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Geting started with PLCs

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I use all different brands of PLC but found automation direct is best if money is of concern. I strong recommend the productivity series. For lower cost the Click. The DirectLogic are too old now.

Robert Smith Eco Warrior:
I have a Mitsubishi PLC somewhere. Quite a big complex thing with many inputs and outputs. I couldn't get to grips with the software so it has been shelved somewhere.
I should dig it out and decide what to do with it.

Because I am coming from using high level programming languages for the projects, when I started looking into PLCs a few years back for a simple automation project for a building, all the PLC ladder logic made me cringe!

If you are looking going into automation industry, then you need to go with the big buy brands. If all is for personal projects I would suggest looking into arduino based PLCs. Yes, there are a few options of those. Nice simple programming, yet all the interfacing on the hardware level is sorted, like on PLCs.

Another option I found very interesting is Sigmatek in Austria. They are using object oriented programming with their PLCs, everything is Industry 4.0 with ton of connectivity and development software is free. The options list is comprehensive and everything is very well designed. The only issue is finding a distributor, whom is happy to sell to makers. They are a bit of a boutique manufacturer.

The last option would be Siemens LOGO devices. They are for basic tasks, plenty of cheap ones on second hand market, and you can get the software cheap or for free (I think Linux version is free, win version CD is like £20-40).

My favorite PLC programming language is one that most people hate namely the Statement List like the Siemens Step 5 and Step 7. The ladder is OK. High level language is good but you can make the PLC running an endless loop.
For a simple project I would use the Automation Direct Click series. They are cheap and the programming software is free. Nowaday, I use their Productivity 2000 series for most of my projects.

I had to get into PLCs for an industrial project a few years ago - ABB AC500-eCo series is pretty cheap (the basic CPU + some I/O costs about 400 euro or so), the software is a free download (Codesys + ABB Automation Builder).

But keep in mind that Codesys alone isn't sufficient, typically the PLC needs to be configured first. Unlike with microcontrollers where your firmware is setting up I/O and configuring peripherals, with PLCs it is usually done using some proprietary vendor software and (sometimes) proprietary cables.

With the ABB PLCs this is not an issue as the ABB sw is a free download and the PLC uses either a normal serial (RS232) cable or USB for connection. But then the hw is likely more expensive than the cheap Chinese PLCs.


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