Circuit simulators are often used during the PCB design process to help verify how electrical components interact with each other.
There are several different types of softwares for designing electronic systems such as integrated circuits and printed circuit boards, and they are commonly categorized as Electronic Design Automation (EDA) tools.
Digital circuits are often designed and built with software using specific programming languages. On the other hand, analog circuits needs to be designed by SPICE-type (Simulation Program with Integrated Circuit Emphasis) simulator.
Depending on the complexity of features, EDA softwares can range from $0 to hundreds and thousands of dollars. We compiled a list of free online circuit builders that are great for developers who are looking for easy to use circuit simulators that won’t break the bank.
EasyEDA is a Chinese-based online circuit simulator and PCB design tool that lets users design PCBs and simulate circuits. EasyEDA integrates components from LCSC Electronics and JLCPCB PCB service, making it easy to build hardware components from prototyping to PCB fabrication. It has a free tier that includes a set of core features. Users can directly try out the software on their website or download the desktop client (Windows, Mac, or Linux).
LTspice is a SPICE circuit simulator software, schematic capture and waveform viewer with enhancements and models for easing the simulation of analog circuits. LTspice is a free software provided by Analog Devices, so the program includes macromodels for a majority of Analog Devices switching regulators, amplifiers, as well as a library of devices for general circuit simulation. LTspice is available on Windows and MacOS and users need to download the software on their machine.
PartSim is a free online circuit simulator, featuring full SPICE simulation engine, web-based schematic capture tool, and graphical waveform viewer. PartSim was created by Aspen Labs in partnership with Digi−Key in 2013. It appears that the platform is no longer being actively supported by the company, but its basic functionality still remains free for users to use online.
CircuitLab is an in-browser online circuit simulator. The software provides schematic capture and circuit simulation for designing analog and digital electronics systems. Similar to EasyEDA and PartSim, users can directly simulate digital and analog circuits via their browser-based editor. CircuitLab offers different pricing tiers based on supported features. Users can try out the demo version for free and the lowest pricing tier is $24/year.
Sahara Cloud is a virtual hardware development platform that supports circuit simulation, emulation, and bare-metal access to microcontrollers and digital components. The flexible infrastructure of the Sahara Cloud platform makes prototyping electronic and embedded products faster and easier. Sahara Cloud has an in-browser schematic and coding editor with a digital scope feature. A local desktop version of the software is on the roadmap. Sahara Cloud is currently in a private beta and users can sign up for the waitlist here.
Have you used a circuit simulator before when prototyping and designing your circuits? Are there other online circuit simulators you recommend? Let us know in the comments!
For more resources about hardware development, check out the following blog posts:
- 3 Best Embedded Boards for Hardware Development
- Why Engineers are Shifting to Building Hardware Digitally
- How to Develop a Hardware MVP