I explored the new features of DSPCB v9.0, these features all target improving operation and reducing the chance of user errors providing both convenience and confidence. The features I appreciated the most include: detecting dangling connections in the schematic, adding a copper pour to a net within the pour area, being able to create a new library when saving a component and a search/find window in the Goto bar. Other enhancements include text alignment with the cursor and improvements to the Excellon drill file which improves compatibility with various viewers.
Dangling connection detection in schematics.
Something that has caught me out in the past is an incomplete net when using the shortcut of a named net at one IC pad but failing to terminate it at its destination. Result a missing track on the PCB! Yes, it could have been found with the existing reports and checks, but I missed it. Now in version 9, we have an additional method the “Dangling Connections” report for the schematic sheet.
This is different from the unconnected pins report which reports every pin not connected and should be used as an additional part of your design checking process.
Net selection in copper pour areas.
Another area I have had issues with previously is using a split power plane using copper pours. Having multiple pour areas for digital control, analog signal conditioning and power switching it can be easy to select the wrong net when viewing a long list of nets to connect to. Now have the choice to select nets that exist only within the selected pour area and further reduce the net options by filtering by the net class. Selecting a net from a list of two or three net names provides focus compared with selecting a net from 50 or so nets.
Text alignment and style options.
We can now “Add Text” with selecting the text styles available in the Design Technology and alignment relative to the cursor, this is useful for annotating the silkscreen or documentation layouts and can make a consistent and neat layout easier to produce.
Save component to a new library.
The new option to create a “New Library” when saving (also copy and move) a component can help with creating a more structured library. This is very useful for building up libraries of components of common types.
Goto bar selection aid.
The new selection box in the Goto bar helps to find things quickly without scrolling up and down the list. Start typing the item name and the list dynamically scrolls below and highlights the component once completely identified. I found this useful for both components and nets.
Excellon drill file enhancements.
The Excellon drill file is also improved, a small change which has a big impact is the coordinates now contain a decimal point. This makes the file ‘more’ human readable but also appears to make the Gerber Viewers and FlatCAM work without having to change the FlatCAM Preference for the format. If the decimal point is present in the .drl file this overrides the format settings defined in FlatCAM, so no more fiddling around setting the data format in FlatCAM.
In summary, some nice new enhancements to help with our design work.
Written by Kevin