While the info is fresh in my mind, I thought I’d make a few notes from the 3-day training class on IDEC PLCs and HMIs.

In General:

  • Excellent hardware quality
  • compact size
  • low cost
  • software is inexpensive (free with purchase of kit or training class)
  • support is included (no support contracts)

The PLCs available are in 2 groups:

  1. The FC5A (MicroSmart Pentra) – ($199 to $500) flagship model of PLC, about to be replaced with the 6 series which will come out in a few months
    1. FC5A-D____(E) – SlimCPU, up to 15 expansion modules (only 7 analog or comms).  (E) suffix has Ethernet port, capable of MODBUS/TCP
    2. FC5A-C_____ – built in power supply, some can have up to 4 expansion modules, Ethernet not available
  2. FT1A (SmartAXIS and SmartAXIS Touch) – lowest cost model (start at $155)
    1. FT1A-B___ – built in power supply, with or without LCD screen, some have Ethernet, some have serial ports, relay or transistor outputs
    2. FT1A-C___- 3.7″ touchscreen with I/O, Ethernet


  • some of the standard inputs can act as high-speed counters (including dual phase for encoders) (some of the standard outputs can act as high speed outputs also)
  • program documentation (rung comments and tag descriptions) can be stored in the PLC
  • multiple people can be online / monitoring at same time
  • online edit mode on most units for online changes
  • can be programmed very quickly because of keyboard shortcuts
  • built in email alerts, data logging, web page (basic)


  • manual memory management and memory assignment
  • ladder logic only (FT1A’s have function block option, but entire program has to be FB, mixing not allowed)
  • PLCs have limited communications ability


  • 5.7″ 256 color 320×240 $677
  • 5.7″ 65k color 640×480 $940
  • 12″ 65k color 800×600 $2000


  • simple programming
  • data logging, alarms, remote viewing


  • can have only one host PLC (or maybe 2 if one of them is MODBUS)
  • ‘text slots’ for units and alarms is a bit outdated
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One Response to IDEC PLCs and HMIs

  1. John says:

    I’ve had an issue with the MODBUS rtu comms as it appears to only support a single connection. Found it as I was wanting to monitor in addition to having the plc online.
    Good little plc’s!

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