Learn how easy it is to connect to a Productivity Series Controller that is behind a VPN router in this brief step by step tutorial! Includes and overview of how VPN routers work.
A Virtual Private Network – or VPN - is a great way to access your Productivity Series Controller remotely. And it’s super easy to use with the Productivity Suite Software. Before we see how to do that though, let’s backup and take look at the big picture. Here’s our PC running the Productivity Suite Software and we want to connect to a Productivity Series Controller out on the internet someplace. With a VPN, you typically have a router that the Productivity Series Controller is behind that acts as a VPN server. Then over here you either have a dedicated VPN Box – which is just a fancy router - that connects to the VPN router or a regular router and a client app on your PC that does the connection to the VPN router. We’ll be using a popular Cisco VPN Client to do it in this video. Using that VPN client app you create a connection to the remote VPN router that your Productivity Controller is behind using your network specifics. I’ve already created a VPN connection using my networking details for our demo. The IP Address is blurred out because this is AutomationDirect’s VPN test network and we really don’t need a bunch of folks messing with it. Once you have that setup, you just connect the client app to the remote VPN router. Keep in mind I’m just showing you this to give you a feel for how to get access to a typical VPN router. Your network will probably be different so work with your IT guys to get access to your VPN – The good news is, once you DO establish the connection to your VPN router like we just did here, connecting to any Productivity Series controller that’s behind that router is easy. Start The Productivity Suite Software. Looks like I’m using version 2 1 2. Start a new project. This is the CPU we are using and we’ll just continue. Now we just connect like we always do: CPU, Choose CPU. The productivity Suite Software scanned the network looking for Productivity Series controllers. I have a bunch here, but the one out on the VPN we just setup isn’t on the list. Why not? Well, turns out you can’t auto-discover hardware on the other side of a VPN. No big deal, we know where it is, so we’ll just add a connection and tell it the IP Address of that Productivity Controller behind the VPN router. This port number is the default port number for the Productivity Series controllers and is exactly what we want to use whenever we connect using a VPN. Now that we have that link, we just connect. And just like that we are connected to the controller on the other side of the VPN router and can start writing code for this guy. One thing you may want to keep an eye on is how long it takes for a message to get to and then back from the remote controller. If your Ethernet messages are passing through lots of routers to get to the Productivity Controller, then the round trip times of the message could get long and might time out. How long? Well if I open a command prompt and ping this controller over my VPN which is just in the next building I get around 10ms. I was pinging a controller in Tennessee yesterday – I’m in Georgia – and that took around 30ms. Your ping times could be much longer, so it’s a good idea to open a command prompt and ping your controller once you have your VPN connection established. The timeout the Productivity suite uses for its remote communications is here: Tools, Options, Connection. Looks like mine is set for 3 seconds, so I have MORE than enough time to get messages back and forth to my controller. So once you have your VPN setup and connected, and created a connection to the Productivity Series Controller that’s behind the VPN router, everything else is identical to connecting to a local Productivity Controller. If you need any help with the Productivity Series Controllers please contact AutomationDirect’s FREE award winning tech support during regular business hours. They will be happy to help you. But please don’t call them about networking or VPN stuff – they aren’t setup or trained to help you with your network. And don’t forget the forums – there are lots of folks there that love to share their years of experience. Just don’t post any questions directed at AutomationDirect’s tech support staff there – they don’t monitor the forums on a regular basis.