Thread: Design Spark

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  1. #1
    After spending days trying to create a component in the user library, I find that the fecking folder is read-only and Design Spark does not handle the failure to write - so no error reported.
    Mark Twain said that no amount of evidence will convince an idiot.!

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  3. #2
    I detect a little frustration in that post! DS Mechanical?, I first tried DS a few years ago with their PCB design software but found it counter-intuitive and the developer's attitude of windows-or-nothing too big a hurdle to overcome. Autodesk for me.
    Last edited by Doddy; 06-05-2019 at 06:41 AM.

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  5. #3
    I tried Design Spark PCB when the antique PC I used with Protel AutoTrax went belly up. I spent weeks trying to make it work, reporting bugs which they didn't fix. What is the point of Beta test if you don't listen? Eventually I just bought a new old PC with Windows Millenium edition and went back to Protel. Bliss

  6. #4
    Sorry Folks, I was a little lacking in specifics (due to frustration!). I was referring to DS PCB. What I am trying to do is create a board with an Arduino Nano module and a couple of 16 channel MUX modules on it. Neither of these exist in the libraries, so I need to create them.

    I used to use Circuit Wizard and have produced Gerber files with it that have fed into CopperCam and produced Gcode to mill and drill a PCB. However CW is a dead piece of software and there are no facilities for making library modules.

    What I need now is a piece of working (and free) software that will allow me to create the modules I need, incorporate them into a schematic and produce a PCB design for isolation milling and hole drilling.

    I have tried TinyCad and rejected it.

    Any suggestions ?

    BTW Robin, although I work mainly on a Win10 PC, I do have an XP machine to drive my CNC, so, at a push, I could use that.


    Mark Twain said that no amount of evidence will convince an idiot.!

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  8. #5
    Eagle. If you can live with the limits of the free version - 80x100? double sided, limited schematic sheets

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  10. #6
    For quick and simple PCBs, I've used from JLCPCB which integrates with their sister company LCSC's online component shop. If you use the associated library, you can then order the resulting PCBs and parts in one order so that the whole project arrives together. The free version of the layout tool is fairly comprehensive and includes an autorouter. The main difference from the full cream version is that you can't create your own parts library.

    I discovered that the downside of ordering PCBs and compts together is that the combined value attracts those silly tax / duty / admin charges on the way into the UK. That sort of wiped out much of the saving, so next time I will order them separately. If you order just the PCBs, they cost $2 for 5 (plus P&P) for 2-sided boards up to 100mm x 100mm on a 24h turnaround. You can track their progress through the factory.
    Last edited by Muzzer; 06-05-2019 at 12:50 PM. Reason: Add more

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  12. #7
    I have downloaded and installed Altium Circuit Maker, and from what I have seen and tried, it looks promising. The next step is to make a simple project to test if the Gerber files are OK.
    Last edited by cropwell; 06-05-2019 at 01:49 PM.
    Mark Twain said that no amount of evidence will convince an idiot.!

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  14. #8
    m_c's Avatar
    Lives in East Lothian, United Kingdom. Last Activity: 16 Hours Ago Forum Superstar, has done so much to help others, they deserve a medal. Has been a member for 9-10 years. Has a total post count of 2,292. Received thanks 262 times, giving thanks to others 6 times.
    I use DipTrace.
    If you're using it for hobby, and you do need a higher pin/layer limit, they'll give you an upgrade for free. IIRC the free option has a 500pin limit, which I've only ever went above once.
    Avoiding the rubbish customer service from AluminiumWarehouse since July '13.

  15. #9
    I use FreePCB. I was initially attracted by the free bit, but rapidly realised it was a nice not over-complicated intuitive application - obviously written by a real engineer, not a disjointed team of code heads who've never had to lay out a board.

  16. #10
    Well, Altium Circuit Maker got ditched. It was OK for doing schematics, which I have done and printed. For this one-off project, I am going to build it on protoboard. This, in a way, is fecking annoying. as I wanted to try isolation milling again. I have CopperCam to do the conversion of Gerber to Gcode.

    So - what did I find wrong with Altium CM----

    1. Lack of Help documentation.
    2. Cloud based storage only.
    3. Rigid development pathway. (1 PCB per project - I needed 1 PCB per schematic)
    4. Alien vocabulary. I do not speak Nerdish.
    5. Forking didn't work! (if you use Altium CM you may realise that is a pathetic joke!)
    6. Tutorial videos were done by a super-annoying young American with a high voice.

    I will re-address the issue of routing (pronounced rooting not rowting) tracks of a circuit to design a PCB which can then be isolation routed (this one you can pronounce rowting), when my frustration levels reduce to the point that my forehead is not in danger of demolishing a wall.

    Thanks everyone, for the input, I will get back to evaluating these suggestions soon.


    Mark Twain said that no amount of evidence will convince an idiot.!

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