Below, few of a very useful tools in the electronics workshop.
Eagle Layout Editor
Professional PCB layout design program. It has huge amount of features, and yet is easy to use. The free version limits the sizes of the proposed board to 100x80mm, but this is far enough to simple projects.
Go to website – EAGLE – 25MB
GUI for AVRDUDE program, it allows to simple and intuitive operation. A big plus for the nice and clear fusebits setting card, it is hard to make a mistake with fuses with this one. After install, point out the avrdude path and choose the programmer type.
Compiled AVRDUDE 5.8
Popular application for AVR chips programming. Supports for huge amount of programmers, it can be combined generally with any compiler / programming environment, it can be used with an “AVR Burn-O-mat” or other GUI, or simply controlled via dos command line. This is a windows compiled version. Package contains all needed files, libraries, batch files.
Very simple and light function generator. PC sound card is used as an output. Adjustable frequency from 1Hz up to 20KHz, available waveforms: sine, triangle, square, sawtooth, pulse, white, pink. Different waveforms can be selected for each channel.
A useful PC oscilloscope, PC sound card line-in is used as input, parameters depends on the sound card. Two channels, many display adjustment options as in regular scope. This is a very good alternative if we have to watch up to 1KHz waveforms, i definitely do not recommend trying to watch above 10KHz. Be very careful when connecting measured signal to the PC soundcard.
The Fabolous Logic Analyzer
Irreplaceable helper when it comes to the digital circuits – it uses PC’s LPT as an input, which is fast enough to diagnose faults of I2C, SPI, 1WIRE , RS232, or other communication protocols. It allows to register 8 channels at the same time, with up to a million samples per second, and rewinding, zooming, measuring times, after the stop.
Download – TFLA logic analyzer 0.4.0 3,7MB – (homepage)
A very good application from Texas Instruments to calculating all kinds of active filters. Low and high pass, types: butterworth, bessel, chebyshev, linear phase, gaussian, custom. Accurate cut-off frequency and components values, allows to choose the group of resistors and capacitors (depending on values do you have). Frequency graph for calculated filter, calculation from 2 to 10 row filters. Many of options helpful for projecting.
Very good and popular application to calculating speaker casing, subwoofers. Closed, opened, 1, 2, or 3 way. It allows for detailed design of casing dimensions, based on given speaker properties, it also shows up a resonance characteristic graph. Additionally it can calculate passive and active filters.
Download – WIN ISD PRO 0.50a7 1,7MB – (homepage)
Great COM port terminal, plenty of useful features, very powerful yet easy to use. Ideal to work both with microcontrollers and factory equipment such as modems and telephones. Macros, scripts, character counter, remote control via TCP / IP, saving logs to file, custom port speed, up to 64 COM ports.
HEX2BIN & BIN2HEX
Two quite straight forward BIN <> HEX file converters. Useful if we have a chip to program with BIN file, and our programmer accepts only HEX – or vice versa. Of course you can find more applications for this. Control from the DOS command line, syntax will be received after you call the program without any parameters.
Compiler and development environment for the Atmel AVR microcontrollers. The language is very similar to Basic, very convenient to use but unfortunately in terms of optimization it is far from perfect. Free demo version allows you to compile the code up to 4K, which is enough to create a simple microprocessor devices.
Go to website – MCSELEC – 21MB
Electronic’s assist (polish)
Great multi-program by Piotr Sperka, extremely helpful in every workshop. It will help to read the bar code, convert various values, convert the size of units, calculate values for generators, stabilizers, coils, radiators, operational amplifiers, literally everything you need. In addition, a large base of data components, RS232 terminal, and many other useful aids which definitely is worth having on hand.
The name of the program suggest that it is used for making schematics, but it is known as a pretty good simulator. Gates, op-amps, generators, comparators, transistors, passive components, everything analog and digital. Create the schematic and run the simulation to see and explore exactly how it will behave even before building. It has an impressive set of virtual measurement tools. Version “student”, a little old, but it weights only 6MB.
Go to website – Circuit Simulator – 6MB
3D Gerber Viewer
Friendly, easy in use and free gerber files viewer. After load it converts the files, and allow to view our project in 3D mode with 60fps. Camera and layers can be freerly adjusted and operated. This is some sort of prototype version at the moment so it can contain some bugs.
Go to website – 3D gerber viewer – 3MB
(all of the applications are a free legal versions. if you know about some nice application – contact me :))