Sunday, July 10, 2011

Free Beer Tomorrow.... The Sequel

Back in Sept 2010 I blogged about some of my favorite "Free" software tools and over the years I have just found a ton of neat tools that people have freely distributed, so here are some more!

I am defiantly a Texas Instruments Graphic Calculator lover. Even though I do have several Slide Rules... and know how to use them; I pick up and use my TI-89 daily.
I found this Virtual TI Calculator Emulator written by Rusty Wagner. This program uses a ROM image from the actual TI calculator and emulates it on a PC. He has also provided some picture "skins" to match the actual calculator.  This program comes in real handy when I'm in the lab or out of the office without my calc and need to crunch some numbers.

I've never been much for RPN calculators, but I do love the HP calcs easy Unit conversion function. This was one of the huge disappointments with the TI-89; you have to actually go into menus to assign units to be able to convert them; the HP calc does it with a couple quick button presses.  Below is a screen shot from the EMu48 HP Calc Emulator by Christoph Giesselink.

It has been a couple years since I've spun a set of PCB Gerbers for a home project; I've been busy trying to save the USA's Social Security program by having a few kids!

I was pretty familiar with Cadsoft's Eagle CAD but I figured if I am going to switch tools I might as well do it now while I am rusty. I downloaded and have started making a board with RS Components DesignSpark PCB. and I have to say for a Schematic/PCB tool that has no limitations on PCB size and is free.... I am impressed.

DesignSpark's Library and tool wizard is really intuitive and the pdf tutorials that come with the software are great. I would highly recommend checking out DesignSpark for an entry level SCH/PCB tool.


  1. You should take a look at kicad.

  2. Hey Tim, I'll have to load up KiCad on my Linux machine and give it a try. I've heard other people talk about it as well.