As I was entering kindergarten in 1986, Allen Bradley was releasing one of the first platforms that could be programmed by a personal computer, the PLC-5.

Fast forward thirty-one years later to 2017, Allen Bradley discontinued support of these processors after a long tenure of robust, solid performance.

Even though they are no longer supported, thousands of them remain in operation. It says a lot about what a great product they have been.

The PLC-5. Click image for source

As it will become more and more difficult to obtain parts if a failure does occur, it will become an increasing liability to keep the PLC-5 in control of critical production equipment.

If you have not created a migration plan, then it is probably time to do so. Unless you are changing platforms, the most logical migration is to ControlLogix and there are both hardware and software migration tools to help you through the process with ease.

Part of the migration to ControlLogix is to migrate the PLC-5 ladder code (RSLogix 5) to ControlLogix code (RSLogix/Studio 5000,) and this guide can help you through that process:

NOTE: If you need to convert a SLC-500 or MicroLogix program to CompactLogix or ControlLogix, see our previous article here.

UPDATE – November 2021 by SMT: Rockwell no longer makers the Translation Tool or Project Migrator available as a download, so if you don’t have either in your RSLogix/Studio 5000 installation files or discs, you can try the “new” feature in RSLogix500 v12 and RSLogix5 v10 which allows you to save your program as a Logix file by using the “save as type” menu option, and choosing “Logix Designer Files (*.ACD)” For more information see the free tech note below:

Part 1) Export your PLC-5 program file

Open your PLC-5 program in RSLogix 5, and then perform an export by selecting “Save As” from the “File” menu.

Then check the box that says “Save database as external files,” and change “Save as type” to “Library Files(*.PC5),” and then click “Save”:

Image by Brandon Cooper

Next, check all the options as shown below and click “OK”

Image by Brandon Cooper

Now select “Tools,” “Database,” and “ASCII Export” as shown below:

Image by Brandon Cooper

Now the following dialog will appear:

Image by Brandon Cooper

Click “OK,” then select the file location:

Image by Brandon Cooper

You will get another popup dialog with the export results, and you can click on “OK” to close that window.

At this point you should now have all the following files need for the migration saved in a single directory similar to the below:

Image by Brandon Cooper

Part 2) Run the Migration Wizard.

Open RSLogix or Studio 5000, and then select Translate PLC-5/SLC 2.0″ from the “Tools” menu:

Image by Brandon Cooper

Once the wizard opens, select the PLC-5 type conversion and click the “Browse” button to select the PLC-5 project that you will be converting:

Image by Brandon Cooper

Now click on “Next,” and then take notice that the output of the wizard will be an “.L5K” file. You will also need to pick a Controller type and Version as shown below, then click on “Next”:

(NOTE: If your exact model or version is not listed, pick the option closest to the one you will be using – you will be able to change this later in RSLogix/Studio 5000 – ed.)

Image by Brandon Cooper

For most applications you’ll leave the default selections and just click on “Next”:

Image by Brandon Cooper

Now click on “Translate”:

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In Step 4 of 5 in the wizard, click “Launch RSLogix 5000” (may launch Studio 5000 Logix Designer – ed.)

At this point Logix 5000 will open. Select “Import” and your .ACD file will be created:

Image by Brandon Cooper

NOTE: Often missed at this point is the option to change the Controller’s version, as shown in the below image on the bottom left of the “Save Imported Project As” window – ed.

Translate PLC-5 SLC 2.0 Step 6
Image by Shawn Tierney

Your project is now migrated!. You can now run the Logic>Verify>Controller command to see what errors you will need to clean up such as block transfers and messaging instructions that did not convert from the PLC-5 to the logix type code.

Image by Brandon Cooper

For details resolving any import errors, see Rockwell Publication 1756-RM085_-en-p.pdf.


During this conversion to RSLogix 5000, the maximum selection for the processor was and L6X, and the maximum firmware version was 18.

After this project is migrated, the controller can be changed to an L7X or L8X and be brought up to version 24, 30 or whatever version you wish to use in Studio 5000.


Migrating from a PLC-5 platform to the ControlLogix platform can seem like a large task, but broken down into segments is really very simple.

Hopefully this piece of migrating the code from RSLogix 5 to RSLogix 5000 will be of use to you in your upcoming migrations. My best to you in your migrations ahead.

Written by Brandon Cooper
Senior Controls Engineer and Freelance Writer

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Brandon Cooper


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