Recomend a good entry/intermediate level circuit simulator.

Thread Starter

Pca

Joined Feb 10, 2020
17
Prefer free with option to pay, downloadable to PC for use off line or is that too old fashion now? WINDOWS compatible, well proven.

I have used 5spice years ago but i think its too advanced for this request, i would prefer better graphics.
 

ci139

Joined Jul 11, 2016
1,195
it's not the simulator . . . alone - but the models it uses
the LT-Spice is good (i never thought i would say that) - but goes fast quirky with a set of inductors present (e.g. an RF qircuit simulation)
nor is it good for "VLSI" e.g. you are unlikely to simulate the realistic (simple) RAM & controller in real time ← but it likely does manage to simulate it . . . very slowly . . .

. . . ha! now i remember - i had to make the simplified mathematical model for the AD633 to test anything - coz the "real" Analog provided P-Spice model took too meany "helper wheels" and special "add on" tuning elements to be able to run some 2ms and hang (so only "logical" testing possible for some chips)

if you create a ti user account you likely have some access to their P-Spice tool -- enables you to simulate some switching controllers

another good thing with LT Spice is that it's been around long enough to have a time to be "cleaned" from most "unhandled exceptions" or "the program bugs" . . . so it does good what it can do . . .
. . . but it's far from an "universal tool"
 

danadak

Joined Mar 10, 2018
3,909
I use both LTC Spice and Simetrix, find the latter a lot easier to use in terms
of probing/setup/graphing.

https://www.simetrix.co.uk/

SIMetrix/SIMPLIS was the sim of choice at Analog Devices until they purchased LTC
and made (I think) an unfortunate decision to settle on LTC Spice.


Regards,l Dana.
 

ci139

Joined Jul 11, 2016
1,195
basically - if you know one simulator well - you can "fool" them all to do what you need
an example in TinkerCad they don't "support" user made oscillators nor triggers - but a simple RC hysteresis nulls "their effort" (to disable complex simulations)
tkcad.gif(if their server wakes from idling it might simulate at https://www.tinkercad.com/things/eHYJMcnGSr0 )
 

Thread Starter

Pca

Joined Feb 10, 2020
17
Thanks for the leads, a lot of the issues mentioned would not be an issue for my intended use of basic circuit analysis.

I really need good GUI and optional ability to have 3D realistic components would be good.

I am talking basic entry level.
 

ebeowulf17

Joined Aug 12, 2014
3,172
Thanks for the leads, a lot of the issues mentioned would not be an issue for my intended use of basic circuit analysis.

I really need good GUI and optional ability to have 3D realistic components would be good.

I am talking basic entry level.
Why do you need 3D realistic components for circuit analysis?!? Should just need a schematic, right?

Anyway, like many (most?) of the users here, I use LTspice for simulation and then switch to something else if I need to layout a PCB (at which time 3D components could come in handy, although I haven't felt any need for them yet.)

The UI on LTspice is ok, but not great. Definitely takes some getting used to. But it's pretty powerful, totally free, and has a huge, experienced user base that can help you through things.

It seems like simulation at the free level is either pretty or accurate, but not both. Personally, I prefer accurate to pretty.
 

wayneh

Joined Sep 9, 2010
16,275
I use LTspice for noodling through to a schematic. It’s not very pretty, it’s non-standard interface is daunting, and it’s a general pain to use, but the big upside is that once your schematic is done, you can actually simulate it. And you can share it and get help because so many people use it.

Board layout and design is completely different. I use a drawing program but most people use Eagle, Kicad or such. It would be awesome to have LTspice functionality in something like that but in the world of free software, it’s not there.
 

Thread Starter

Pca

Joined Feb 10, 2020
17
Micro Cap looks hella neat. As far as 3D goes it can really help novices seeing the physical circuit on the bench and then creating it in the SIM. Schematics are a higher level of abstraction that can be a huge barrier to some learners.
 

Thread Starter

Pca

Joined Feb 10, 2020
17
I am surprised nobody mentioned 5spice, I used it for years and thought it was great. I am not a high level user tho.
 

ebeowulf17

Joined Aug 12, 2014
3,172
As far as 3D goes it can really help novices seeing the physical circuit on the bench and then creating it in the SIM. Schematics are a higher level of abstraction that can be a huge barrier to some learners.
That's very interesting. Knowing that there are lots of different learning styles and many ways to view any given problem, of course I believe you on this point. Nevertheless, it's really hard for me to think of it as you describe it.

To me, for anything except maybe battery, resistor, and capacitor, the physical object feels more abstract and non intuitive than the schematic symbol. Nearly every transistor looks the same, whether BJT, MOSFET, Darlington, NPN or PNP, etc, while they all have meaningfully unique symbols so they can be distinguished and understood. Likewise for DIP packages. I don't know if I'm looking at a timer chip, a logic gate, or an op amp when I see a physical chip, but their schematic symbols are clear and precise.

When I look at a physical circuit, it might as well be a bowl of spaghetti! When I look at a schematic, I can immediately start reading and understanding the circuit.

Like I said, I believe you and I'm not trying to convince you of anything - I'm just marveling at how differently we all approach things.
 

Thread Starter

Pca

Joined Feb 10, 2020
17
To me, for anything except maybe battery, resistor, and capacitor, the physical object feels more abstract and non intuitive than the schematic symbol. Nearly every transistor looks the same, whether BJT, MOSFET, Darlington, NPN or PNP, etc, while they all have meaningfully unique symbols so they can be distinguished and understood. Likewise for DIP packages. I don't know if I'm looking at a timer chip, a logic gate, or an op amp when I see a physical chip, but their schematic symbols are clear and precise.

I agree especially for IC's, but for components like big switches like a few centimetres long, piezoelectric buzzers, light bulbs, LED,s small electric motors, relays, solar cells etc a real life image can help the novice especially if their basic literacy skills are way below average and they come from unsupportive homes and have never had access to to or built a single circuit from components in their life, and are quick to resort to violence if they can't find a solution any other way you have to insert some smaller steps.

Not everyone is a successful engineer.
 

ebeowulf17

Joined Aug 12, 2014
3,172
Not everyone is a successful engineer.
I'm not an engineer at all - this is just a fun hobby. Schematics just always made more sense to me, even in the very, very beginning... but again, I'm not saying this is right or wrong. I just find it interesting the way different people see things and approach problems.
 

crutschow

Joined Mar 14, 2008
24,403
Schematics are the language of electronics.
You don't have to learn the language to do electronics but it makes it much easier.
Rather like traveling in a foreign country without knowing the native language.
 
Top