I'm going to assume you're on a budget, so getting the most “bang for your buck” will be important. You also may not own a 24vdc power supply, so it's probably going to be convenient if you can purchase a model that plugs directly into a home outlet.
With the above limitations in mind, lets take a look as what I would recommend as a beginner's PLC:
NOTE: Links to parts and pieces helpful when testing a PLC at home:
- MicroLogix 1000, Free RSLogix software
- Micro 24vdc Power Supply
- Generic MicroLogix Serial Cable
- Generic USB to Serial Cable
- Generic USB to MicroLogix Combo Cable
- Push Button Station
- 24vdc Pilot Lights, 120vdc Pilot Lights
- Pilot Light Enclosure
- 18 Gauge Wire
In my opinion, the Micro800 family of Micro PLC's will give you the most value for your money.
It's a new, modern product that's focused on low cost, easy of use, and no prior knowledge of Allen-Bradley PLC's.
However, if you work in an facility with PLC-5 and SLC-500 processors and your goal is to learn how to program those, the Micro800 family may not be for you. Its much less like the PLC-5 and SLC-500 than is the second option I'll list below, the MicroLogix.
But if the newest, most powerful and lowest cost option is what you're looking for, then I believe the Micro810 is the right choice for the following reasons:
- The Micro810 starts at $115 (PLC PN# 2080-LC10-12xxx and 2080-USBADAPTER.)
- Programs with free programming software (CCW, aka Connected Components Workbench.)
- Programs in Ladder, Function Block, and Structure Text languages.
- Programs using standard over the counter USB cable.
- There are over 50 “how to program” videos posted by A-B on YouTube.
Of all the Micro810 models available, if you don't have a 24vdc power supply you may wish to chose the 2080-LC10-12AWA as it's powered by 120vac, which means you can power it directly from a residential outlet (power cord not included.) It also has 120vac inputs, and four isolated relay outputs which can be used for AC or DC applications.
If you have some additional funds, you could also purchase the 2080-PS120-240VAC ($48) which is a 24vdc power supply that would allow you to use a 24vdc powered Micro810 or expandable Micro830 (starting at $179.)
For more information please see the following links:
If your goal is to learn programming similar to that used in the SLC-500 family, and to a lesser extent the PLC-5, then the MicroLogix family of processors is the option I would suggest.
While not the newest product Rockwell makes, the MicroLogix family programs with RSLogix in a very similar fashion to the SLC-500 and PLC-5, using RSLogix 500 or RSLogix Micro.
Some of the advantages to buying a MicroLogix are listed below:
- MicroLogix1000 PLC starts between $144 at $248.
- Free programming software from www.AB.com (RSlogix Micro Starter Lite)
- Free offline emulation software, RSEmulate500, from www.AB.com
- Programs in Ladder Logic in a similar manner as the SLC-500 and PLC-5
On the down side, the MicroLogix 1000 does require a $78 serial cable from Rockwell, and you'll need a serial port on your pc, or usb to serial converter. However, a third party USB to MicroLogix cable can be found here for only $30.
The only other MicroLogix with free software is the MicrLogix 1100, which starts at $648. For that price it may be worth considering buying RSLogix Micro software for ~$165 along with a MicroLogix 1200 which runs between $483 and $596.
On second thought, the MicroLogix 1100 with it's built-in Ethernet port is superior to the MicroLogix 1200 in all aspects except the quantity of built-in IO, so the choice when steeping up from a MicroLogix 1000 isn't cut and dry.
For more information on the MicroLogix family see the following links:
I hope you’ve found the above information on my choices for a “beginner's PLC” helpful. If you have any questions, or would like to comment on the above, please feel free to use the “Leave a reply” form at the bottom of this page.
Need personalized help? For as little as $25 per month you can get direct access to ask me Rockwell PLC, HMI, and SCADA questions! Learn the details at Patreon.com/Automation