Livewire is a real-time circuit simulator targeted towards students and hobbyists, livewire is produced by the small UK based company New Wave Concepts and is one of a number of circuit simulation and design products.
Most circuit simulators in my experience tend to have a fairly cluttered interface however in this case the interface is very simple and intuitive to use, most people should have no problem in learning to use it.
All of the circuit components are easily accessed from the window know as the Gallery from which they can be dragged into the schematic or alternatively added from the insert menu. Besides the components you can also add images, shapes, graphs, text and tables to the schematic, this avoids needing another window to display the simulation results.
One of the best features of Livewire by far is the optional real-time animation that displays the voltages and currents in the circuit as it's being simulated, this makes Livewire a very valuable educational aid in that it shows the circuit operation visually as opposed to just numbers and graphs.
Livewire includes the following components:
- Resistors, capacitors and inductors
- Variable resistors, potentiometers, variable inductors and variable capacitors
- Variety of interactive switches
- LDR's, thermistors, photo-transistors, opto-isolators, crystal oscillators
- DC and AC voltage sources, DC current sources, fuses, voltage regulators
- Diodes, zener diodes, thyristors (SCR), bridge rectifiers
- Bipolar junction transistors, JFET's and MOSFET's
- 555 timers, op-amps, 74xxx and 4xxx digital logic.
- Lamps, buzzers, speakers, relays, solenoids, motors, LED's and displays
In addition to all these 'ideal' components many can be set to use a specific device model which allows for a much more accurate simulation, many commonly used device models are included with Livewire, however you cannot add your own.
Simulation of component power limitations is also provided which is a fairly handy feature if you make a mistake, even better if it saves you from ruining a prototype, you can also simulate component faults such as shorted components or even leaky capacitors.
In order to get you started the software also comes with a large variety of interesting examples which are worth looking at.
Livewire seems to be a pretty impressive circuit simulator, particularly for people learning electronics, however it's not perfect and other simulators win when it comes to more complex circuits.
Livewire is available from Maplin Electronics or other suppliers from £40 for the standard edition and £60 for the professional edition, personally I find this a little pricey for a relatively simple simulator, but really if you want the real-time visualization nothing else I've yet seen does it quite as good as Livewire.
- Easy to use interface
- Lots of well made examples
- Good quality real-time visualization
- A decent number of common device models included
- No support for custom device models
- Moderately expensive
- No support for more complex simulations
Purchase from Maplin Electronics