DesignSpark (something to do with RS Components) are giving away a free Schematic Capture and PCB package. I’m guessing its RS Components response to its arch rivals Farnell recently buying Cadsoft, the authors of the hugely popular Eagle CAD software.
Once you download DesignSpark PCB you’ll find it looks and feels the same as NumberOne System Easy-PC. That’s because it is, DesignSpark have gotten NumberOne to sell them their software and re-badged it as DesignSpark PCB.
Comparing it to EagleCAD would take an entire blog entry on its own but the main differences between the free versions are:
- no restrictions to the size of PCB board (I think its drawing area is up to 1.0m by 1.0m (39″ by 39″))
- no restrictions (I think it allows up to 14) on the number of signal layers can be used.
- no restrictions (I think it allows up to 99) to the number on 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).
- 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)
Now all this sounds great, but it’s a shame the DesignSpark libraries are incompatible with existing Easy-PC libraries. I’ve been using Easy-PC for 8 years and would have liked to share some of my designs through DesignSpark PCB, but NumberOne still have a business to run so it makes sense not to give away too much of the family silver.
Another thing to mention, is that importing from EagleCAD is not as straight forward as the blurb would suggest. You need a copy of EagleCAD and have to run an EagleCAD macro while EagleCAD is running to output the desired design data into a ASCII formatted file. Once this is done you can import the intermediate EagleCAD schematic, PCB or library file into DesignSpark PCB.