mikeexplorer

Advice on choosing a PLC for a project

11 posts in this topic

Awhile back I posted about my project which I am doing to learn how to program PLC's I took an unusual approach and built a model railroad layout using parts I scavenged from machines that were being scrapped. The PLC I am using now is a Micrologix 1000 and RSlogix Micro starter lite (free software) I have been posting my progress here.

https://www.nepaview.com/model-train-plc-project.html

I have learned enough so far that I was able to design and build a fire suppression system for plastic sheetlines. In this case I used a Click PLC since I did not need a lot of I/O and the project is only 14 rungs of code, although I will be building on it to add more features. I had originally planned the project with a Micro 810 PLC so I downloaded the CCW software and installed it to test it out and to get used to it before I started the project. CCW gave me problems right from the start with library errors and such. I uninstalled and re-installed and it made a mess of the laptop.

I then installed the software on a different computer and was getting errors (some different) but again, the software was useless. That is when I decided to change the PLC to a Click. That software ran flawless, but it is not as user friendly as RSlogix and it does not support simulation, which is a key item I want moving forward with my train project.

Back In June I attended a Rockwell Automation On Tour event which was very interesting with lab and demo units set up. There was stuff there that would be applied for work projects such as some of the newer drives they have, and they also had a Micro series PLC setup as a demo. However, they even admitted that demo unit wasn't working well, and yes it was because of CCW.

I did get to talk about my project with one of the engineers there and the place that held the event is a reseller and they told me they can sell to an end-user which is good. He also had some ideas for me as far as how I was coding to improve my skills and how to solve some issues I am having with the project.

 

I want to replace the Micrologix 1000 with something better. Aside from the fact that this PLC is obsolete and I have already had to fix it twice for output problems (replace relays) The amount of I/O is fixed and it does not support any analog I/O. With my experience with the Click PLC, I discount that already because the software is cumbersome and does not support simulation. I did eventually get the demo unit with CCW to work and had some time to write some test code, but from my understanding, the free version does not support simulation, only the developer version. Researching online, a Micro 830 with a few add on modules would give me what I need.

Another option is to go with a Micrologix 1200, The RSlogix for that PLC is not free, but not expensive either and it is an environment I am used to with the starter lite version.

Another option I am considering is an Automation Direct Do-More BRX PLC. The software I downloaded already and plan to kick the tires on some test code and it supports simulation, but maybe its just because I am used to RSLogix, so far it seems a bit cumbersome to use.

I requested quotes from the distributor,  to go with the Micro830 series would cost about $1,300, but if I go with CCW Developer, I would probably have to put it in a virtual machine since the software seems so finicky, and I have read other peoples posts about the software which makes me question going this route.

The Micrologix 1200 option is a bit more, $2,000 but in my experience with RSLogix Micro Starter Lite, its bulletproof and has never caused me any headaches. I would assume the Starter Lite version ($155 ) would be the same, just able to support the 1200 - 1500 series PLC's

 

Thoughts?

 

Mike

 

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Posted (edited)

Our experience with CCW is close to yours. We had fewer errors on installation, but programming the 800 series PLCs was very cumbersome.

I can't speak to the Click PLCs. My (limited) experience with Automation Direct PLCs is with the DirectLOGIC line and it was NOT positive. It seemed to do ok for digital I/O but the analog I/O modules were unstable and unreliable.

If you're going to graduate to a paid version of RSlogix 500, I would go with a MicroLogix 1400 instead. It supports Ethernet programming and HMIs so you don't need any "special" cables or adapters. It supports MicroLogix expansion I/O and some of the base units come with built-in analog I/O.

Edited to add:
I also strongly support the use of virtual machines. I've had a number of software packages not play well (with others and/or on their own) and cause problems with my laptop that were difficult to resolve. For example, RSView Studio crashed in such a way that I could neither re-install nor un-install it. I was left with either doing a clean install of Windows (a royal pain on a company laptop) or using VMs. I chose VMs and never went back.

 

Edited by Joe E.

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I like the click PLCs, I hate the DirectLogic PLCs.
With the latest firmware the Click's can do PID loops and as far as I/O count they can handle EIGHT modules!

Support for reading and writing to Ether/IP assemblies with the ability to create an Ether/IP server on them that will create it's own EDS file so you can use them as Remote I/O for controllogix PLCs as seamlessly as using Allen Bradley's own equipment and if you're just starting out on AB's platform it is actually easier.

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I'm not a fan of the CCW software. The hardware seems to be pretty solid. <insert really long rant about how dumb it is to design crap software for good hardware here>

Direct Logix used to be 8 bit. I don't know if they ever got past that. I suspect they did. They used to be robust. I've seen them mounted in a box on a 1,100hp compressor skid, visibly vibrating, in a building that had to be over 100 degrees in east TX humidity and they were rock solid.

Micrologix 1100 has an ethernet port. Personally I prefer ethernet over serial for connectivity.

Have you considered a micro controller and multiplexing the outputs? Something like an Arduino but more robust. The software, generally speaking is free, The learning curve may or may not be steep (but I'll bet there's a ton of code out there that would get your train rolling :) TI has a pretty nice demo board for their micro and it's a beast. Really fast. Fast enough for someone to build an electronic lead screw for their lathe with it: 1st video of the series here.

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23 hours ago, Joe E. said:

Our experience with CCW is close to yours. We had fewer errors on installation, but programming the 800 series PLCs was very cumbersome.

I can't speak to the Click PLCs. My (limited) experience with Automation Direct PLCs is with the DirectLOGIC line and it was NOT positive. It seemed to do ok for digital I/O but the analog I/O modules were unstable and unreliable.

If you're going to graduate to a paid version of RSlogix 500, I would go with a MicroLogix 1400 instead. It supports Ethernet programming and HMIs so you don't need any "special" cables or adapters. It supports MicroLogix expansion I/O and some of the base units come with built-in analog I/O.

Edited to add:
I also strongly support the use of virtual machines. I've had a number of software packages not play well (with others and/or on their own) and cause problems with my laptop that were difficult to resolve. For example, RSView Studio crashed in such a way that I could neither re-install nor un-install it. I was left with either doing a clean install of Windows (a royal pain on a company laptop) or using VMs. I chose VMs and never went back.

 

The HMI I am using for the project is a AutomationDirect Cmore which does not have Ethernet. One of the  items I got was this stand with a Proface HMI. I don't have the software for Proface and when I looked into it, was big $$$. SO I bought the Cmore to learn to work with HMI. (it was inexpensive)

Now I might be able to get my hands on a used working Panelview from work. They are scrapping a mixing machine, if that is the case, I might just look at the 1400 since it would have an Ethernet port.

 

0311171949 (Medium).jpg

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21 hours ago, NevergoldMel said:

I like the click PLCs, I hate the DirectLogic PLCs.
With the latest firmware the Click's can do PID loops and as far as I/O count they can handle EIGHT modules!

Support for reading and writing to Ether/IP assemblies with the ability to create an Ether/IP server on them that will create it's own EDS file so you can use them as Remote I/O for controllogix PLCs as seamlessly as using Allen Bradley's own equipment and if you're just starting out on AB's platform it is actually easier.

 

I used a Click PLC for my first work-related project shown here. In this case I did not need a lot of I/O and the project was originally planned using a Micro 810, but after all the headaches of the software, I changed it to use the Click. Since the software does not support simulation, I first wrote this project in Rslogix Micro starter lite and simulated it to make sure I have all the conditions I wanted, then translated it for the Click. This project only required 14 rungs of code, I may be adding to it soon with a few additional sensors.

I do not need PID loops for my project, and using the online configuration wizard, I can get enough I/O for my train project no problem on the Click. I just think for a larger project like my train project, the software is a bit cumbersome and does not support simulation.

0904191129a (Medium).jpg

0908190818 (Medium).jpg

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20 hours ago, Michael Lloyd said:

I'm not a fan of the CCW software. The hardware seems to be pretty solid. <insert really long rant about how dumb it is to design crap software for good hardware here>

Direct Logix used to be 8 bit. I don't know if they ever got past that. I suspect they did. They used to be robust. I've seen them mounted in a box on a 1,100hp compressor skid, visibly vibrating, in a building that had to be over 100 degrees in east TX humidity and they were rock solid.

Micrologix 1100 has an ethernet port. Personally I prefer ethernet over serial for connectivity.

Have you considered a micro controller and multiplexing the outputs? Something like an Arduino but more robust. The software, generally speaking is free, The learning curve may or may not be steep (but I'll bet there's a ton of code out there that would get your train rolling :) TI has a pretty nice demo board for their micro and it's a beast. Really fast. Fast enough for someone to build an electronic lead screw for their lathe with it: 1st video of the series here.

I am going the PLC route for the project because I am using it as a learning tool to write PLC programs. The trains provide my "real-world" example rather then using a training kit with buttons and lights. Already I have had unexpected events such as glitchy inputs, slower then expected movement of trains and so forth. This makes me account for the unexpected such as a sluggish cylinder, or if a sensor is not made in time, and so forth.

Mike

 

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I used some C-More HMIs at a previous job and we had great results from them. They communicated with SLC 5/04 PLCs via RS232. The ML1400 has an RS232 port as well as Ethernet, so you should be able to use the C-More with it if you go that route.

My previous experience was so good with them that I would have tried the newer C-More panels here too but we already had such a diverse installed base that I didn't want to add another platform into the mix. We've almost eliminated the old QuickPanel (TCP, Proface) HMIs and we're down to 1 Uticor Tough Panel (or maybe it's a Power Panel...). The rest are Red Lion G3, Siemens MP/Comfort, and A-B PV/PV+. I remember the C-More being easier to program than any of the ones we have here now and they were at least as reliable.

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19 hours ago, Joe E. said:

I used some C-More HMIs at a previous job and we had great results from them. They communicated with SLC 5/04 PLCs via RS232. The ML1400 has an RS232 port as well as Ethernet, so you should be able to use the C-More with it if you go that route.

My previous experience was so good with them that I would have tried the newer C-More panels here too but we already had such a diverse installed base that I didn't want to add another platform into the mix. We've almost eliminated the old QuickPanel (TCP, Proface) HMIs and we're down to 1 Uticor Tough Panel (or maybe it's a Power Panel...). The rest are Red Lion G3, Siemens MP/Comfort, and A-B PV/PV+. I remember the C-More being easier to program than any of the ones we have here now and they were at least as reliable.

I have had no issues with the Cmore interfacing to the ML1000. If I need a longer cable I can just make it myself. The ML1400 looks like it has the same type RS232 port so it should not be a problem. I may be getting my hands on an Allen Bradley Panelview that might fit the stand I have so I may try to see how that works out. The Cmore panel I bought does not have Ethernet so serial is the only way to go for now.

Mike

 

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The ML1400 I have sitting on my desk has a 9-pin d-sub port and their version of the round mini-DIN connector along with the RJ45 for Ethernet. It should be easy to find/make a serial cable to connect to it. If your ML1000 talks to it, the ML1400 should as well.

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I will ask for a quote for the ML1400, if its not much more then the ML1200 then Ill probably get that one. May not need the Ethernet port now but might be useful in the future.

Mike

 

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