Another PLC Trainer Thread

3 posts in this topic


I've gotten a job where I'll be around controls a lot and I want to build my own trainer for personal/professional development. My current PLC experience is one semester of study on the A-B SLC500 and some honors work where I connected some sensors and a FANUC six-axis up to an SLC 500.

I was ready to go on an A-B Micrologix 1400 but getting RSLogix is becoming a turn off. I can go on a big rip about it but won't. I've since looked at Automation Direct, Unilogic, Velocio, even Siemens. A-D is almost looking too good to be true. Yet they've been around for a while and it seem like people are using it. I'm trying to wind up with a good platform to get two PLC's, one to make a trainer with and one for the Big Side Project. Here's what I want to do:


  • A dozen each I/O, just switches lights etc
  • Analog I/O
  • One HMI

Big Side Project:

  • Dozens of I/Os
  • Several analog I/Os
  • Several HMIs
  • Bus stuff: CAN, or AS-i, or etc

I'm pretty green with the Bus Stuff but from what I gather, with Ethernet/IP you can use gateways like Anybus to connect to about whatever you want. If I was certain A-D could do this I'd probably go with them. Just wondering what people think. Thanks for any advice.

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Ideally, your trainer will be set up based on what you're going to be supporting, but I know that can get very pricey very fast.

For RSLogix 500 stuff, look at the MicroLogix 1100. It supports Ethernet for programming and HMIs and uses the free version of RSLogix 500.

I have some limited experience with Automation Direct products. In my experience (YMMV), their C-More HMIs are rock solid, their PLCs are junk.  Now, that experience is "several" years ago, so it may have changed. We were trying to replace some Siemens S5 processors with A-D DirectLogix units. They were very small machines, but had analog inputs and outputs. The analog stuff was very unstable in the AD PLC. We were able to put in a MicroLogix (1200, I think, it's been a while) very quickly and reliably. I also hope they've changed their programming software some to make memory management more automatic. When I used it, I had to keep track of which memory was used so I didn't step on anything.

I hesitate to suggest it since my experience has been negative, but look also at AB's Micro 800 series PLCs and Panelview Component HMIs. They use free programming software (Connected Component Workbench) that is worth every penny you pay for it.


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I agree with Joe E on building the trainer based on what you're going to support.

Every manufacturer has good and bad points. Suiting the PLC to the job and company can be challenging sometimes. Let me first say that the PLC equipment of every manufacture works. If it does not then lawsuits would be common.

I would look at the Do-More Designer Software from Automation Direct. This software has a built in simulator that includes digital inputs and outputs and slider controls. (Analog) The simulator will also utilize the Ethernet and serial ports on your computer so communication can be established to other equipment. This is a fully free product. It can be downloaded here:

AdvancedHMI is a free HMI package that was written in VB.Net. It runs on visual studio. This all can be downloaded at no cost. Providing a HMI for the above simulator is easy to do with Modbus TCP (Ethernet) drivers.

Factory IO is a 3D simulator that will allow you to design, build and control automation projects on your desktop. It has a 30 day free download to try the product. (This again will communicate Modbus TCP to the simulator above.)

These are just a few thing that can be done with little or no investment.

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