I needed to learn about Modbus recently, which although I’m in the heart of Canada’s SCADA-rich Oil and Gas country, has somehow eluded me up to now.
Modbus is a communication protocol for industrial devices developed in 1979 by Modicon, now Schneider Electric. It was originally designed for communicating with programmable logic controllers (PLCs), but has since become popular for industrial sensors and instruments in general. Modbus.org, a U.S. non-profit trade association, now controls the Modbus protocol and provides free access to protocol specifications and technical resources.
When developing a device which will communicate using Modbus, there may be value in using a master controller or a slave device simulator, or make use of readily-available utility software and libraries.
A Modbus Master simulator is used to query data from devices and can be a valuable test when developing a Modbus Slave device. A large number of Master simulators are readily available, including free of charge, open source, and commercial software.
QModMaster is a free and open-source Qt-based Modbus master based on libmodbus (see Libraries below). QModMaster is licensed using the LGPL and includes a bus monitor for examining traffic on the bus.
Modbus Tester from Schneider Electric is a free proprietary Windows GUI program for reading Modbus registers. It supports Modbus RTU and TCP.
RMMS (Radzio! Modbus Master Simulator) is a free proprietary Windows utility (GUI) and claims to replace commercial ModScan and Modbus Poll utilities. It supports Modbus RTU and TCP, and multiple Modbus slave devices.
Simply Modbus Master (RTU and ASCII ). The Free mode allows six request messages before the application must be re-started. C$60. A slave simulator and TCP client are also available. The website has a nice intro to Modbus and Modbus Enron.
Modbus Poll from modbus tools was designed to help developers of Modbus slave devices and others to test and simulate the Modbus protocol. Using a multiple document interface, several Modbus slaves and/or data areas can be monitored at the same time. US$129 per developer. The modbus tools website also has a good intro to Modbus.
ModScan32 from WinTECH Software is a was developed to verify correct protocol operation in new or existing systems. Extensions provide third-party data acquisition using Control Automation routines or the MS Jet Database engine. A debug mode displays raw serial data to and from a connected device, and ModScan32 can execute test scripts with stimulus messages and expected responses for production testing. Single user license US$64.95. WinTech also provide a number of other Modbus-related utilities.
A Slave simulator provides a source of data for a Modbus Master, and can be useful as a known source of data when setting up a test workflow for a device being developed. A Slave simulator can also be used to create a model of a new device being developed, and act as both the development specification and a source of expected behavior for validating the device being developed.
ModRSsim2 was forked from MOD_RSSIM and seems to be the more active of the two now with a number of updates including compiling on Visual Studio 2010. ModRSsim2 supports RS-232 and TCP/IP connections, the full range of Modbus addresses for all four Modbus types (0xxxxx, 1xxxx, 3xxxx, & 4xxxx addresses), as well as diagnostics with complete traffic byte capture and logging capability. ModRSsim2 supports CSV loading and a scripting environment for testing as well as HTML custom displays. It is free and open-source, and licensed under the GPL.
pyModSlave is a free and open-source Qt-based Python-code ModBus RTU and TCP slave from the developer of QModMaster. A Windows executable is provided and pyModSlave includes a bus monitor for examining all traffic on the bus. pyModSlave is licensed under the LGPL
MOD_RSSIM is a Windows-based Modbus PLC Simulator (and basis of ModRSsim2 above). It is free and open-source, and started as a test program for a SCADA/HMI with Modbus RTU and TCP/IP. Typical uses are to verify device configuration, support development of Modbus master and slave drivers for embedded and desktop platforms, and as an educational tool to learn Modbus protocols.
WinModbus (www.winmodbus.com). Modbus Slave Simulator for Windows. GBP62.50. Lifetime support. 14-day functional demo for evaluation. Polished website.
UnSlave Modbus Slave Simulator . UnSlave simulates any number of Modbus slaves. UnSlave is provided free from Unserver, possibly as a source of test data for Unserver’s Modbus REST API Server, which provides data from Modbus networks and devices to higher-level clients – and is monetized. The Unserver website includes a nice Complete Modbus Guide.
A number of Modbus libraries are available.
FreeMODBUS is a free implementation of the Modbus protocol with separate ASCII/RTU and TCP ports for a variety of embedded systems. FreeMODBUS is licensed using the BSD 3-clause license.
libmodbus is a library for Linux, Mac OS X, FreeBSD, QNX and Win32. The library is written in C, supports RTU (serial) and TCP (Ethernet) communications, and is licensed using the BSD 3-clause license.
Peter Chipkin has a nice list of various Modbus-related tools.
com0com is a kernel-mode virtual serial port driver for Windows. An unlimited number of virtual COM port pairs can be created, and any pair can be used to connect one COM port based application to another. The module is signed with a test certificate, and requires configuring Windows to load test-signed boot modules.