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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?

GNU Octave for high-level interpreted language numerical computations

Another popular free mathematical tool comes in the form of GNU Octave, which is intended for numerical computations like those needed for chemical engineering and scientific computing. The software platform is a conglomerate of tools designed to solve numerical linear algebra problems, getting to the 'root' of non-linear equations and integrating ordinary functions. The fun doesn't stop there, as Octave also incorporates tools for manipulating polynomials as well as integrating ordinary differential and differential-algebraic equations. As with most great open-source software, Octave can be modified and redistributed by its users using any number of languages, including C, C++ and FORTRAN among a host of others.

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Microchip's MPlab suite for embedded design applications

Circuit design is big business and its design implementation has been trickling down to the maker market since the onset of single-board computers, which have become increasingly popular in recent years. This is also prevalent in the FPGA (field-programmable gate array) market that allows customers to configure the circuit to suit their needs. Of course, most of the companies that manufacture FPGAs have their own set of free tools customers can use to help them along, such as Microchip's MPlab software suite. Their platforms include everything from compilers to emulators and debuggers for just about every facet of circuit design. Some of the more popular tools include MPlab X IDE for developing microcontrollers/digital signal controllers, MPlab ICD 3 for in-circuit debugging and MPlab REAL ICE emulator for Microchip Flash DCS and MCU devices. All of which can be used for the company's FPGA products.

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Maxim Integrated's EE-SIM interactive tool

Design and simulation platforms typically cost a pretty penny, just look at the SolidWorks platform and you will quickly understand why. There are tools for everything from conceptual design parameters to projected materials cost and everything in between. For those that can't afford those software suites can always turn to Maxim Integrated's EE-SIM Design Generation and Simulation tool, which does what the name suggests.

The platform allows users to input their design requirements, which automatically generates an interactive schematic where users can adjust the individual components to their specifications. Once they have selected their components, they can then simulate their designs, which result in easy to read waveforms (including Bode plots and voltage graphs). Users can even save their schematics and download them with included manufacturer part numbers. That's quite impressive for a free design and simulation platform. It has done some heavy lifting for myself on jobs, well

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