Improvements and cost reduction in 3D printers and laser cutters are facilitating a whole new way of developing low cost electromechanical systems, but–until now–the design of the mechanical parts and the design of the electronic control systems were two separate processes. Matrix Multimedia have just released a new version of their electronic system development software, Flowcode, with new electromechanical simulation features that help shorten system design time.

Developing an electromechanical model is straightforward: first the designer exports a 3D model of the physical parts from a package like Sketchup or Solidworks and imports it into Flowcode. Then the user models the movement of the mechanical model under electrical stimulus from motors and other electromechanical devices using the Flowcode routines provided. The designer then designs the control system using Flowcode’s extensive component library and standard flow chart symbols. Now the entire system’s electronic and mechanical parts can be simulated on-screen, and, when the design is complete, the program can be downloaded to a microcontroller or PLC and verified with the real hardware.

3D support for complex electromechanical models is just one of several improvements in version 6 of Flowcode which is available for the PC as well as for PIC, AVR, Arduino, ARM and dsPIC/PIC24 microcontrollers. The new version now includes a larger library of components, a facility for users to make their own components, near real-time simulation, and new features for testing electronic systems in circuit. The PC version of Flowcode is free of charge: customers only pay when they want to download code to a microcontroller or they want to use the software commercially.

Flowcode V6 for PIC, ARM, AVR and dsPIC is now available from Elektor. Simply follow the link below.