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Engineers handpick 10 best free analysis, design tools

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:design? engineer? free? ware?

TI's WEBENCH Design Centereverything under one roof

Another design and simulation suite that's overloaded with tools for everything imaginable comes from Texas Instruments. With their myriad of SBC and evaluation boards, it only makes sense that they would provide the tools needed to accompany them. The company's WEBENCH Design Centre is loaded with software to cover every facet of design and simulation that could make your brain hemorrhage. The tools contain everything needed for customised power, filtering and sensing designs with highly detailed schematics that can be adjusted on the fly.

The WEBENCH Power Designer features a graphical user interface with readouts for everything from power requirements to desired LED lumens and also has a convenient button that allows users to adjust between BOM cost, component footprint and design efficiency depending on personal preference. All of Texas Instrument's design and simulation tools are run through the web browser of your choice and project designs can be saved online or downloaded no matter where users are at in the design process. WEBENCH aided me on a LED project in the past, couldn't has done it so quickly and perfect otherwise.

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iCircuit's circuit designer and simulator for those on the go!

Circuit design and simulation isn't restricted to PCs alone as the mobile device market has seen a rise in the number of apps catered towards engineers on the go over the last few years. EveryCircuit, Circuit Simulator and Electrodroid are some of the more popular free mobile apps available for download, however for real-time design and simulation on almost any platform, iCircuit is quickly taking the crown. So why is it different from the others mentioned above? Simple, it's always running simulations even through the design process, like playing with the circuit with the power on. The app boasts over 30 elements for circuit design, including resistors, MOSFETs and digital gates and incorporates a handy multi-meter to instantly read currents and voltages anywhere along the circuit. There's even a built-in oscilloscope to track multiple signals and see how those values change over time! The only drawback of using iCircuit is that user's need an updated mobile device with multiple CPU cores, as the app is a resource hog. The free app is available for Apple's iPhone and iPad as well as Android and Windows-based mobile devices.

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FreePCBfree tool for PCB design & editing on Windows-based PCs

Why should circuits have all the fun when it comes to free design software? Where is the love for PCBsand the free software tools for design and editing? The answer is they do, in the form of FreePCB, which allows users to design and edit PCB schematics using a simple graphical interface.

The interface won't win any awards for the 2D graphics themselves, however its 'beauty' lies in its functionality. Users are able to design PCBs with up to 16 copper layers at a maximum size of 1,524mm by 1,524mm. To put that into perspective, that's a 5-foot square motherboard! The software suite provides the all the tools needed for PCB layouts, including English and metric functions, Ivex Design International, PCB Matrix and IPC libraries. FreePCB also comes with Footprint Wizard/Footprint Editor for footprint design and editing, design rule checker and the ability to import and export PADS-PCB netlists. The software is designed to work under Windows, however it can run on Mac and Linux-based systems using Virtual Box or Wine through the MacPorts application.

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