Strip Label Maker

I first wrote an article about Bar codes & QR codes QR Codes and testing quite a while back. I also played with putting Barcodes onto Room Data sheets so that the Room ID could be scanned.

I’ve just purchased a Label Maker. I was looking in a Stationary shop and came across a whole range of them. There are a few items I want to label. The going price for a hand-held one is 59$ NZ and as I was leaving there was a handheld one that plugged into your computer so you could use software with it. For 100 $NZ and it had a battery and charger.

I decided to go with the one with the software, and I’ve just un-packaged it and had a brief play and I’m glad I did go for the one that linked to software.

It takes, 6mm 9mm and 12mm wide tapes to print on, so quite narrow. Good for Bar codes and text. The software also allows :

  1. Text
  2. Address
  3. Image
  4. Shape
  5. Lines
  6. Barcode
  7. QR code
  8. Date/time
  9. counter

So quite an extensive range of items.

Another little detail that I wanted was to see if you can reverse the text, so if you have it on glass , eg a shower door, and wanted the label on the outside but want it read from the inside you can write backwards. In image below it shows an uploaded picture too.

Where would you use it?

One of the explorations with QR/Barcodes I did previously was with tagging rooms. You put a QR code in the door frame of a room. Some one goes on site, scans that door frame and this could link to a Room Data Sheet of that room that would download as a PDF straight to the phone/mobile device.

You would need to setup a Website with the URL’s linking to the QR codes, but this is not rocket science. Also if there were changes to the room, you could just change the PDF in the directory where it is being downloaded from.

Just as a general label maker for folders/files etc around the office is pretty handy too. Also for asset registry for all your PC’s, hardware and furniture in the office.

You could also have an equipment register for people taking tools out to use. You could link this to a Google Form and just fill out data of who has taken a specific item, like a digital camera, a lazer measuring tool/tape etc and fill out online form and fill out another form when returned. (I may do an exercise on that process, I think it would be easy to set up).

Asset Tiger, an asset management tool I have posted about before Asset Tiger 1. free Online Asset Management Service with Free mobile app, although only free up to about 300 assets now its yearly fees are quite reasonable. As you create your own asset code you could use this to create the labels.

Barcodes/QR codes

2d Barcodes are just a string of numbers. They are a code, so work well with a database for lookup on a table. That string of numbers represent a key in a table that, when looked up, will lookup a specific row which will have several columns cells of data related to that row. So you need to take that code and be able to use it to look up a table. There are several scanner programmes that are linked to excel tables that allow you to build a table and so use the scanner to identify the barcode and look up the data. So it relys on someone having the correct scanner and the lookup table.

QR codes are a bit more sophisticated. You can embed text so that you can have, say, room data information such as wall area, floor area, finishes etc, you can have a link to a web page and a number of other

So, as the QR code size is limited, the more detail you want to cram into the code, the smaller the dots that convey the code. So the one on the left has big dots, easy to read with a scanner, the middle one, the dots are smaller, still relatively easy to read with the scanner, the one on the right the dots are too small and it takes about 10 scans before the scanner will actually read it.

So there is a limit on how many characters you can have in the QR code before it is not readable.

Trying to put a URL link on a barcode, you need the right code- Nearly all the ones in the list 2 images above, either needed numeric only input or uppercase for text input (actually works with all uppercase, will open website). Whatever way you do it, you end up with a LONG barcode and have to have the scanner quite far away to get it all in, so near the limits of where mobile camera can focus.

One thing I do like about Barcode is it has the Text of the barcode underneath, so if you cannot scan you can also type in barcode. The QR code doesn’t have this but maybe I should add it as a line of text next to it.

URL Shorteners

A way around having a very long URL string in QR codes is to use a URL Shortener such as Bitly or TinyURL.

The following URL: has a length of 51 characters and resulted in the following TinyURL which has a length of 27 characters:

In bitly, the above URL is shortened to 24 characters:

Images & Favicons and Emojis

As the label maker can do images too, it may be a good way to put a logo or simple identifier on the tape, so this can add context to the Strip and what it is about. As the tape I’m using is Black on White, it will not print in colour. So to reduce image you can use a Favicon converter that reduces the size of the image file.

It doesn’t seem to understand emoji’s. I use, in my folder directory with File Explorer emoji symbols to differentiate folders using emojis from Emojipedia. They do not work in the label maker software.

I would choose an image with high contrast, not grays as it pixilates, like the old dot matrix printers, and ends up being quite vague. The image I have in the screenshots just becomes vague gray colours so does not stand out at all.

End comment

Label Makers are a bit like printers. Printers are cheap, its the cartridges that are expensive, sometime buying a few cartridges adds up to the price of the actual printer. The price of the Label Maker tapes is pretty expensive. I am currently just using the one that came with the printer, a measly 3m when standard cartridges are about 7m long. I also want to explore the different materials of the tapes for differences in durability and location (external/internal/high light exposure/heat exposure (in sunny area) etc.

I’ve been reviewing prices for the label tape:

  1. Warehouse Stationary $45NZ for D1 cartridge 7m of 12mm wide
  2. PB Tech $45NZ for compatible D1 cartridge 7m of 12mm wide
  3. Amazon $27 US ($50NZ) for 6 pack of D1 cartridges 7m of 12mm wide so about 1/6 of price of NZ – These have 6 different colours black on Red/yellow/Green/White/Clear/Blue. I’m prepared to put up with colour difference for the price.

I am pleased with my decision to go for the model that has the software. Although it was 1/3 more I feel it’s a better investment with the versatility of the software. A good learning experience.

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