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Dated: Apr. 11, 2013

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Although a free software doesn’t have a price in an economical sense (in other words, it is free), that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t depend on monetary funding and doesn’t have a commercial aspect. In that fact lies the reason for a weaker offer of free alternative specialized programs, for example, CAD (Computer-aided design). Firms invest huge funds in the development of apps that they use in business and it is reasonable that they are not very fond of sharing them with a broad audience (especially competitors), although the open source business model has its advantages. In that way Linux/GNU, as well as other free systems (unfairly) are deprived of support from “big shots” and their owner apps, that are de facto standard in certain branches of industry. But, the situation is far from disastrous, the community manages to create programs that parry existing solutions. One of them is the topic of this text.

JMCAD Open SoftwareJMCAD is an open code software for modeling and simulating complex dynamic systems. It is written in Java and is available on all known operational systems. For installing this program you have to go to the projects home site and click the desired link, after which the process will be automated if you already have Java installed on your computer. The technology Java Web Start will take care that the downloaded .jnlp file starts and downloads everything that is needed, and after that it will start JMCAD. We have to mention that this procedure works great in a open variant through project like OpenJDK and IcedTea.
After startup, you will be greeted by a simple working windows with three sections. On the upper edge is the traditional bunch of drop down menus and shortcuts, left you have the element chooser, while the biggest part is reserved for certain input signals (INPUT), that you submit to the desired operations or functions, after what you get a modified output signal (OUTPUT). A new project begins when you add the necessary elements in the working window, then connect them, adjust their parameters, define the output type and then start the simulation. Let us explain it on a simpler example: if you place two elements with a certain value, and then connect with the add function, as the output value you will get the sum of those two values. A banal example, but it explains the principle. Of course, input elements can be varied, from constant to variable number values, sinusoid impulses, all the way to the values you can add from existing files and documents or from devices plugged to your computer (parallel or serial port, audio devices, networks...).
Data collected in that way you can pass through a whole specter of functions, mathematical and/or logical operations or control them through existing switches keys and potentiometers. The derived exit, depending on the type, can be recorded in a file, forward it to a different device or show it in a visual form (graph or oscilloscope). At first glance it can seem that there are not many available elements, but by combining and changing the parameters you can make and model very complex systems and in real time follow the influence of changes on an existing element.
Surely, the JMCAD is not a program for home users and demands a certain level of technical knowledge, but you can’t deny its usability, usefulness, stability and fantastic interestingness.


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