Learn PLC Programming With The Siemens S7-1200 Starter Kit
You probably have heard about the Siemens S7-1200 PLC. It is the latest Siemens PLC and the best for learning. Get the Starter Kit with the programming software SIMATIC S7 TIA Portal and begin learning Siemens PLC programming. You can even control the S7-1200 PLC with your smartphone!
There are several good reasons for you to start your PLC programming career with the S7-1200 Starter Kit from Siemens. Some of the reasons are obvious, but some might not be so obvious to you now. Especially if you just started to learn PLC programming.
Here are the reasons you should go for the S7-1200 Starter Kit:
- S7-1200 Starter Kit price is low
The cheapest way to start learning PLC programming with Siemens is to get a Starter Kit. The kit is made for beginners and for learning.
- Siemens PLC Devices
There is a very good reason to begin with PLC programming from Siemens: Siemens PLC’s are one of the most used PLC systems in factories and machines. For example, the S7-1500 devices are built on the S7-1200. You will have an advantage when you work with other Siemens PLCs.
- SIMATIC programming software
Each version of the SIMATIC STEP 7 programming software works and looks similar. By starting with SIMATIC programming software, you will have a huge advantage later in your PLC programming career.
- Train with PLC field busses
Besides the PPI/MMI standard Siemens communication, the S7-1200 also has an interface for connecting to a PROFIBUS, PROFINET, MODBUS, or a CANopen network. The networking interface makes the Starter Kit a scalable solution.
- Programming Siemens HMI
Included in some of the Starter Kits is a SIMATIC Basic Panel (KTP) 2nd generation. These HMI panels come in different sizes and can be programmed with the included WinCC Basic programming software. WinCC is the SCADA software from Siemens.
The Starter Kit includes not only a PLC but also a HMI and the programming software STEP 7 Basic TIA Portal. Check out this video to see the unboxing of a Siemens S7-1200 Starter Kit:
Siemens S7-1200 Manual For Download
To help you get started with the S7-1200 Starter Kit, Siemens has published some great PDFs for you to download. Here is a list of the most useful downloads for the S7-1200 PLC:
- Siemens S7-1200 Catalog (PDF)
- Siemens S7-1200 Catalog (Online)
- Siemens S7-1200 System Manual (PDF)
- Siemens S7-1200 Easy Book (PDF)
- Siemens S7-1200 Starter Kit Catalog (PDF)
When you are working with the S7-1200 PLC or any other PLC for that matter, it is always a good practice to read the manuals. Or at least refer to them if you have any problems. Another good reason for checking the manual is that it often contains an installation guide.
The installation guide tells you how you should install the hardware correctly. For example how you should wire the PLC, the power supply, the I/O, and the PLC communication so that you will avoid EMC.
If you need extra guidance, to go along with these starter kits you might enjoy a good online PLC training course or PLC programming book. That said these are definitely not a requirement, and I would only look to these resources after you have explored the instruction manuals and PDFs above.
What’s Included In The S7-1200 Starter Kits?
You might already have noticed that the Starter Kits are slightly different. Some include a HMI, some do not. One of the Starter Kits even includes an RF reader (SIMATIC RF200), so you can build an RFID system with the PLC.
In all the kits, the following are included:
- SIMATIC S7-1200 CPU 1212C (AC/DC supply – Relay outputs)
- Input Simulator
- 2 meter Ethernet cable
- Documentation CD
- SIMATIC STEP 7 Basic TIA Portal
Here’s an overview of the different S7-1200 Starter Kits and what’s included:
S7-1200 Starter Kit without HMI
If you are looking for a cheap Siemens PLC Starter Kit, this is the one.
With this kit, you will get the basic components listed above. Nothing less, nothing more. You will be ready to start out basic PLC programming with this kit.
S7-1200 Starter Kit + KTP300 HMI
This Starter Kit has a HMI included. The smallest HMI in the SIMATIC Basic Panel series, KTP300.
In spite of the black and white screen (mono), you can add some neat graphs and trends and other useful functionalities. To use graphics like trends and graphs is a great way to study PLC analog inputs and outputs and analog PLC programming since it requires that you have an analog value in your PLC system.Buy Here
S7-1200 Starter Kit + KTP400 HMI
This Starter Kit has the KTP400 SIMATIC HMI included. It’s a color screen HMI with space for multiple graphics like trends, menus, graphs, and much more.
You can do a lot with the KTP400 HMI, and this kit is for people who take PLC programming seriously.Buy Here
S7-1200 Starter Kit + KTP600 HMI
As you properly see, this product image is a bit different. This is because it is an old version of the Starter Kit with an old HMI and programming software.
The SIMATIC KTP600 is a 6″ touch the color touch screen.
STEP 7 Basic in this Starter Kit is version 11, while the others are version 13. Keeping in mind that this is an outdated version of the S7-1200 Starter Kits, I would still recommend it for beginners. You might even be able to find this kit cheaper than the other new kits, because of the old software and HMI.Buy Here
S7-1200 Starter Kit + KTP700 HMI
If you want to program with the latest version of STEP 7 Basic, which is often just called TIA Portal, you should go for this Starter Kit.
Besides the new software, it also contains the KTP700 SIMATIC HMI. The KTP700 is part of the newest SIMATIC HMI Basic Panels. It is an upgraded version of the KTP600 and is slightly larger with the 7″ screen.
Input Simulator for Learning
When you start out learning PLC programming with the Siemens S7-1200 Starter Kit, you will be using inputs a lot. This is because inputs are such a crucial part of PLC programming. It is very important to know where to use normally open or normally closed input actuators for fail-safe design.
But instead of you spending a lot of time rewiring the PLC inputs every time you have to make a new program or correct an error, you can use the input simulator.
When you connect the input simulator to all the PLC inputs, each switch will now be connected to one of the PLC inputs.
If you want the functionality of the switch to be normally closed instead of normally open, you can simulate that by simply flipping the switch opposite, so you “flip to turn input on” instead of “flip to turn input off“.
Watch how to do that in my video below:
TIA Portal: S7-1200 Programming Software
The PLC programming software used to program the S7-1200 PLC is usually the STEP 7 Basic TIA Portal. This is because the Basic version of the TIA Portal is included in the Starter Kits.
For more advanced use and programming, you can also go for the STEP 7 Professional, but that is rather expensive. Besides that, the Basic version is more than enough, to begin with. You can do some pretty advanced PLC programming with the TIA Portal Basic version.
Learn PLC Programming with TIA Portal
To get you started with the TIA Portal, Siemens has provided some great videos. I recommend that you watch those videos, as they will give you a basic understanding of the programming software.
Although the Starter Kits only includes the Basic version of the TIA Portal, the software is still quite advanced. Siemens has built a very reliable piece of PLC programming software, that makes it easy for you to do advanced projects. But it requires that basic understanding of the TIA Portal.
Here’s a little overview of the TIA Portal from Siemens (120 seconds):
Getting started with STEP 7 Basic TIA Portal:
Re-usable libraries in STEP 7 Basic:
WinCC: S7-1200 SIMATIC HMI Basic Panels (KTP)
One of the great advantages of these Starter Kits is the included HMIs and the software used to program them.
All the SIMATIC HMIs can be integrated into any new or existing project in TIA Portal. In the software, the HMI part is so well integrated, that it just seems too easy to start working with HMIs.
Programming SIMATIC HMI with WinCC TIA Portal
Again, Siemens is providing some great quality videos to get you started. If you don’t know-how, you can watch the video below, and learn how to add an HMI to your S7-1200 PLC project:
S7-1200 Ethernet Communication
When you connect the S7-1200 CPU to your computer or HMI you will be using PROFINET.
Even though I have published a DIY-guide on how to make an Ethernet cable, I would not recommend that you do it for PROFINET cables. Especially if you are just starting out PLC programming.
Other than connecting your own computer the PROFINET interface can be used to connect to an Ethernet network of HMI’s, other PLCs, remote modules, and much more. The process of connecting to a device can be done within the TIA Portal.
S7-1200 Web Server And Smart Phone App
One of the features of the Siemens S7-1200 PLC is the new smartphone app. You can control and monitor the PLC with a free app on your smartphone.
This might not seem groundbreaking to you that you can do such things with a smartphone. But the automation industry can be very old fashioned and conservative in many ways, so this is a rare thing to see.
Since smartphones and technology are becoming cheaper and cheaper it is inevitable, that smartphones will be used to monitor and control automation systems. Another part of this is the webserver technology that you can set up in TIA Portal. From there on, you can also control and monitor your S7-1200 PLC system from the Web.
And here’s how to set up your own web page with TIA Portal and the S7-1200 PLC (be aware of the loud background music):
Siemens S7-1200 Training Videos
At, last you can watch this playlist with official PLC training videos from Siemens. They will teach you the basics of the S7-1200, TIA Portal, and most of the functionality in those.
I chose the official videos from Siemens because I really think they are one of the best ways to start learning. After watching these videos, the best you can do is to practice all the things you’ve learned. Try it out. Try other things out and play around in the TIA Portal.