Learn Ladder Logic with a Free Version of RSLogix 500 and RSEmulator 500

One of my most common questions is, “Where can I get a free download of RSLogix 500?”  For any serious development with SLC500 or MicroLogix there is no free option but there is a nice free option if you only want to learn and/or program a MicroLogix 1000 or 1100.  Programming a MicroLogix is very very similar to programming a SLC500 or in that case a PLC5 too. 

Allen Bradley offers as a free download a software package called RSLogix Micro Starter Lite which is essentially the same programming environment as RSLogix 500.  On top of that, they also offer RSLogix Emulate for free so that you don’t even need a PLC to run and test your ladder logic.  Keep reading and I’ll show you how to get the software and set it up.

Getting the Software

The RSLogix Micro Starter Lite software is only available as a download at http://www.ab.com/programmablecontrol/plc/micrologix/downloads.html.  If you are starting from scratch and do not have the RSLinx software then download the kit bundled with RSLinx Classic Lite.  FYI, I find it a bit confusing but they also sell software called RSLogix Micro Starter which supports the full MicroLogix range.

If you do not have a MicroLogix 1000 or 1100 to play with then download the RSLogix Emulate 500 software.  You’ll be able to use this to simulate a real PLC.

Note for Windows XP users:  The bundled version of RSLinx only installs on Windows Pro and is not supported on Windows XP Home versions.  To get around this I downloaded an older version of RSLinx Lite 2.50 from the Allen Bradley software update page http://www.rockwellautomation.com/support/webupdates/

Once you’ve downloaded the software and extracted it then install RSLogix Micro followed by the RSLinx Classic Lite software.  Next, install the RSLogix Emulate 500 software.

First Steps with RSLinx

RSLinx is the software RSLogix will use to communicate with your PLC or in our case to the emulator.

Let’s start by running the RSLinx software under the START > All Programs > Rockwell Software > RSLinx > RSLinx Classic shortcut.  Follow these steps to set it up:

  1. Under the Communications menu select Configure Drivers.   
  2. Under the Available Drivers Types select the “SLC 500 (DH485) Emulator driver” and click the Add New… button. 
  3. You can give the driver a name but I just leave it at the default of EMU500-1. 
  4. Leave the configuration options as Station Number 00 and click OK.

Your driver should now be running and look like the picture below.

Configure Drivers

Ok, that’s ready to go.  Close the Configure Drivers dialog box and close RSLinx.  Actually RSLinx is now running in the background and you’ll probably see its little icon in the system tray.

RSLogix Micro Starter Lite

Now for the moment we’ve all been waiting for--- creating some ladder logic.  Open the RSLogix Micro software with the START > All Programs > Rockwell Software > RSLogix Micro English > RSLogix Micro English shortcut.  Create a brand new project by pulling down the File menu and selecting New.  Every project must start with a designated processor. 

RSLogix New Project

In my case I’ve chosen the simplest MicroLogix 1000 and then clicked the OK button.  FYI, if you ever work with the purchased version of RSLogix 500 then there will be a lot more items in this hardware list.  A blank project now opens up.

RSLogix Blank Project

Let’s make a simple rung to test in our emulator.  Make sure the cursor is on the rung with the END on it and then click the New Rung icon in the instruction toolbar.

RSLogix New Rung

Now click on the “Examine if Closed” RSLogix XIC instruction to add it to the rung.  Double click on the question mark above it and enter I:0/0 as its input address.  Just leave the description pop up box empty by clicking OK.

Next, click on the Output Energize RSLogix OTE instruction to add it to the right side of the rung.  Double click on the question mark above it and enter O:0/0 as its output address.  Just leave the description pop up box empty by clicking OK.

You should now have something like below.

RSLogix Add Instructions

The next very important step is to verify the project with the Edit > Verify Project menu item.  This will compile the project and get it ready for the emulator.

RSLogix Verify Project

Save the project as something like Test.RSS in an easy place to find like My Documents.

RSEmulator 500

The emulator lets us test our work by running a virtual PLC.  We’ll be able to download our program to it and run it in a very similar fashion to a real PLC.  Start the emulator with the START > All Programs > Rockwell Software > RSLogix Emulate 500 > RSLogix Emulate 500 shortcut.   The emulator is pictured below.  I know.  It doesn’t look like much but it gets the job done.

RSLogix 500 Emulator

Select File > Open and open the RSLogix project you created earlier (I named mine TEST.RSS).  In the dialog box that pops up put the Station # as 1 and click Ok.

Emulator Configure

Believe it or not but the emulator is now ready.  Leave it running and go back to your project in RSLogix Micro.

Testing the Ladder Logic

In RSLogix Micro Starter select the Comms > System Comms menu item.  The following dialog box will pop up.

RSLogix Comms

In the left hand pane, drill down and select the “01, MicroLogix 1000, TEST” processor.  Yours might look a little different if you selected different hardware or gave the processor a different name.  For good measure make sure Apply to Project is checked and then click on Download.  When prompted to go Online click on Yes.

If successful you’ll see the ladder picture spinning round on the online toolbar.  To scan the ladder logic put the processor into Run mode by clicking on the arrow to the right of mode status (REMOTE PROGRAM).

RSLogix Online Toolbar

To test the ladder logic, change the input state by right clicking on the address and selecting toggle bit.

RSLogix Toggle Bit

You will see the instruction go green indicating it is true and it will make the output instruction turn green also indicating the output is turned on.

That’s it!  You get all that for the cost of a download.  Now break out the manuals and start learning about all the different instructions.