Frequently Asked Questions

CircuitMaker FAQ

QUESTION: What is the difference between the standard and PRO versions of CircuitMaker?

ANSWER: While the core products are the same, CircuitMaker PRO has additional models and other simulation and export features that are not in CircuitMaker 6 (see the product descriptions for details). If you purchase the standard version, and then decide later that you need the PRO, you can simply pay the difference in price to upgrade to the PRO.

Special Note to All Registered Users:

We've sent out special upgrade notices to those who own previous versions of our products, for upgrading to the new standard or PRO versions. If you haven't received your upgrade information, please call or email us with your registration number(s) and we'll explain your upgrade options!

QUESTION: What documentation is included with CircuitMaker?
ANSWER: Every copy of CircuitMaker 6 and PRO ships with a comprehensive printed User Manual and Device Library Guide. There is also full online Help available from within the program.

QUESTION: What devices are included in CircuitMaker?
ANSWER: CircuitMaker 6 ships with over 4000 device models, and CircuitMaker PRO ships with 6,000 models. These devices include semiconductors, displays, indicators, switches, digital primitives, digital ICs, linear ICs, transistors, FETs, optoisolators, photo diodes, regulators, references, SCRs, triacs, supplies, sources, relays, math devices, transmission lines, vacuum tubes and virtual instruments (oscilloscope, digital multimeter, Bode plotter, curve tracer, data sequencer, signal generator, logic analyzer, logic probe and logic pulser). Click Here to download CircuitMaker's Device Library Guide in PDF format.

QUESTION: How does CircuitMaker compare to other simulators?
ANSWER: CircuitMaker compares very well to other simulation programs. In most cases, you'll find that CircuitMaker is easier to use and provides as many or more features than programs costing 10 times as much. Click here to see specific product comparisons.

QUESTION: What is SPICE?
ANSWER: SPICE is an acronym that stands for Simulation Program (with) Integrated Circuit Emphasis. The program has become the industry de facto standard for analog circuit simulation and was developed at Berkeley University. CircuitMaker uses an enhanced version of SPICE3f5 and XSPICE to perform its analog and mixed-mode simulation.

QUESTION: Why is that important to me?
ANSWER: There are several important reasons. First, since SPICE is the industry standard for analog simulation there are many third party books and other reference materials available to assist the user. Whether you are a beginner or professional, there are aids which can help you reach a higher level of simulation accuracy and performance. Second, many manufacturers make SPICE compatible libraries of their devices available on diskette. These libraries can be easily imported into CircuitMaker to expand the included device libraries.

QUESTION: How is CircuitMaker's version of SPICE different?
ANSWER: Many of the SPICE simulation programs available today are difficult to use and have serious limitations. At MicroCode Engineering we have greatly enhanced SPICE and removed the difficulty of use. In fact, unless you choose, you may not even be aware that SPICE is involved in the simulation. With CircuitMaker everything is setup using the intuitive graphical user interface. Finally, even though we have enhanced SPICE, CircuitMaker remains 100% SPICE compatible.

QUESTION: What if I need a device that is not in the provided library?
ANSWER: There are three main methods of expanding CircuitMaker's device library. The first method involves importing SPICE models and macro models. Many device manufacturers provide SPICE models for their devices on disk or over the internet. In fact, our LINKS page has internet links to many manufacturer websites where SPICE models can be found. The most common types of devices available are opamps, transistors, FETs, and other analog devices. Digital devices are not widely available. SPICE models can be quickly and easily imported into CircuitMaker to expand the included device libraries. The second method of adding new devices is through the powerful Macro creation feature. This method involves building a circuit using existing devices which functions equivalent to the needed device. This circuit is then encapsulated into a package of the users choice and saved in the library for future use. Macros can be expanded at any time, edited, and resaved. The third method of adding devices is for those who own CircuitMaker PRO. The PRO version supports SimCodeŽ, a high-level programming language that allows you to write your own digital models quickly and accurately.

QUESTION: Is CircuitMaker compatible with other PCB layout tools? What format does CircuitMaker export its PCB netlist in?
ANSWER: CircuitMaker is tightly integrated with TraxMaker, our professional PCB layout and autorouting program, so that you can go from schematic to PCB layout with the click of a button! CircuitMaker is also compatible with most standard PCB layout software. CircuitMaker outputs PCB netlists in variety of formats, including Tango, Protel, OrCAD PCB II, PADS PCB and others.

QUESTION: What are the future plans/upgrade policies for CircuitMaker and TraxMaker?

ANSWER: We are continually developing and enhancing our product line to meet the needs of our customers. New version releases can be expected about every 12-18 months. We offer very affordable upgrade options for registered users, but unlike most companies, we do not "penalize" customers if they choose to skip an upgrade and wait for the next one. And if you purchase one of our products within 90 days of a new version release, we will provide you the upgrade for free, so you don't have to worry about purchasing at the "wrong" time. If you have any comments or suggestions for future releases, please let us know. Our research and development is driven largely by customer input.

QUESTION: Do your products require a hardware key?

ANSWER: Only products shipped outside of the United States, Canada, the U.K. and Australia come with a hardware key.

QUESTION: Are there any device/pin limitations in CircuitMaker?

ANSWER: No, CircuitMaker has no limits or restrictions on the number of devices, pins, nodes, etc. With CircuitMaker's Symbol Editor you can create custom devices and symbols, and the macro feature allows you to encapsulate entire circuits into a single device that can be used as part of a larger circuit.

QUESTION: Are your products Year 2000 compliant?

ANSWER: Yes, our products are Year 2000 compliant. They do not use dates or date fields, so there will be no change or adverse affects at the turn of the century.

Additional Questions? Please see our Technical Support or User Forum page for more technical Q&A. If the answer you need is not there, feel free to ask any additional questions directly by emailing us anytime. Click here to email the CircuitMaker Customer Service Center.


TraxMaker FAQ

QUESTION: What is the difference between the standard and PRO versions of TraxMaker?

ANSWER: While the core products are the same, TraxMaker PRO has additional footprints and boardblanks, and other advance import and export features that are not in TraxMaker 3 (see the product descriptions for details). If you purchase the standard version, and then decide later that you need the PRO, you can simply pay the difference in price to upgrade to the PRO.

Special Note to All Registered Users:

For those who own previous versions of our products, there are upgrade options available for the new standard versions as well as the PRO versions. We will be sending out upgrade notices soon, but if you can't wait, just call or email us with your registration number(s) and we'll explain your upgrade options!

QUESTION: What documentation is included with TraxMaker?
ANSWER: Every copy of TraxMaker 3 and PRO ships with a comprehensive printed User Manual and Footprint Library Guide. There is also full online Help available from within the program.

QUESTION: Are there any device/pin limitations in TraxMaker?

ANSWER: No, TraxMaker has no limits or restrictions on the number of devices, pins or nodes. The only restriction is in the overall board size, which can be up to 32 X 32 inches. BUYER BEWARE - we have been alerted by customers that there are some companies selling low-cost PCB layout programs with severe pin limitations, but they don't mention it in any of their product information! One customer didn't even find out until after he had purchased their product!

QUESTION: Is TraxMaker compatible with other schematic tools? What netlist formats does TraxMaker import?
ANSWER: TraxMaker is tightly integrated with CircuitMaker for fast, efficient transfer from schematic to PCB. In fact, you can go from a CircuitMaker schematic to board layout in TraxMaker with the click of a button! TraxMaker is also compatible with most standard schematic programs. It can import and export a variety of netlist formats, including Protel, Tango, OrCAD PCB II, PADS PCB and others.

QUESTION: How does TraxMaker compare to other pcb layout programs?
ANSWER: TraxMaker compares very well to other pcb layout programs. In most cases, you'll find that TraxMaker is easier to use and provides as many or more features than programs costing 10 times as much. Click here to see specific product comparisons.

QUESTION: How many layers are available in TraxMaker?
ANSWER: TraxMaker supports up to 8 copper layers (6 signal layers, plus power and ground planes), top and bottom component layers, solder and paste masks, keep out layer and a reference layer.

QUESTION: What is TraxMaker's grid resolution?

ANSWER: 1 mil (.001 inch or .025mm)

QUESTION: Will TraxMaker autoroute my tracks or do I have to do it manually?
ANSWER: In TraxMaker you have the flexibility of routing tracks manually, using the built-in autorouter, or both. TraxMaker uses proven algorithms to auto place each device and autoroute the circuit tracks. If you do not like the way the autorouter has done it, you have the flexibility to edit the layout as needed. You can also preroute select connections and let TraxMaker autoroute the remaining connections.

QUESTION: Do your products require a hardware key?

ANSWER: Only products shipped outside of the United States, Canada, the U.K. and Australia come with a hardware key.

QUESTION: Are your products Year 2000 compliant?

ANSWER: Yes, our products are Year 2000 compliant. They do not use dates or date fields, so there will be no change or adverse affects at the turn of the century.

Additional Questions? Please see our Techinical Support or User Forum page for more technical information. Feel free to ask any additional questions directly by emailing us anytime. Click here to email the CircuitMaker Customer Service Center.