Autodesk expanded its offering of free 3D modeling tools last week by joining with Circuits.io to launch a free electronics design tool called 123D Circuits. 123D Circuits allows the user to either learn circuit design or put their existing electronics knowledge to use by designing virtual electronic circuits that can be simulated inside of the software. It’s a web-based tool, so the user doesn’t need to install any software to create virtual circuits.
What makes 123D Circuits unique from most other online circuit design tools is the fact that the designs created inside of 123D Circuits are part of Circuit.io’s effort to contribute to the “open hardware” movement – an effort by electronics enthusiasts to make electronic circuit designs open-source in nature, so that others can take advantage of and build upon original designs.
123D Circuits was the brain child of Karen Bruneel and Benjamin Schrauwen, the owners of Circuits.io, created as an online circuit design tool where designers could virtually test their electronic circuit designs in an open-source community filled with other electronics enthusiasts. The tool also provides real-time collaborative editing features so multiple designers can work on the same design together.
The launch of 123D Circuits brings the Circuits.io concept to the mainstream, by introducing it to the already large user base of Autodesk’s free 3D tools. Users can use the software for free so long as all created circuits remain publicly accessible to the rest of the community. Or users can sign up for a paid account to create their own private circuits and receive discounts on PCB orders.
One thing that makes 123D Circuits especially unique is the fact that one of the components included is a virtual Arduino board that users can wire and program. The Arduino code can be edited right in the browser, and the whole circuit can be tested – an excellent way for Arduino enthusiasts to test their design ideas before actually wiring up an Arduino in the real world.
Other Autodesk 123D tools include a 3d editing tool for 3d printers, an iPad virtual creature creation app, and even a 3d modeling tool. 123D Circuits is the latest addition to round out this collection of free online design tools offered by Autodesk. You can access 123D Circuits directly at the Circuits.io website.