Electronics Hobbyists and Tinkerers

Jun 02 2015, 2:30 PM PDT · 1 comment »

At CircuitLab, one of our challenges is to simultaneously serve three distinct populations: students, hobbyists, and engineers. All three need schematic capture and circuit simulation software, but each gets different economic value from it, and have different willingness to pay for it. We've worked to make our software accessible and valuable for all three.

Students are easy to define: generally young people participating full-time in engineering and science undergraduate or graduate degree programs at colleges and universities. We have campus-wide licensing deals with a growing number schools, making CircuitLab available free-of-charge to all students (often used in coursework). In other cases, individual students get discounted student-friendly pricing on their own through our .EDU pricing program (more than 90% off the commercial pricing).

Engineers are also easy to define: we have CircuitLab customers at Fortune 500 companies, mid-size firms, and growing startups like Pantelligent, a company that's developing a smart frying pan that cooks steak and salmon perfectly, every time. The Pantelligent engineering team uses CircuitLab for analog design, power supply design, robustness analysis, production and test fixtures, thermal simulations, and more, leading to a higher quality product in less time. There's an immediate value to getting an engineering team using CircuitLab, and the ability to have a flexible monthly self-serve subscription (no enterprise sales people, no long-term contracts) makes it easy for companies to give it a try and see the benefits for themselves.

However, about half of CircuitLab users identify in a third category: hobbyists, makers, or tinkerers. Who are these users? What are they building? How can CircuitLab help?

Our friends at Jameco Electronics, a California-based distributor of electronics components, decided to find out by conducting the first-ever Great American Electronics Hobbyists Census. Some interesting highlights:

  • 34% of hobbyists have an electrical engineering degree, while 35% have no formal electronics education
  • 64% own 3 or more multimeters!
  • 81% had their first electronics experience before age 18
  • 75% report spending at least 6 hours per month on their electronics projects as a hobby

For more great data, see the census results from Jameco.

To our hobbyists from the CircuitLab community: how do you fit in with these results? Let us know in the comments.

Server Availability Improvements

Feb 23 2014, 12:30 PM PST · 1 comment »

Earlier this month, we completed long-awaited improvements to the CircuitLab server infrastructure. As CircuitLab has grown to be used by tens of thousands of engineers, hobbyists, and students every workweek, we've faced normal "growing pains" in our ability to keep the site up and working fast for you. Unfortunately, that led to brief intermittent outages or sluggishness for our customers, especially in the December and January timeframe.

Our team targeted the critical areas causing these issues, re-engineering several of our server-side systems. In the past two weeks since we've deployed our improved back-end infrastructure, our site availability and performance are markedly better. We've also improved our monitoring systems that will allow us to more easily detect and solve these issues faster in the future. Thanks to all of our customers for your patience as we grow!

Expanded Device Library

Oct 26 2013, 3:00 PM PDT · 2 comments »

We've added over 100 new device models across MOSFETs, BJTs, diodes, and op-amps to make it easier for you to simulate your designs!

Just double-click on any component within the CircuitLab editor to use one of our standard library models, or create your own models from numerical parameters or from SPICE.

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