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Simulation Software

Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by tj107us, Oct 4, 2012.

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  1. tj107us


    Apr 23, 2011
    Hi guys, I hope i'm posting this in the right place! But my question is what is the best simulation software for designing circuits for a beginner?

  2. Harald Kapp

    Harald Kapp Moderator Moderator

    Nov 17, 2011
    1) There is no "best" software. There are free tools, that are oftne limited by the number of circuit elements you can simulate or by the size of the libraries that come with them. There are tools to buy with good libraries and support, but they come at a prize. Here's a list (I do not claim completeness).
    My personal favorite is LTSpice. It's free but has comparatively small libraries (apart from the Linear Technology models).

    2) Simulation software is not the way to design a circuit. It's a way of verifying your design (and possibly tweaking it) without having to build a breadboard or prototype. However, it is up to you to design the circuit beforehand. You need to have a working understanding of the circuit in order to understand and judge the simulation SW's output.
    Also beware of (sometimes not so) subtle effects when simulating. For example a simulator models an ideal world and does not per se take into account real world tolerances. Also a simulator is only a time discrete approximation of the circuit. THis can lead to artefacts in the simulation results. Read for example this article.

    As any Software, a simulator is GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out).
  3. rob_croxford


    Aug 3, 2010
    I use livewire circuit design extensively due to its simplicity. I believe it is arround £60 for the full version. It does not have a huge component library but for simulating simple opamp circuits or small circuit blocks it is perfect. It is not intended for complex simulations and there is no way of adding components to the library. (for instance if you wanted to add a certain integrated chip you cannot upload using a spice model.

    For all other simulations including Shematic and PCB design i use protel which i believe is now called altium designer. This software takes some getting used too and takes alot of learning (i am still learning now and have been using the software for 5 years!). However it is a very powerfull tool for any complex simulations and it is perfect for creating all aspects of the design in one piece of software. I cannot off the top of my head remember the cost however it is alot greater than £60.

    That is my 2 cents :)
  4. BobK


    Jan 5, 2010
    I like LTSPICE, myself. Its library is small but you can add any spice model you can find to it.

  5. tj107us


    Apr 23, 2011
    thanks guys for your help!!!
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