Something similar to what happens with the prototype board, an Arduino simulator is a software that can help you either if you are a beginner or if you want to test some design before building it. This avoids on one hand that you have to build it on the protoboard, and also that you can see what happens with those circuits that you still don’t have the necessary devices or electronics.
That way, the Arduino simulator will simulate the operation giving you a good idea of what would happen in reality. So, together with Arduino IDE, Ardublock, and Fritzing, it might be the perfect complement for all the makers who love DIY projects. Even, for other more advanced users, these simulators would allow to debug the code line by line so that it is correct before trying it for the first time in reality nor to damage any component due to wrong polarities, surges, etc.
Types of Arduino simulators
Depending on the platform you are working on, you can choose one or another type of simulator for Arduino, as there are several types:
- Online: these are simulators based on a web interface that you can manage from any platform with a compatible web browser. They are good because you don’t have to worry about installing them, updating them, etc. Just log in and use it.
- Offline: they are the ones you install locally, in this case they must be compatible with your operating system. You can browse the developers’ websites to see the available packages, download them and install them.
- Electronic simulators: they are not really Arduino simulators as such, but they can help you to create your schemes, like Fritzing, or to get a better idea of what you need for your project.
Simulators for Arduino
Some of the best simulators for Arduino are
- Autodesk TinkerCad: is an online platform that you can use from any web browser. It is developed by the famous technical software firm Autodesk and allows 3D designs. Among its functions, apart from other types of circuits, it also allows you to simulate Arduino online, easily, quickly, and with block and code mode. And everything is totally free. Previously it was known as 123dcircuit.io, but that platform stopped working and has been replaced by this one.
- Porteus Design Suite: is a software that can be installed in Windows, but also in Linux and Mac. It is a very complete software for electronic simulation, PCB modelling, etc. It is developed by Labcenter Electronics and it is one of the most used at present. The bad thing is that it is paid, and the packages have a high price, although you can try a limited version.
- Autodesk Eagle: is another alternative to the previous one developed by Autodesk. A very professional simulation program and very powerful. It has a lot of tools that make it very complete for engineers and advanced users. To simulate Arduino you can use available libraries like Sparkfun, Adafruit, etc., that you will find in GitHub for free. It is available for Windows, Linux and MacOS. Although its download is free, it really has a paid license if you want it complete…
- UnoArduSim: is a free simulator for Windows that is very interesting. It has been made by Professor Stan Simmons from Queen’s University. It simulates an Arduino Uno board, and it has a library with several common electronic components, but it is the easiest to use that I have seen. It even allows you to run source code for Arduino line by line to debug.
- Virtronics: the company has this paid version for Linux and Windows that you can buy for a few euros. The development company has thought about this software so that it can be used by students and beginners in the world of electronics. It can simulate Arduino Uno and Mega boards, as well as having other electronic components available among the repertoire of elements it offers. As with most Arduino simulators, it allows for line-by-line debugging.
Electronic simulators and accessories
As for other programs and complements, you know that you can find tools as interesting as
- Fritzing: is free and open source, and available for Windows, MacOS and Linux. It is not a simulator, but it allows you to make practical electronic schemes to emulate what you will build later. This way you will have a clearer idea of how to connect everything. That is, it is a software to make graphics of the schemes, with a lot of microcontroller boards and components available, among which are all the Arduinos
- Arduino IDE and Ardublock:
- Crocodile Clips: they are simulators of several types (now they have changed their name to Yenka.com), among them electronics, although they don’t include Arduino among their elements, you can test many electronic circuits to see if it works, if it breaks, or what happens… They are not free, and although you can find some packages for Linux (.deb), usually they are only for Windows.
I hope this article has served you with some of the most interesting programs to complement your Arduino board and improve your electronic DIY projects.