Export from Picaxe VSM to DesignSpark.

Hi Guys
I have been using both Picaxe VSM and DesignSpark seperately to generate my PCBs.
To save me replicating drawing a schemetic twice does anyone know if there is a way to export from Picaxe VSM to the DesignSpark schematic editor. From which I can then generate the necessary PCB layout?


Technical Support
Staff member
You don't do it quite like this, you export a netlist from VSM which you then import into DesignSpark. So in DesignSpark you don't end up with a 'schematic', instead you import a netlist which is then used to generate the PCB.
Tutorial 4 at www.picaxe.com/vsm explains the process (realPCB/DesignSpark use the same process)
Would it be possible to expand on the tutorial to show the import process to DesignSpark, exporting the netlist from Picaxe VSM is pretty straightforward. Unfortunately i've not been able to figure out how to import the netlist into a Designspark PCB. The .cir file created when selecting the RealPCB netlist compiler option does not import, nor does any of the other available formats! DesignSpark V4 appears to accept .dxf, .net and .edn, the last two are described as OrCAD netlists.
Many thanks for your reply.
I have had a go but like 'bearcat' have been unable to complete the process. I have tried several different aproaches but DesignSpark PCB 4.0 does not recognise any of the files exported by Picaxe VSM.
Help in DesignSpark states:
"PCB netlists in OrCAD EDIF format can be imported into a newly created PCB design to produce a starting point for laying out a board."
Where do we go from here?


Senior Member
Having exported from PICAXE VSM to every format it allows, I can also confirm that DesignSpark will not allow import of any of the formats.

However I did export a 'generic' netlist file from DesignSpark, and even that was not importable to DesignSpark, despite it being made from the software!!

Well here we are a week later and still no satisfactory answer to my initial question - yet we cannot be the only ones who would like an answer.


Senior Member
On the subject of DesignSpark, I got it all set up to see if it was a better replacement for Eagle, and then failed to find even a basic 7-segment led that matched the one that Rev-Ed sells (same pinout as the Kingbright SC56-11). I'm prepared to create parts if they are really rare but I draw the line at doing so for commonplace components as that suggests more time will be spent designing parts than solving the problems that I need to solve with it. Which are related to High School kids and their projects.

Did I set it up wrongly, or miss out a library I should have had?

I have given up on VSM as Labcenter licensing doesn't seem to work with a virtual Windows, despite me signing a special license to permit that.

I have seen how simply the GENIE system works, though it isn't offered to hobbyists and has minimal technical info. It does however nicely integrate schematic design with virtual testing and pcb layout. I think it would be nice to have such a simple workflow with Picaxe, as then the much more comprehensive technical information and support of Rev-Ed combined with a simple workflow would be a winner.


Technical Support
Staff member
We are working with the manufacturer to try and update this netlist issue, technically there is no reason why the realPCB export should not work in DesignSpark, but at present it doesn't.

There are hundreds of components supplied in the libraries of DesignSpark, with many more available online. However there will always be the odd component you need to make in any pcb pacakge, in the case of the 7 seg we will add it to our library shortly. But it is basically only two rows of 5 pads directly on the grid, easily placed manually in under a minute.


Senior Member
I have to say that PICAXE VSM is definately better supported than DesignSpark by the creators/developers. I was looking for the 3D molex 3 pin header (like the ones I have bought for one of my projects) but the 3D model isn't available for DesignSpark.

Also the DesignSpark component library layout appears a little hap-hazard to say the least. Thing I I do like the autoroute option and the price of the software :)

Thanks for your efforts Technical



Senior Member
easily placed manually in under a minute.
This may be so for this package and for experienced users, and I look forward to finding out. But my experience of doing a pcb footprint and pin assignments for Eagle and for other packages evaluated along the way suggests it is a bit more involved for the likes of me, and as I'm not yet a DS user I can only judge based on that experience. So the completeness of the libraries is an important issue - so it is good that you will address it.

But this brings me to a second point - some of what I do is to help ghildren with their GCSE Design and Technology course. These exam boards specify the components that can be used. A useful endorsement that you (or RS) could give to DesignSpark is to say that it covers all the components specified as allowed for a particular course. They currently use Genie which is great for really simple circuits. In my view it isn't up to complex things (such as connecting two 4026B decade counters to two SC56-11 7segs placed side by side on a single-sided board). I have just done this using Eagle to rescue a couple of projects, but using a skill level that a 15-year old would not have time to achieve. I was looking to see if VSM/DesignSpark might be a better alternative for these more ambitious children. For this I need component designs that have been checked by others. What they need is: schematic design with all components required being available; simulation; layout with autoroute; manual adjustment capability that is powerful enough but easy to learn; BoM; mask printout. So, not much then!