This is a common question I get here on the blog and from my students at TheAutomationSchool.com.
And while Rockwell has released many different platforms since 1970, there's one current gen and one last gen I usually recommend.
First let's assume you're on a budget and need to get started as quickly as possible.
Next, it includes an Ethernet port so there's no need to purchase a usb to serial converter.
And finally, it programs almost identically to the SLC-500. And while the SLC-500 is also fairly inexpensive on the used market, it doesn't have a free or low cost software option like the MicroLogix family does.
Current Gen Controllers
If you have a little more disposable income and want to focus on A-B's current generation of ControlLogix and CompactLogix controllers, I recommend the CompactLogix L1 5370 controller which you can often find under $1,000 here.
To program it you'll need a copy of Studio 5000 (aka RSLogix 5000) which starts around $870.
Note: It may be worth your time to ask your local Rockwell distributor for a combination “starter pack” price on the above two items. These starter pack “bundles” usually include a substantial discount.
If you have any questions about the above two recommendations, don't hesitate to ask by clicking the “post a comment or question” link below.
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