Author Topic: Good electronics simulator for beginner?  (Read 3532 times)

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Offline Audioguru

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Re: Good electronics simulator for beginner?
« Reply #25 on: January 06, 2019, 01:45:40 am »
Hi Zero. Why didn't you change your avatar to Zorro999? :-DD
 

Offline Mr. Scram

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Re: Good electronics simulator for beginner?
« Reply #26 on: January 06, 2019, 04:26:53 am »
Real-time simulators are optimised for speed and not much else.

LTSpice is optimised for accuracy and is designed to be flexible and give repeatable results.

The requirements for real time simulators and more professional ones such as LTSpice are conflicting. It's not possible to make a real-time simulator as accurate and repeatable as LTSpice. Take a simple circuit with a push-button switch for example. In a real time simulator, the user will click on the switch component, to get the circuit to respond. In LTSpice, the user would implement it as a time controlled resistor, a voltage, or current controlled switch, with set on/off and rise/fall times. The interactive approach of the real-time simulator may seem easy and intuitive, but it's not as repeatable as the LTSpice approach, because it relies on user input, which is non-repeatable.
I don't really see anything which can't be solved. You can make real-time simulators repeatable by adding keyframes or something similar. The biggest problem seems to be none are actually aiming to be accurate, which is understandable as it's a big step up from just being sort of similar.
 

Offline TheUnnamedNewbie

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Re: Good electronics simulator for beginner?
« Reply #27 on: January 06, 2019, 08:20:51 am »
I'm sorry, but what even is a real-time simulator?

I also started out with LTSpice but I hate it. I would suggest one of the more intuitive tools online for a beginner. Sure, it is not as powerful and accurate as a SPICE engine, but you don't need ultra-high accuracy for what most beginners are doing. You are a beginner, not a professional. You don't 'need' professional tools. Sure, the online ones are not professional, but they work and are fast to learn! (oh and LTSpice is not really a 'professional' tool either)

SPICE is a bit clumsy - it can take a lot of 'setup' to do simple simulations. They are engineering tools after all. I use SPICE very often in my work, but it requires you to set up rigorous 'experiments' and spend time creating output graphs of stuff - all of which is fine if you are going to spend many $ on CMOS tapeouts and it has to be perfect.

An advantage of SPICE is that you can import netlists, so you can export the netlist from your PCB software (Altium, KiCAD, orCAD, etc) and then simulate that circuit. Takes some work to do library-wise, but can be beneficial to set it up if you do a lot of analog design with PCBs (ofcourse, Altium and Allegro and xpedition all have this stuff built in).

I agree that real time simulation can be beneficial for beginners, but woudn't recommend using it much beyond educational purposes.

The problem with any simulator is knowing its limitations.


Agreed. Part of the issue seems to be that LTSpice was developed a while ago now, while these real-time simulators are more modern. The latter also seem to be less mature and more frivolous, sometimes omitting quite a bit of detail. It seems likely that they'll sooner or later mature, or that LTSpice or a successor evolve to include these more modern features. It's undeniable that LTSpice and compatible simulators are well supported by various manufacturers with all kinds of components being available, which is part of their value and why they endure.

LTSpice is not the best example of an actual SPICE engine though. I always thought of it as a simple almost 'toy'-like simulator. It can do what, like 3 simulation types? Op, AC, transient? I don't know of any professional that uses it. Everyone professional I work with uses hspice, pspice, ELDO, Spectre(or SpectreRF) or GoldenGate. The reason there is industry support for LTSpice is not because of LTSpice, but because of the other SPICE engines, and LTSPICE just happens to be able to work with those models (since those are standardized).
« Last Edit: January 06, 2019, 08:31:53 am by TheUnnamedNewbie »
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Offline DC1MC

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Re: Good electronics simulator for beginner?
« Reply #28 on: January 06, 2019, 09:03:02 am »
Since I didn't see mentioned here, what about Qucs:
http://qucs.sourceforge.net/download.html

It's reasonable simple to use.

 Cheers,
 DC1MC
 

Offline exe

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Re: Good electronics simulator for beginner?
« Reply #29 on: January 06, 2019, 10:32:26 am »
I used to use TINA-TI a lot. I like it more than LTSpice as it lets seeing plots from previous simulations. It seems to be dead now. I don't like ltspice UI (for many reasons), so I was looking for other simulators, but I'm on Linux, so my choice is limited. I think I tried pretty much everything worth trying, including paid software.

My choice would be TINA if they had better pricing. I tried their cloud-based version. It was cheap (I think below $20 per year), but buggy and slow. So, don't recommend (unless they improved it, I tested it two years ago or so). TINA 10+ also got many new features beyond simulation, like pcb design etc, they were unusable when I was testing. Also some Linux-related problems (although they don't officially support Linux).

QUCS didn't work for transient response analysis. There was a fork attempting to fix it, not sure if it's still alive and/or changes were merged back into original QUCS. UI is also non-intuitive, but that's a problem with most simulators. At least some knowledge about SPICE is needed (that's true about many other simulators too).

There used to be a free version of pspice, dut I wasn't able to get it running on Linux.

https://www.falstad.com/circuit/ is a good choice for very small circuits, I use it sometimes. Afaik, it's open-source and it's possible to download it and run localy, if needed.

There are other "cloud"-based simulators. I tried them all a couple of years ago, none made me happy. Some had horrible UI, some had ridiculous limitations and paid subscriptions, most of the don't let exporting design (imho). May be things are different now, Idunno.

So, what I'm using now? Ltspice, it runs smoothly on Linux. Usability is questionable, learning curve is steep, range of available components is limited to what the developing company sells on the market, but I don't see an alternative for Linux users.

Anyway, no matter what simulator is chosen, there is a learning curve. And don't blindly rely on any of them as they are as accurate as underlying models are. Also, keep in mind most simulators don't warn you when exceeding absolute maximum ratings, temperature, etc. There are many other aspects to keep in mind (ambient temperature, self-heating, tolerances, parasitic effects, etc) when using simulators.
 

Offline Wimberleytech

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Re: Good electronics simulator for beginner?
« Reply #30 on: January 06, 2019, 02:39:49 pm »

Sure, the online ones are not professional, but they work and are fast to learn! (oh and LTSpice is not really a 'professional' tool either)
Analog Devices might beg to differ with you.
https://www.analog.com/en/design-center/design-tools-and-calculators/ltspice-simulator.html
Quote

SPICE is a bit clumsy - it can take a lot of 'setup' to do simple simulations. They are engineering tools after all. I use SPICE very often in my work, but it requires you to set up rigorous 'experiments' and spend time creating output graphs of stuff - all of which is fine if you are going to spend many $ on CMOS tapeouts and it has to be perfect.
But if you are not at work, you can gen up a simulation very quickly with LTSpice...once you learn the basics of the tool.

Quote

It's undeniable that LTSpice and compatible simulators are well supported by various manufacturers with all kinds of components being available, which is part of their value and why they endure.

Indeed!

Quote

LTSpice is not the best example of an actual SPICE engine though. I always thought of it as a simple almost 'toy'-like simulator.

Whoa!!  Really?  I encourage you to read up on the history of SPICE.   
 

Offline TheUnnamedNewbie

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Re: Good electronics simulator for beginner?
« Reply #31 on: January 06, 2019, 03:17:03 pm »
I would like to preface this with the fact that everything I say is my opinion, and based on my experience - I never meant to claim what I say is universally valid.


Sure, the online ones are not professional, but they work and are fast to learn! (oh and LTSpice is not really a 'professional' tool either)
Analog Devices might beg to differ with you.
https://www.analog.com/en/design-center/design-tools-and-calculators/ltspice-simulator.html


Just because Analog Devices advertises it, and people use it in a professional context, does not make it a professional tool. It is a very good tool for people who don't



SPICE is a bit clumsy - it can take a lot of 'setup' to do simple simulations. They are engineering tools after all. I use SPICE very often in my work, but it requires you to set up rigorous 'experiments' and spend time creating output graphs of stuff - all of which is fine if you are going to spend many $ on CMOS tapeouts and it has to be perfect.
But if you are not at work, you can gen up a simulation very quickly with LTSpice...once you learn the basics of the tool.

I dissagree. Setting stuff up with LTSpice is still a lot more work than using one of the simple online tools, which is why I don't suggest LTSpice to a beginner. This is my oppinion and I never said it was fact. You can do more with LTSpice than said online tools, but if you are a beginner (as is the context here) you are probably better of with the online tools.



It's undeniable that LTSpice and compatible simulators are well supported by various manufacturers with all kinds of components being available, which is part of their value and why they endure.

LTSpice is not the best example of an actual SPICE engine though. I always thought of it as a simple almost 'toy'-like simulator.

Whoa!!  Really?  I encourage you to read up on the history of SPICE.

I'm not sure what you are trying to say here.

When I made this statement, I mean that when I compare what I consider a modern, professional SPICE engine - ELDO, hspice, SPECTRE - to LTSpice, there is a huge difference in functionality. I often see people outside of the field point at LTSpice as some high-end 'professional' tool, but, in my opinion, it isn't. The first bit of evidence of this is in the license, where they explicitly state they do not provide support for people using LTSpice for any other reason than to evaluate their (=LT, now Analog) products. But it might just be a perspective thing. 
« Last Edit: January 06, 2019, 03:29:22 pm by TheUnnamedNewbie »
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Online Wolfgang

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Re: Good electronics simulator for beginner?
« Reply #32 on: January 06, 2019, 04:04:15 pm »
Hi folks,

Curious what others are using to simulate small example/learning circuits. I currently use http://everycircuit.com (both the webapp and the mobile) which is fantastic for me - love the ease of graphing any of the circuit points so I can instantly see relationships e.g. watching inductors resist current changes in real time. Love that I can dilate time easily - this is a big deal as a lot of what I am playing with I just don't have oscilloscope bandwidth to catch in real life.

My only big complaint is that the app kills my CPU, even on simple circuits, and can crash (so I'm now used to saving my work frequently).

Does anyone have recommendations on beginner-friendly simulators?

After starting off with 5Spice (shareware) about ten years ago which is either free (limited) or cheap (full version) I am now switching to LTSpice. The reason is that LTSpice is free, faster and has much more models that work there. The LTSpice GUI is awkward, though, and there *is* a learning curve to get used to it. For the german users there is an excellent tutorial by Gunthard Kraus (just google).
 

Offline Wimberleytech

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Re: Good electronics simulator for beginner?
« Reply #33 on: January 06, 2019, 04:06:36 pm »
Quote

When I made this statement, I mean that when I compare what I consider a modern, professional SPICE engine - ELDO, hspice, SPECTRE - to LTSpice, there is a huge difference in functionality. I often see people outside of the field point at LTSpice as some high-end 'professional' tool, but, in my opinion, it isn't. The first bit of evidence of this is in the license, where they explicitly state they do not provide support for people using LTSpice for any other reason than to evaluate their (=LT, now Analog) products. But it might just be a perspective thing.

LOL...quoting the license.  YOU WIN!
 

Online Wolfgang

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Re: Good electronics simulator for beginner?
« Reply #34 on: January 06, 2019, 04:12:03 pm »
When I made this statement, I mean that when I compare what I consider a modern, professional SPICE engine - ELDO, hspice, SPECTRE - to LTSpice, there is a huge difference in functionality. I often see people outside of the field point at LTSpice as some high-end 'professional' tool, but, in my opinion, it isn't. The first bit of evidence of this is in the license, where they explicitly state they do not provide support for people using LTSpice for any other reason than to evaluate their (=LT, now Analog) products. But it might just be a perspective thing.

IIRC, the OM was asking for a beginners tool, not for a multi-K€ professional simulator. IMHO, the support for LTSpice on the web is not too bad. It is supported by LT (now Analog Devices) and user groups are very active.
 

Online rstofer

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Re: Good electronics simulator for beginner?
« Reply #35 on: January 06, 2019, 05:12:05 pm »
There is still an LTspice group on groups.yahoo.com and there are a few very knowledgeable people to help.  Actually, there are two groups:  One for discussions and the other as a repository for files (Yahoo has a repository size limit).  There's a LOT of high quality help.

I don't think simulators are targeted at beginners.  Maybe Falstad but certainly none of the 'spice' type systems I have ever used.

There are a couple of LTspice XVII eBooks at Amazon including:

https://www.amazon.com/Electronic-Circuit-Simulator-Operation-Creation-ebook/dp/B07FCTVNGP
https://www.amazon.com/Electronic-Circuit-Simulator-LTspice-Simulation-ebook/dp/B07H1WCTNJ

Both are free with Kindle Unlimited
 

Offline Wimberleytech

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Re: Good electronics simulator for beginner?
« Reply #36 on: January 06, 2019, 05:46:39 pm »
Quote

IIRC, the OM was asking for a beginners tool, not for a multi-K€ professional simulator. IMHO, the support for LTSpice on the web is not too bad. It is supported by LT (now Analog Devices) and user groups are very active.

AND...it is supported here by some very smart, very experienced people...who are eager to help!

I would hazard a guess that NOBODY has ever posted an LTSpice file on this forum and not gotten their question resolved!!
 

Online Wolfgang

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Re: Good electronics simulator for beginner?
« Reply #37 on: January 06, 2019, 05:54:50 pm »
Quote

IIRC, the OM was asking for a beginners tool, not for a multi-K€ professional simulator. IMHO, the support for LTSpice on the web is not too bad. It is supported by LT (now Analog Devices) and user groups are very active.

AND...it is supported here by some very smart, very experienced people...who are eager to help!

I would hazard a guess that NOBODY has ever posted an LTSpice file on this forum and not gotten their question resolved!!

I wont go that far, but support *is* good, definitively.
 

Offline Zero999

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Re: Good electronics simulator for beginner?
« Reply #38 on: January 06, 2019, 07:19:21 pm »
I'm sorry, but what even is a real-time simulator?
One which attempts to simulate the circuit in real time and interacts with the user. Fair enough most so-called real-time simulators are slower than real life, in most applications, as the calculations are complex and take a long to compute, but the idea is the user can click a switch to open/close it and see how the circuit respond to it.

I don't want to get into a flame war about which simulation package is the best, because it's personal preference. I found LTSpice to be one of the easiest of simulators to learn, much easier than some of the suppository more intuitive ones such as Electronics Workbench and falstad. I like the way the GUI is simple and uncluttered. I've never understood why some find it difficult to learn but I accept that and take it into account when recommending simulation software to beginners.
 

Online Wolfgang

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Re: Good electronics simulator for beginner?
« Reply #39 on: January 06, 2019, 07:26:24 pm »
One of the LTSpice GUI gotchas is the mimic "action first, then choose object". Normal windows stuff works by right-clicking an object and then telling what should happen to it. Another things is leaks the pure crudity of ancient SPICE to the user. For subcircuits, ... you have to manually enter all SPICE parameters into forms with no cross-checking. Errors will be discovered only when you try to run your circuit.

All rants aside, its a useful program and its free. So we probably have to live with this one.
 

Offline exe

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Re: Good electronics simulator for beginner?
« Reply #40 on: January 07, 2019, 11:17:50 am »
why some find it difficult to learn

For me it's simple: for any "serious" simulation a knowledge of (ltspice-favored?) SPICE is required. Try making a bode plot without google. I also didn't manage to make a bode plot for any complicated circuit, error messages it produced didn't make any sense for me. In comparison, in TINA-TI I had almost zero issue, the same circuit just worked.

Another gotcha: it lets adding components without choosing a model. It still will work, but results will be plain wrong (at least for mosfet).
 


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