Thanks to you, our readers, this past year The Automation Blog surpassed all of its previous records for traffic and visitors served.

And thanks to the overwhelming support from the industry, this year we also worked with a record number of automation vendors to bring you product first looks, in-depth updates, and new feature demos.

Now as we head into the final days of 2021, I wanted to take a moment to share with you the Top Ten most popular articles we published over the last twelve months.

Top Ten New Articles of 2021:

10) PLC Training: Free and Trial Programming Software

Learning to use PLCs can be frustrating if you don’t know how to get your hands on the actual PLC Programming Software.

In this article we walk through several free options to get various PLC Programming Software packages so you can learn to use and program PLCs right away.

9) Logix Bit Field Distribute and Message Instructions

The BTD instruction is a powerful instruction as it can allow you to map a word to another word and shift the bits in that word if needed.

And as you’ll learn in this article, implementing it in Logix can be a little tricky.

8) S7 PLCsim Advanced

While you are programming an automation application, it is sometimes useful to do some coding without the real hardware in the field, for example with a cup of fresh coffee at the warm office.

Sure, you can disassemble the machine and put the hardware on your desk. But to help you avoid doing so, TIA Portal offers two simulation possibilities, and in this article we cover PLCsim Advanced.

7) PLC Training: What is the Best PLC to Learn With?

During my years in the field one of the most common questions I was asked by Electricians and Engineers alike was where they could go to get affordable training on Programmable Logic Controllers?

As our long-time readers know, that question was the impetuous for my PLC Basics Training Kickstarter launched back in 2014, and in this article I discuss what PLC I believe is the best one to learn with.

6) What’s New in Connected Components Workbench 13

In March of 2021 Rockwell released version 13 of Connected Components Workbench.

In this article I review the biggest new features as listed in the product’s release notes.

5) Time Synchronization in ControlLogix Systems

Time in an automation system, or rather time synchronization, is an important detail that can often be overlooked until it is needed.

When a machine goes down and you are comparing alarms between systems to understand why it went down it is extremely frustrating to have time discrepancies between systems, so in this article we discuss how to use Time Synchronization in ControlLogix.

4) Converting a VMware VMX file for use in VirtualBox

In a previous article we created a virtual machine from a legacy windows 2000 computer to be able to run it on a newer PC using VMWare Workstation.

In this article, we present another option to VMware Workstation – running Virtual Machines using free software called VirtualBox.

3) How To Read & Write to Logix Tags from a Siemens S7 PLC

When multiple control systems are working together to automate equipment, it is vital that they can integrate and communicate with one another.

Here I want to take a look at communication between a Siemens S7-1200 and ControlLogix L62 processor.

2) Writing your first TIA code in SCL

Sometimes it’s hard writing PLC code in LAD (ladder logic) or FBD (function block diagram). Especially, if you have to do some math work or mass operations.

In these cases you can easily use SCL/ST (Structured Control Language/Structured Text.)

1) How to download RSLogix Micro, RSLinx, and Emulate 500 for free

RSLogix-MIcro-Starter-Splash-FiThe free “RSLogix Micro Starter Lite” software I show how to download in this article only works with the MicroLogix 1000, MicroLogix 1100, and free PLC Emulator.

The only other free A-B Programming Software is for the Micro800 series of PLCs, which you can learn about here.

Thanks again for making 2021 our best year to date!

Now as we plan for the new year, I’d love to get your thoughts on the vendors and products we should cover in 2022.

To leave your feedback, just fill in the comment section below my signature (or use the News link at the top of the page to send it into us privately.)

Wising you all very happy, safe, and healthy Holiday Week and New Year!

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

If you found this content helpful, consider buying me a coffee here.

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