# Building a PLC Program That You Can Be Proud Of – Part 4

In part 1 we looked at writing PLC programs to control a traffic light using discrete bits and then using timed sequencing using indirect addressing. Part 2 used indirect addressing for inputs as well as output to control the sequence of pneumatic (air) cylinders in the program. Part 3 returned to the traffic light application and expand our program significantly. We looked at the sequence of operation using Input, output and mask tables. Part 4 will now continue with the programming of the logic in the PLC.

Let’s look at the sequence that we are controlling:
Note that I have colour coded the outputs that will be on in the sequence. This makes it easier to read how the lights will behave. All bits without ‘1’ are assumed to be ‘0’. The pedestrian walk signals flash before they change to the do not walk signals.

The weekend sequence looks like this. We have overlap of the red signal lights. The arrows are not used.

The weekday off peak times sequence looks like this. We have an advanced flashing green light for the north and west traffic.

The weekday peak times sequence is as follows. The turn arrows have been added for the north/south and west/east directions.

It is important to note that the sequencing and information contained in these charts must be understood fully before programming can begin. Take the time to review and understand the following tables. Here is a copy of the excel table complete with the inputs, mask and outputs.

This method of programming can have vast number of applications. Here are some of the advantages of using this method:

• Modification of the program without extensive rewriting
• Integration with a Human Machine Interface (HMI) to control, modify and/or troubleshoot
• Ability to sequence forward and backward
• Easily understood logic to follow. Looking at he pointers can the on compare instruction will quickly tell you what sensor is not being made.
`Troubleshooting this method of programming is easily done. Compare the bits in the input pointed word to the actual bits form the input in binary format. The difference is the input/output that is not working.`

The program is basically broken down into three sections:

• Inputs – Setting bits in the input channel based upon actual and internal conditions.
• Control  – Control of the pointers, mask and setting the output channel.
• Outputs – Using the output channel to activate the actual and internal actions required.

Inputs:

The program is all controlled by one on-delay timer. This sets the minimum time between each step.

Control:

This section of the control will tell the PLC what to do when the unit is first powered on. It resets the pointers and moves the initial output setting to the output word. You will see that since we have three different sequences running, there are three different reset rungs in parallel. The table input pointer is compared to the last value +1 of the sequence running.

The mask calculation is next. This is used to ignore the inputs that we do not want to see or may not know the status during the execution of the program.

You will notice that the first three sequences are all the same. On this step we then determine if the pointers need to be changed for the other two. The first is for weekday off peak times.

This is for the weekday peak times.

We now compare the actual inputs after the mask with the input table word. If they are equal then move the output table word to the output channel and increment the pointers to the next step.

Outputs:

The actual outputs are set using the output word bits. You will note that the flashing green lights are done when both green outputs are not on. This way will give me the greatest flexibility when developing different sequences. The do not walk signal is not part of the sequence but is controlled when the flashing walk or walk is not on.

The program will not change much for completely different sequences.

This program and the data tables can be downloaded here. Note that in order to run this program you must call up the input, mask and output tables and write them to the simulator or PLC.

In Part 5 will will make a Game of Simon by learning all about bit manipulation and sequencers.

Thank you,
Garry

If you’re like most of my readers, you’re committed to learning about technology. Numbering systems used in PLC’s are not difficult to learn and understand. We will walk through the numbering systems used in PLCs. This includes Bits, Decimal, Hexadecimal, ASCII and Floating Point.

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# Building a PLC Program That You Can Be Proud Of – Part 3

In part 1 we looked at writing PLC programs to control a traffic light using discrete bits and then using timed sequencing using indirect addressing. Part 2 used indirect addressing for inputs as well as output to control the sequence of pneumatic (air) cylinders in the program. We will now return to the traffic light application and expand our program significantly.

Let’s build on the traffic light sequencing used in part one with inputs for pedestrian and car detection. We will also throw in the time of day so that during weekday peak hours an advanced arrow will be used. Advanced green (flashing) will be used when the traffic is detected in the turning lane during the off peak hours.

Programming using this method of sequencing requires allot of time up front before we start the actual PLC program. However this method makes the program easier to understand, troubleshoot and modify in the future.

`Remember that the PLC programmer must know everything about the machine and operation before programming.`

If we just start writing code, then we will constantly be correcting and modifying based on trial and error. I use a spreadsheet program to plot out the inputs, outputs and mask tables. We will go into the details of this below.

Lets look at the inputs:

We set up the input table in words V0 to V499. Each bit in the table will be compared to the signals coming the actual signals wired or programmed in the PLC.
Bit 0 is the time input which will control the entire program interval. Next we have the Car Detection signals on Bits 1 to 4. The pedestrian signals are pushbuttons coming from Bits 5 and 6. The left turn signals are located in Bits 7 to 10.  The real time clock functions will come from Bits 12 to 15.

Lets look at the outputs:

The output table will be in words V1000 to V1499. The input word will be compared to the actual inputs and the corresponding output channel will be moved to the actual outputs. All of the output bits control lights. You will notice that there is a green light for each direction. This will give us the greatest flexibility when writing our PLC program. Pedestrian signals have a flashing output bit and just an output bit. There will be only one output but this bit will determine if it is flashing or not.

The masking table will be in words V500 to V999. The masking bits will correspond directly to the input table bits. Using the mask will allow us to ignore the status of certain bits when using the compare instruction and setting the outputs.

The Mask table will be used by using an ‘AND’ word instruction. If the mask bit is on for the input then it will be used in the compare instruction. If the mask bit is off for the input then the value is always off using the compare.
Example:
1 ‘AND’ 1 = 1
1 ‘AND’ 0 = 0
0’AND’ 1 = 0
0 ‘AND’ 0 = 0

Once we have this all laid out in the spreadsheet, we can start filling out our sequence of events. Fill in the events based upon the time frame from input bit 0. I usually start by thinking about what happens when power is applied to the unit the first time. This exercise can be a struggle because you must know exactly what you want the sequence to be in order to fill out the table.

We will continue this next time by writing the code to do what our tables want. A review of the numbering systems can be found on this post. A copy of the spreadsheet can be obtained at the following link: PLC Traffic Sequence

Part 4 will continue with the programming of the logic in the PLC.