RS Components has heeded the users of its DesignSpark PCB professional software for schematic capture and PCB layout and added three of the most popular requests for new features. It has simplified export to DesignSpark Mechanical, Cross Probe and Custom Shortcuts, making the tool easier to use and speeding user navigation around designs.

In this sixth edition, RS has built on previous versions of DesignSpark PCB and added further functionality including Online Design Rule Checking (Real-Time DRC) and design support for buses.

DesignSpark Mechanical launched in September 2013 gave PCB users gained the ability to design the mechanical elements of their products with a free-of-charge tool from the DesignSpark suite. This requires designs to be exported from DesignSpark PCB using the industry standard IDF format. Feedback from users indicated the need for closer integration between the tools. DesignSpark PCB Version 6.0 comes with simplified IDF export dedicated to DesignSpark Mechanical. This new interface makes the design transfer process easier and with various parameters pre-configured, enables designs to be exported more quickly while minimising the risk of user errors.

The Cross Probe (X-probe) functionality in Version 6.0 further speeds up the design process by allowing instant referencing between the schematic and the PCB-design views within the software. Usually it is relatively straightforward to identify a component in PCB view, but not necessarily so easy to find its corresponding symbol within the schematic – unless the system is extremely well known and understood by a user. Cross Probe allows the user to simply click on the component in either view, which will then immediately take them to the component in the counterpart view. The function works either way from PCB to schematic or vice versa.

The new Custom Shortcuts functionality in Version 6.0 allows more customisation flexibility within the user interface. Users can now configure the tool, defining their own shortcuts and hot keys thus making it much easier and quicker to use, especially if they are used to specific shortcut operations when using other PCB design tools.

“RS continues to remove the barriers of cost and complexity in electronics design and the release of Version 6.0 is a further confirmation of our commitment to support the growth of the DesignSpark PCB user base and deliver the best possible open-source hardware design experience to electronics engineers,” said Mark Cundle, Head of Technical Marketing at RS. “Feedback from the DesignSpark community has been instrumental in the evolution of DesignSpark PCB and this new version of the software fully embodies this approach, allowing engineers to innovate with free yet high-performance design tools.”

The DesignSpark PCB Timeline:


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