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Old March 21st, 2004, 07:12 AM   #1
urk
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Connection between S7 and PC-Windows: PRODAVE, WinCC, OPC Server or ProTool?

Hello.

I want to develop a program on MS Windows to connect my PLC Siemens S7-300 with my PC.

I've found 4 products and I don't know what the difference among them is:

+ PRODAVE: I think it's a DLL Library to read date from DB's.
+ WinCC: Is it a HMI/SCADA Software by Siemens?
+ ProTool: Isn't it the same product as WinCC?
+ OPC Server: I've read that it connects an application and
a PLC S7-300 and S7-400. Is it a software?

Thank you very much in advance. Best regards from Portugal.
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Old March 21st, 2004, 11:31 AM   #2
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  • WinCC is indeed a SCADA package from Siemens
  • ProTool is the software used to configure the operator panels and touch panels from Siemens. It is not a real SCADA package.
  • As far as I know ProDave is a collection of software components to gain access to Siemens PLC's from other software packages. I don't know if it's a collection of DLL's or other programs, but I know you can communicate from within VB or Delphi to the PLC.
  • An OPC Server is a software program (EXE) which forms a gateway between the PLC and any other software capable of interfacing the OPC way. OPC Serverexist for various PLC's, not only for Siemens S7. OPC stands for OLE for Process Control, OLE in turn stands for Object Linking and Embedding.
Hope this info helps. Kind regards,
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Old March 22nd, 2004, 03:20 AM   #3
JesperMP
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Quick tour of OPC and Win CC and Protool.

1. OPC is more and more becoming the way to connect PC applications with PLCs (and other devices).
2. OPC servers makes the connections.
3. OPC clients uses the connections.
4. Win CC can be an OPC client.
5. Protool comes in several versions. Protool "Pro" is a (small) PC based SCADA package. Protool Pro can be an OPC client in addition to its internal drivers that doesnt use OPC.
6. Protool Pro can also act as an OPC server, so it could for example pass a PLC connection on to a WIN CC OPC client.
7. Protool and Win CC will melt together in the future. The next releases of Protool will be renamed "Win CC Flexible".

What you should do:
I would only recommend Prodave if you are exclusively considering S7 in the future. OPC will learn you something that you can use many more places. And I think that OPC has a better future in general.
If all you are trying to do is to make a HMI for a small/medium sized S7 application, then I would recommend Protool Pro, it is the fastest and cheapest way.
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Old March 22nd, 2004, 05:05 AM   #4
urk
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Thank you both very much.

I've been trying to find out some information dealing with
OPC Servers. As you mention, they are standards, and I
prefer them.

Reading:
- http://www.matrikon.com/drivers/opc/tutorial/
- http://www.opcconnect.com/

By the way, you 'jvdcande' mentioned that an OPC Server is an EXE
program. Some questions:

- I've got S7-300. Which OPC Server fits better (by MPI)?
- Could any vendor develop an OPC Server for any PLC?

Thank you very much again.

Last edited by urk; March 22nd, 2004 at 05:19 AM.
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Old March 22nd, 2004, 05:16 AM   #5
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Which OPC Server is better for S7 ?
Good question.
I think that the current OPC Server from Siemens (Simatic Net V6.0) is very cumbersome to setup, Siemens has announced a new version that should be much easier (I sure hope so).

You could try to check others, but be sure to check if they support the PC hardware that you intend to use. Some 3rd party OPC servers only support the PC/serial/MPI converter. If you for example want to use the CP5611 card from Siemens, then check that it is supported by the OPC server in question.

Edit: And your second question: "Anybody" can develop an OPC server if he knows the protocol. Profibus is an open protocol, but MPI is Siemens own proprietary and closed protocol. Even so, there are some 3rd parties that have made OPC servers for MPI.
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Last edited by JesperMP; March 22nd, 2004 at 05:19 AM.
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Old March 22nd, 2004, 05:20 AM   #6
Fritz_frederix
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URK,

Awhile ago in a tread there was a full example how to make a connection between VB and S7.
I don't seem to find that tread back but i've downloaded the example. If you're interested just let me know and i'll send it to you.

Rudi
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Old March 22nd, 2004, 08:21 AM   #7
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URK,

it seems the questions you've posted to me regarding the OPC servers are already answered thanks to Jesper and Rudi. I have nothing to add to their comments.

Kind regards,
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Old March 22nd, 2004, 10:55 AM   #8
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For what itís worth, I tried out the KepWare OPC Server this weekend, and Iím very impressed. I was communicating with an S7 within 30 minutes of downloading the exe, and I can now build my own HMI with VB without using any associated Siemens software. I think the license is $800, and thatís cheaper than some of the Siemens HMI touch panels, let alone a WINCC package.
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Old March 23rd, 2004, 01:31 AM   #9
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S7Guy, from what I've seen so far, most OPC Servers go about $1000. So the $800 you mention is indeed cheap(er). I've already fooled around with the KepWare OPC package and I agree with you: it's both impressive and easy to use, and I think it's not only limited to S7. I think there are a lot of other drivers available too.

Kind regards,
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Old March 23rd, 2004, 03:24 AM   #10
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1000 USD for an OPC server ????

The list price for Simatic NET S7 is approx 550 USD, and on top of that I get a discount.

To compare: List price for RSLinx OEM (OPC server for AB products) is approx 650 USD.
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Old March 23rd, 2004, 06:04 AM   #11
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Hi again.

I'm testing 'KEPServerEx V4.0' from 'kepware.com'. I want also
to test other servers from 'opcexperts.com' and 'matrikom.com'
(apart from Siemens Simatic Net).

Is there any project to build an Open Source OPC Server? I mean,
if Profibus is a standard and OPC is another one, why not
building a Standard Open Source Server? It could include DA,
HDA, ... specifications and a web server.

I found
http://www.ipi.ac.ru/lab43/lopc-en.html
but it's an abandoned project since March 2003

Regards.
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Old March 23rd, 2004, 10:11 AM   #12
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Jesper, there is much more to the Kepware software than just the raw server. It allows me to import a data block from a CSV file, which generates a list of tags automatically. And, if I use nested arrays in my block, the tag names are logically grouped as well. It also includes a Quick Client that lets me test the connections and performance immediately. Like I said, within a half hour I had imported 10000 tags and was talking to the PLC. And, the performance was extremely impressive. There are many other features, and itís well worth downloading the demo (the demo is fully functional) just to check it out. KepWare also includes the VB source code examples for connecting to the server, and anyone with a basic understanding of VB will be able to construct a GUI in no time.

Iím also going to evaluate the Softing OPC Server; anyone here have any experience with it?
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Old March 23rd, 2004, 02:46 PM   #13
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My Siemens-S7-300 is 500 meters from my desk, and it's uncomfortable to go there to test the OPC Server.

I connect it via MPI (there isn't Profibus or Ethernet on the PLC).

Is there OPC Server working with Siemens PLCSIM? It could be very
useful for me...

Regards.
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Old March 24th, 2004, 03:27 AM   #14
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Urk,

If you can, get a small S7 CPU to do your testing and program development. It will be worth it, you will save the money in worn shoes

Sadly, PLC-SIM can NOT be connected to via OPC. PLC-SIM does not support communication functions.
Apart from that I can recommend PLC-SIM.
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Old April 15th, 2004, 06:20 AM   #15
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JesperMP,

How does Simatic Manager connect to PLCSIM? Plus PLCSIM has a virtual MPI address.
Can't that be used to somehow connect to PLCSIM?

- Robert
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