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Saturday, 17 March 2012

Tools for circuit design


As someone who is just about to go into the world of circuit designs, it makes sense to know what’s the available tools (free or paid) out there, this allows ones to do his job more efficiently (and less frustrated J). Stated below are what I have personal experienced, however, there are much more out there than what is stated here out.

Programming and automation

There are plenty of free programming software out there, personally (as a windows user) I prefer excel VBA, and here are some good reasons for it

1.  You can always record macros and learn up the syntax of the code to do what you wanted to 

2. There’re plenty of built in functions that comes in handy. 

3. Microsoft Office is almost readily available for most folks 

4. Instrument controls are easy – plus you can create all sorts of controls (buttons, list…) that ease your job 

5. And if you really must implement low level stuffs using C++, you can create dll and use it 

6. It eases data analysis – all the math operations, graph options are readily available

Circuit simulation

Plenty to choose from, just to mention a few (free version):

1. LTSpice from Linear Tech

2. TINA-TI from Texas Instruments

3. Mindi from Microchip (

Things to consider when picking one for you own used are

1. Circuit size limitation

2. Convergence issues

3. Ease of use

Try to understand the simulation types, and knowing when to use them

1. DCOP (DC Operating Point)
    a. Most basics stuffs – good for checking simple mistakes such as wrong connection
    b. Should be used before running other type of simulation

2. Transient
    a. Used to check how fast your circuit gets the right output
    b. How much overshoot, undershoot, pre-shoot

3. AC
    a. Critical for control loop
    b. Allows one to design stable feedback loop.


Every once a while, it is useful to be able to do some mechanical drawing, one of the most convenient , free, easy to use software is Google Sketch up.

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