This blog is dedicated to open, interoperable manufacturing software and the coolest, latest and greatest things I see every day while conducting business under the banner of Inductive Automation.

Hello, my name is Steve Hechtman and I am president of Inductive Automation. During the span of one day there is more excitement, more discovery than I can possibly keep to myself. This blog is, therefore, my outlet. WARNING: This site is highly biased in favor of the most powerful, affordable manufacturing software in the world - Ignition by Inductive Automation!

Ignition runs on PanelView Plus 6

More than one customer has asked us if Ignition clients can run on PanelView Plus 6 operator terminals. Since PanelView Plus 6 terminals run on CE we figured it should work when using the Mobile Module. It turns out this is only partially true. The newer logic module, which runs CE version 6.0 with extended features (that last part is important), can run Ignition using the Mobile Module.

Rockwell was kind enough to provide us with a unit to try this out. The exact part number they provided us was 2711P-T12C4D9, which includes the extended features. My understanding is that the term extended features means it can run third party software and is packaged with a Word viewer, Excel viewer, PDF viewer and Media viewer. In this case we copied the open-source .NET VNCviewer.exe application onto the PanelView Plus 6 using a USB stick. This application works with the Ignition Mobile Module to deliver Ignition applications on the PanelView. VNCViewer can reference a separate configuration file with parameters to make it run in full screen mode, use 16 bit color and other settings.

While the Mobile Module normally utilizes the HTML 5 canvas component to deliver mobile applications, it is also a VNC server. The configuration for this is under the advanced checkbox in the mobile configuration section of the gateway. It's important to fill in the name of your project in this section.

Launch Clients Using the ME ActiveX Program Launcher
We got fancy and launched our Ignition client right from a PanelView application using the ME ActiveX Program Launcher. This ActiveX control is provided with FactoryTalk View ME. You must set the "program source" to path\vncviewer.exe and can set the "program parameter" to your VNCViewer configuration path\file.

One of the interesting things about this is that when your Ignition client is in full screen mode and you quit out of it, the VNCViewer also terminates. It seems to take a second click to do this.

Proof of Concept – Details Available Upon Request
This test was just a proof of concept. I'll write up all the fine details I know of and I will make them available to anyone who inquires. For example, I can provide you with my VNCViewer configuration file or project settings to make your screens scale properly without scroll bars.

I would not call the performance snappy, but depending on your situation this could be a good solution for you if you're trying to minimize the number of terminals on your floor. I would say give it a try and then decide.

One good thing is that the logic modules are separable from the screen unit and you can upgrade your logic modules using the Rockwell Step Forward program. The cost is somewhere between $1,100 and $1,500 with trade-in of your old logic module (which saves you $400 - $600 depending on the model). My understanding is that not every distributor supports this program, but I know Rexel in Sacramento does because they gave me this pricing.


Unknown said...

Thanks for the interesting article. I continue to look for an inexpensive IP66 HMI platform that I can install Ignition on for stand alone installations. This would allow me to wean this customer off of PanelView Plus.

Robert said...

I didn't know the Mobile module was also a VNC server. Was this always there or was it slid in when I wasn't looking :)

Thanks for tip regardless.

Steve said...

The VNC server has been there the whole time. The configuration for it is under the mobile module item in the gateway configuration webpage. When you check "advanced configuration" the part for the VNC server shows up.