An easy-to-use analogue circuit modelling, simulation and analysis software for professionals and inexperienced circuit designers
5Spice is a Windows-based tool that helps a circuit designer build circuit schemes and perform its analysis and simulation through a full graphical user interface (GUI). Basically it focusses on component level analogue circuit design and analysis.
5Spice is provided with SPICE-specific schematic entry. Here the user can define and save unlimited number of analyses and their corresponding simulated graphs. Moreover, SPICE/PSpice models can be easily included from a user expandable library.
5Spice offers analysis capabilities required by experienced circuit designers and, at the same time, it is simple to use. Student-level MOSFET IC design is also supported in 5Spice (though not compatible with HSPICE model libraries), thus making it a great student-oriented SPICE tool. This is a pure simulation product and, above all, does not burden users with an interface of printed circuit board layout. 5Spice uses desktop simulation. This ensures the privacy of the proprietary design, and avoids design loss if cloud solution provided by the vendor vanishes.
In short, 5Spice is a powerful yet simple tool for design and testing of circuits.
A key feature of 5Spice is the visual representation of most of the SPICE concepts in the schematic. The schematic symbol can be set with user-defined equations that can contain mathematical functions, IF-THEN-ELSE structures, etc. Also, the generic sub-circuit schematic symbols auto-adjust the number of pins to match the number of nodes in the sub-circuit selected by the user. The program allows the user to define the pin names; these names are then saved in the library. It also has a large-signal harmonic distortion analysis.
5Spice is provided with an indexed library of SPICE models and sub-circuits. One can easily add own models and sub-circuit files or those provided by other manufacturers. The program accepts standard SPICE syntax and it is almost completely compatible with PSpice syntax as used by firms like Maxim, Texas Instruments, Analog Devices, Inc. and Linear Technology Corporation. But 5Spice is not compatible with digital models of PSpice. When linking a model to a schematic symbol, only those library models that match the symbol are shown in the searchable selection. The circuits entered are set to their equivalent SPICE simulation defaults using a wizard.
Temperature or component values can be swept and the result plotted in a single graph. Op-amp gain-bandwidth product can also be swept with the op-amp model included in the tools. Analyses of alternate designs are also supported.
5Spice, combined with SPICE engine and WinSpice, provides a straight-forward user interface, and hides much of traditional SPICE’s quirkiness. It reduces the number of do’s and don’ts a user should remember, as compared to SPICE.
A NOTES section is provided in the schematic for each analysis, which lets the user document the work. Another very useful feature of 5Spice is its extensive task-oriented Help index that gives a detailed explanation of all functions and procedures. This makes the software simple even for beginners. There is no limit in the number of analyses (along with its corresponding graph) that can be defined, named and saved using this tool.
This tool can be used to check DC bias (DC-operating point). It permits non-linear DC, transient, harmonic distortion, DC sensitivity and FFT analyses. Linearised analyses like AC, noise analysis and AC sensitivity analysis can also be done on the circuits.
Distortion, noise, sensitivity and FFT analyses are available only for registered users.
Licence and registration
5Spice is a copyrighted program authored and published by Richard Andresen. It can be used free of charge for non-commercial purpose. For commercial use, the software is provided with a 30-day evaluation period, after which it should be registered. The registration licences 5Spice for commercial use, expands its set of features and offers other added benefits to the user.
Operating system. Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows XP. The program also runs in Windows on Apple computers (with Intel processors). Not suited for Windows emulators or Windows running on top of Linux.
Screen resolution. Minimum recommended resolution is 800×600.
The setup file 5SpiceAnalysis210.exe is 6.95MB. Double click on the file and the installation wizard assists you to get the program installed. The WinSpice included with the package is self-installing.
The main goal of the program is the design and analysis of analogue circuits at the component level.
Working with 5Spice
The main window of 5SpiceAnalysis2.10 is shown in Fig. 1. Here you can start designing the circuits. A title block can be found on the bottom right of the main window. Double click on it (or right click on it and select Edit Parameters) in order to add or edit the details of the file. The toolbar on the right side of the main window allows you to select from amongst a large number of predefined components like transmission lines, wires, resistors, capacitors, inductors, semiconductor devices (diode, BJT, JFET and MOSFET), transistors, op-amps, voltage and current source, test points, ground, transformers, etc. You can even add readymade logic gates, comparators, latches, flip-flops, counters and even include user-defined parameters. But the option to save digital logic circuits is available only in registered version of the software.
Click on the desired components and click where on the drawing board you would like to include them. You can add multiple copies of the same component this way. You can deselect the component by right clicking anywhere on the workspace, and perform necessary editing to the added component or include a new type of component in the design. Right click on the component to move them, edit the parameters and rotate or flip as required. You can add text notes relating to each circuit by clicking on the NOTES tab. These are saved along with the file. Once the circuit is completely built, the analysis can be performed.
As mentioned in the features, this software has a wizard that allows the user to check whether the design entered matches the default designs given in the library of this program. This option comes in the menu bar under Analyse > Project Defaults Wizard.
If you are not ready to create your own circuit, a set of demo files are already included in the library of the program, to assist the users. These can be opened by going to File > Open Demo and selecting the required file. Fig. 2 shows such a loaded demo schematic of astable circuit, the transient analysis graph of it being shown in Fig. 3.
To perform the analysis, go to the menu bar Analyse > Run, or press F9. This simulates the working of the circuit, generates an analysis under a new tab, and produces a report of values and frequencies under REPORTS tab.
Click on the Lock button in the graph tab to prevent it from being overwritten by the next analysis. A multi-page schematic can be created in registered version.
The menu bar has a drop-down menu avoiding errors that cover almost all error possibilities.
One can also specify the model of a component so that 5Spice can simulate it properly. As an example, let us select an op-amp LM741. Right click on it and select Edit Parameters from the drop-down menu. In the window that appears, the user can select LM741 from the given models of op-amps, as shown in Fig. 4. Then the manufacturer-specified parameters are loaded to the given op-amp. You can easily add other manufacturers’ SPICE models to the library as 5Spice is compatible with most of them.
5Spice is a quick-and-easy tool for analogue circuit design and simulation at component level. The main window is like a breadboard and the analysed graph acts as your oscilloscope screen, hence this is a very good way to test your circuits before building them on a breadboard. The complex analysis capabilities and simple user interface make it suitable for circuit designers at all levels—be it professionals or students. These qualities make 5Spice one of the best free tools available for circuit analysis.
Download latest version of the software: click here
The author is a technical correspondent at EFY Bengaluru