Getting Started With Programmable Controllers (PLC)

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I often get asked what is the best way to learn how to program PLC's?

PLCs on workbenchIn my opinion, there's nothing like first hand experience. Therefore, I always recommend buying a small Micro PLC to use at home as the best way to learn.

But then comes the obvious next questions: Which Micro? What software will I need? Are there any special cables I need to buy? What about I/O?

With that in mind, in today's article I'm going to list the items I would recommend to anyone who would like to learn how to use and program PLC's.

PLC Starter Pack: Items I recommend to anyone who would like to get started programming PLC's:

1) Micro PLC: Allen-Bradley MicroLogix 1000, 1761-L10BXB ($150)

MicroLogix 1000I chose this particular model because it's inexpensive ($150,) it's 24vDC powered (safer than 120VAC,) and it programs with FREE software that's very much like the popular PLC-5 and SLC-500.

For more information about the MicroLogix 1000 check out the below links:

2) RSLogix Micro Starter Lite (Free)

RSLogix 500 online with a MicroLogix 1400This is the free programming software for the MicroLogix 1000 and 1100. For information on how to get it, visit the below link

3) Low cost cables ($55)

USB to Serial CableSince the MicroLogix programs via serial, below I link to a low cost serial cable as well as a USB to serial adaptor needed if your PC doesn't have a serial port.

4) Inputs and Outputs ($56)

DVD-PicThere's nothing like actually wiring up inputs and output to your PLC, and below I list the low cost push button station, LED pilot lights, and a Pilot Light enclosure I used to make my Micro Basics video:

5) Micro Programmable Controller Basics DVD

MIcro Basics DVDThis last item is a four hour instructional DVD by yours truly 😉

I spent the better part of a year creating this four hour DVD for the backers of my Kickstarter project, and now it's currently available as either a two disc DVD or via HD Steaming.

To find out more about it just head over to www.Micro-Basics.com to be taken to the product page for this video at The Automation School.

I hope you've found the above article about the items I recommend for a PLC Starter Pack helpful.

If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, please don't hesitate to use the “leave a reply” form at the bottom of the page to share them with us.

Sincerely,

Shawn Tierney
Automation Blogger and Trainer

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

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