[nSLUG] Electronics Engineering Tech/NSCC

George N. White III gnwiii at gmail.com
Sun Sep 7 08:05:34 ADT 2008

On Sat, Sep 6, 2008 at 3:27 PM, Havea Notherpuff
<haveanotherpuff at gmail.com> wrote:

> I am just starting a two year course at Kingstec(NSCC), taking
> Electronics Engineering Tech(EETN), I am a mature 46 year old student
> and been disabled so need to find a less labour intensive job and this
> is the one I picked, not real sure what I got myself into but find it
> hard already, but will probably click into it soon enough to make it
> through. What I was wondering is if any of you other Linux user know
> of any applications that I can make use of ; such as an electronic
> bread-board and other apps that make it so I can have sort of my own
> lab here on my computer. I usually have used Mepis  but think I might
> switch to just Debian, or what ever is the best and easiest  the best
> one with the source list for this kind of applications, I am pretty
> ignorant at this pint about anything to do with EETN, learning binary
> for first time and have never even heard of boolean algebra, but was
> told if I could do grade 12 math I could do this, hope so,LOL. Any
> help with  this subject is going to make my life   a lot easier that
> without it so please let me know about any apps you might have used or
> heard of,

My brother is an electrical engineer (MIT, now at the Draper Lab, and one of
the very few EE's who specializes in analog circuits).    He too
often ends up working evenings and weekends because there is a
shortage of competent EE Techs.   He uses various incarnations of
SPICE: <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SPICE>.  You should also read:

A historical review of circuit simulation
Pederson, D.
Circuits and Systems, IEEE Transactions on
Volume 31, Issue 1, Jan 1984 Page(s): 103 - 111

Summary: Within the Circuits and Systems (CAS) Society, developments
in computer-aided circuit analysis and circuit design commenced in the
early 1950's using the earliest digital computers. Initially,
computer-aided circuit analysis of linear circuits was used in design
optimization, design centering, and in determining the effects of
parasitics on circuit performance. Although this use of computer-aided
circuit analysis has continued, computer-aided design (CAD) and
circuit design automation within the CAS Society are now principally
concerned with problems associated with the overall design and
evaluation of very large circuits and systems. This paper is a review
of a major thread of CAD activity which has occurred within CAS from
the earliest and remains of major interest. This thread involves
computer-aided circuit analysis (circuit simulation) and its use in
CAD systems. Fortunately, several excellent review papers have
appeared within the past year or two to document well the technical
milestones, as well as the problems of interest at the present time.
It is possible then, in this paper, to concentrate on the developments
in our present capability of circuit simulators, stressing the
significant trends, noting some early developments which did not
become major aspects, and observing the interchange between theory and

One point my brother makes is that digital designers can no longer
ignore analog aspects of circuit design
because the clock rates on modern systems are in a range were a
circuit trace becomes a transmission line
and every connection has significant inductance/capacitance.    I'm
afraid this stuff needs more "advanced"
maths, but some people find Fourier analysis more intuitive than
boolean algebra, so don't rule it out.

For current software: <http://www.geda.seul.org/>

gEDA was one of the Google summer of code projects so is currently
very active.  From the gEDA site:
What is gEDA?

The gEDA project has produced and continues working on a full GPL'd
suite of Electronic Design Automation tools. These tools are used for
electrical circuit design, schematic capture, simulation, prototyping,
and production. Currently, the gEDA project offers a mature suite of
free software applications for electronics design, including schematic
capture, attribute management, bill of materials (BOM) generation,
netlisting into over 20 netlist formats, analog and digital
simulation, and printed circuit board (PCB) layout.

The gEDA project was started because of the lack of free EDA tools for
UNIX. The tools are being developed mainly on GNU/Linux machines, but
considerable effort is being made to make sure that gEDA runs on other
UNIX variants. For a complete list of freely available tools please be
sure to visit Open Collector.

George N. White III <aa056 at chebucto.ns.ca>
Head of St. Margarets Bay, Nova Scotia

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