Saturday, March 20, 2010
At various times I've purchased at least four barcode readers, including one of them I had to interface with using a BASIC Stamp to even get it working.
The CueCat is far and above the cheapest barcoder device I have ever bought ($12 + P&H) in terms of bang for the buck. It reads and parses more than 40+ different types of barcodes, in particular really weird but useful ones like ISBNs for books. Integration into the DOS version of Vault-OS is extremely easy - it plugs into the PS2 cable for the keyboard.
It recognizes and parses barcodes on canned food, cereal, all sorts of foodstuffs, most retail products, any literature and even catalog codes for library classification systems.
Best of all it exhibits no drain on the resources or processing time. Right now Vault-OS in DOS has an ISAM driver running, an I2C TSR from Dallas One-Wire, a serial VFD display, serial printer and a parallel port relay board connected so it is a terrific way to conserve ports by integrating the barcode reader into the existing PS/2 cable.
At present Vault-OS prints off barcode labels for Code 128 and Code 39 because those are the easiest codes to send to the serial printer. I am trying to think of a way to make printer outputs of barcodes more generic and configurable. I will think of something. Could allow the user to specify the sorts of ASCII they want to send to the defined port for the label printer. Some people might want to print the labels off in Windows or their own operating system and just use Vault-OS to recognize them in the shelter after deployment.
P.S. I was on the verge of committing ritual suicide because I could not figure out how to access COM3: and COM4: on my embedded SBC from VB-DOS until I discovered this little tidbit :
... worked like a charm and allows first version of Vault-OS to access additional COM ports for use of interesting peripherals like serial display and printer.