Tools and Techniques

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This is the beginning of a page to reorganize Techniques and to include both software and hardware tools and to perhaps distinguish, design, debuggin and building tools. Just an idea for now not linked into the wiki.

Software design tools

For software design tools such as Design CAD CAM


Circuit Schematics / Schematic Capture

= Circuit simulation , see software tool.

Micprocessor Design/Programming

Assemblers / Compilers

Assemblers let you program in the basic instructions of the chip, compilers work at a higher, more abstract level which is then transated into the basic chip insturctions. In principal an assembler can result in better programs, if the programmer is good enough and spends enough time. Compilers make it easier to move programs from chip to chip. For a discussion of the advantages of a compiler for the PIC see Use C for PIC Programming!

For the PIC compilers see PIC Links#Compiler Section


Simulators are often included with an assembler or compiler, there are also from freestanding ones.

Features to look for.

  • Comming


Do not for get the good old spreadsheet, do your own thing, or you may find ones for download that have been set up for specific calculations.

Design Manual - Non Cad Cam


Tools ( may also be useful for Debugging )

Hardware tools

A directory of hardware tools that you may find useful.

Debugging/Test Instruments

Common Hand Tools Soldering Iron

Test Equipment

Oscilliscopes Logic Anilizers Signal Generators Multimeters Power Meters

Microcontroller Programmers In Circuit Serial Bootloaders


InCircuit Debugging

Misc Tips Tricks

Misc Tips Tricks

PC Sound Card Based Test Instruments

The sound card on a PC cna be used either to capture signals or to generate them. Normally it is limited to acting in the audio range, about 20 Hz to 20 K Hz. You cna do this without any additional hardware, or extend the capabalities with some external hardware. This gives you a simple way to get Oscilliscopes, signal generators, and signal analizers. Below are some links, you can probably find more ( and post them here please ). This is not to be confused with instruments that are PC based, but are highly dependent on external hardware ( we should have a section on them sometime soon ).


Signal Generator


SoundArb is a free program from David Sherman Engineering Co. that allows you to control a PC sound card like you would a conventional function generator. You can select standard waveforms, load arbitrary waveforms from a text wave table file, control the frequency and amplitude of the waveform, and select from a versatile set of triggering modes. With a stereo sound card, one channel can be used as a "sync" output.

At scroll down to: heading "Signal generator software"

The microcontroller polyphony page describes some signal generation techniques.

Signal Analizers

also heading on:

Signal waveform analyzing tools

also heading on

FFT spectrum analyzer programs

Test Equipment and Other Equipment

see Test Equipment and Other Equipment