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Barcode Scanning

What is a barcode scanner?

A barcode scanner is a handheld or handsfree device that when triggered will read a barcode. Typically barcode scanners will emit a red line or series of lines to enable the user to line up the barcode with the scanner. The reading technology inside the scanner is either CCD, Laser or Imager.

Why use barcodes?

Barcodes are used primarily for capturing data electronically, using either an electronic reader or scanned from an image using specially designed software. The process of capturing data electronically is referred to as Auto ID Data Capture (AIDC). Systems for barcode AIDC consist of three phases: 

  1. Printing the barcode either directly on the item, packaging or on a label.
  2. Capturing the barcode data using a scanner or reader and imputing the information into a computer, handheld terminal or PDA.
  3. Retrieving information from or updating a local or central database.

The main benefits of using barcodes for electronic data capture are:

  • A reduction in man-made errors
  • Much quicker and more efficient entry of information.
  • Inexpensive and easy to implement - bar code scanners are relatively low cost and extremely accurate.
  • Businesses can produce detailed and up-to-date information/reports on stock levels and the movement or tracking of items and products.

What is CCD, Laser and Imager technology?

CCD Readers. 
CCD readers normally use light emitting diodes (LEDs) to produce the light beam and a charge coupled device array (CCD) to read the reflected light. When using CCD technology you must take into consideration the fixed reading distance, the depth of field and the angle of the scan. CCD readers are usually linear scanners, with a thicker scan beam than the laser readers.

Laser Readers.
Laser technology has a built in laser diode to emit the beam which is then deflected by an oscillating mirror. Laser technology is capable of reading over a range of distances with large depths and extreme scan angles. Laser technology is capable of reading many barcode formats.

Imager Readers.
Imager technology uses a small camera to capture 1D and 2D barcodes. It then decodes the barcode using digital image processing. The area to read is usually illuminated by LEDs and the aiming mark is provided by a laser. The light is either captured by a CCD or imager.

What are the different types of barcode scanners?

 Corded Barcode Scanners
Compact and lightweight barcode readers for office and retail environments. Choose from CCD or laser, narrow – wide read ranges, high speed and near to far distance scanning. Combine with an EPOS system to speed up checkout lines. 

Corded Rugged Barcode Scanners
Corded, rugged barcode laser and imager barcode readers that will withstand harsh environments. Choose from CCD or laser, narrow – wide read ranges, omni directional, high speed and near to far distance scanning

Cordless Barcode Scanners
Cordless barcode readers enable freedom of movement for your workers to scan awkward and heavy items. Choose from Bluetooth or propriety radio connections with 10 – 100M wireless ranges, read distances up to 14M and options for office or industrial versions.
Memory Scanners
Small and lightweight scanners equipped with a memory that can store up to 25,000 scanned barcodes. The housing is rugged and durable. With a weight less than 30 grams, it can be put in every pocket and taken everywhere.
2D Barcode Scanners
2D barcode scanners are omni directional to capture barcodes at any angle. These imager scanners are rugged and can capture 1D or 2D barcodes and images with a read range of up to 200mm.
Cordless 2D Scanners
Flexible cordless 2D scanners are omni directional to capture barcodes at any angles. These imager scanners are rugged and can capture 1D or 2D barcodes and images with a read range of up to 200mm.

What are the different interface / cable choices?

Keyboard Wedge Connection (KBW) or PS/2
The keyboard wedge cable plugs into the bottom of the scanner and then splits out into two cables one of which plugs into the back of the PC where the Keyboard would normally be, then the other plugs into the keyboard. This then allows both the keyboard and the scanner to be in use, the scanner simulates keyboard input.

USB Connection
The USB cable can connect directly into a PC or laptop through the standard USB port. The cable sometimes has an extra port along the cable for a power supply if it’s needed. The scanner simulates keyboard input. 

RS232 Connection
The RS232 cable connects to the serial interface onto a PC or laptop. It can also connect to a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC). A 9 pin D-Type connector (socket) is provided as standard but there are other options available. This also the serial connection also provides a port for an additional power supply as shown in the diagram.

What options are there for programming the barcode scanner?

Configuring a scanner is basically “telling” it what you want it to do. Through scanning a series of barcodes in the users guides, as with all programming, you can select the interface you are using, the barcode format you want to scan and any other functions you want it to perform such as prefixes and suffixes or advanced data formatting as explained below.

Carriage return line
The most common programming request is for a carriage return line, so the cursor begins on a new line after a scan. Most scanners will perform this after being defaulted and configured as normal however, if this is not the case then you can program it as a suffix as explained below.

Advanced data formatting
This form of programming enables the user to split up a barcode into separate fields and then only send a selected part of the barcode to the PC. For example if your barcode is 123456 but you only want to send the last 3 digits, then you can specify how many characters in field 1 and in field 2 the request that only field 2 is sent to the PC when the barcode is scanned.

Prefixes and Suffixes
Prefixes and suffixes are data strings that can be sent before or after a barcode. So if defaulting the scanner does not give you a carriage return line then you can program the scanner to scan the barcode then enter the “enter” key after the information. This works for any keys and different scanners can have different length strings, the average is 20 characters excluding the barcode.

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