Many analog circuits can be calculated with simple algebra. This may involve an equation or a system of equations, but the calculations are quite simple. Take the differential amplifier, as an example. In a previous article, MasteringElectronicsDesign: Design a Differential Amplifier the Easy Way with Mathcad, I showed how to design the differential amplifier by solving a system of two equations with two unknowns using Mathcad. Since then, readers asked me if there is any other substitute for Mathcad that they can use to solve the system of equations. And the answer is, yes, there is one.

Microsoft Mathematics is a free application which is loaded with features. Besides its graphing, math formulas and units converter, it has an equation solver that can easily handle systems of equations. By changing a few values and letting the application calculate the unknowns, a user can tweak his circuit to match the design requirements.