What techniques do you use for testing/simulating circuits? As at my college we use Circuit Wizard which we have to simulate our circuit on. I am looking for something a bit more advance. I have tinkered with SPICE but for more sophisticated circuits it gets more complicated and seems lack of documentation for support for microcontrollers. For designing circuits i've used eagle but it is difficult to get used to after coming from circuit wizard. What do engineers use for testing/simulating circuits? Do you use breadboarding, PCB prototype or similar?
- Spice for analog
- VHDL/Verilog for inside FPGAs and with RAMs
- HyperLynx for signals integrity
- Vendor's custom tools for power supplies
whatever works - I've prototyped, built PCBs for more complex stuff, done extensive verilog simulation for large digital designs (100,000s of gates), thrown that in FPGAs for some testing and then built real silicon
Really you need to figure out the place on the cost/time to market curve that works for a particular project - for digital circuits it's worth being able to extract net lists for (verilog/vhdl) simulation, for analog stuff you use spice
Getting access to digital (verilog/vhdl) models for microcontrolers can get to be expensive - it may be faster and cheaper to just go ahead a build a pcb (or protoboard) so you can hack away - it depends on how much you value your time and your budget
I use SPICE for simulating analogue circuits. For MCUs, I sometimes use the simulators provided with the development tools, but I usually either design a PCB, or use a manufacturer's development board, and do my testing and debugging on actual hardware.