One of the issues from my first day with DesignSpark PCB was the fact that my titleblock printout didn’t come out as expected. All of the text was shifted down a little and was the wrong size. I did a little more investigation and it turns out that if you use a stroke font instead of a True Type, the alignment doesn’t change when printing. The font size is also the same. However, in order to use stroke fonts you need to declare them in the design technology file for every size and type you intend to use. Even though it looks like you can edit the size of a stroke font by just clicking on it, you can’t.
The next step in my project is to draw the schematic. That was easy – the drawing and placement tools are pretty straight forward. Here’s what I ended up with.
This is the first part of a series of tutorials on DesignSpark PCB. The second part is here.
For the last little while I’ve been looking at some of the “free” PCB design tools out there for some open source hardware projects I’m considering. I initially tried Eagle which seems to be the standard “free” package out there because it gives you a limited functionality package for free. I turned it on once and promptly uninstalled it. Sorry, but I just couldn’t get past the user interface. It was completely foreign to me and I’ve used a lot of different packages (PADS, Orcad, Protel, PCAD, Altium Designer, etc). Eagle just felt broken from the first second I tried it, I think mainly because it is so different in ideology from the commercial offerings I’ve tried.
Second on my list is DesignSpark PCB. I tried it and it failed my 5 minute click around the tutorial test. So I sent an email to the DesignSpark people complaining about it. Martin Keenan, the project manager for DesignSpark PCB, replied and gave me some valid reasons to look at it again. So I figured I would but that I would lower my expectations the second time around.