There isn’t an area of our lives in the 21st Century which isn’t significantly impacted by electronics of some sort. From modern medicine to the books we read, you will find that some electronic device is involved in some way. For example, health and medical records are now required by law to be stored in digital format.
Fewer people are buying hardcopy books anymore since the inception of Kindle and Kindle Reader software for computers and mobile devices. No matter what kind of device you are designing, software will be involved in the process every step of the way. So, what software do you need to design electronics? This is just a sampling of what you may need.
It All Begins with the PCB
When designing the printed circuit board, you will obviously need PCB design software. This is an absolute must. This is where you will route circuits, place components and literally design the layout. The printed circuit board is the hardware that will run your device, and everyone knows, hardware is only going to be as good as the software that controls it. You could add to this statement by saying that the hardware is only going to be as good as the software used to design it. Nothing will work if the design is deficient.
The Mechanics Behind a Design
While you will be using software to design your PCB, there is a mechanical aspect to it. That would be the layout. Even so, digital PCAD software is used to develop the layout, CAD being the important part of that acronym, Computer Aided Design. So then, if you are going to be using a computer to design your PCB, you will obviously need PCAD software to work with. It’s amazing how one bit of software leads to the next. You first need an operating system, then a PCAD program which may or may not be included in the PCB design software suite. It’s also amazing how electronics even play a major role in the mechanics of a device.
Designing the Housing
Then there’s software you will need to design the case or housing. Every PCB operates a device of some sort and that will take software to design as well. There are a number of programs on the market but look for 3-D modelling software so that you can get a realistic idea of what your finished device will actually look like. This is especially important for handheld devices which must take ease of use into account.
No matter what type of electronics you are developing, PCB design software with PCAD included or as a separate program will be vitally important. Also, you will want to design the actual product which will require its own set of software and then you’ll need some sort of communications software so that you can test your device. This is typically a serial port communications program so that you can hook your device up to a computer for test runs. In fact, you will need software at every stage of design.