Agilent, HP.
Element 14, Farnell
etc

Dave.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2011, 07:10:17 am »
Finally got it installed and activated.
First thing I tried to do is load a PCB and drag some tracks. Horrid.
And you have to pan the PCB window by using the slider controls? Yuck.

Not a good first start.

Dave.
 

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2011, 03:36:38 pm »
I gave it a try a couple of months ago for an open hardware project. The general impression I got was that it is hacked together with abstract specifications from a marketing team to join the 'open hardware/software trend'; no real thought into usability or features. I don't see how it can compete with the other packages commonly used, free or not.
 

Offline Rufus

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2011, 05:35:03 pm »
The general impression I got was that it is hacked together with abstract specifications from a marketing team to join the 'open hardware/software trend'; no real thought into usability or features. I don't see how it can compete with the other packages commonly used, free or not.

As far as I know Designspark is or is based on Easy PC (http://www.numberone.com/easypc.asp#) which has been around for ages. The same company is responsible Pulsonix.
 

Offline Fox

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2011, 07:40:22 pm »
Finally got it installed and activated.
First thing I tried to do is load a PCB and drag some tracks. Horrid.
And you have to pan the PCB window by using the slider controls? Yuck.

Not a good first start.

Dave.
For pan you have to hold P down and move the mouse, not very intuitive.
A closed Switch should have zero Ohms or less!
 

Offline dimlow

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2011, 09:05:54 pm »
For pan, middle mouse button, so easy, well not if you dont have one.
 

Offline ivan747

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2011, 01:16:01 am »
I was not impressed enough to switch to it since that would mean I have to redo some of the schematics I am working on for designing their PCBs.
 

Offline Zero999

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2011, 08:10:43 pm »
I was not impressed enough to switch to it since that would mean I have to redo some of the schematics I am working on for designing their PCBs.
There should be an open standard format for schematics so you shouldn't have to worry about that.
 

Offline rasmithuk

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #12 on: July 04, 2011, 03:07:43 pm »
I've been using it on and off for a month. I never really got on with Eagle, and the limitations put me off learning it properly.
Designspark seems to work ok. The footprint wizards are helpful to get a starting point (especially for the 144 pin QFP ones I've been making).
The oddest thing is the redrawing speed. If you set the visible grid to something reasonably high it really struggles when you pan around.

The most anoying thing I've found so far is the lack of drawing tools for footprints. If you want to put any tracks or extra solder mask on you're out of luck. Also I've yet to find any way of adding holes/slots as well, but it could be I've just not discovered the right way.

I'm tempted to try diptrace as it seems to be well liked by some users.

I'm also fighting the urge to write my own at the moment (really shouldn't start any new software projects). Gerber/drill files look reasonably nice to output compared to some of the stuff I've had to deal with in the past. The trickest bit would be writing the code to do track editing nicely and cope with components being moved.
 

Offline FreeThinker

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #13 on: July 06, 2011, 12:40:41 pm »
Have you gotten any further with Designspark? What are your thoughts and how do you find it to use? Just spent half an hour trying to turn off the topsilk layer had to give in and RTFM, 2mins later and turned off (it's part of the COLOUR tool??!)  :D
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Offline slburris

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #14 on: July 06, 2011, 04:18:30 pm »
I played with DesignSpark for a couple months, looking for something to switch
to instead of Eagle.  Registration of the program is kinda screwy.  I managed to get
the same laptop registered twice, which made it impossible for me to register a desktop
as well.  After sending some email this was sorted out in a couple days.

Still, for something that's supposedly *free*, there are a bunch of hoops to just through and
it looked to me like you have to renew your registration when it expires in a year.

Nothing about the user interface stood out to me.  It worked, but I didn't get one of those,
"hey, this is really easy to do in DesignSpark" moments.  Of course the libraries don't have the
parts I wanted so I was forced to do my own.

Eventually I ended up using DipTrace instead and liked it enough to pay for the Standard Edition.

Scott
 

Offline FreeThinker

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #15 on: July 06, 2011, 05:58:07 pm »
Diptrace seems more polished, intuitive to use but how do they stack up against each other? As a test I ran though the diptrace tutorial in designspark ie I created the same schematic and laid out the components on the board in the same positions etc. Then autorouted the pcb and compared the two. They are very similar. You then have to make the choice, do you pony up for a more polished but commercial product or put up with the quirky ui of the free designspark? As they say you pay your money and make your choice. Not tried to edit or create a new footprint yet or create a new component but suspect that they will be similar. Potentially designspark COULD have a big advantage if RS create a library for all it's components with 3d models etc. Will they have the savvy to do this or is it just a 'me to' response  to Farnells eagle? The UI needs some serious rethinking as does eagles so where does this leave pcb design software? Professionals will use a commercial package end of, so it will only be hobbyists or small design groups who would be the user base, would these numbers be enough to justify the money involved in developing the software or will it just wither and die?
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Offline johnboxall

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #16 on: July 08, 2011, 11:18:24 am »
I haven't tried it yet, but it doesn't have any restrictions unlike Eagle and DIPtrace.
As mentioned on TheAmpHour, is anyone using it? and if not, why?

Dave.

On a brand new, well specified Core i3, 4G RAM, Windows 7 Pro x64 machine it kept crashing.
On a two year old, AMD Quad core machine, 4G RAM, Windows 7 Pro, etc., it kept crashing.
Fail.
Now both machines are running Ubuntu 11.04 and Eagle, etc., at full steam.
 

Offline Bloch

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #17 on: July 09, 2011, 10:49:45 am »
On a brand new, well specified Core i3, 4G RAM, Windows 7 Pro x64 machine it kept crashing.
On a two year old, AMD Quad core machine, 4G RAM, Windows 7 Pro, etc., it kept crashing.

That version ?

And then did it crash ?

Just asking as DesignSpark 2.0 on my Windows 7 64  have never crashed.

But I dont like the "calling home" and online register.
 

Offline johnboxall

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #18 on: July 09, 2011, 02:10:55 pm »
On a brand new, well specified Core i3, 4G RAM, Windows 7 Pro x64 machine it kept crashing.
On a two year old, AMD Quad core machine, 4G RAM, Windows 7 Pro, etc., it kept crashing.

That version ?

And then did it crash ?

Just asking as DesignSpark 2.0 on my Windows 7 64  have never crashed.

But I dont like the "calling home" and online register.

I was using whatever was the latest version in February, as I distinctly remember farting about trying to get two copies registered after a snafu with an earlier machine. It's all moot now, I'd rather pay for something and have it work well on my OS of choice.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2011, 12:15:58 am by tronixstuff »
 

Offline ciccio

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #19 on: July 16, 2011, 08:03:01 pm »
I've installed it about one year ago on two machines, with some  problems (don't remember exactly now) with registration on the second one, promptly solved with a mail exchange with DS team.
I like some of it's features, but  dislike (or better HATE) the way you design new components and footprints.
Example: I've designed an 8 pin DIL connector, with some hassles being a novice,  but searched through help for hours trying to find a way for modifying it to a 6 pin and save with another name.
The other problem is with the supplied libraries: searching through them is an big nuisance, and the graphic style  of the components is inconsistent (line width,  component style, ecc..) from one to the other.

Mi experience with PCB and schematic design dates back to DOS days, with PROTEL PCB and ORCAD schematics, but they were really more intuitive and, at the end, were doing the same service.
Cannot use those versions  any more because they are outdated, and I do not have any printer that will work with Windows 98 anymore.

As my boards were becoming bigger and more complicated, I was obliged to use the services of external consultants, who use higher level CADs, but I would like to design again everything by myself
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Offline IanJ

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #20 on: July 26, 2011, 08:21:21 pm »
Mi experience with PCB and schematic design dates back to DOS days, with PROTEL PCB and ORCAD schematics, but they were really more intuitive and, at the end, were doing the same service.

I must be getting old......I remember Wintek's Smartwork the HiWireII, both DOS apps. Basic apps but very intuitive.....I got to know every single aspect about those programs.....can't say the same about Eagle.....the thought of designing new library components, or modifying an existing turns my stomach. WHY WHY WHY won't the guys at Eagle fix these well know issues......Grrrrr!

Yes I'm bitter.

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Offline McPete

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #21 on: August 24, 2011, 04:28:06 am »
It's the EDA of choice for my new employer- I've got a few designs going with it, but it's far from perfect... Seriously considering pushing for an Altium license, or EAGLE if I get really desperate.

Creating new parts is a drag, as is fine routing of tracks, making a global change... Ugh, not fun.
 

Offline Slobodan

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #22 on: November 19, 2011, 12:11:31 pm »
In DesignSpark PCB 3.0 I have opened Schematic Design (File - New - Schematic Design), and when i want to save it it says: "Failed to save document".
Product (DesignSpark PCB 3.0) has been activated.

What is the problem?

P.S.
Creating new parts is a drag

I don't know about the previous versions, but in 3.0 creating new components is easy (you can even use a wizard for it).
« Last Edit: November 19, 2011, 12:15:40 pm by Slobodan »
 

Offline Bloch

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #23 on: November 19, 2011, 07:25:07 pm »
In DesignSpark PCB 3.0 I have opened Schematic Design (File - New - Schematic Design), and when i want to save it it says: "Failed to save document".
Product (DesignSpark PCB 3.0) has been activated.

What is the problem?

It work i Windows 7, So maybe re-install it ?
 

Offline Slobodan

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #24 on: November 20, 2011, 11:13:23 am »
I have installed it on my laptop and my desktop computer, bouth on Windows 7, and it is the same situation.
 

Offline amspire

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #25 on: November 20, 2011, 12:04:07 pm »
Where are you trying to save the file to?  The example circuits are in the "Designspark PCB\Examples"  Program Folder - that is a write only location in Windows 7.

If it is defaulting to that location, you will get a Failed message. You have to save to somewhere else.
 

Offline Slobodan

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #26 on: November 20, 2011, 12:50:15 pm »
I tried to save it in C:/Users/Slobodan/My documents/DesignSparkPCB and i would get an error, but now i saved it successfully in C:/Users/Public/Public documents/DesignSparkPCB

Thanks.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2011, 12:59:42 pm by Slobodan »
 

Offline amspire

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #27 on: November 20, 2011, 01:03:19 pm »
I only have V2, so I will try out V3. You could run it as administrator. So instead of left clicking on the icon to run, right click and select "Run as Administrator".

That way you will find out if it is a permissions problem at least.

Update: I just tried V3 on my Windows 7 64 bit, and it save a PCB fine for me.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2011, 01:52:58 pm by amspire »
 

Offline Slobodan

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #28 on: November 20, 2011, 03:57:24 pm »
No, it is something else, but it doesn't matter, i can save it in the other location.
 

Offline im_a_human

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #29 on: December 31, 2011, 12:43:31 am »
I use Designspark just to do circuit diagrams as i dont need to design PCB's and yes its not perfect but found it certainly easier than Eagle which i found very frustrating and gave up with it.
 

Offline Sainttronics

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #30 on: February 29, 2012, 09:26:49 pm »
Tried it as an alternative to Ultiboard, and felt that I was going backwards instead of forward. Going to stick to Ultiboard 8 until something else better comes to market.
When rendering 3D views, it caused my PC to hang each time; no feedback given to the reason why.
Regards

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Offline gjh

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #31 on: April 11, 2012, 04:56:58 am »
Actually I think DesignSpark is great..   I've been trying out a number of different software, KiCad, DipTrace, Altium, Eagle, Ultraboard, and a few others..  and I've seattled on DesignSpark..  Actually I use the AutoRoute feature (dont kill me I know Im lazy) and it actually works not too bad..  I get a ok small footprint layout that Im happy with that isn't a mess like other software Autorouting features. I've just been doing simple circuits nothing complex..   Newer versions of DesignSpark havent crashed on me yet with Windows 7 (64bit) and I import *alot* of components from Eagle libraries.       I think its a pretty good all rounder minimal effort to learn application.

Good Points - Good Autorouter, Minimal time in learning the application, Integrated 3D.
Bad points - Native libraries not that great, have to import Eagle libraries.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2012, 05:00:44 am by gjh »
 

Offline nakchak

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #32 on: April 30, 2012, 09:58:41 pm »
I don't find it that bad, and certainly for the price you cant really grumble.

Certainly V3.0 has quite a few improvements in it, and auto panning is an option in settings, is just disabled by default...

The main advantage i find with it is that i have inherited several projects at work which were designed in EASY-PC/Pulsonix which is the same core product i.e. libraries are the same, file formats are basically the same, and i dont like either of those products enough to want to convince my management to buy me a license whilst design spark is obviously free.  I do find the library editor to be pretty buggy and prone to crashing out the whole program though so you find your self instinctively saving after every single edit (not that bad a thing I guess).

Also it is considerably nicer to use than eagle IMHO, although i cant understand why there isn't a ruler or guide lines in the editors, is a massive ball ache trying to be precise with it, same with the non existent (bloody well hidden if it exists) coord editor so i can use num pad instead of mouse to position.
 

Offline Teknotronix

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #33 on: May 03, 2012, 06:52:37 am »
I'm a fan. I have done three layouts with it so far and all worked out well. Sent the first complete one off to itead studio and they said it looked fine for manufacture. There are a number of missing features mentioned in this thread that I too would love to see incorporated, but they should come as the product evolves I imagine.

The auto-router SUCKS big time, so I do all manual routing. One other thing is that the PCB mode is heavily reliant on the context menu (right click) to do things like "End on Via" and "Change Layer". If the manual routing tools are made nicer, it would improve efficiency dramatically.

The library editor is awesome. It's very easy to make and abstract footprints for PCB, schematic and 3D. I've made a number of parts so far and they worked out very well.

Overall I like it and will stick with it until Altium bring out a free/hobbiest version. C'mon Altium, you should be getting all the young engineers hooked on your stuff so they have no choice when they turn professional. Just look at the winning approach MS has taken with Visual Studio .NET.
Don't drone me bro!

 

Offline hiddensoul

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #34 on: January 04, 2014, 08:37:15 am »
I am using designspark, I am really new to PCB design but a member of my Ham Radio club did a talk on it a few months ago and have started to play with it. I still have a long way to go both in PCB design in general and with designspark but I like it so far
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Offline temmink

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #35 on: February 22, 2014, 04:42:53 pm »
I I have downloaded the application (version 6, I believe) from designspark, last week.

Until now I didn't installed it yet, because I use a Mac. But I just installed the parallels version, and will actually install the program within a few minutes.
I'm curious if it works reasonable within this setup.

I mostly use eagle on the mac. but I don't really like the limitations of my version. Off course I could buy the prof. version, but my mind is not yet eagle for pcb.
I also have tried to use Kicad (hey free version), but that gives some strange screen garbage on my mac.

Let you know what I think about it.

« Last Edit: February 22, 2014, 04:46:32 pm by temmink »
 

Offline DerekG

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #36 on: March 12, 2014, 12:55:25 pm »
I I have downloaded the application (version 6, I believe) from designspark, last week.

Yes, a big improvement over its predecessors. I'm designing up a new project with it now which is quite amazing as I do own Altium Designer 6.9

I just can't bring myself to pay the $3.6K Altium want for me to bring my version up to the latest release.

There is plenty of room for improvement of course & some of the features that I like in Altium I will send on to Designspark for their consideration for their next release.

What I do like is the "ModelSource" feature to download the latest component schematic, footprint & 3D model from the RS Component's website. Library components have been such a time consuming aspect of Altium (& to be fair, most pcb design software).

Also, the screen drivers are pretty good compared to most low to mid end PCB software packages & moving from schematic to pcb is MUCH easier than with Altium. It remains to be seen if this easiness has any downsides in relation to lax design rules.

Maybe Dave will do a new review of Designspark ver 6.

At least it should load up & run this time :)
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Offline Rigby

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #37 on: March 12, 2014, 03:59:38 pm »
Hmm, I might give this a try, now.  I'm keen to see how well it behaves these days.  I know that RS really hyped up the release of this version, so they must be pretty proud of it.
 

Offline Monkeh

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #38 on: March 14, 2014, 06:48:51 pm »
Still can't pan across their own example project without it feeling like 1998 again.
 

Offline DerekG

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #39 on: March 15, 2014, 12:08:32 am »
Still can't pan across their own (DesignSpark) example project without it feeling like 1998 again.

Press & hold the middle (3rd) scroll button on your mouse to drag around the pcb/schematic.

You can also activate pan by selecting
Settings
Preferences
Display

But, I will admit the 3 files required to set up a new library has driven me crazy (library itself, schematic part & pcb part). The methodology is not very intuitive at all. You will need to set up your own library at some stage as many parts are not found in "ModelSource".

So ................. for new boards with less than 50 or 60 parts, I am using a combination of DipTrace 2.3 (latest version) & Altium 6.9 (2008 version).

I draw the schematic in DipTrace & port to the pcb. This is very quick & easy. I then export via the PCAD filter into Altium. The board imports spot on.

I then use all the fantastic options in the pcb design of Altium to autoplace/autoroute/modify everything just as I want.

This gets around all the sh*t that drives me crazy in porting an Altium Schematic across to Altium PCB (maybe its got easier in Altium Designer 14).

For large/complex boards where you *might* have lots of cross probing, Altium schematic to pcb is still the way to go ............ with all the hair pulling that goes with it.

Just my 2c worth :)

PS: Maybe Dave can do a new DipTrace video now that he has had some past experience with it :)

I think it is one of the most intuitive schematic/pcb design programs out there for the money (or free for the small version). Libraries have always been the thing I hate & DipTrace makes it very easy to make new parts/modify old parts & SWAP footprints on the fly.
I also sat between Elvis & Bigfoot on the UFO.
 

Offline Monkeh

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #40 on: March 15, 2014, 12:10:17 am »
That is not what I meant. I can figure out how to pan around for myself, thank you.

Zoom out on their example schematic until the entire board is in the window. Pan around. If there's a magic trick to getting it do this in real-time like every other modern tool, I haven't found it yet.
 

Offline DerekG

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #41 on: March 15, 2014, 01:04:19 am »
Zoom out on their example schematic until the entire board is in the window. Pan around. If there's a magic trick to getting it do this in real-time like every other modern tool, I haven't found it yet.

Entire schematic in window;
Keyboard
Z (zoom)
A (all)

Under "Display" select "Enable Auto Pan" then slide the "Delay Before Starting" slider to the minimum position.

Now here is the trick - panning will only operate if you don't push your mouse cursor past any of the menus or scroll bars. The cursor must remain just inside your schematic/board window.
I also sat between Elvis & Bigfoot on the UFO.
 

Offline Monkeh

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #42 on: March 15, 2014, 01:14:15 am »
Zoom out on their example schematic until the entire board is in the window. Pan around. If there's a magic trick to getting it do this in real-time like every other modern tool, I haven't found it yet.

Entire schematic in window;
Keyboard
Z (zoom)
A (all)

Under "Display" select "Enable Auto Pan" then slide the "Delay Before Starting" slider to the minimum position.

Now here is the trick - panning will only operate if you don't push your mouse cursor past any of the menus or scroll bars. The cursor must remain just inside your schematic/board window.

Still not getting it. Once again, I can figure out how to use the basic functions of the tool!

Board editor, not schematic, my apologies (although I recall it not being any good on the schematic editor, either). Entire example board (chipKIT Max32) on screen. Designspark cannot draw fast enough to keep up with a gentle pan across the board. It simply can't maintain a smooth display. Totally unacceptable.
 

Offline Rigby

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #43 on: March 15, 2014, 01:46:42 am »
might depend on the video card or PC specs.

works more or less real time for me.
 

Offline Monkeh

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #44 on: March 15, 2014, 01:48:37 am »
might depend on the video card or PC specs.

works more or less real time for me.

Q9650, GTX 470, plenty of DDR2-800.. if it can't render smoothly on that, when Eagle, Altium, and every other 2D and 3D tool (not to mention games..) works fine...
 

Offline Rigby

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #45 on: March 15, 2014, 03:12:49 am »
I don't know.  It doesn't move the PCB around at 60fps for me, but it's over 30.  Not sure what your issue would be.

Why they didn't start using the GPU for this stuff ages ago is beyond me.
 

Offline hikariuk

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #46 on: March 16, 2014, 05:09:38 pm »
One problem I've noticed with DesignSpark is when you upgrade it doesn't automatically carry over your existing custom libraries, you have to do it yourself.
I write software.  I'd far rather be doing something else.
 

Offline DerekG

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #47 on: March 17, 2014, 05:17:55 am »
One problem I've noticed with DesignSpark is when you upgrade it doesn't automatically carry over your existing custom libraries...

Quite right. You need to save your custom library in another directory that is not a sub-directory of your installed DesignSpark .............. otherwise it will be overwritten.
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Offline RanchForeman

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #48 on: December 07, 2014, 04:12:59 pm »
If Design Spark's ease-of-activation is any indication of its ease-of-use, then I will most likely not use it.
 

Offline Bob F.

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #49 on: May 11, 2015, 11:43:44 pm »
Been playing with the latest version for about a week of evenings and it looks pretty good to me.  Saying that, I'm not to be taken too seriously as I've not done any layout (and even then very little) since about 10 years ago and that was with OrCad. 

I didn't look at Eagle as the free version is too restricted.  I did look at KiCad and quite liked it, especially the workflow, but it simply did not work out of the box.  The manuals and tutorials refer to a 4 year old version of the software with different library parts and menu items that have been moved about from one module to another since it was written.  Cryptically named path variables pointing at non-existent directories and some small changes to methodology caused some initial confusion when trying to follow the tutorial.  Finally, 3d models of the components are not showing on my installation.  I got fed up searching for yet another fix at that point and gave up. 

DesignSpark worked out of the box and has fewer quirks than KiCad - e.g. it seems more intuitive when you want it to do something by just clicking on the bit you want to move/edit/add a wire to/ draw a track etc.  I seemed to spend an awful lot of time finding and pressing quick-keys in KiCad.

I put Kicad and DesignSpark at about even on my short acquaintance in terms of capability but DesignSpark just simply worked without hassle.  But, as mentioned, I am by no means an expert on this (or practically any other) subject so  take this as a noob's observations only. 

I think that if you tried an earlier version and found it limited or of poor quality, it may be worth taking another look now.


Cheers, Bob.
 

Offline DerekG

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #50 on: May 12, 2015, 01:09:27 am »
Been playing with the latest version for about a week of evenings and it looks pretty good to me .........it may be worth taking another look now.
Cheers, Bob.

Thanks Bob.

Take your time to see how you get on making components that are not RS website. It used to be a real pain in the a*se to make your own component ........ plus doing your own 3D modelling hardly/didn't work at the best of times.

Also before you spend too much time with DesignSpark, take a look at DipTrace, Target 3001 & Proteus. The pin limited versions of all of these are pretty cheap & I would prefer to use any of these over the previous version of DesignSpark anyday.
I also sat between Elvis & Bigfoot on the UFO.
 

Offline tggzzz

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #51 on: May 12, 2015, 08:20:24 am »
Been playing with the latest version for about a week of evenings and it looks pretty good to me .........it may be worth taking another look now.
Cheers, Bob.

Thanks Bob.

Take your time to see how you get on making components that are not RS website. It used to be a real pain in the a*se to make your own component ........ plus doing your own 3D modelling hardly/didn't work at the best of times.

Also before you spend too much time with DesignSpark, take a look at DipTrace, Target 3001 & Proteus. The pin limited versions of all of these are pretty cheap & I would prefer to use any of these over the previous version of DesignSpark anyday.

I use DesignSparkPCB simply because it doesn't have any artificial limitations, and initially because of the RS library. The RS library wasn't as useful as I hoped, so I ended up making most of my components' layouts - which I found easy and intuitive. N.B I haven't tried anything w.r.t. 3D modelling.

I now run it in Linux under Wine, so I don't even have to boot into Windoze any more.

FFI, https://entertaininghacks.wordpress.com/2015/03/25/designing-pcbs-with-surface-mount-components/
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
Glider pilot's aphorism: "there is no substitute for span". Retort: "There is a substitute: skill+imagination. But you can buy span".
Having fun doing more, with less
 

Offline DerekG

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #52 on: May 12, 2015, 09:13:48 am »
FFI, https://entertaininghacks.wordpress.com/2015/03/25/designing-pcbs-with-surface-mount-components/

Nice board. It would be worth updating all the 90 degree track angles for 45 degrees. When using thin tracks, 90 degree bends can cause etchant pooling in the corners which leads to breaks occurring.

Just a pointer if you are thinking of making production numbers.
I also sat between Elvis & Bigfoot on the UFO.
 

Offline tggzzz

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #53 on: May 12, 2015, 09:23:04 am »
FFI, https://entertaininghacks.wordpress.com/2015/03/25/designing-pcbs-with-surface-mount-components/
Nice board.
Thanks. I regarded it as a quick'n'dirty hack to explore the entire process of modern SMD boards, since fabrication technology had changed a bit since I did my last homebrew boards (see https://entertaininghacks.wordpress.com/2015/02/21/a-40-year-old-hack-disinterred/ :) )

The whole experience wasn't bad but there were a few wrinkles, as outlined in these posts: https://entertaininghacks.wordpress.com/tag/smd/

Quote
It would be worth updating all the 90 degree track angles for 45 degrees. When using thin tracks, 90 degree bends can cause etchant pooling in the corners which leads to breaks occurring.

Just a pointer if you are thinking of making production numbers.

Just so, and absolutely not :) Besides, using the ridiculously cheap Chinese board houses highlighted other grosser problems - but I will continue to use them where appropriate.

More interestingly my next boards will have sample rates up to 2GS/s, so impedance control will be key.
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
Glider pilot's aphorism: "there is no substitute for span". Retort: "There is a substitute: skill+imagination. But you can buy span".
Having fun doing more, with less
 

Online David Aurora

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #54 on: May 13, 2015, 12:07:05 pm »
Giving it a whirl this week. Absolute hell on earth so far. The potential is there to be awesome and well integrated with RS (who is who I order through 99.999% of the time already), but it fails so hard at every corner. I feel like I'm getting what I paid for haha.
 

Online David Aurora

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #55 on: May 13, 2015, 12:17:00 pm »
Also, am I far beyond sleep deprived, or is there a quirk where diodes mysteriously change direction from schematic to PCB? I don't know whether it's a fault in Modelsource or what, but on the board I'm laying out right now every single diode is in the correct direction on the schematic, but has its markings reversed on the PCB. Good thing I'll be assembling myself, that'd let the smoke out pretty quick if nobody caught it.
 

Offline tggzzz

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #56 on: May 13, 2015, 02:48:40 pm »
Also, am I far beyond sleep deprived, ...

In which case it might be better to wait before fabbing (or posting) :) We've all had mornings where we wish we had gone home two hours earlier the previous night.
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
Glider pilot's aphorism: "there is no substitute for span". Retort: "There is a substitute: skill+imagination. But you can buy span".
Having fun doing more, with less
 

Offline Bob F.

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #57 on: May 13, 2015, 11:19:43 pm »
Take your time to see how you get on making components that are not RS website. It used to be a real pain in the a*se to make your own component ........ plus doing your own 3D modelling hardly/didn't work at the best of times.

Also before you spend too much time with DesignSpark, take a look at DipTrace, Target 3001 & Proteus. The pin limited versions of all of these are pretty cheap & I would prefer to use any of these over the previous version of DesignSpark anyday.

Yes, that is a good plan - no point rushing at it.  I used OrCad a bit in the distant past and I was not a fan - but that was dictated by job requirements so choosing one I don't end up hating will be worth the time taken  :)

Cheers, Bob.
 

Online David Aurora

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #58 on: May 23, 2015, 03:39:46 am »
Also, am I far beyond sleep deprived, ...

In which case it might be better to wait before fabbing (or posting) :) We've all had mornings where we wish we had gone home two hours earlier the previous night.

That was more of a polite courtesy/joke. It wasn't a sleep thing, it was a Designspark thing. Diode markings were indeed reversed between schematic and board and I couldn't find a way to correct the mistake in the program (I guess I'll have to edit the parts manually but I haven't had time yet). They were diodes from Modelsource, next time I'm working in DS I'll try some other diodes and see if it happens with others.
 

Offline DerekG

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #59 on: May 23, 2015, 08:35:18 pm »
Diode markings were indeed reversed between schematic and board and I couldn't find a way to correct the mistake in the program

Zener diodes are normally installed in "reverse". Did you choose a zener instead?

Also, you have to allocate the anode & the cathode to each side of the diode in your "pin allocation map". It might be that this allocation is reversed.
I also sat between Elvis & Bigfoot on the UFO.
 

Online David Aurora

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #60 on: May 24, 2015, 03:27:23 am »
Design had a Zener and a couple plain old diodes, same problem with all. I think you're missing the point with the reverse thing, it's not confusion over which way diodes work.

Imagine there's a diode between point A and point B. On my schematic the anode is at point A and cathode is point B. As soon as I switch over to the PCB, the anode is now connected to point B and cathode to point A.

Thanks for he pin allocation tip, I'll check it out. Still, why on earth would the program be designed that way??!! Why wouldn't it just default to following what was drawn on the schematic?
 

Offline DerekG

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #61 on: May 24, 2015, 04:01:02 am »
Why wouldn't it just default to following what was drawn on the schematic?

The component "drawing" means little to DesignSpark. As far as it's concerned, it is just a combination of lines that have no intrinsic value.

What does matter is the number of pins & the pin numbers. It sounds like the pin mapping between the schematic part & the footprint have been reversed.

Let's hope so, as it is a quick remedy to swap them over.
I also sat between Elvis & Bigfoot on the UFO.
 

Online David Aurora

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #62 on: May 24, 2015, 04:08:00 am »
Why wouldn't it just default to following what was drawn on the schematic?

The component "drawing" means little to DesignSpark. As far as it's concerned, it is just a combination of lines that have no intrinsic value.



That seems like a MASSIVE oversight to me.

Curiosity has got me now, I'm going to boot up the system and try this pin assignment thing. I'm also going to see if it happens with default library components (as I said before, these were parts from Modelsource so that could be the issue, I know the symbols for the op amps I've used from there are a joke)
 

Online David Aurora

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #63 on: May 24, 2015, 04:50:36 am »
Well, as the tree said to the lumberjack...

Opened up that last project and sure enough everything is assigned properly pin wise, but symbols are definitely inconsistent between schematic and board. Standard Designspark diodes work as they should though when I added them as a test, while the original Modelsource ones are messed up.

So out of curiosity I started a new project and added default Designspark diodes as well as the same Modelsource diodes used in the other project. Works fricken perfectly. Maybe I'm going crazy, or it's user error, right? So I open the original project back up and delete the traces to the diodes in question to see if I've somehow manually routed wrong (I know I didn't, because I remember majorly getting the shits about the symbols when I was routing and posting this rant, but let's assume I'm an idiot and messed up). Nope, the thing is still telling me to route them backwards. There is definitely something wrong here.

Ahh, the joys of software.
 

Offline tggzzz

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #64 on: May 24, 2015, 07:53:38 am »
Well, as the tree said to the lumberjack...

Opened up that last project and sure enough everything is assigned properly pin wise, but symbols are definitely inconsistent between schematic and board. Standard Designspark diodes work as they should though when I added them as a test, while the original Modelsource ones are messed up.

So out of curiosity I started a new project and added default Designspark diodes as well as the same Modelsource diodes used in the other project. Works fricken perfectly. Maybe I'm going crazy, or it's user error, right? So I open the original project back up and delete the traces to the diodes in question to see if I've somehow manually routed wrong (I know I didn't, because I remember majorly getting the shits about the symbols when I was routing and posting this rant, but let's assume I'm an idiot and messed up). Nope, the thing is still telling me to route them backwards. There is definitely something wrong here.

Ahh, the joys of software.
... including models :( I remember, back in 1982 being asked to quote to freate HiLo models of 74xx devices. The client really, seriously, didn't care about their accuracy or correctness. The client was a salesman which a large sale pending on whether or not the simulator had 74xx devices. I think you can guess the rest.

Back to the present. You've piqued my interest. Can you let us know the precise modelsource model so that I can attempt to verify it? Probably necessary to have the Designspark version, although I'm not going to change my version.
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
Glider pilot's aphorism: "there is no substitute for span". Retort: "There is a substitute: skill+imagination. But you can buy span".
Having fun doing more, with less
 

Online David Aurora

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #65 on: May 25, 2015, 02:46:14 am »
Haha, oh man, sounds like a nightmare!

Sure, the diodes are RS part numbers 7087916 and 2513069. I'm in DS 7.0.2.
 

Offline tggzzz

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #66 on: May 25, 2015, 08:59:54 am »
Haha, oh man, sounds like a nightmare!
No, not at all. We simply declined to quote.

Quote
Sure, the diodes are RS part numbers 7087916 and 2513069. I'm in DS 7.0.2.

Using DS 6.x, have a look at the attached schematic and pcb files.

It looks OK to me, apart from the lack of the schottky and zener diode indications on the schematic. That's unnecessarily sloppy to be true, but I don't see a connectivity error.

I'm not overly fond of the diode picture on the pcb, and would prefer that it was inside the outline, but it is pointing in the right direction.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2015, 09:02:22 am by tggzzz »
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
Glider pilot's aphorism: "there is no substitute for span". Retort: "There is a substitute: skill+imagination. But you can buy span".
Having fun doing more, with less
 

Online David Aurora

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #67 on: May 27, 2015, 09:08:47 am »
Yeah it worked fine for me too in try fresh test project I created, weird. Still wrong in my original project though, so I don't know, some kind of data corruption maybe? Thanks for double checking mate.

I'm about to lay out another board with those same parts, let's see how this goes.
 

Offline Wizard

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Re: Is anyone using DesignSpark
« Reply #68 on: September 08, 2015, 02:27:21 am »
Installed it (easy enough on Win 8) added 3D lib (what I wanted in first place) and tryed it out  :( (now what was that part number?). What a disapointment that I can't search for SRAM, EEPROM, or Regulator. You have to know what the part number is that you want to use and I CAN'T/WONT keep that many numbers in my head so, it's back to Eagle for me   :)
 


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