DesignSpark PCB changes, features & enhancements are a direct result of your feedback, suggestions and requests. Please contribute to the discussions to help us make DSPCB even better!
>>> Below you can also download previous versions of DesignSpark PCB software (for compatibility reasons), as requested by the community <<<
IMPORTANT: Installation/upgrade instructions
Get the latest download from the DesignSpark PCB Home Page
16/06/16 – Version 7.2
The following issues have been resolved:
ODB++ output did not properly handle powerplanes with nested board outlines.
Error “Authorisation Service Error” was being reported when RS server was down, instead of allowing the application to continue “offline” for the designated period.
In 3D View, octagonal pads would display as square if the pad had a hole width.
Poor resolution of the arcs in Gerber output for the rounded corners of pads using shapes such as Rounded Rectangle.
Auto-generated set of manufacturing output plots did not always contain Bottom Copper layer.
In the Pour Copper dialog, the minimum pour area setting was sometimes reverting to zero or a very small value.
Using Pour Copper with Thermal Pads unchecked, unnecessary thermal spokes were being added on top of the copper.
Pour Copper failed to add some spokes for some pads that did not lie on the same grid as the others.
The rules for Pour Copper were more restrictive than in Version 6, causing some previously connected pads to be left without thermal spokes.
PDF Output of manufacturing layers causing incorrect file names
07/08/2015 – Version 7.1
1. EPW (ECAD Part Wizard) integration – for easier loading of the new library parts.
Following issues resolved:
- Back Annotation.
Would not handle name changes where only the ‘case’ of a name was altered.
- Change Component.
Replacing a two-gate component with one having only a single gate could cause the application to hang.
- Design Rule Check.
One specific PCB design had several spurious pad-to-copper errors reported.
- DXF import.
some circles were being imported in the wrong location.
- Gerber output.
Default minimum coordinate resolution increased to 5 places to reduce likelihood of rounding errors.
The wrong distance was being reported when measuring between two silkscreen shapes.
Moving track segments could move vias at the end of those segments even though the vias were marked as fixed.
- ODB++ output
Rotated annulus pads were being output as solid filled round pads; power planes were not being generated correctly if the design contained nested board outlines.
- Optimise Nets
Did not add a connection to a through-hole pad on a power plane net when pad was marked as ‘isolate from plane’.
- Pour Copper
Attempting to Pour an existing copper shape (i.e. not via a Pour Area) could cause the application to quit.
On a small number of Win8.1 systems the application would quit when pressing OK on the Registration dialog.
- Save to library
Attempting to save a component to the library when the net name field contained invalid characters would cause the application to quit as it attempted to display an error message.
Selecting a single-pad component with no outline would not select just the pad, thus preventing access to Pad Properties.
- Windows output
Rotated TrueType text was printed at the wrong orientation on some versions of Windows.
24/03/2015 – Version 7.0.2 resolves the following issues:
Version 7.0.2 not available for download - please use the stable version 7.1
1. Add Track
- When using Orthogonal mode, sometimes some track segments were being left in ‘dynamic’ mode, which meant they became invisible when the picture was redrawn.
- Error messages displayed to indicate a problem with software authorisation sometimes contained unreadable characters.
- Some nets in a Project could not be cross-probed if schematic sheets had been removed from the Project then re-added.
- Attempting to cross-probe a net from Schematic to PCB in a single-sheet Project was not finding the net in PCB.
- Sorting items in tables into order did not take account of values to the right of the decimal point.
- It was possible to set Isolation Gap to a negative value, causing issues with Pour Copper.
- Redrawing the picture was slowly consuming GDI Objects, eventually causing the application to quit, usually after several hours of usage within one application session.
- Circles for drilled-out free pads were sometimes being drawn away from the pad to which they belonged.
- Some DXF files use codes 41 and 42 as an alternative to code 43 to define a POLYLINE, which was not being detected in the DXF Import module.
- DesignSpark Mechanical compatibility issue resolved.
7. Forward Design Changes
- Running Forward Design Changes after renaming a sheet in a Project would sometimes unroute more tracks in the PCB than strictly necessary.
8. Library Manager
- Creating a new library would frequently offer to save it in a folder that was not in the library folders list.
- Could use the wrong Technology file for the preview of components in the ModelSource bar.
- Some pads were being incorrectly isolated from their plane when the thermal connection width was over a certain size.
11. Pour Copper
- One specific design containing pads with overlapping copper shapes used to create ‘custom’ pads would not isolate those pads from the plane during Pour.
12. Product Pages
- The link to ‘Product Pages’ was not using the locale override settings from Preferences to help determine the correct URL to call up for the product page of the selected component.
- The list of Bus names in a Project was not always complete, sometimes one or more names could be missing. This could mean that the name shows up in the Goto bar but Properties on the bus thought it had no name.
- When collating component reference names in a column/field in a report, one of the names would be missing from the output if the text had to be ‘wrapped’ onto a second line.
- It was possible to select a surface-mount pad based on the size of a pad style exception defined for a layer on which that pad did not exist. Thus if there was a bottom-layer exception with a much larger size than the top layer or default size, it was possible to pick the pad well outside its boundary.
16. Display Resolution
- New higher resolutions graphics support added e.g. now supports 3200x1800.
28/01/2015 – Version 7.0.1 resolves the following issues:
Version 7.0.1 not available for download - please use the stable version 7.1
1. Thermals on pads
- Correct function of thermal spokes in PCB layout is now restored
- Authorisation Server Error addressed thanks to substantial investigations performed by a number of users. Note: the issue is largely eradicated although some very specific network setups may block the server communications
- DesignSpark PCB was by mistake not able to start when not connected to the internet. This is now rectified and the software can be run off-line
- Selected topics of the system help are now updated as per customer feedback received
24/11/2014 – Version 7.0.0
Version 7.0.0 not available for download - please use the stable version 7.1
1. Sketch Routes – for faster schematic entry and faster PCB layout
2. ODB++ export – a new alternative export file format
3. Enhanced handling of RS and Allied Part Numbers – one of the keys to quickly finalise a completed design is to have a complete Bill of Materials with all parts known and ready to order. No engineer likes spending hours cross referencing and identifying parts at the end of a design. No engineer likes surprises of long lead times or no stock when about to getting the bits ordered – especially when wanting to quickly test that prototype of a new idea or new solution. As requested by the community we’ve made it easier to add RS and Allied part numbers when creating new parts. Each part in your design is now linked to its RS product page where you can check pricing, stock & availability and view a datasheet at any time.
1. Branding – DSPCB is now aligned with the new DesignSpark website look & feel, new logos, alignment with the colours of the RS Components and Allied Electronics websites. We hope you like the new looks as much as we do!
2. DesignSpark Mechanical Export – enhanced the interface to our 3D design software by enabling it to find any newly created IDF files without having to browse your hard drive (available in DSM version 2)
3. BOM Quote – parts with no pins assigned no longer show up in the BOM Quote website as they are unlikely to be purchasable components
4. Tutorials – links to tutorial websites are now geo-targeted so that users in non-English speaking markets see their localised versions without the need to switch from English to the local languages (subject to local versions availability)
5. User Registration – user registration is now built-in to the software and you no longer need to go to the DesignSpark website to edit your customer information or for new users to register a new account. No more software activation emails and no more manual entry of activation codes. This is a major simplification that allows you to get started with the software much quicker
6. Library Manager – information about the built-in libraries is now added making it simpler to find the 30,000+ parts that come within the installer and giving clarity as to how these libraries differ from the on-line ModelSource libraries
7. ModelSource – Login in now automatic driven by the new built-in registration details you provide on the first start, saving you from having to re-enter the credentials
>>> Download DesignSparkPCB Version 6.1 <<<
01/09/2014 - Version 6.1 resolves the following issues:
1. 3D View
- Prism shapes in user-defined packages were not being inverted for a component that had been placed on the back of the board.
- When package type is set to DILSwitch, if it happened to match with a PCB symbol containing only a single pin, the application would quit while attempting to generate the 3D impression.
- When creating a new 3D package, sometimes the details would not be saved the first time round, requiring the details to be entered a second time before the new package would be saved to the library.
- Each successive redraw would increase memory usage.
2. Change Style
- Changing the track style of a zero-length track between a via and a pad at the same location could cause the application to quit as the track is tidied out after making the style change.
3. Design Rule Check
- Component-to-Component checking was being done using the ‘edges’ of the component bounds, rather than treating the bounds as a ‘solid’ box, thus leading to fewer errors being reported than should have been the case.
4. DXF Import
- Certain commands were not being interpreted correctly in DXF files in recent formats, potentially leading to nothing appearing in the design after import.
5. DXF Output
- Long layer names could cause the DXF file to be unreadable in other software such as AutoCAD and TrueView, despite the published length limit of layer names being 255 characters.
- Text items could be misplaced from their proper locations.
6. Gerber Import
- The holes defined by drill files were not always being matched to the corresponding pads during Intelligent Gerber Import, resulting in pads without holes.
- If the folder where the import process tried to write its report file was not writeable, the application would quit.
- The Goto bar would sometimes retain information (such as Component names) from a design that had been closed or reloaded, which would cause the application to quit if you clicked on any of those items.
8. Library Manager
- The presence of a comma in the name of a 3D package could cause the application to quit as it encountered that name when reading the 3D library.
9. Forward Design Changes
- In designs containing some types of PCB-only component, running Forward Design Changes or Integrity Check could cause the application to quit as it attempted to generate the report.
- On a tiny number of machines, usually running Windows 7, the application would ‘block’ on startup after a Windows API function call failed to return. The application process would be visible in Task Manager but nothing would be displayed on the screen.
11. Update Component
- In some circumstances when more than one package of the same component is used in the same design, updating one of those components would result in an internal fault in the design data, potentially leading to the design file becoming unreadable.
12. Back Annotation
- Processing back annotation data was causing the application to lock up for one particular design.
- A net with a name of “N” was erroneously recognised as a default (unnamed) net, causing the joining of nets during duplicate to leave the net as unmerged with the original.
- Duplicate didn't copy pad style exceptions from the original component instances.
14. Edit Track
- Using backspace to delete previous segments was not changing the current active layer when backspacing through a Via.
15. SCM/PCB Check
- A malformed warning message was being output to the report when ignoring PCB-only component pads.
- The preview on the Plotting dialog did not include Vias.
- If the procedure to add a PCB design to a Project was cancelled partway through (for example at a prompt to save an older format design file), the file could be only partially linked to the project and would then cause the application to quit.
- Attempting to rename nets across a Project was locking up if it encountered a name change that differed only in the case (e.g. renaming mux25 to MUX25).
- The Layers report contained error messages in place of the expected information about Layer Types.
20. Frame Select
- Multiple uses of Frame Select would lose the previous selection, and became stuck in Deselect mode.
21. Next Error
- While moving a component dragged from the Component Bin, pressing the hotkey for Next Error can cause the application to quit on releasing the moving component.
- It was not possible to Copy/Paste between Schematic Symbol and Schematic Design.
23. PDF Output
- Missing fonts were causing PDF output to fail.
24. Pour Copper
- Thermal spokes were being added even when inside a copper keepout area.
- Unhelpful error message given if corner radius is too large for pad width in Pad Properties.
26. Translate to PCB
- There were some issues with Schematic-only and PCB-only components following an earlier fix.
>>> Download DesignSparkPCB Version 6.0 <<<
21/01/2014 - Version 6.0
Overview video for the new features in Version 6:
2. Cross-Probe - for faster hardware debugging and navigation around designs
3. Custom Shortcuts - add user-defined keyboard shortcuts for personalisation of UI
4. Start Page - lists useful highlights, reference designs, getting started links and the handy list of recent projects/files
IMPORTANT: Installation/upgrade instructions
>>> Download DesignSparkPCB Version 5.1 <<<
06/11/2013 - Version 5.1
1. ModelSource Component Reference error - this fixes incorrect RefDes or Component ID issue
2. ModelSource Fails to read XML with “>” character in a value - this fixes display of some of the library families previously resulting in a 'communication error'
3. Component Edit: Name Pins by Row/Col can sometimes fail to apply new names
4. Librariy Manager: a malformed unnamed library item could cause the application to quit
5. PDF Outputs: mirrored text on PDF plots was slightly undersized
6. Layout: Add shape using "=" to type in start & corners does not work if orthogonal segment mode
7. Opening files: Reloading a design can sometimes cause the application to quit if Interaction Bar has been closed
>>> Version 5.0 no longer available for download <<<
16/04/2013 - Version 5.0
1. Online DRC (real-time Design Rule Check)
2. Schematic Buses (combining multiple signals into a Bus)
3. Installer improvements:
- dedicated (version-dependent) folders
- preserving Library folders when uninstalling
- preserving registry settings when uninstalling (for automatic activation of new version)
- improved messaging
4. Reorganised Tutorial links and Start Menu shortcuts
>>> Version 4.1 no longer available for download <<<
04/03/2013 - Version 4.1 Bug fixes:
1. Authorisation : white space was not trimmed from the ends of a pasted activation code
2. BOM Quote : locale did not follow changes in locale in Preferences
3. ModelSource : Quick Search with no results showed communication error
4. ModelSource : Unable to log in using Chinese user name
5. ModelSource : View Datasheet button didn’t work in Quick Search
6. Preferences : needed to check if logged in before attempting to access EDA server for locale info
7. Setup : needed to set ‘wide open’ permissions on PROGRAMDATA\DesignSpark PCB folder
8. Setup : didn’t warn about over-writing existing master libraries when doing full install
9. 3D View: The 3D View windows did not take into account the Preferences setting for ‘reverse mouse zoom’.
10. Change Layer: In a PCB design with no bottom electrical layer defined, changing the layer of a track segment could cause the application to quit as it attempted to find a ‘best fit’ layer span for vias.
11. DXF#1: One particular DXF file would not place imported arcs in the correct location.
12. DXF#2: If the current default line style was an unnamed style, shapes in the DXF could not be imported as Board Outline but would instead always revert to being Shapes.
13. Import Eagle #1: Power and ground plane layers were not being transferred from Eagle PCB designs.
14. Import Eagle #2: Eagle files could not be imported on some Windows 7 or Windows 8 systems.
15. Integrity Check: Sometimes an existing component in the PCB would be renamed and replaced instead of simply adding a new component.
16. N.C. Drill: The milling commands for some slotted pads were not taking the size of the milling tool into account, and were thus causing the milled slot to be slightly over-sized.
17. Net Names: Predefined net names from the component were not using value positions defined in the Schematic symbol when choosing the position for those net names when the component was added to the Schematic design.
18. Open: Some designs from earlier versions of the application would not read into DSPCB version 4.
19. 3D Libraries: Adding an unnamed ‘prism’ element to a user-defined 3D package was causing the library file to become unreadable.
20. Change Net: After allowing Change Net to merge nets across the whole project, Integrity Check would fail with an error ‘Cannot find net “”’.
21. Component Edit: Attempting to map multiple pins in a multi-gate component was producing incorrect results.
22. Delete: After deleting a block port, the application could unexpectedly quit when attempting to save the block file.
23. Drawing: When adding or moving free pads in a PCB design containing vias, some or all of the other free pads would
25. Help: Several options were not linked to the correct help page when pressing F1 for context-sensitive help.
26. Import OrCAD Netlist: Importing an OrCAD netlist was creating nets with no net class.
27. Layers: Layer data could get mixed up after using the Up or Down buttons to re-order layers.
28. Move: Moving some shape segments adjacent to arcs could cause the arc to reverse direction.
29. Open: The application was failing to open a PCB design from an earlier version of DSPCB when the design contained unprotected Vias with no tracks attached.
30. Plotting #1: When plotting multiple layers to the same Windows plot, the output was not in layer order.
31. Plotting #2: Implied (automatic) junction points on Schematic diagrams were usually printing as hollow instead of filled.
>>> Version 4.0 no longer available for download <<<
Version 4.0 New features:
1. ModelSource interface - access to an on-line database of over 80,000 components and associated product data. The components can be searched via Part Number Quick Search or category browsing and attribute selection (Parametric Search)
2. BOM Quote - integration with RS Components eCommerce website for instant Bill of Materials quoting and component purchase
3. PCB Quote - inferface to PCB manufacturers' on-line quoting websites with instant design parameters transfer
4. PCB Symbol – Placement Origin – this is a new type of origin that can be used to define where the pick-and-place origin of the footprint is positioned. This is then available in the Reports output, as the Place X and Y fields to use in place of the existing Centre X/Y or Position X/Y. If you specify PlaceX/Y in the report and a footprint doesn’t have a placement origin, it will use the CentreX/Y instead.
5. Reports – schematic-only components – you can now exclude these from reports by changing ‘Components to Include’ from ‘All’ to ‘Only items matching Schematic-only is false’.
6. Update Components – there are now separate checkboxes for component values (the actual values and their text strings) and value positions (the visible instances of values). This means you can tell it to update existing or add new values when updating the component without disturbing where the value positions are displayed on the drawing.
7. Reports - Bill Of Materials report now adjusted to show RS Part Numbers and other additional details
8. Updated Eagle import ULPs
Version 4.0 Bug fixes:
1. Changes to handling of Components with no pins
2. Apply to row/column on right-click menu in dialog grids
3. DRC now detects SMT pad with drill hole going through other layers
4. Pressing Enter when editing cell in a grid now goes to next line (like Excel)
5. Improved drawing for coloured cells (e.g. on Colours dialog)
6. Better retention of pin name/number positioning when updating components
7. Adds missing menu option "Disconnect From Net" for copper that has been assigned to a net
8. Some PCB nets had odd colour and/or hidden connections after translating from Schematic
9. NC Drill files now include G81 ("drill mode") command at start, required by some viewers/readers (e.g. GC-Prevue)
10. Dotted or dashed line styles no longer output to DXF as solid lines
11. Uses height from component even if over-ridden on the instance
>>> Version 3.0 no longer available for download <<<
Version 3.0 New Features:
1. Spice Simulation Interface - DesignSpark PCB software can now be interfaced to free industry standard Spice simulators to carry out circuit simulation. DesignSpark PCB Circuit Design Software currently supports four simulators: LTSpice, LSSpice, B2Spice and TINA.
2. Design Calculators - You can select tracks or vias (vertical electrical connection between different layers of conductors in a PCB) in your design and perform basic electrical calculations such as:
- Width of a track required for a given current.
- Impedance of a selected track.
- Optimum copper density to use.
- Approximate temperature rise on a track.
- Resistance of a via given its physical characteristics.
These useful calculators produce approximations of actual circuit performance to aid the decision process in completing a successful PCB layout. Also available is a standard scientific calculator.
3. Grouping - This feature allows multiple items in your circuit diagram to be associated together so that they act as one ‘unit’. Once defined, groups can be used to assist in selecting related portions of your circuit. Perform group functions from the Schematic to the PCB to enable simpler identification and handling of specific elements of your design.
Version 3.0 Bug Fixes:
1. Component Editor - Change Terminal Name no longer automatically replicates the name change across similar gates. Instead the name change only applies to the selected terminal, and a new command is provided to explicitly copy the selected name to the other gates.
The Packages dialog now allows the deletion of the last Package of a Component to make it into a Schematic-only Component.
2. Technology - The ‘table’ (grid) used on this dialog and others has been upgraded. This allows some additional functionality, as well as removing the installation problems on someVistaand Windows 7 systems. Such tables can now be scrolled with the mouse wheel. The ‘Apply To Column’ function is now available in Net Classes, Track Styles, Line Styles and Text Styles. When adding or editing tracks, the context menu option called Autoroute is now more correctly called Auto Complete.
3. Preferences - The Display Preferences page has been laid out differently.
4. Projects - Paste now displays the ‘Paste Net’ dialog if net(s) exist in other sheets in the Project. A pasted Net receives the Net Class of an existing project net. A new Net will copy the net class from this net if defined in another sheet in the project. A new Net Class will copy parameters from this net class if defined in another sheet in the project.
5. Optimise Nets - Where a connection is required to connect an item to its powerplane a ‘zero length’ connection will be drawn as a ‘butterfly’ shape.
6. 3D View - New shapes BEAD, DILSwitch and LEDdisplay have been added.
>>> Version 2.0 no longer available for download <<<
Version 2.0 New Features:
1. 3D viewer
2. Enhanced library features
Version 2.0 Bug Fixes:
1. Add Component - Cancel Mode on context menu
2. Values in component edit are now a tab on properties dialog (was separate dialog)
3. Grids - Control G - Grid Snap menu is now proper menu now has "Grids" option at bottom
4. Grids on context menu when something selected in design
5. Export to Bitmap/EMF on the File menu
6. new LPKF menu option (simply goes to same place as Manufacturing Plots in this release)
7. value position on a component can display the part (component) description field
8. project view has Rename and Duplicate functions to help manage sheets in project
9. Change Component shows both schematic and PCB previews
10. Reports - Component List - new column type 'Text' for inserting text strings into report
11. Add Component can now return to the dialog on Escape (switchable by option on Preferences)
12. When pasting copied design data, new Cancel Move option allows it to be dropped in original position (same position it was when you copied the data)
13. In component editing, values can be added or copied to all packages in the component by click of button instead of having to add them by hand to each package
14. When saving library items (symbols etc), the Save dialog includes <New Library> in the list of available libraries, allowing you to create a new library 'on the fly' to contain your library item.
15. library manager dialog : has 'ok all' and 'cancel all' buttons when doing 'Copy To'; now has 'Move To' button (like 'Copy To' then delete from source library afterwards); Components page has 'Save To Lib' button to save set of data for selected items to another library (see 10).
16. angular resolution increased to 2 decimal places for finer placement
17. right click on selected components in design, new option 'Save Selected Items to Library' allows you to save components and all their symbols/footprints to library files. Useful for building project libraries from a design, 'exporting' components and related symbols to a new library to give to someone else, etc.
18. Excellon setup dialog now provides ability to keep tool numbers unique across all drill files generated in one 'run'. Used for example to get unique tool numbers when you generate two separate files for plated and unplated holes.
19. Separation of plated and unplated holes on drill ident plots.
Note: Also included are several fixes including for eagle import (not bringing through all values) and mouse wheel scrolling
>>> Version 1.3 no longer available for download <<<
Version 1.3 Bug fixes:
Minor update, fixes added for the following:
1. import of EIL (component library) file was not always reading Description field correctly
2. IDF generation, suppress empty value fields in IDF output
3. Eagle import was not always handling mounting holes correctly
4. Program hang in New Component dialog if you select neither Scm nor Pcb
5. PDF plotting, drill holes missing on some pads shapes in PDF output
6. Discrete library had values missing, added in for consistency with tutorial documentation
>>> Version 1.0 no longer available for download <<<
Version 1.0 - First release (June 2010)
Wolrd's first fully featured FREE electronics design software is released to put the power to innovate in hands of EVERY engineer. RS Components and Allied Electronics are committed to fully support this excellent design resource. We will be gathering feedback from user community and respond to your needs/suggestions/feedback with enhancements and new features which will continue reinforcing DesignSpark PCB as an important part of your rapid prototyping and design toolchain.
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