Eaton easyE4 nano programmable logic controller - Review

Table of contents

RoadTest: Eaton easyE4 nano programmable logic controller

Author: geralds

Creation date:

Evaluation Type: Development Boards & Tools

Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True

What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?: -

What were the biggest problems encountered?: Regarding the above points: I am usually happy to give the total score of 60/60. I did not have any real problems with the Easysoft 7 software. However, viewed in detail, the software was a bit difficult, or tricky, to operate and enter the parameters and to wire the function blocks. So I gave one point less. I will describe it in details later. The small "problem" was also with the Easy E4-UC-12RC1 PLC. I didn't have any problems with the device itself. But also described here in detail: The connections are partly covered by the LAN cable, so that it is difficult to screw on or remove the cables with a screwdriver. Hence one point less. Here, too, I describe it in more details. ! The Eaton website where the license can be activated is very old and insecure and the browser warns against it. !

Detailed Review:

Dear Randall Scasny, , Ladies and Gentlemen from Eaton!

 

Thank you for letting me be part of this RoadTest.

I come from the field of telephone systems in the 1980s, the size of city districts.

In the field of electrical control (development of hardware and software for circuits with microcontrollers), I manufactured electronic devices and installed them on construction sites in buildings.

The current area of work is in "Smart Home", intelligent home furnishings.

 

Up until now, I have rarely used the PLC control units, and I was accordingly pleased that I can do this here!

In 2010 I programmed a Siemens S7 / 300.

 

My first impression of the Easy E4 is that it is quite easy to use compared to the Siemens LOGO (the LOGO is an other pair of shoes in this product class, I only worked with that in simulation).

The Easysoft7 software was quickly installed.

With this link you can download the actual software:

https://www.element14.com/community/external-link.jspa?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.moeller.net%2Fupdate-service%2Feasymfd%2F721…

 

After working through the help file and reading the manual for a few hours, I switched to the application very quickly and programmed the first projects into the Easy E4 within a few minutes.

In the box I found all what I need to start the tests.

- The easy E4 PLC, the LAN cable as well the license code for registration the software Easysoft7 and an information card "Experience the fast and easy way of programming!".

Installing the software is quite easy. You do not need the activation code yet, but you can install the software and work with it without communication with the PLC.

After activation the software you can work with all its features.

 

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Register the software: - Problem 3 "What were the biggest problems encountered?":

The weblink (written on the information card) www.eaton-automation.com/license is very old and insecure. The browser message this error.

 

After ignoring that message you will come to this webpage. Then you can register your software.

After registration you will receive an e-mail with the activation code which must be entered in the software under the folder /?  /license...

Eaton has chanced the weblink to:

Lizenzierung (automation4you.net)  (https://www.automation4you.net/licmgr/license_en.htm) - but, it is similar, this webpage also is unsecure.

The problem with this webpage: You must type all characters correctly, if not then you see the message "forbidden".

It's tricky... I suggest an automatic jump to a secure webpage.

Security, especially when it comes to a code for e.g. a licensing is concerned, it must also be absolutely trustworthy (e.g. from the manufacturer).

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The Easy E4 - at this link you will find the brochure which describes what we can do with this PLC.

http://www.eaton.eu/ecm/groups/public/@pub/@europe/@electrical/documents/content/pct_3607158.pdf

 

For the road test I built a test board, with which I then show the hardware and software options in 3 parts.

1) Easy E4-UC-12RC1 and Easysoft7 as a single device.

This is the nominal RoadTest with the Easy E4, what we received for testing.

 

2) Two Easy E4-UC-12RC1 and one Easy E4-DC-4PE1 expansion module (4 inputs for temperature sensors) connected together via ModBus / TCP over the LAN.

 

3) In addition, the connection to the Galileo 10 software, a tool for creating the visualization on a monitor.

This option comes just as a software simulation because I have not the monitor.

May be an other Roadtest will coming out, and hopefully I can show this hardware as well.

The Testboard:

left: 4 analog inputs with V-meters and DC/DC 10V, controlled with potentiometers, switchable analog/digital;

middle: the E4 PLC number 1 with the E4-DC-4PE1; below are the 8 toggle switches for the digital inputs

right: E4 PLC number 2 wired for external input connections. The 24V AC/DC PSU.

2nd image: with this PT100 sensor I will show in the next part of the RoadTest the function of the expansion module.

Behind of this board a LAN switch makes the connection to the LAN and my computers.

 

In the the first part of the RoadTest I programmed 3 applications that show the function of the Easy E4 in a simple way.

These applications are also used, I think, in the "daily" use of a controller.

 

Due to the simplicity I used 3 function blocks which are contained in the manufacturer function block pool of the E4-PLC.

a) PWM generator controlled with voltage values, e.g. for a repetitive application, e.g. fan, water features - valve controls, cutting or gluing devices that are controlled for a few seconds, etc.

b) Analog comparator controlled with voltage values, e.g. for a level or temperature controlled switch

c) Up / down counter, the values of which are shown in the simplest way on the display.

 

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The Hardware:

What is inside the E4:

The E4 PLC has a µC board, a relay board on this including the in/out connectors and a display board.

(because copyright's I do not show more, sorry)

 

Problem 2 "what where the biggest problem encountered?:

Mounting the E4 on the DIN-rail was no problem.

But, you can see here, the LAN cable also the PE wire are coming directly before to the outputs.

If I have to change something, or to measure, what ever to do, then I must disconnect one of these cable.

And what can I do, if it is not allowed to disconnect the LAN or to shut down the power, but I must change one of output wire of No. 4?

Suggestion for a possible solution:

Moving the connections as I show in these pictures. Yes, if possible. It's a bigger challenge, I know that, because you might have to move the µC and the LAN transformer.

I know that very well when I create circuit boards and disentangle the conductor tracks.

 

Yes, of the other hand, it is a question, where will mounting the Easy E4, in an industrial environment or in a private house.

--

 

The Software:

Easysoft 7:

The installing the Easysoft was quite easy.

The video shows after installing, the firmware updates into the E4 basic unit. - The beginning of projects....

 

The projects:

The 1. project - EDP programming language:

This video shows the setup the ethernet address in the device Easy E4, programming in Easysoft 7 the first program in EDP language, also the simulator and the communication to the device.

 

 

Some problem in easysoft 7:

The editor needs updated if you select in the circuit some devices, if you move the mouse over the items.

This is meaning also for the other programming languages too.

 

Problem Simulator:

In the simulator you cannot see all items together in one window.

You must switch to the inputs, then you see the input, the switch to the outputs - the outputs, the markers - the markers, --- and so on.

This is impractical because you need to see some complex actions with only ONE "monitor" - screen - program window.

 

Problem manufacturer function blocks:

Some FB are with priority and some are wired directly to the hardware, as well some function block has an output (e.g. PW E1) which conditions are shown on disabled state.

But, this circumstances are not written in the manual nor in the help file.

Please describe ALL features and behaviours (if then.. how do, how do not, why so using.. why not so using...) of this function blocks in the manual and in the help file.

Why? - Most programmers can not ask somebody. They just have  manuals for reading; - if it downloadable from your websites.

This was also for me the most problem last two month.

 

Problem - ST language:

There is so far for the Easy E4 nothing about ST programming in the manuals nor in the help files. Why?

 

Program samples:

Anyway, if it is no problem please can you upload on your websites program samples in all given languages?

I cannot find pgm-samples in ST language, there is nothing for downloading. How old they are? Are there some newer pgm-samples?

-> For this, how can I program function blocks, all just in ST? There is no word in the manual.

 

ok, there much more seen or not seen problems because I'm not stepped thru completely. There are a lot of possibilities with the E4. Fine!

--

 

2.Project - LD:

This video shows the project with the programming language LD.

As mentioned above, I have wired three manufacturer function blocks here, just simple modules, and I show their functions in real time.

Here you can also see how communication with the Easysoft 7 works.

Please excuse my poor English pronunciation, I hope you can understand it. I'm a little nervous because it is very rare that I speak in English.

 

 

3.Project - FBD:

The next program language is in FBL (function block language) - using function blocks.

This is also very easy to program. The video shows in few steps how we can do this. In the user manual of the Easysoft will be described what is possible or what is not possible.

 

4.Project - ST:

The next programming language is in structured language text. Here we program with a source code.

This video shows a simple program in ST language. See the manual for more details.

I just show a set and reset instruction here and simulate the function.

 

 

It would be nice if there were a separate programming manual for ST programming.

Unfortunately I couldn't find anything on the website.

 

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Further modules:

Eaton offers a wide range of expansion modules that can be used to implement a range of control functions.

These units are described in the operating manual.

https://es-assets.eaton.com/DOCUMENTATION/AWB_MANUALS/MN050009_EN.pdf

 

For the second part of the review I will use the expansion module E4-DC-4PE1, to whose input a PT100 temperature sensor is connected, with which I then measure the temperature of warmed water.

The heating for warming up the water is controlled with the Easy E4.

For this I have to rebuild my test board a bit.

Another part of the review, part 3, is the visualization with the Galileo 10 software.

 

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http://www.eaton.eu/ecm/groups/public/@pub/@europe/@electrical/documents/content/pct_3827117.pdf

http://www.eaton.eu/ecm/groups/public/@pub/@europe/@electrical/documents/content/pct_1184741.pdf

 

A preview - real time action with Easy E4, Easysoft 7 and Galileo 10:

Testing a 5.7" XV-102 would be very nice.

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With this part the task is "finished", that it is "only" possible with the Easy E4-UC-12RC1.

There is still a lot to report because it is very complex to test the many functions.

Over the next few weeks I will gradually add information to my blog and report on what else I have discovered.

 

In any case - conclusion:

The Easy E4 is highly recommended. You can implement projects very quickly and cheaply.

In the industrial sector, I currently have less insight, e.g. to check climatic conditions, as I mainly offer my projects in single-family homes or offices.

The hardware of the Easy E4 worked every time as expected.

 

If another road test is planned for the Eaton Easy E4 series in the future, I would be a honor to be able to take part again.

Thank you for being able to take part in the road test.

 

Best Regards

Gerald

Anonymous
  • Nice testing setup.  Good review.  Very practical.

  • Many Thanks.

    Yes, internet security is particularly important because maybe this website could have been written off by villains and it looks exactly like the original from the real manufacturer.

    The real manufacturer has to be careful not to damage its reputation.

  • Really enjoyed the review. Reviewing the material is appears you have extensive knowledge with the product.

    Many Thanks. Hopefully....

     

    The markings on the PCB EatonEasy E4 Testboard V20 would lead me to believe you play in the environment pretty extensively. Any chance you would be willing to share why you created the extensive test board?

    Such board helps to minimize the cable wiring. Please see this, the inputs as well the outputs, 8 times, 16 times, and so on, also switching cross over analog / digital.

     

    Well yes and no ... No, I bought this board quickly because the two-month road test was running out.

    Randall emailed me last October that I was one of the favorites in the selection.

    So I started creating such a board with my ECAD, but at the same time I asked something in an Eaton forum in Germany. And I browsed this forum a bit and found the board.

    An Eaton friend had privately built this board and sold it to someone who needed it. Well, now I have it.

     

    BUT .... This board has serious bugs.

    One small mistake he told me was that he forgot two connections while routing the tracks. - No problem, only two wire bridges were necessary. The price was micro..

    The real problem with what this board has is that it doesn't have inputs from any external connectors. This board has toggle switches with (on)-of-on contacts for the inputs.

    Also, he had made a serious mistake by mixing the analog and digital connections with the V-Meter.

    Therefore the voltmeter would also be switched on with the digital switch position, but its power supply would be switched off.

    So, the measuring input would always be at 24Volt without a power supply for the V-meter module.

     

    So now I've started to develop the "third" version, yes the seller's third version, because I would never have done something like that.

     

    This version, which I planned to develop from the beginning, takes into account all possibilities of the digital / analog inputs, as well as the two different outputs!

    Relay or transistor output, because there is a type of the Easy E4 with a transistor output; P-MOSFET, active high.

    Here the transistor has to be protected from high loads, it can only switch a few 100mA, and it has to be protected especially against inductive loads.

     

    We are welcome to go into more detail, talk about it in more detail.

    I'm now making the circuit board and would like to have the circuit board manufactured and then sell it.

    The point is, I want to include everything that has to do with the E4 from Eaton in my projects anyway.

    This test board here is a prototype, let's see if others are interested and then I'll do it completely differently, much more stable. There is a lot to consider here.

     

    I think your insight will be valuable to the vendor. You have knowledge of how to use the gear and the impediments of blocking connectors with other connectors.

    Well, something can happen even to Eaton. I've known Eaton for many years and it's a great company. Nobody knows everything.

     

    Best Regards

    Gerald

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  • Really enjoyed the review. Reviewing the material is appears you have extensive knowledge with the product.

     

    The markings on the PCB EatonEasy E4 Testboard V20 would lead me to believe you play in the environment pretty extensively. Any chance you would be willing to share why you created the extensive test board?

     

    I think your insight will be valuable to the vendor. You have knowledge of how to use the gear and the impediments of blocking connectors with other connectors.

  • Nice honest road test report.

     

    DAB

  • Good review. I like your pointing out the problems and also the good points of the PLC. The lack of security in the licensing is a concern for me. A company like Eaton should be aware of internet security.