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CAD Software, Simulators & Oscilloscopes

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Musicmanager

Active Member
Hi Guys

I wanted to offer a slightly differing perspective on the notion, too often declared, that any kind of tool that is computer generated HAS to be a 'Game'. I find it somewhat disturbing that the majority of folk I have come across who profess this opinion have never actually tried use one.

Most of you will know, but to be clear, I am a complete electronics novice with some experience, but very little expertise. I am often in awe of the members on here who can look at a circuit drawn on a piece of paper and know exactly what it will do or not do, or define, to 2 decimal places, the voltage or current present across the terminals of a particular component or some other 'genius' based analogy that folk like me can only guess.

However, if I can draw that circuit into a computer generated schematic and then run a simulator and poke about with the onboard oscilloscope I find I can learn quite a lot from the experience. I understand that the results are going to be a little arbitrary or approximate because of the averaged data the simulator must use to compute, but nevertheless, to a novice like me that is not as important as the information that is available.

Back in the real world, there is no substitute for a good quality DMM or 'scope, signal generator, Freq. counter etc when accuracy becomes essential and I have such equipment on my bench and it is used fairly regularly. However, you can only do that when you have the circuit in the real world too !

Finally, when one of the aforementioned 'experts' looks at a circuit and assesses it's potential at any given point he does so via a series of mathematical calculations, maybe born from experience, but ultimately mathematical nevertheless. A computer loaded with software whether it be CAD or indeed anything else, is nothing more than a large memory and very fast calculator and in the case of a simulator it is simply storing the data of electronic components' capability and then mathematically adding, subtracting, dividing etc., according to the instructions provided by connection.

When using a circuit simulator the only 'winner' is the operator, which IMHO suggests that it is a very useful TOOL but a fairly useless GAME.

Here end the sermon, we shall now sing hymn number .. .. . .. ..

S
 

Nigel Goodwin

Super Moderator
Most Helpful Member
Using a simulator isn't 'doing electronics', but my main concern is that it's not 'real life', and circuits usually need modifying to some degree to make them work in the simulator, or indeed to make the simulated version work in real life.

There are endless posts on here about such problems, usually with the required modifications given to make it work.
 

Ian Rogers

User Extraordinaire
Forum Supporter
Most Helpful Member
Using a simulator isn't 'doing electronics', but my main concern is that it's not 'real life', and circuits usually need modifying to some degree to make them work in the simulator, or indeed to make the simulated version work in real life.
I think differently... When at school you have Lab and Class.. In most subjects... In Class you learn the Ideal circuits.. In the Lab you blow them up!

I use simulators ( mainly for software ) Once you have a hardware that works.. The software can be run on a simulator to iron out the little worms and bugs... The only issue I ever get is as simulation is "ideal" running on real hardware certain timings become prevalent.. Interrupts firing when they shouldn't etc... Osc setting up the spout!!

If you build a board and then program it, then it doesn't work..... Well now we have two items that could be faulty... With simulation at least you have half a chance finding problems instead of none...

I have been using a board ( tried and tested ) for years.. My latest project doesn't require the interrupts.. BUT!! it wouldn't go... The interrupt was still enabled and just kept firing.. To all watching, it was a non starter... I found it using the simulator, I would have been there days if I didn't have one..
 

Musicmanager

Active Member
Using a simulator isn't 'doing electronics',
Agreed ! .. .. .. .. but who said it was ??

My current project .. .. ... … .

Step Drivers 1.JPG

.. .. .. that's doing electronics, isn't it ?? But using a CAD schematic and a simulator has been very useful to a novice for planning his circuits and looking for and solving anomalies .. .. .. .. .. .and therefore, a good example of using and converting the results to 'real life'.

It is true that simulators do not always behave as expected and for that matter neither do 'real life' circuits but an understanding of that compromise would bring benefit both ways.
The 'endless posts on here' you refer to are very often from folk who are expecting too much from too little input.

S
 

JimB

Super Moderator
Most Helpful Member
Well, I guess that this thread is inspired by the comments which I made here:
https://www.electro-tech-online.com/threads/proteus-oscilloscope.156695/#post-1352673

In that thread I correctly advised the OP how to set (any) oscilloscope to display (A-B).
He seemed to question that that was the correct way to do that, hence my scathing comments about computer games (simulators).
The OP then went on to tell us how he thought a certain type of measurement should be made with a real oscilloscope.
Others then correctly said that his method could be "hazardous".

As for simulators, I do not use them, I have never thought that I am missing something by not using them.
Maybe I should try one day, but thare are so many other things to do before then.
That is not to say that simulators should never be used, Ian Rogers gave a good example of where one was useful to him and saved a useful amount of time and money.
Similarly, consider that Airbus A380, I am sure that many different simulators were used in its production. Even the pilots who fly the thing as a day job for an airline, initially learned how to handle it using a simulator, but their career paths did not go:
Single engine Cessna, to A380 simulator, to Pilot in Command of an A380.

My current project
Nice CNC controller.

JimB
(aka The Dinosaur).
 

Musicmanager

Active Member
Well, I guess that this thread is inspired by the comments which I made here:
https://www.electro-tech-online.com/threads/proteus-oscilloscope.156695/#post-1352673
No, your comments inspired me to write about a feeling I've had for a while. Comparing a simulator with a computer game is something that I have seen in here many times over quite a period.
The comments you offered the OP in the other thread were well understood here and completely supported - especially the hazardous bit !

As for simulators, I do not use them, I have never thought that I am missing something by not using them.
That's because you are one of the folk I highlighted - who can look at a circuit drawn on a piece of white paper and analyse it's function, voltages, currents, frequencies, inside leg measurement and how many times it will open the front door and tell a joke per hour, faster than I can write my name on the paper ! You would not have any great need of one !

However, as you know, I'm not anywhere near as gifted and therefore a simulator to me at times is a very useful tool .. I'm aware of the limitations and compromises and react accordingly, but it's not something I could ever 'play' with and therefore, 'Game' seems unjust to me.

I haven't attempted much code suitable for a PIC as yet, that's a project for the future, but I do use Arduino quite often and in a similar situation to the that outlined by IR, I use Proteus to debug my code.

Nice CNC controller.
TY

S
(aka Tyrant Who Makes Us Vex)
 
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