Cheap MMI/HMI Software


Thread Starter


Can anyone name the cheapest MMI to be used only with around 200 Input / output ?

Thanks in advance.


Manny Hellstern

You can read/write data to a control system thru Microsoft Excel using DDE.
You can't get much cheaper than that.

Allison Walker

Check out Iconics GraphWorx32 for 150 tags at $595. If you add in alarming
and trending capabilities, it is only $1495.
When looking for "cheap" also make sure it is easy to use. I think you'll
find both features in the Iconics software.

Thank You,

Allison Walker
Intertech Inc
[email protected]
541-752-8422 phone, 541-752-8404 fax
Teaching Practical Skills for a Technological World
The cheapest MMI is the one that lets you get the job done the fastest, that
Configuring and testing the computer to data linkage (so you can see what
you are doing).
A good tag database for fast, organized and structured entry and storage (so
you can find stuff).
A reasonable drawing editor (so you can create on screen what you have in
A way to create the stuff the MMI designers did not think to include (macro
or programming language so that you can solve the few "impossible" tasks).
Reasonable speed of operation (so you do not get ridiculed by the users of
the system).
Good documentation output (so you do not have to re-learn the system next
year when you need to make changes).
Assured growth potential (so you can use the previous work rather then
throwing it away when you find that with your successful application there
is now a need to include a few hundered more points).
You did not mention alarming, that can use up a lot of effort to get right.
You likely want some good trending, maybe logging.

You see, the question you asked is not comparable to "what is the cheapest
car?". It is more like "how can I build the cheapest car?".
The 200 points at 20 points per screen would result in 10 screens, or they
could be all on one screen. The points could be all analog floating point
data, or digital points. What is the speed requirement, what about logging,
alarming, trending, reporting?
What is your time worth?
On an average system, guessing at 1 hour per point that comes to 200 hours.
At $20/hr that is $4000, but if you charge out at $100/hr your time is worth
So it comes down to how hard you want to work, and what kind of job you want
to leave your client with. And just for the record, the cheapest (legal) MMI
I know of is to buy a VB6 on e-bay for about $70 (but you might tie yourself
down for the better part of a year building it). Come to think of it, I just
lost $70 thinking about this, so I'll quit.

Check out the MMI from Indusoft - its not limited by I/O. The Windows CE
version is $750, the WIN 9x /NT is $950 - prices for one hardware driver and
up to 1500 tags. They have other options running under NT called the
Operator Workstation (upto 4000 tags, 2 simultaneous drivers) and Control
Room (64000 tags, 8 sim. drivers).

The address is You used to be able to download evaluation
s/w and their manuals.


Bob Giblett
We looked at the software package from http// The price is
very reasonable. I would question their support structure and policies.

John E. Morris
Project Manager
Alice Falls Hydro
Mercer Management, Inc.
[email protected]
I would like to know how to do a DDE exchange with a PLC directly
without using a proprietary driver? Any DDE driver to a PLC costs big
bucks and licensing issues abound. I have used drivers from
Automated Solutions which seems like the most cost effective means
of communication using either DH+ or Ethernet. $1200 - 2000 one time
cost for as many systems as you like with a run time module.
No activation fees and you only need to license the development
package. RSLinx from Rockwell for example costs $1500 per system
with yearly subscription fees, not a good solution unless you are
building a one of a kind system where this cost is a wash! Use a visual
programming package and write your own MMI if you are duplicating
systems! Good Luck!

Dale Witman

Alexander Beketov jr.


> You might also look into National Instruement's "Lookout".
> It's easy to use and fairly inexpensive.
It's not so cheap as you think.
May be it's time to turn to Russian technologies ? :)
Try "Trace Mode" at

Best regards,
Alexander Beketov jr.
Mariupol, Ukraine
mailto:[email protected]
ICQ UIN: #41228785
Compare to Iconix software, i feel RSview may be a better choice. Decision should be taken considering the application
Hi all, here's my take on this,

I have been developing a data collector using a DDe link and RSLynx hooked
up to a SLC 503, I'm currently using Excel but will change over to Access
soon. Dale's right that I had to spend $1500 for the RSLynx software. I am
getting the data, but its pretty cluttsy. The macro that does the importing
freezes the spreadsheet. I haven't figured out a good way of stopping and
starting the macro. Yes it does work and I am collecting data. By the time
I develop something thats user friendly, $1500 may not seem like all that
much. Eventually I'll probably spend another $1500 and get RSview.

BTW you don't have to pay the yearly support fee, there are probably a lot
of guys that read this group that could help if you have a problem.

The macro that I started with is available at Rockwell's Website, just
search dde.
Steve Preslin
I suppose that some could write their own driver, but what we did last year when
we needed a DDE driver from a GE Fanuc 90/30 series PLC to an obsolete HMI was
buy an InTouch 64 point package and use the driver while ignoring the rest of it
<g>. This, by the way, was a much cheaper solution than what my WW vendor
proposed... he wanted to sell me the driver for $995 (bearing out your big bucks
theory). I forget what the 64 point package cost... maybe $500 or so? but it was
less than just the driver!

Paul T

Fred Chwalek

Look at Factory Floor Suite at Very affordable, and I can
attest to their quality and technical support from personal experience
with their product.

You can go to RSView, but you still need to write code to make it work. The
big thing RSView gives you is the access to the PLC tag names. This can be done
by third party packages too. Most other things can be gotten with VB or Delphi
RAD packages. You are incorrect when you say you do not need to maintain support
for these packages. You are correct saying this for development purposes but not
for resetting the activation disks. It is AB's policy not to reset activation
that does not have current support paid up. We lost a whole factory with 20
activations for almost 2 days because of this. Another thing is that there are
no tools for debugging any problems with their activation. AB's activation is a
terrible way to have your production machines held captive.


Daniel C. Rozok

Why not use the OPC patch that is now available for RSLinx and bring the
data in this way. Use RSLinx as the OPC server and Access as the client.
Works well, its straight forward, and its reliable, something that you
cannot say about DDE! Rockwell states that this patch will be in the next
release of RSLinx.

Daniel C. Rozok

Kirk S. Hegwood

Try I've had good luck with them as well as ThinkNDo Software.

Kirk S. Hegwood
Hegwood Electric Service, Inc.
Keying of software in our industries has always been a contentious issue,
and is becoming more so as Automation Giants become more software oriented,
and as software houses move to a more 'rental' based commercial model.
Expect to have to pay for an annual Windows lisence soon.

I think this may be an interesting discussion thread.

If suppliers are going to protect their software with soft dongles, should
they offer free re-activation? If they don't surely the customer has a right
to protect the activation by back up ?

How does the practice fit in with legislation in various locales ?

For example, in the UK there is a legal requirement that all 'products' sold
are fit for the purpose for which they are sold. It is arguable that
software that is protected by an activation that is easily lost is unfit for
the purpose for which it was purchased (if that purpose is to provide a
stable and highly available control system for example).

Wont this attitude/model encorage software piracy, as users and end users
try to protect their investments?

What about System Integrators and OEMs, are they going to follow suit and
only offer support to people who have an annual support agreement ?
Generally in the past, large industrial OEMs have agreed to support obsolete
products for a minimum period of time (often ten years) after the product
goes obsolete, how do you think this will be affected by new practices.

Answers on a post card ......
You can also always try automation solution Inc.

They sell active X objects which can be inserted into any of your microsoft
applications that will retrieve and serve up data from most types of PLC's
using a familiar array based data format. The data can be readily inserted
into spreadsheets, databases, or visual basic forms. The object you pay for
once and can use as many times as you like as many places as you like

The retrieval speed is very fast compared with DDE based servers.