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Old September 4th, 2011, 08:23 PM   #1
williamlove
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Question Drivers to substitute for RSLinx

I was wondering about the tradeoffs of using a product like Archies AdvancedHMI drivers instead of RSLinx.

I was thinking of doing some little interfaces with VB and it seems to me the driver to the PLC is the sticking point, is that right?

We generally just get RSView or FactoryTalkView. We write lots of VBA code to talk to databases and such.

Our applications are all one-offs, usually complete retrofits. We do not have a product for which we are trying to standardize and lower the cost. We only lower the cost to get a job.

The tag database in Rockwell's HMI gives us a lot of functionality that I will have to make up for if I just use VB, right? I mean the tags are there just ready to use...it might be a real drag to lose that tag database.

Is it worth bothering with an alternative if the customer likes RSView/ FactoryTalkView and has no problem buying it? Is the learning curve to set up comms and a tag database with a VB application more than a couple days? Is it as robust as the drivers you get if you buy RSView? If money for the software is not a consideration, is it a stupid idea to pass on the RSView or FTView?

Iím basically just wondering about situations where we are really buying RSView for the tag database and drivers but may only have a couple of screens, or a database application in which we have no necessary screens (in which case I make some trends which customers always like).
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Old September 4th, 2011, 10:33 PM   #2
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do a little looking at the RedLion G3 HMIs.
you can search this site and find a boatload of guys using them
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Old September 5th, 2011, 10:25 AM   #3
Archie
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When only referring to the communication drivers, the single greatest advantage is run time costs. Every instance of RSLinx requires a license. If you use an alternative (AdvancedHMI, ASComm, InGear, Parijat, etc), there are no run time fees. Also many of the drivers have their own unique features that are not available with RSLinx. For example, with the SLC/Micro drivers in AdvancedHMI, you can read a list of the available data tables.

RSLinx does have the advantage of being a stand alone application that can be used to check communications in RSWho. This can also become a disadvantage if the customer tampers with the configuration and breaks the app.

If only using VB without an HMI package, a simple example may help show the learning curve difference. This is how you would read a single value using VB code with AdvancedHMI:
Code:
value = DF1Com1.ReadAny("N7:0")
I am unable to find a clean and simple piece of code doing the equivalent in RSLinx, but I can tell you it's about 5 lines of code.

AdvancedHMI goes one step farther by not only giving the drivers, but gives visual controls that automatically link to the driver, therefore can be used for simple HMI applications without the need to write a single line of code. It also gives the framework that allows you create reusable controls, such as a data collection component. Since the title question was about the driver alone, I'll avoid trying to do a comparison against RSView or FactoryTalkView.
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Old September 6th, 2011, 01:05 AM   #4
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I am intrigued. I would like to read/write to a SLC from a VBA procedure in an Access 2010 database. (Iím sure you know that VBA in this case is not VB.net, but is the VBA version 6 that has been around for years.) Is the product suitable for that, or does it require the full VB product? I use Access as the basis for many of my solutions. Thank you.
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Old September 6th, 2011, 01:19 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by williamlove View Post
I am intrigued. I would like to read/write to a SLC from a VBA procedure in an Access 2010 database. (Iím sure you know that VBA in this case is not VB.net, but is the VBA version 6 that has been around for years.) Is the product suitable for that, or does it require the full VB product? I use Access as the basis for many of my solutions. Thank you.
I tried to do it in Access 2010, but no success. Microsoft Office has yet to adopt easy integration of .NET components.

In my opinion, it's better to use the full Visual Basic environment to retreive values from the PLC and store them in a database. The free version of Visual Basic Express will allow you to connect to an Access database. There are lots of examples on how to do it:

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/vbasic/ff718212
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Old September 6th, 2011, 08:40 PM   #6
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Yeah butÖI am putting off .Net until I work though a controls book I promised myself Iíd get to.

Also, we have major solutions developed in Access (and to a lesser extent Excel). We have a lot invested in them and they are very functional and profitable.

RSView and FactoryTalk View use the same VBA that office does, which further enables me to leverage my classic VBA knowledge. We have been able to do almost anything a customer has asked by using an HMI-Office combination, tying the two together with VBA.

I learned C++ and C## (and ADO.net) but then I didnít use them. A lot of time spent. Not wasted, but just exercise for the brain, it turned out. Months of time. The RSView-Office tandom has just been too powerful and complete and RAD-oriented to resist.

I know I can use .Net with Office. I even have a book that describes it that I'm reading now. My perception is that itís a bit like using the Windows API Ö very doable but not preferred when trying to get an application up and running without dealing with learning curve at that moment. Maybe down the road. But for now I need a simple driver I can use inside an Office VBA routine.
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