Thanks to Ray Parker Jr., we all know who to call when there’s a ghost.
But who do you call when you need help troubleshooting a hardware problem?
I put together a list of the best online support forums for programmable logic controllers (PLCs), ESP32s, and Raspberry Pis. These forums go beyond providing technical support. They form an online community where people share misadventures on the job, career advice, and industry news.
Read on the find new resources that can help you as you build your next IoT system, and make sure to check out Temboo’s own tutorials.
PLC Support Forums
About: The PLC subreddit stands out for its mix of deeply technical questions and humorous tales from the field. Reddit’s format makes it entertaining to scroll through and participate, although its not easy to navigate by topic. r/PLC is particularly receptive of people new to using PLCs, and includes a getting started guide with programming tips and career advice. Plus, on Mondays, there’s a dedicated open thread for discussions related to PLCs and automation – no questions allowed. r/PLC is an informative and fun PLC community that’s especially easy to join if you already use Reddit.
# of Members: 14,000
Great for: Technical support, career advice
About: Mr. PLC describes itself as a place to discuss PLC and automation problems. I particularly like that Mr. PLC organizes its forums by manufacturer to make it easier to find experts for a particular make and model. Mr. PLC was founded over 15 years ago, and the moderators make an effort to preserve the wealth of knowledge generated. For example, an Allen Bradley FAQ post from 2005 (last updated in 2017) pinned to the top of the Allen Bradley Forum, has been viewed over 100,000 times. Mr. PLC also includes a “Downloads” section where users share sample code. It’s a great resource for other tutorials in addition to those offered by manufacturers. If you want to buy new or re-manufactured PLCs and other parts, Mr. PLC even has a store section. Overall, Mr. PLC is a longstanding, well-organized community for PLCs and automation.
# of Members: 46,663
Great for: Technical support, Buying hardware, Sample code
About: PLCS.net is the oldest online forum for learning about PLCs. Founded in 1996, the site maintains its pre-Y2K aesthetic. If you’re wondering why PLCS.net is so popular in light of its graphic design, here is one programmer’s perspective: “That site has saved me countless hours on odd-ball questions and topics about vendor-specific stuff. People have popped up with crazy odd-ball situations or conditions that weren’t well documented or weren’t documented at all that got me going. Who cares about the format? The knowledge and experience that sits around that site is, bar none, far better than any other resource available, including this sub [Reddit].” PLCs.net may be the “Ghostbusters” of all PLC forums.
Great for: Technical support, Educational texts
ESP32 Support Forums
Espressif’s ESP32 Forum
About: Espressif’s offical forum for the ESP32 is a great source for information from their official technical support team as well as other users. The forums are available in both English and Chinese, although the English forum is much larger and more active. The forum boards are organized into broad categories, such as “ESP32 IDF”( IoT Development Framework)” and “Hardware.” If you want to search the forum to see if your question has already been answered, I recommend using the advanced search feature; the volume of posts makes the default search engine a little slow and imprecise. Projects shared on the Showcase board receive hundreds of views and up so it’s a great place to showcase your work.
# of Members: 11,056
Great for: Technical support, Multiple languages, Showcasing projects
About: I recommend the ESP32 subreddit to Redditors who need technical support. Most posts ask about questions related to a user’s specific project, and there is not strong moderation to sort or organize FAQs. A smaller number of people also share their projects. An overwhelming majority of posts are responded to so the r/ESP32 subreddit is a worthwhile option for support when you are stuck.
# of Members: 9,900
Great for: Technical support
Raspberry Pi Support Forums
Stack Exchange: Raspberry Pi
About: Stack Exchange, a collection of Q&A communities, created a standalone site for the Raspberry Pi due to the hardware’s enormous popularity. When you have an especially tough technical problem, Stack Exchange’s bounty feature may come in handy. Similarly to Reddit, Stack Exchange assigns a reputation score to users that earns them additional privileges. You can offer other users a bounty of additional reputation points if they solve your problem. On the flip side, if you enjoy problem solving, browse the many open bounties and general questions for fun!
# of Members: 87,000
Great for: Technical support
Raspberry Pi Foundation Forum
About: The Raspberry Pi Foundation’s forum sparks community both online and offline. There are dozens of boards organized by programming languages, hardware and project type. Separate boards for beginners and advanced users are useful for engaging and learning from people of similar skill level. The forum also makes it easy to get support and meet other programmers who speak your native language, whether it be French or Turkish. A standout feature of the forum is the “User groups and events boards.” You can find gatherings of Raspberry Pi programmers near you, or organize one, yourself!
# of Members: 268,620
Great for: Technical support, Multiple languages
About: The scale of the Raspberry Pi subreddit matches the wild popularity of the products. The moderators enforce strict posting guidelines to manage all of the content of their mega-sized membership. There are four main types of tags for posts: Show-and-Tell, News, Helpdesk and Discussion. By design, most of the posts are Show-and-Tell. The result is a community that celebrates the ingenuity of its members, and offers support for their most stubborn challenges. When new Raspberry Pi products are released, like the Raspberry Pi 4, the subreddit is also a great source for reviews.
# of Members: 1,500,000
Great for: Showcasing projects
The Kosmos IoT Solution for PLCs, ESP32s, and Raspberry Pis
Whether your project needs dashboards, an SMS/email alert system or simply cloud storage, build it with Kosmos. Kosmos connects your devices to the cloud without any programming required by you. If you have questions about how to use Kosmos with your PLCs, ESP32 boards or Raspberry Pis, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.