Original Date: 01/23/1995
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Information : Electrical System Simulation and Analysis
Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) previously designed analog circuits using a design and build philosophy. Not only was the lab testing costly, but it was very difficult to test field units operating with intermittent problems. To reduce test costs and obtain more insight into their designs, SNL has begun using CAD tools to design and simulate analog designs.
CAD simulation tools offer SNL design engineers a large range of options. System tests can be performed unobtrusively without expensive test equipment and most importantly, without any part of the system under test being present. This is an important consideration when a system at a field site develops intermittent problems. Using simulation techniques, possible causes can be evaluated and a solution can be recommended. System interfaces can be verified to contain expected signals, and associated cable lengths can be verified to transmit signals as designed. Simulation can also be performed at the component level. CAD offers SNL engineers the flexibility to clip out a section of a circuit and simulate its performance under a variety of conditions. A virtual laboratory is at the disposal of the design engineer. SNL, using PSpice by Microsim Corporation, has developed a particular expertise in developing component models for complex high current/voltage analog devices. In addition, SNL produces good models over temperature variations and radiation effects.
CAD tools have effectively helped SNL engineers find discrepancies early in the design phase, thereby preventing costly lab test time. Intermittent failures encountered in the field have been analyzed by SNL engineers and solutions have been cost effectively determined.
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