Printed circuit board assembly/design is complex. From initial design to beta testing to full production, many aspects of these boards are scrutinized and modified several times.
To aid PCB designers in keeping pace with the ongoing developments in the world of electronics, many different tools and systems have been developed. One useful tool is circuit simulation software, a digital tool that allows designers to plot out circuits and test them in simulations.
Below, our electronic manufacturing service providers have compiled a list of the best circuit simulation software available right now.
Circuit Construction Kit
Circuit Construction Kit’s most basic option available is an ideal learning tool for young designers. Focusing on the fundamentals of electronic devices, it enables users to build simple circuits using bulbs, batteries, resistors, and switches while monitoring everything on digital voltmeters and ammeters. If you want to share a love for circuitry with your interns, this is the ideal place to start.
CircuitLogicx is a popular circuit planning software for students approaching circuit design. It is a Windows-based program that gives users access to approximately 4,000 different hardware and components to experiment with. This number shoots up to a staggering 12,000 components when upgraded to the paid pro version. This software is ideal for those just starting in circuit design and can stay with them further into their career.
CircuitMod uses a minimalist interface to allow you to design complex circuits and run them in real-time. A collection of data – including waveforms and output values – are displayed alongside your designs, updating with each new component for an accurate representation of its stability. Users can also access a context list, which gives them access to a wide variety of components and materials, including functioning items such as chips and display devices. All projects are saved in the software’s native CMF file format so that all projects can be re-assessed and edited at any time.
Deeds (Digital Circuit Simulator)
An advanced circuit simulator, Deeds is a Windows program that can stimulate simple and complex circuits using various components and functions. It also boasts hardware such as:
- Memory Devices
Deeds offers a simple and precise display of the output of your circuit, allowing you to determine its functionality long before you put it into production.
LT Spice Simulator
LT Spice Simulator is brought to us by the analog chip company Linear Technology and is compatible with both Windows and OS X systems. As expected, its component list leans more towards those provided by Linear Technology themselves, but does provide access to an array of other available components, offering a good deal of versatility.
LT Spice has access to over 200 op-amp, transistor, and MOSFET models, giving users heavy access to circuit potentials. However, this comes with the caveat that the majority of these circuits will require Linear Technology parts. If you plan to use them as a supplier, this is the circuit software for you.
Micro-Cap is a windows-based circuit simulator and analyzer made by Spectrum Soft. It has been praised for its intuitive interface and a large collection of available components, making it a great option for professional circuit simulation.
However, it is known for the limitation of its free version. Since the unpaid option only provides a limited emulation of the full program, it lacks a number of the more detailed simulation options. Still, it can be perfectly fine for basic circuit testing. However, the paid version offers a huge section of evaluation tools, including AC and DC output analysis.
Proteus is a Windows-based mixed-mode simulation tool with a free and paid package option. The basic version is a solid, real-time simulation program that can help you design circuits and PCBs with ease. The advanced version boasts a multitude of educational accolades, being used in high schools and colleges worldwide. Its in-depth circuit analysis tools allow users to output graphs on their circuits detailing:
- Fourier parameters
QUCS, otherwise known as “Quite Universal Circuit Simulator,” is an open-source option for circuit planning. As the name indicates, QUCS can accurately depict almost any kind of circuit you can imagine. It can display most errors that may occur with a design and provide you with the means to correct them. Its open nature means it is readily available for programmers to modify and update, giving it endless potential to the right hands.
Tina-TI offers an impressive array of features for the savvy user. It has a library of almost every component on the market today and can check for errors even before the first simulation. Its easy-to-use interface makes constructing circuits simple, while the wide array of simulation analysis gives you the option to view data regarding noise, transience, and AC or DC currents, amongst others.
Developed by the Georgia Institute of Technology, SPICE is an extension to Spice 3. It is designed to simulate analog, digital, and non-electronic circuitry from various components that can be easily linked with the SPICE core. It allows users to input code models written in the C programming language for fast and accurate simulations at many levels of abstraction. While this may not be the most easily accessible software for beginners in the industry, it is a favorite for those in academic circles looking to work on very specific test parameters.
123D Circuits is a tool developed by AutoDesk to plot and plan your PCBs from basic component selection to full PCB layout plan. Though more complicated than others, this program is great at giving you a detailed look at the progress of your board at every stage of the design process. All components within the software are rendered in 3D, giving you a detailed look at how each part will interact with each other in real-time.
To conclude, most of the circuit simulation software tools on this list are ideal for circuit drawing, circuit analysis and design collaboration. Pick the one that you feel best suits your business needs, then add the components it provides to run simulation.