Recently I was just kind of poking around the Android Marketplace looking for neat apps. I do a lot of work with hobby electronics in my spare time so I decided to search for something related when I stumbled upon some serious gold. The app I found is called EveryCircuit; what it does is allow you to model a circuit on your Android device and then simulate its functionality. The app provides components like resistors, capacitors, transistors and many others, as well as a fully functioning oscilloscope!
How it Looks
For starters, the app itself just looks good. All of the icons for components have a minimalist look to them but still clearly show what they are, provided you are familiar with electronics symbols. When you start up EveryCircuit you are presented with a slate grey sandbox area for building your circuit on, a sidebar to the left that contains menu items and contextual options that will vary depending on the object that you have selected and, a fly-out tray at the top that holds all of your components. The colors are nice and simple, but contrast really well with the dark background and the animations of waveforms, LEDs, and electron flow look really great.
How it Works
The app functions much like you would expect; objects are placed by tapping and dragging them from the tray to the workspace. Once you have a few components arranged you can simply tap-to-select the lead of one and then tap-to-connect it to the lead of another component. Once you have a circuit built, you are able to adjust the specifics of various components on the fly. Say you have placed down a 1K Ohm resistor but you need a 100 Ohm instead. You can simply select the resistor and then select the knob icon from the left-hand context menu and adjust it to whatever resistance you need! The knob is context sensitive to the object that you have selected so that if you have an LED you can modify its color or change the voltage of a power source. The best part here is that you can do this on the fly while simulating your circuit and see how it effects things.
What You Can Do with It
One of the first circuits I built was the simplest thing I could think of; a power source and an LED. Once I hit the ‘Play’ button to simulate it, to my delight, the LED actually lit up. I have used plenty of circuit simulation applications before on desktop machines, and some of them even have bells and whistles like this, but none of them were this accessible, intuitive or, engaging. The next circuit I built was a simple amplifier to see how well the app responded to something just a little more complex. From there I was able to save it to my device and even share the file itself via any share enabled app on my tablet such as Google + or Gmail. Another really excellent feature of the app is its built-in oscilloscope. You are able to look at up to 4 separate voltages at any one time while the circuit is ‘operating’. This can be really helpful for troubleshooting the circuit before you take the time to build it. Plus the multicolored waveforms are just nifty to look at.
The only real limitations to what you can do with this app are its lack of some of the more complex components such as 555 timers and other integrated circuits. I do wish that it had a pinch-to-zoom function so that you could zoom in and out on a large circuit but, scrolling works just fine. I just can’t wait for the day that I can simulate an Arduino from my tablet using this app!
Fun with Electronics
When I spoke with the developer, Igor Vytyaz, he told me that he intended for the app to be something of a sandbox learning tool/game; very similar to physics-based games such as Apparatus. I can say for certain that I have had a ton of fun playing with this. Hobby electronics are a passion of mine, though I am a novice at best so far. I have really enjoyed being able to sort of sketch a concept for a circuit and then test and tweak it before ever committing to building it. This app is so replete with components, tools and functions that I really think it should be used in schools. I will personally be purchasing a few copies of it myself for the Dallas Makerspace to use in our electronics room.
This app is by far one of the most useful that I have used in a while. Apps like this one really show the value of touch-based interfaces because it takes something that could be very boring and tedious and makes it fun to do and even nice to look at. I don’t really have any issues with the app itself, everything functions as I would want it to and overall it does precisely as advertised. The only complaints I can muster aren’t really complaints so much as requests for some more common but complex components, pinch-to-zoom and, maybe an instruction manual or even a tutorial. Overall I’ve really enjoyed my time with this app and fully intend to use it as a tool for prototyping my projects. I highly recommend this app for the classroom and for any parent who has a child that likes electronics. Just let them mess around with it for a bit, I guarantee they will love this.
Have you used the app? Do you intend to check it out? Built any nifty circuits? Let us know in the comments!