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'[EE]: Spice programs'
2002\03\20@115637 by Edson Brusque

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Hello,

   I've used some times "Electronics Workbench 5.12" (released in 1996, I
think) and it usefull, but not *that* usefull.

   Now I need to do some serious simulations and I've tried CircuitMaker,
pSpice and SuperSpice but none of then cath my eyes.

   What are you using for circuit simulation? Any recomendations? I don't
know very much of spice simulations so, where to start? Tutorials?

   Someone here have done extensive research on circuit simulators or are
using something in a daily basis?

   Oh! Yes, I've read the PICLIST threads about this. :)

   Thank you very much,

   Brusque

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2002\03\20@122522 by Dave Dilatush

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Edson Brusque wrote...

>    I've used some times "Electronics Workbench 5.12" (released in 1996, I
>think) and it usefull, but not *that* usefull.
>
>    Now I need to do some serious simulations and I've tried CircuitMaker,
>pSpice and SuperSpice but none of then cath my eyes.
>
>    What are you using for circuit simulation? Any recomendations? I don't
>know very much of spice simulations so, where to start? Tutorials?

I used MicroSim's PSPICE for several years while I was with my
former employer; then when I left, I bought a copy of Intusoft's
ICAP4/RX for my own use.  It has strong points and weak points
like all integrated SPICE packages, but overall I'm satisfied
with it; it does the job.  It was expensive (around US$900) but
it was something I felt I couldn't do without.

As for where to start, or tutorials, I've been using SPICE for
about 12 years now and I have never, ever seen what I would call
a really "good" book on it.  Every one I've looked at has been
mediocre at best, or awful at worst.

>    Someone here have done extensive research on circuit simulators or are
>using something in a daily basis?
>
>    Oh! Yes, I've read the PICLIST threads about this. :)

In addition to the list, the Usenet group sci.electronics.design
frequently has discussions about SPICE, including cheapware
(Superspice) and freeware packages.

Linear Technology, Inc. has a package they call SwitcherCAD III,
intended to simulate applications using their switching regulator
ICs; but I understand it is actually a fully functional SPICE
package complete with schematic entry and (I think) a waveform
viewer.

It's free, and it's available at:

http://www.linear-tech.com/software/  (2.8 Meg download)

As far as I know, SwitcherCAD lacks the huge library of SPICE
models one customarily gets with commercial SPICE packages; but
these are available free anyway from the various semiconductor
vendors, so that omission is an inconvenience at most.  I haven't
tried SwitcherCAD myself, but I've seen favorable comments by
those who have.  The price is right, for sure.

Hope this helps a bit...

Dave

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2002\03\20@140039 by Lawrence Lile

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> Edson Brusque wrote...
>
> >    I've used some times "Electronics Workbench 5.12" (released in 1996,
I
> >think) and it usefull, but not *that* usefull.
> >
> >    Now I need to do some serious simulations and I've tried
CircuitMaker,
> >pSpice and SuperSpice but none of then cath my eyes.
> >
> >    What are you using for circuit simulation? Any recomendations? I
don't
> >know very much of spice simulations so, where to start? Tutorials?

I use B2 Spice 2000
from Beige Bag Software  $349

http://www.beigebag.com

I have used Electronic Workbench and also ICAP/4 and I think they are both
unstable.  B2Spice is the best one I evaluated. I found it very intuitive,
no learning curve to speak of.

They also have a lite version for free.  I have been able to simulate
virtually anything I wanted with their software, and found no bugs yet
(unlike MPLAB, CCS C, MS Office, Windows, and most of the other stuff I use
every day)

There is but a single feature that I would like to have them add, an
automatic RMS calculation.  Some other packages have this as a standard,
I've had to dump output into a spreadsheet and calculate RMS power there.
Other than that, everything I've simulated before constructing has worked
just like the simulation to my complete amazement.

I use B2Spice a lot.  Basically every time I design a power supply for a PIC
project, I use B2Spice to optimize the components and calculate the
wattages.  If I am doing any kind of analog circuit from a brownout reset to
an op amp, I B2Spice it first.  I use it for calculating the effects of
component tolerance ("Monte Carlo Analysis"), failure analysis, and a number
of other things.

--Lawrence Lile
P.S. They aren't paying me, either!

{Original Message removed}

2002\03\20@142241 by SkinTech

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Bruce,

If you also want to simulate your PIC software and hardware as a system,
look at Proteus (http://www.labcenter.co.uk). They have a schematic capture & sim
sytem that includes optional PIC models that actually simulate your software
(it interfaces with Mpasm). You need to specify a source file of course, but
you can make changes & recompile without leaving the sim. There are LED and
LCD models that actually show the output (LED lighting and LCD showing
text/graphics) right in the schematic! For input there are keypad and switch
models that you can press with a mouseclick and the software then reacts.
Very neat! Check it out.

Regards, Jan Didden

{Original Message removed}

2002\03\21@034404 by Tom Messenger

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At 05:22 PM 3/20/02 +0000, Dave Dilatush wrote:
>Edson Brusque wrote...

>Linear Technology, Inc. has a package they call SwitcherCAD III,
>I haven't
>tried SwitcherCAD myself, but I've seen favorable comments by
>those who have.  The price is right, for sure.

To amplify on Daves response, I *have* used SwitcherCAD III. I have two
things to say about it:
1. It correctly predicted how LT's switching power supply parts would work
in circuit. My scope waveforms looked like those on the PC.

2. It is indeed a "full" spice version and it seems to work quite well. I
built a few state variable oscillators and it produced the output I expected.

Plus, as Dave said, "The price is right, for sure".

It was possible to confuse it until it gave poor output (probably was not
converging) but this is typical of any spice. It requires the user to know
what they are doing and not just blindly accept what it says. Doh!

I just downloaded it a month ago and found I like it a lot. I had tried it
years ago and did not like it. I suspect both it and I have matured. OK,
maybe just it matured.

Finally, vis a vis recent discussions on this list concerning 'untried' new
switcher designs, get thee hence to SwitcherCAD III and build your circuits
there. Then you can find out what's up with them before unleashing them on
the world.

Tom M.

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2002\03\21@063523 by Edson Brusque

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Hello Lawrence,

> I have used Electronic Workbench and also ICAP/4 and I think they are both
> unstable.  B2Spice is the best one I evaluated. I found it very intuitive,
> no learning curve to speak of.

   I've downloaded B2Spice lite and I'm downloading the pro demo. It really
seens very good but I haven't found how can I import the models I've
downloaded from NationalSemiconductor website.

   Also, do you know how can I simulate potentiometers and switches?
ElectronicWorkbench, for example, have pots that you can change value
(cursor position) while the simulation is running. I haven't found this
feature on CircuitMaker, pSpice, SuperSpice or B2Spice.

   Best regards,

   Brusque

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Researcher and Developer               Blumenau  -  SC  -  Brazil
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2002\03\21@091721 by Lawrence Lile

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Edson,

There IS a pot model in B2Spice, under More Devices: Resistors.  However, I
usually just use a couple of resistors to simulate a pot, and I think this
is simplest.  The reason is, in sumulation we are mostly interested in the
ENDS, the extremes of a circuit.  I want to know what the maximum and the
minimum that my circuit will go, and assume the rest is in between
somewhere.  So I set my two resistors in the circuit, set one to zero and
the other to max, and then vice versa.

Usually when I simulate something I do a lot of procedures like this -
setting components to the limits of their tolerance, testing what would
happen if a component were shorted or open, what happens if the supply
voltage is high or low, and so on.  So you get used to setting components to
a dozen different values in the course of a simulation.

--Lawrence

{Original Message removed}

2002\03\21@094936 by Scott Dattalo

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On Thu, 21 Mar 2002, Lawrence Lile wrote:

> Edson,
>
> There IS a pot model in B2Spice, under More Devices: Resistors.  However, I
> usually just use a couple of resistors to simulate a pot, and I think this
> is simplest.  The reason is, in sumulation we are mostly interested in the
> ENDS, the extremes of a circuit.  I want to know what the maximum and the
> minimum that my circuit will go, and assume the rest is in between
> somewhere.  So I set my two resistors in the circuit, set one to zero and
> the other to max, and then vice versa.
>
> Usually when I simulate something I do a lot of procedures like this -
> setting components to the limits of their tolerance, testing what would
> happen if a component were shorted or open, what happens if the supply
> voltage is high or low, and so on.  So you get used to setting components to
> a dozen different values in the course of a simulation.

I agree with Lawrence. The model of the pot is just two resistors. I
almost certain that's what your spice program's POT model is doing.

FWIW...

In my pre-Linux days I used to extensively use PSPICE. It was outstanding
until OrCad destroyed the user interface. (Has it improved in the last 4
years?) Schematic entry is really nice for visualizing the input to SPICE
and I still use it for simple things. However, I now use gEDA as the front
end now and either SPICE (as in *the* original Berkeley SPICE) or
spice-opus (http://www.fe.uni-lj.si/spice/welcome.html) for the backend
instead of PSPICE. I've discovered that in my recent SPICE needs that a
batched approach is *much* more efficient. For example, suppose that you
wanted to run a simulation on your POT over a range of values over 0.01%
steps - that's 10,000 points! That'd take a very long time in PSPICE or
any gui based SPICE. However, a simple script can invoke SPICE with and
log the results.

I'm really not trying to knock the gui-based SPICE programs.. They serve a
definite purpose. I'm only suggesting that once you're competent at a
scripting language, that you've got much more flexibility at your
disposal.

Scott

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2002\03\21@100744 by 4HAZ

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On Thu, 21 Mar 2002, Lawrence Lile wrote:

> Edson,
>
> There IS a pot model in B2Spice, under More Devices: Resistors.  However,
I
> usually just use a couple of resistors to simulate a pot, and I think this
> is simplest.  The reason is, in sumulation we are mostly interested in the
> ENDS, the extremes of a circuit.  I want to know what the maximum and the
> minimum that my circuit will go, and assume the rest is in between
> somewhere.  So I set my two resistors in the circuit, set one to zero and
> the other to max, and then vice versa.
-snip-

KF4HAZ's $0.02
I agree but would also insert 2 equal value resistors to simulate pot set to
midpoint as this is usually the desired target area. I try to design for
pots to be set somewhat close to their midpoint and if need be a fixed
resistor on one or both ends to keep the range from becoming too wide, this
makes adjustment less touchy.

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