Date of Award

8-2012

Degree Name

MS in Electrical Engineering

Department

Electrical Engineering

Advisor

John Y. Oliver

Abstract

Traditional SPICE simulation tools and applications of circuit theory lack real-time interaction and feedback. The goal of this thesis was to create an interactive physical environment to allow the manipulation and simulation of discrete electrical components in near-real-time while optimizing and streamlining the human-computer interaction (HCI) elements to make the user experience as positive and transparent as possible. This type of HCI and near-real-time simulation feedback would allow for the instant realization of how the parameters of each discrete component or hardware module affect the overall simulation and response of the circuit.

The scope of this thesis is to research, design and develop two real-time interactive SPICE simulation tools and analyze the real-time benefits and HCI elements of both simulators, principally the user interface design itself. The first real-time interactive simulator (TouchSPICE) uses multiple embedded processors (touchscreen hardware blocks) and a host computer to build and simulate a circuit. The second real-time interactive simulator (ReActive-SPICE) uses a single host computer with integrated software to build and simulate a circuit, much like LTspice™ and PSpice™ without the real-time aspects.

As part of the study, 20 students were asked to create circuits utilized in undergraduate-level labs using TouchSPICE and ReActive-SPICE for the sole purpose of providing feedback on the two user interfaces. Students were asked to complete a survey before, during and after circuit creation to provide a basis for judging the intuitiveness, efficiency and overall effectiveness of the HCIs. Conclusions based-off the surveys support the hypothesis that both TouchSPICE and ReActive-SPICE were more intuitive and overall simpler than traditional SPICE simulation tools. Feedback collected showed TouchSPICE to have a more intuitive user interface while ReActive-SPICE proved to be more efficient. ReActive-SPICE was further developed and enhanced to improve the user interface as well as the overall circuit creation and real-time simulation processes.

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