Everything you need to know to get started programming Allen-Bradley PLCs

So you, or someone you know, wants to learn how to use Allen-Bradley programmable controllers?

Well you’re in luck! In today’s article I’ll cover everything you need to know to get started.

1) What is the best A-B PLC to start learning with?

The most important factor in choosing which A-B PLC you’re going to learn on is, how much of what you learn is going to be relevant to the other A-B programmable controllers?

Micro800For instance, while the Micro800 line is one of the newest in Rockwell’s portfolio, and is definitely the least expensive, it’s also the least like any of the other A-B PLCs.

For this reason alone, if you want to learn how to use Allen-Bradley’s other PLCs, the Micro800 is not the best choice.

MicroLogix 1000The MicroLogix 1000 on the other hand programs with software nearly identical to what is used with the SLC-500 and PLC-5 families.

In fact, the MicroLogix line is so similar to the SLC-500 that you can program all MicroLogix PLC’s with the SLC-500 programming software.

And when you’re ready to move into the world of ComapctLogix and ControlLogix, you’ll be happy to know MicroLogix 1000that most of the Ladder Logix instructions are identical to the ones used in the MicroLogix, something which definitely can’t be said about the Micro800.

To find out more about why the MicroLogix 1000 is my recommendation for beginners, check out my previous article, Beginner’s PLC, or The Automation Podcast on the same topic, Beginner’s PLC Podcast.

2) Keeping it affordable…

Price is an important factor, as most people learning PLCs are doing so on a limited budget.

RSLogix-MIcro-Starter-Splash-FiAnd while the MicroLogix 1000 isn’t the least expensive micro on the market, the smaller models do start at only $150.

Aside from an affordable price, the MicroLogix 1000 also has two other big advantages:

First, the programming software can be downloaded absolutely free! This means you can begin learning now without even spending a penny.

For information on how and where you can get a free copy of the RSLogix software, check out my previous article on the subject, How to get free MicroLogix 1000 Programming Software

RSEmulate500Second, even if you don’t have the money to buy a physical MicroLogix 1000 right now, you can still practice running your programs with Rockwell’s free A-B PLC emulator, RSEmulate 500.

This means without even spending a dime you can be programming and running your very own Allen-Bradley PLC programs all for free!

If you’d like to know how and where to get a free cop of the emulation software, check out my previous article, How to get a free copy of RSEmulate 500.

And if you’d like to know more about learning to use programmable controllers, check out my previous article on the subject, Getting Started with Programmable Controllers, which includes additional information on low cost programming cables, push buttons, and pilot lights for use in your very own PLC projects.

3) The basics, step-by-step

So you now know which A-B PLC is both inexpensive and still program like most other Allen-Bradley programmable controllers.

MicroLogix-SLC-500-FiYou also now know that this PLC, the MicroLogix 1000, has free programming and emulation software available right from Rockwell Automation.

But what you might not know is yours truly has recorded a four hour training video that will show you everything you need to get started.

That’s right, in 2014 I successfully completed a Kickstarter campaign to create an affordable step-by-step video guide on how to get started programming A-B PLC’s.

MIcro Basics Case Font and InsideNow my video course wasn’t filmed in Hollywood, and there’s no famous actors or expensive special effects.

It’s just me, and my twenty five years of experience helping people learn to program PLCs.

If you’d like to learn more about my video course, or order a copy for yourself (or a friend,) you can find all the details at PLC Basics.

Until next time, Peace ✌️ 

Shawn M Tierney
Technology Enthusiast & Content Creator

Have a question? Join my community of automation professionals and take part in the discussion! You'll also find my PLC, HMI, and SCADA courses at TheAutomationSchool.com.

Shawn Tierney
Latest posts by Shawn Tierney (see all)



  1. Hi Shawn
    Thanks for the coupon code
    I just placed my ordered for this DVD video course and hope it’s useful to start learning programming my first micrologix 1500 that already purchased from eBay.
    I think the best way to learn something is to try it by yourself directly .so i purchased a PLC to keep it in my home lab and start learning.
    Regard and I wish you success in your projects.

      • Hi Shawn

        good morning .Hope you and your family doing well.
        after watching lessons in DVD 1 I would like to say “Thank you for making Rslogix 500 easier to me”
        I already watched many lessons in you tube but yours are the best.
        I applied all lessons on my own PLC.
        I will give you my suggestions after watching all the lessons.

        by the way are you planing to make lessons for Rslogix 5000?

        Thank you again and best regards


        • Good afternoon Ahmed,

          I also hope you and yours are doing well!

          Thank you very much again for your business and your future recommendations as I would very much like to create an updated version of this course, and will gladly send you a free updated copy (once completed) in return for your help in making it better!

          My next two courses will be on the PVPlus and CompactLogix. I’ve already purchased everything I need (plus received some nice donations) and look forward to starting both projects.

          If there is anything you’d like to see in the CompactLogix/RSLogix 5000 course please let me know 🙂

          You can use the “Contact” link at the top of the page to send those in to me.

          Thanks again,

          Shawn Tierney

  2. hi shawn,
    hope you are doing well, iam in situation where ML1400 plc’s are using for energy meter data to shown on RSview 32. there are basically two same system (both have ML1400 and RSview32)
    and same application and approx. 2KM apart from each other, we want to exchange data between the two and to be shown on each other screen, how can this be happen??

    • Good morning Rohit,

      I think the easiest way would be to have each MicroLogix 1400 communicate to each RSView32 directly.

      However, in many cases only the PC’s can be connected and the PLC networks must remain separate.

      In those cases I would setup each RSView32 system as OPC server (built-in feature of View32) so they could share their tags with each other.

      As far as the physical connection, if these two systems are not already connected some options would include cell phone modems from Prosoft (their new models are pretty cool) as well as Industrial VPN devices from companies like Spetrum (Webport) and eWon (Cosy.)

      Hope this helps!

      Shawn Tierney

      Join my free community to follow along! You can also become a member and support our work at: Automation.Locals.com


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