Proteus VSM Simulation was the world's first schematic based micro-controller simulation tool and quickly became a de-facto standard for teaching embedded systems within education. Today, we support more processor families along with more embedded peripherals and more technologies than any other tool on the market and we remain world leaders in the field.
The Proteus PCB Design and Layout tools have successfully served both commercial and educational needs for over twenty-five years. Students benefit from exposure to professional grade tools with an intuitive user interface and a quick learning curve.
From China and India, through South America and the USA, and across the UK and Europe, the Proteus Design Suite is trusted as the tool of choice for embedded engineering and electronics learning.
The Visual Designer for Arduino AVR product uses an integrated flowchart editor for software design and an extensive range of pre-designed shields and sensors for hardware design. These virtual hardware blocks contribute high level methods (e.g. drawBitmap(), spinMotor()) to the programming environment so that complex hardware can be controlled with a relatively simple flowchart.
This means that Instructors can teach programming principles without concern for programming language syntax and they can teach electronic principles without the complexity of register level configuration. Meanwhile, students can successfully develop fun and interesting electronic projects, with additional complexity being added in an structured way rather than as a pre-requisite to learning.
All Visual Designer projects can be simulated in full in Proteus VSM and then programmed onto the physical Arduino hardware at the press of a button.
The Proteus schematic capture program is an experimental canvas for students. Placing and wiring is very intuitive and with tens of thousands of components to simulate, curiosity and creativity can be encouraged in equal measure. Together with our world class mixed-mode SPICE simulation engine Proteus provides a safe, fast and immersive learning environment for students.
The ability to interact with a running simulation in Proteus by pressing buttons, ramping POTs or flicking switches makes it ideally suited for engaging students in learning electronic theory.
At introductory levels, simple animations for voltage levels on pins and current flow can be turned on to help students visualise what is happening. As students advance they can use basic meters to take measurements and then be introduced to instrumentation such as an oscilloscope or logic analyser for analysis. Advanced students can then work with more complex circuitry and use graphs to perform a host of more detailed analyses such as frequency, Fourier or distortion.
Microcontroller simulation is where Proteus truly leads the way. The whole learning process takes place in software with the schematic capture module serving as the 'virtual hardware' and the VSM Studio IDE module enabling firmware development and compilation.
Basic concepts such as using interrupts, reading from an ADC or setting up a UART can be shown in the context of a simulated embedded system. Educators or students can set breakpoints and pause at any time, examining source code or voltage levels on the schematic and then single stepping through the code. A host of register, variable and watch windows can be used to display relevant information and there is even diagnostics display that provides command and data information from the entire simulation in plain text form.
The detail and accuracy of our processor models mean that they will run third party libraries and code examples. This helps more advanced students experiment with advanced on-board peripherals such as USB. Meanwhile, our support for multiple 8-bit, 16-bit and 32-bit processor families enables educators to cover a broad range of embedded architectures and discuss the benefits, drawbacks and typical application areas of each.
Teaching embedded design requires not only microcontrollers but also embedded peripherals and support for interconnect protocols. Proteus VSM includes simulation models for thousands of complex embedded peripherals and fully supports simulation of modern communication protocols such as I2C, SPI, Ethernet and even USB.
Students can therefore place and connect the microcontroller to all sorts of components on the schematic, from BLDCs to I2C temperature sensors to LCD/TFT displays. Actuators such as switches, buttons, potentiometers and keypads can also be used so that students can interact with the circuit during simulation. This enables Educators to structure course content to expose students to a wide range of real embedded application areas such as motor control, lighting, sensors and connectivity. Students can be engaged in writing the controlling firmware for a pre-drawn schematic or they can be tasked with designing hardware on the schematic to run existing firmware.
Regardless of the project, the professional debugging capabilities of Proteus VSM will prove invaluable as pausing the simulation allows you to stop time. When a breakpoint is hit or the program code is single stepped students can analyse the current state of the embedded system without real world effects such as capacitors discharging or the motor spinning down to a stop. This provides unique insight into both program execution and hardware design.
Teaching Internet of Things (IoT) in a classroom is a tricky thing to do, involving either theory only content or fairly expensive hardware and network configuration. There are also a large number of technologies involved which can overwhelm students relatively new to embedded design or web programming. Labcenter developed the IoT builder product to address these issues and provide a unique tool for instructors to use in their IoT course modules.
IoT builder is therefore well suited both for teaching the principles of IoT based applications to beginners and also as a rapid prototyping tool for more experienced developers.
The Layout module in Proteus integrates seamlessly with the rest of the system so students can move their simulated designs through to the board layout phase at the click of a button. A simple, uncluttered user interface then makes it easy for students to focus on learning the electronics rather than the tool itself.
As a feature complete commercial package, key concepts such as setting up board constraints and using power planes can be easily explained and demonstrated. More advanced students can experiment with multi-layer design and gain an understanding of how to cope with the more complex routing required for fine pitch SMT or BGA connections. The 3D Visualisation module can be launched at any time and allows students to examine both a bareboard and a fully populated view of their work.
Manufacturing processes for PCBs, together with all their limitations and problems are often poorly understood and Proteus PCB layout includes several important tools that help educators cover this topic. Students can switch on live solder display and paste mask display which will help them understand how parts are fitted to the board and will show techniques such as stippling paste masks and tenting vias. The Project Notes module also contains a template for PCB specifications which covers a comprehensive list of modern manufacturing topics, while the pre-production check command will test the current layout against basic manufacturability guidelines.
The ability to deliver course material in any computer lab or classroom is just one advantage of choosing Proteus for your teaching needs. We offer several flexible licensing schemes covering both locally installed licensing and server based licensing.
We also understand that students often need to continue working outside of class time and student licenses can therefore be made available while the purchased software is under maintenance.