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Engineers handpick 10 best free analysis, design tools

Posted: 23 Jun 2014  Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:design  engineer  free  ware 

Last month, EE Times' Cabe Atwell, listed ten of the best free online design and simulation software and tools (see Freewares catch on in electronic DIY projects). This time, he adds ten more to the list—free math analysis and design wares that engineers use themselves and thereby recommend.

Back by popular demand is another round of free tools that engineers and do-it-yourselfers can use with their various projects. With the economy the way it is, 'free' is as good as gold and these tools are worth every penny you didn't spend on them.

We asked engineers to add to our original list. The result, which you'll see in 10 slides here, includes a compelling alternative to Excel now emerging called the R Project for Statistical Computing. Engineers say that its ability to handle large data sets and its more flexible graphing tools makes the steeper learning worth it. Engineers also give high marks to FreePCB, which trades off form for function and allows users to design and edit PCB schematics using a simple graphical interface.

The R Project for Statistical Computing—alternative to Excel

First up is R&R's (created by Robert Gentleman and Ross Ihaka) R Project, or simply 'R', which is a downloadable software environment used for statistical computing and graphics.

The software provides statistical and graphical techniques, including linear/non-linear modelling, time-series analysis and classical statistical tests among a host of others. The software is compatible with most OSs and will run on various UNIX platforms, Windows and MacOS-based PCs. R is also open-source software, enabling users to modify it at will to suit their needs without the fear of litigation.

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Sage helps in a wide range of mathematics

Do certain math problems have you stumped? Perhaps you need help with computations in CAD-based models. Whatever the problem may be, Sage has you covered. The software was created using almost 100 open-source packages that are unified under one interface for ease of use. The platform can be used for a myriad of mathematical applications, including calculus, algebra and elementary math. There is also advanced 'Doc Brown' applications incorporated as well, such as group theory, cryptography and combinatorics among a host of others. The downloadable software is accessed through a web browser and connects locally to either your Sage installation or through Sage's network server. The interface is quite interesting and is in 'notebook' form, which allows users to create customised graphics, mathematical expressions (for the String Theory fans) and add/delete input based on specific projects. Moreover, you can create incredible 'Spirograph' artworks just like using the retro toy from your childhood.

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