It's not unusual for EDA vendors of pc-board design tools to offer free versions of the full packages, typically with limits on component and pin counts. But Cadstar Express, the downloadable version of Zuken's Cadstar 6.0 pc-board design package, is about as useful as these kinds of freebies get.
Cadstar Express is a fully functional version of the tool with pin and component limits of 300 and 50, respectively. New to this release is a do-it-yourself manual that guides new users through two complete pc-board design processes, from schematic capture to output for manufacturing. Video files provide explicit instruction support for each step in the process.
The tool suite comprises a complete pc-board design package. It offers a single graphical user interface with customizable menus for fast access to the tools used the most. Other features include board-dimensioning tools and an online library for symbols, components, and parts. Boards can be laid out up to 100 square meters and can encompass analog or digital designs on anything from a single-layer board to dense, multilayer affairs.
The free version of Cadstar also now enables users to access a portion of Cadstar Exchange, an online library of over 100,000 components. Each component in the library links to an online datasheet produced by the Cadstar Datasheet Publisher tool.
Running the free version of Cadstar requires the Windows XP or 2000 operating system, a Pentium CPU running at 400 MHz, 150 Mbytes of hard-disk space, 128 Mbytes of RAM, SVGA graphics with 1024-by-768 resolution and 256 colors, and Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 or later.
Zuken USA Inc.