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DesignSpark Pro - A walk through the many "Settings" Part 1

As Pro has many advanced features it also has many more settings than DSPCB, here we provide a quick tour to help you identify some of the key ones that will be of interest.

The settings are available from the menubar <Settings> - <Preferences> and as you will see these are organised in groups under nine tabs.

The following is part 1 of the tour and covers the "General" and "Display" tabs.

General Tab.

Design Backups provide an important feature to reduce the possibility of losing your work. This can be configured for the number of backups, their location and with control over their frequency.

An article is available here.

General tab showing number of backups

You will also notice two options under the Design Backups option, "work time" and "idle time", these were new in V10 and how they further enhance the backup tool are discussed in the V10 supplement available from

<Help> <Online Manuals> <Update Notes>

Most of the other options on the General tab are self-explanatory, and further information if required is available in Help.

Display Tab.

As with many of the tabs, this has many options, but some we would like to bring to your attention are highlighted in the "Drawing" section.

Settings - Display tab

Lowlight Inactive Layers is a great feature when routing your PCB, only the active layer that you are routing on is shown at normal brightness making the working layer the focus of the task. Other layers are 'lowlighted' such that they are still visible to aid the route positioning to avoid signal-coupling etc. Illustrated below is a simple double-sided PCB, this feature is even more valuable with 4 or more layers.

Lowlight inactive layer

Hollow Tracks when True Width off.

This can initially cause some confusion when looking for the "True Width" setting to turn it on and off!

True Width is a setting by layer, so this setting is in the Colours menu/window as shown below for the top and bottom layers.

Settings - Layers and Layer Spans

With True Width, "Off", and "Hollow Tracks..." selected the PCB view is as below. This can provide a useful clear view to assist in the layout with each segment visible.

True width off and hollow tracks selected

Including pad names in pads or tracks.

These options provide the net or pad names permanently present rather than temporary with the 'mouse over' display.

Pad names included in pans and tracks

Cross-hatch drill holes.

This is particularly useful for displaying mounting holes when 'drilled-out', i.e. the hole size removes all of the copper pad area.

Cross-hatch drill holes

You can also use cross-hatched holes for all holes if you prefer.

Cross-hatch holes for all holes

Looking at some further options on the Display Tab.

options on display tab

Headup Display While Editing.

This allows real-time track length information to be displayed.

The top "Track Path" shows the track length from the start point to the endpoint if the net line (blue) is followed.

The "Net" value shows the total length of tracks on that net including the above track that is being placed.

Head up display whilst editing


These options let you match Pro for the best performance on your Windows system.

Tooltips are configurable to display items you require.

The "Values" option can be further configured as shown for IC2.

'Values' option as shown on IC2.1

If you haven't yet purchased Pro,the following show the full settings optionsfor the "General" and "Display" tabs.

General tab for non Pro

Display tab for non Pro

Part 2 of the tour will cover the "Cross Probe", "Dual Screen" and "Warning" tabs.

RS Components / Allied Electronics Support for DesignSpark PCB
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