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How To Choose An Electronic Schematic Capture and Simulation Program

Schematic showing circuit components and routing layouts


When it comes to dressing up, I’m a poor decision maker. I couldn’t decide which suit goes well for an event. Or how not to appear shabby at a social gathering. Friends and family have long given up on my fashion-sense or the lack of. To their irritation, I persist with my monotonous dressing style despite the criticisms. 

In electronics design, I’m a better decision maker. No hints of my lackadaisical attitude are present as I tackled tough decisions, especially when choosing an electronic schematic capture and simulation program. I find myself on the opposite side of the table, as I became frustrated with the management’s impatience of my deliberation.

Why Do You Need An Electronic Schematic Capture And Simulation Program

For some reason, the PCB layout software or module seems to be getting a larger share of attention when it comes to electronics PCB design. Perhaps it’s due to the colorful graphical interface where you can shove components and traces with ease. Or perhaps you could employ intelligent features like autorouting and start seeing the prototype materializes on the screen. 

However, you should be equally attentive to the schematic capture module of the PCB design suite. After all, it’s where you turn worded requirements into symbols and shapes that you’re familiar with.

As technology evolves, a schematic capture software becomes more than a scratchpad for your schematic. Simulation tools are enhanced and incorporated as part of the schematic capture program. These tools provide the PCB designer opportunities to test and simulate the circuit virtually before proceeding to the PCB layout.

For someone who started designing PCBs when schematic and simulation program were still in its primitive, a thorough transient analysis would have saved one of my older designs from lasting only a couple of months in the field. Like it or not, PCB designers are humans, and we may occasionally make mistakes.

Free vs. Paid Schematic Capture And Simulation Program

During the past decade, the electronics industry has since a notable growth in the offering of schematic capture and simulation software. Leading PCB design software continues to improve the existing schematic capture module. 

At the same time, free schematic capture and simulation programs are popping up here and there, capturing the attention of electronics enthusiasts and designers. 

Rather than pitting free and paid schematic capture and simulation program against each other, PCB designers are wise to acknowledge the limitation of the free versions, and how they are often targeted for a specific community or hobbyists. 

Conversely, paid schematic and simulation software is often part of a larger PCB design suite offered by leading vendors. They are built with professional features targeting efficiency, organization, and in-depth analysis of the schematic design.


Green circuit board overlaying a schematic showing component diagrams and trace routing

Seamless integration with PCB is decisive when choosing a schematic capture tool.


What To Look For In An Electronic Schematic Capture and Simulation Program

Having seen how PCB design software evolves, I now have a huge expectation when trying out a new electronic schematic capture and simulation program. Here are some features that I feel are indispensable when you’re trying to work on a circuit.

1. Seamless PCB Layout Integration

Some free circuit design software purely does only that, leaving you helpless when you’re trying to transfer the schematics into PCB. You’ll want the schematic capture to transfer seamlessly to the PCB layout module. It has to generate accurate components, netlists, and allows back-annotation. 

2. Library Management 

You don’t want to spend hours generating schematic symbols, not when every minute wasted affects the time-to-market. It’s crucial that the schematic capture program has a comprehensive and up to date library. At the very least, it should effortlessly enable schematic symbol creation.

3. Schematic Reuse

It’s never smart to reinvent the wheel and definitely not when you’re an electronics circuit designer. Choose a schematic capture that supports subcircuits and circuit-reuse. For example, A circuit may have been designed for United States. But, what if the same circuit has to now work as per the allowed specifications in Germany? One can use a simulator to get the new circuit values quickly based on the new goals.

4. Comprehensive Analyses

AC noise, transient, temperature, and. These are just some of the variables that will affect your design, and they can be spotted with a comprehensive analysis and simulation program. Having the simulation program integrated with the schematic capture software makes design effort more efficient.

5. Accurate Modelling

You’ll want the simulation result to be as close to the real world, and that means you need accurate models of components to choose from. 


3D rendering of a capacitor or an electronic part

Accurate component models help in providing better analysis results.


It helps to get a PCB design software that has the industry’s best schematic capture and simulation program. You’ll find that Cadence’s PSpice simulator helps to minimize teething issues in your design. Whether it’s through the over 34,000 library of models available to work from, or the tremendous smoke analysis that can determine component vulnerabilities and stresses, PSpice is assured to give you what you need. 

If you’re looking to learn more about how Cadence has the solution for you, talk to us and our team of experts