sPlan is a complex EDA tool with a straightforward user interface (UI) that lets you design schematics for electronics and electrical circuits. The user can design entry-level to complex schematics with the neatness, precision and accuracy comparable with professional designs.

Fig. 1: Removing the front cover
Fig. 1: Removing the front cover

Why use sPlan
This software is free from several unwanted and complicated functions, thereby giving it a user-friendly and simple (though a little old-fashioned) structure. Features like drag-and-drop of components into the user-definable grid and exact fitting of these components on the grid make it suitable even for newcomers and people with no solid background in the field of electronics designs. Well-defined, easy and intuitive to handle are the main characteristics that make sPlan better than other similar schematic editor tools.

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An extensive, well-sorted library of electronic components comes with the package and is found on the left panel of the home screen. There are two default libraries—standard and user. The standard library contains a variety of components like resistors, inductors, capacitors, diodes, connectors, meters, grounds, transistors, batteries, microphones and power supplies. You can drag-and-drop the required symbol/component into the workspace and it will be positioned exactly on the grid. Apart from this, the user can copy components, create new components, delete new or existing components, and reorganise existing libraries or create new libraries according to the requirement.

Fig. 2: Dimmer
Fig. 2: Dimmer

With sPlan, the user can not only create professional-grade circuit schematics but also preview and adjust the print layouts, and get high-quality prints of these schematics. You can print a single page, selected range of pages or all the pages in a project. There is also a banner-printing function in the latest release, which lets you print schematics spread over multiple pages. For example, an A3-size schematic can be printed on two A4-size sheets. The company also provides a freeware called sPlan 7.0—a viewer that lets you open, view and print files created using sPlan in best quality. On installation of sPlan, the viewer tool is either available in its installation directory or can be downloaded directly from the ABACOM website.

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Some sPlan features
There are several features of sPlan that make it fast, flexible and simple.
Pages. Large circuit diagrams often need to be divided into sub-circuits or modules so that the project becomes less complicated. sPlan allows the creation of as many pages as you want in each project so you can create each sub-circuit or module on a separate page. These pages are saved as individual files to enable sharing between different projects. You can also copy, delete, sort, rename and change properties of individual pages in one project itself. Swapping between pages is also made possible easily by clicking on the required page name from the ones displayed under the workspace.

Grid. Grid distance can be defined by the user. Moreover, the components (dragged-and-dropped) and connections are automatically inclined and positioned in the grid. One can also move, shear, rotate and scale individual components or group of components in the grids.

Import/export. One can open, modify or design, and create files with the extension *.spl using sPlan. Multiple pages in a single project can be saved individually, making it possible to exchange individual pages between multiple projects. It is also possible to export schematics to other common formats like JPG, GIF, BMP, EMF and SVG.

Components list. Another important features of sPlan is that it automatically creates and updates a components list for each page, selected pages or a whole project. This list can be opened, edited, sorted (both alphabetically and quantitatively), copied, printed, saved (in *.rtf) and exported or imported (to and from Excel file).

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Numbering. Automatic renumbering of components is yet another feature of sPlan. In case one of the components have to be deleted, by using the renumbering function all the components can be indexed automatically and logically, depending on the pattern you want—row-wise or column-wise.

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Zoom. The zoom function lets you get a bird’s eyeview of the circuit or each part or component. This is achieved by either clicking the zoom icon or rolling the mouse wheel. It is possible to zoom in/out the page, its elements or any specific element in the diagram.

Magnetic line. This is just a circuit construction aid that helps identify correct positions when objects are moved. When elements are moved near magnetic lines, they are automatically aligned to them.

Form. This is a layer that lies under the original circuit diagram that displays the properties of each page. New forms can be added and existing ones can be edited by the user. Form layers can be saved individually in *.sbk format and called into any page according to need.

Help. sPlan has a built-in simple and extensive help section, which makes it easier for first-time users to understand the software functions.

Others. Features like automatic component numbering, component search, and external and internal linking functions further reduce the complexity and increase the speed of this software. Schematic files created with older versions of sPlan are compatible with the new sPlan 7.0.

Support
Free help and support for the software can be obtained from ABACOM by sending an email to [email protected] All the latest updates and bug fixes are published on their website—www.abacom-online.de/uk/. The site also provides free download of additional libraries created by other users and lets you submit a library of components created by you that could be useful to others.

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The company also sells other tools like Sprint-Layout 6.0 (PCB layout software), LochMaster 4.0 (for designing, developing and testing strip board projects), FrontDesigner 3.0 (designing front panels for electronics products), ProfiLab 4.0 (designing digital control for analogue measuring technology), RealView 3.0 (recording and plotting measurements in real time) and AudioWave 2.0 (a low-frequency signal generator software.) Apart from these software products, the firm also sells hardware and bundles related to the software tools.

Download latest version of the software: click here


The author is a technical correspondent at EFY

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