Software

Electrical Engineering- Multisim and Alternatives

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Multisim

Through my years studying electrical engineering in college, one specific tool captured the majority of my attention, both then and now: National Instrument’s Multisim. Multisim, an industry-standard simulation and circuit design software, provides users with a simple, yet effective method of planning, designing, and building digital and analog circuits. By providing engineers with helpful aids such as virtual circuit building, analyzing circuit behavior, SPICE (Simulation Program with Integrated Circuit Emphasis), and PCB (Open-Source Software Suite for EDA), Multisim enables users to design and test circuits, as well as increase the performance and reduce the costs of prototypes/projects.

In college, Multisim was a blessing. Being able to plan and test a circuit before I take the time (and patience) to build it in the real-world, saved me countless hours of stress and wasted materials. Multisim’s extensive library of components, straightforward operation, and its ability to view circuits in 3D make the program a must-have for anyone interested in electrical engineering. For an example of what you can do with Multisim, here is a demonstration of the differences between an inverting and non-inverting amplifier, concerning gain.

  • Inverting Amplifier

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  • Non-Inverting Amplifier

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#1           Inverting Amplifier

Gain Wanted…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 7

Voltage In……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 0.5Vp-p

Voltage out……………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 3.6Vp-p

Gain Measured……………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 7.27

#2           Inverting Amplifier

Gain Wanted…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 24

Voltage In……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 0.5Vp-p

Voltage out……………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 8.9Vp-p

Gain Measured…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 17.89

#1           Non-Inverting Amplifier

Gain Wanted…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 5

Voltage In……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 0.5Vp-p

Voltage out……………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 2.8Vp-p

Gain Measured……………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 5.67

#2           Non-Inverting Amplifier

Gain Wanted———————————————————————————————————- 24

Voltage In——————————————————————————————————- 0.5Vp-p

Voltage Out————————————————————————————————– 12.15Vp-p

Gain Measured—————————————————————————————————- 24.32

Multisim is available in many forms and pricing models, ranging from educational to professional software options; while the licenses for the programs are quite expensive, there are free trials available.

Alternatives

For those interested in free alternatives to Multisim (who wouldn’t be?), there is an extensive list of optional programs that provide many of the same features. For fans of Arduino, Autodesk’s 123D Circuits.io is a free browser-based simulation program which allows users to create and modify virtual breadboards. Next, EveryCircuit is an excellent app available for Android, iOS, and Chrome users who want to be able to have instant access to circuit design and simulation apps. By merely tapping on objects such as resistors, transistors, and capacitors, then dragging them to different positions, you can design, build, and test circuits on the go.

There are numerous other programs and apps one can use to virtually create and alter electrical engineering projects; deciding which one works best is up to you. So, whether you are simply testing a homework assignment before you create it or want to see how your prototype amplifier functions before you acquire the funding to build it, make sure you use all the tools available to you.

Sources:

National Instruments. (2019). What is Multisim? Retrieved from http://www.ni.com/en-us/shop/electronic-test-instrumentation.

Autodesk. (2019). AUTODESK LIBRARY.IO. Retrieved from https://library.io/.

EveryCircuit. (2019). Circuits are Better Animated. Retrieved from http://everycircuit.com/.

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