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CAN keyboards

Self-explanatory diagram of vehicle

Binz and Miunske have jointly developed a CAN keyboard with customized configuration. The keyboard is a stylized image of a command vehicle with driver‘s cab and box body.

Visual perception of all relevant machine parameters (Photo: Miunske)

Binz Ambulance- und Umwelttechnik from Ilmenau (Germany) targets the segments ambulance, fire service, police, and military. It builds complete vehicles as well as body and equipment solutions. A foreign customer ordered a command vehicle, which demanded that display and diagnosis data, counters, as well as function messages and alarms were laid out in a manner that facilitated parallel and intuitive visibility.

Renard Eberhardt, the manufacturer‘s Technical Project Manager, explained: „Our in-house keyboards feature membrane keys with symbols and LED lighting. Due to the complexity of the intended vehicle use with this particular customer, the aim was on better handling and clearer arrangement of display technology to cater for the needs of varying users.“

„As a long-term and satisfied customer of Miunske, we regarded a joint development of a customer and vehicle specific CAN keyboard with switching and display elements as a crucial necessity.“ With conventional membrane applications, which are designed as mere LED-backlit keyboards, the driver is expected to know the symbols‘ meanings.

The customized command vehicle from Binz, for which a CAN switching and display unit with application-specific function layout has been developed in cooperation with Miunske (Photo: Miunske)

The jointly developed CAN keyboard with customized configuration is a stylized image of a command vehicle with driver‘s cab and box body. With the component symbols on the diagram shown exactly at their point of installation on the vehicle, the diagram is self-explanatory. Therefore, there is no need to know the meaning of each symbol. The information stored in the system is displayed according to the customer‘s specifications as a colored warning message, digital reading, or bar chart. In comparison to other membrane keyboard applications, the wiring effort for this comprehensive CAN solution with its clear visualization is less complex.

Eberhard explained: „The driver does not require extra training with regard to symbols and their specific meaning. This is a particular advantage with foreign customers, where it is common for command vehicles to be operated by alternating crews. This way, incorrect use and interpretation of symbol keys can be avoided“.

Miunske specializes in customer-specific products ranging from mini-series – as with Binz – to medium-scale series. The displays are suitable for customers who want to keep their in-house development efforts to a minimum or who need a customized control display. All products can be delivered pre-configured for a specific application.

The surfaces, membrane, bar display, and symbol design with integrated light sensor for automatic adaptation of high-contrast LED backlighting to the ambient lighting situation are tailored to individual requirements. In order to meet even rigorous demands, all keyboard fronts are optionally available in a dust and waterproof IP67 version. Due to the cellular rubber seal, they are suited for outdoor applications.

The customized CAN keyboard (Photo: Miunske)

The CAN keyboards are also available in two domed variants, which provide tactile feedback to the user and can be operated practically without looking at them. The keyboards are either available in a grid layout, which separates the individual keys for physical feedback or with domed pads. For this variant, the keys are provided with a raised and domed surface. According to Miunske, its in-house CAN starter kit, which includes all hardware components necessary for the development of CAN keyboards, the development of customized CAN switching, and display elements, is quite uncomplicated. For this purpose, the software Toolchain is available for download here.

As a system partner, the company based in Großpostwitz (Germany) continues to develop customer-specific solutions. Prior to the joint development of the CAN control unit for the command vehicle, both companies had already been working together for many years. „The configuration of the CAN switching and display elements perfectly matches our application. Its ease of use is exemplary, user errors can be avoided, thus minimizing machine downtime. Fault conditions are detected immediately and can be directly sent to a technician. This promotes profitability and efficiency of our vehicles and significantly minimizes service costs for the operator“ said Eberhardt. If the customer‘s requirements change, it is always possible to modify the switching and display elements by reprogramming the CAN keyboard. This does not require specific C programming knowledge.

Miunske is a system supplier to OEMs in the utility vehicle industry worldwide. Among its customers are – apart from manufacturers of construction vehicles and agricultural machinery – also companies developing special-purpose vehicles for the police and fire and ambulance services such as Binz. In addition to the CAN keyboards with customized surface, the electronics expert also provides its customers with relays and accessories, safety devices, switches, indicator lamps, plugs, sockets, connectors, and contacts as well as cable protection systems and mirror, camera, and steering column systems.


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