Programming the Banner K50 Pro Series Multicolor Touch Button

What is a multicolored touch button?

The Banner K50 Pro series touch button is a unique industrial control human interface that incorporates a multicolor indicator, a capacitive touch sensor, and haptic feedback into an attractive yet hardened device. The capacitive sensor is sensitive enough to detect a gloved hand. The haptic feedback (vibration) is strong enough to be felt through the glove.

We were first introduced to the device in a previous article demonstrating the simplified interface to the Schneider Modicon Programmable Logic Controller (PLC). In this article we will focus on programming the K50 Pro to provide the desired color and flash patterns.

What materials are required to program the Banner K50?

The K50 is part of Banner’s Pro (programmable) line of products. This includes a variety of multicolor optical display units and lighting strips. Many devices feature feedback in the form of touch and even laser detection. Like many of Banner’s products, the K50 Pro uses a Euro style quick disconnect cable. These devices are designed to work as part of a greater system leveraging either direct connection to the controlling PLC or remote connection via Banner’s line of remote I/O.

One simple way to program the K50 is to purchase the 2170-PRO-KIT as shown in Figure 1. This allows the K50 to be programmed via your computers USB port using Banner’s Pro Editor software.

Figure 1: Picture of the Banner K50PTVAMGRY3Q touch lamp along with the 2170-PRO-KIT programming device. K50 not included with the programming kit.

Why would you want to program the K50 Pro?

From our introductory article, we know that the K50 has a 2-wire (4-state) display program. The default settings for the K50PTVAMGRY3Q are: 00: off, 01: steady green, 10: steady red, 11: steady yellow. This is a conservative out-of-the box solution. However, it does not leverage the capabilities of the K50 as it is capable of complex and multicolored patterns.

Use the K50 to simplify your PLC program

For example, suppose we desired a blinking red to draw additional attention to the associated machine. For a typical application we would need to write a few lines of ladder logic including a few timers to control the blink rate. This is not a complicated program, but it is unnecessary if we leverage the K50 capabilities. It would be easier if we could simply send a command and let the K50 automatically blink.

Use the K50 to simplify your PLC hardware requirements

Let us further suppose that the PLC features a relay output. To blink a traditional indicator lamp, the PLC must physically toggle its output. While this is easy to do, consider what happens if we allow the machine to blink red at a rate of once a second over the course of a long 4-day weekend. We calculate that the PLC’s relay must toggle 345,600 times. That’s very bad when we consider that a relay has a mechanical life of perhaps 5 million cycles. In one weekend, we have consumed about 7 % of the life of that PLC output channel. That’s clearly an unacceptable situation when we consider the high cost of downtime.

Tech Tip: The lifespan of electromechanical components is an important system integration question. This is especially true when we consider the high cost of downtime which can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars per minute.

Generally, it’s bad practice to “blink” an indicator lamp using a PLC’s output relay. The K50 provides a good way to mitigate against premature destruction of a PLC output channel. In our long weekend example, a single click (turn on) of the PLC would have enabled the K50 blink animation. Another way to mitigate against short blinking life is to use a PLC or PLC module with solid state outputs. However, this may be undesirable if your project demands a PLC with relay-based outputs.

What display patterns (animations) may be performed by the K50?

The K50 is capable of so much more than the out-of-the-box indications of off, green, red, and yellow. Recall that there are four unique states selectable from the 2-wire control interface There are several different animations including:

  • steady
  • single color flash
  • two color alternate
  • 50/50 two color
  • 50/50 two color rotate
  • chase (10/90 two-color rotate)
  • intensity sweep (triangle wave intensity for a single color)

For any given color there are 14 options. The vibration may also be turned on or off. As an example, in the previous article, the K50 was programmed for:

  • 00: three-pulse red
  • 01: steady green
  • 10: rotation of teal and purple
  • 11: pulsing yellow

A screenshot of the Pro Editor software is included as Figure 2. The table in the lower part of the image shows the color and animation setting for each of the four states. The table also defines the operation of the haptic feedback which is always enabled in this example. Finally notice that the touch output (black wire) is set to act as a momentary normally open contact. This is ideal for a PNP sensor to PLC interface.

Figure 2: Screen capture of Banner’s Pro editor software showing the programming options for the K50 as used in the Modicon introductory article.

How to program the K50 touch button:

For more information about programming the K50, please see this video:

Video 1: Video showing how to program the Banner K50 Pro Touch button using the Pro Editor software.

Parting thoughts

The Banner K50 is a robust indicator industrial device. In addition to the multicolor, touch, and haptic feedback, it promises simplified system integrations. Programming the various animations into the K50 simplifies the PLC program by offloading the functionality. Here, a simple on-off program is required as opposed to a multiline plus time solution. The K50 may also reduce your PLC hardware requirments as simple relay outputs may be used with the K50 eliminating the need for sensitive solid state outputs.

Either way, be sure to watch the Banner video for a demonstration on programming the K50 using the 2170 Pro cable kit.

Please leave comments and questions below. Also, please describe how you have used Banner products in your industrial and automation equipment.

Best Wishes,


About the Author

Aaron Dahlen, LCDR USCG (Ret.), serves as an application engineer at DigiKey. He has a unique electronics and automation foundation built over a 27-year military career as a technician and engineer which was further enhanced by 12 years of teaching (interwoven). With an MSEE degree from Minnesota State University, Mankato, Dahlen has taught in an ABET accredited EE program, served as the program coordinator for an EET program, and taught component-level repair to military electronics technicians. Dahlen has returned to his Northern Minnesota home and thoroughly enjoys researching and writing articles such as this. LinkedIn | Aaron Dahlen - Application Engineer - DigiKey

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