The scanner has arrived. As I’m waiting for my Label Maker I can only scan from screen (or print) at the moment.
I’ve had a basic play with it and it seems to operate live wired and with wireless with the dongle. I have to have something open with text (Excel or Google Sheets so far) for it to send to. I will be trialing other apps such as notepad and Word.
It’s scanning QR codes and bar codes to date as that is all I’ve setup so far.
I was just reflecting on people using the Covid app in NZ. You see them using it outside shops, getting smartphones out and fumbling to find app and doing the scanning. Reflecting on the mobility of using the phone scanner compared to the hand held scanner which is usually only useful in a fixed location (house/Office/Shop etc) as the Hand Held is a single function tool, unlike a mobile phone. So its main use has to be seen as useful at a fixed location, or for a specific purpose such as a survey tool.
It is faster to use than a mobile phone scanner, and easier to direct to code (rather than waving phone around until barcode is in the viewer), and although you can store offline, you only have the data ID, not the time , unless you can scan that too.
The booklet has pages of QR codes for setting up the device to operate. See appendix at the end. Putting the codes into the scanner. As this is the only place to find these codes I’ve taken pictures and am storing them in a file in the cloud. I’m still setting it up and testing it.
Inventory, attendance & barcodes in Spreadsheets
I was browsing for scanner information and came across Google Sheets – Inventory Management System Template by learn Google Spreadsheets:
Also another interesting video on setting up barcodes in Excel video that I thought was interesting about actual barcode. Rather than using programme you can just use a different barcode font to create barcodes but the video is interesting :
There is another on QR code generator add in in Google Sheets for Attendance, there are a few apps, all using the now() function to set time/date for attendance in spreadsheets:
This looks like an interesting use case, itsd hooking up a dedicated tablet and getting a cheap scanner ()with micro-port connector
You can pick up cheap wired barcode scanners for around $25-30 NZ on trademe + delivery these are USB, not microUSB but maybe a converter may be available. Tablets seem to be from $100 up , I’ll look in Noel Leemings & Warehouse to see if there are cheaper ones.
Use cases for trials
I’m still trying to get some use cases, apart from inventory, where you could use scanner.
Freezer inventory. Setting this up with a handheld may work better. It was a bit of a pain opening the app on the phone each time to make it work. This may improve the process.
Time sheet w/projects. This may be worth trialing to see if I can get it done easily
Herb Plant maintenance. Watering/looking after plants and recording what I’m doing.
Dog feeding & times. This may be worth experimenting with.
With lots of different things happening, so using scanner for different activities you would need to have one sheet record the items then you’d need a vlookup on individual sheets to copy info across to relevant sheets Freezer to freezer inventory sheet, Timesheet to another, dog feeding to another, etc so codes would need to be bracketed into specific codes eg starts with A -freezer, B-Timesheet, C- water plants, D- Dog feed
I want to see if I can make this work with Asset Tiger. I need to do some configuration on the account setup I have at the moment (just wandered off to figure out how to access the account, now up and running) so that will need
Automate Sheet opening
I’m wondering if it can fire up a programme or whether you need to have programme running at the outset. This would mean that you’d need a dedicated PC set to a programme to take the data (thinking here about Surface 3 tablet with dock (in kitchen)).
It would be interesting to see if a AHK macro may trigger starting a programme from a scanner signal to open the app that is required for doing the information gathering. I need to research this further.
I think to fire up a script, either the script has to be running, eg Keys.ahk and then send a Hotkey which would activate another script. I need to try this to see if it works. You could have an odd key combination like Ctrl + 0 which would not be a normal hotkey as had stretch is too far. I’ll have to try that mapping and make a QR code in G Sheets.
If you do QR code in Gsheets and try to scan it goes to another cell and writes the scan to it. To stop this I used Greenshot to take an image of the QR code so there is no text box for it to write to.
This didn’t work. I’m not sure what Ctrl is, I cannot find it in the book, nor Alt, Shift or Win key. Also another odd thing, if you have %%02= ^B (in scanner book) it won’t create a QR code in GSheets.
I was thinking the scanner sends differently than keyboard, but in fact its transmitted through dongle, so should activate.
MsgBox, String asdkffasdf has been scanned
So this is marvelous, I can now access AHK scripts (if they are running) to do things on the PC.
Like open a specific programme (eg Excel) and maybe a specific sheet and tab) also can setup script to open Asset Tiger. I think the script will need a few delays to allow for time for the browser to go to site, login and open. aa
Projects & time sheets
The thing with a Project ID is that you can have a lot of data attached to that, eg client, address, sub-project codes etc so that just by scanning barcode you auto-populate the rest of the information in too. (A bit like a Primary Key in a DB table) So that is handy.
If you use GAS and have it trigger the cell at minute intervals the QR code will refresh and so you can get a Date/Time if you scan it. You would need this as an open app somewhere so that you can access this (I wonder if PowerToys splitting screen up into a specific combo would work, with Barcodes for different things down one side or on a sheet, a clock (QR code) showing and a sheet for input live for QR codes to go into.
An issue with Google Sheets is that it needs to be online so can access the sheet. Maybe excel has a similar thing?
Generating QR codes in Excel seems a bit more complex, there may be some VBA scripts for it but there seem to be a few image creators but you have to sign up for them, or they are trial versions and they want your info. So at this time I’ll just stick with Google Sheets.
If its going into a spreadsheet the =now() function may suffice for every new item.
Project- Setup one on Surface 3 with Dock
I think I’ll look to make a project with my Surface 3, as it doesn’t have a keyboard at present, it might be good to do data capture.
I need to get some QR or barcodes to scan on a different device or page so its easy to scan & have dongle connected. Not sure if Excel on it or not.
I have Excel running on that so I’ll set up some QR codes (generate in Google Sheets) to use and start testing that.
It doesn’t seem to work if the screen is off, so you need to log in to begin with. So 1/ set screen run for a long period before it closes or maybe make a barcode for login so that you scan that to unlock screen. Setting a QR code with the sign-in pin works. This unlocks screen and spreadsheet setup behind.
So I’ll start setting up the Use Case for Trials above, with one input sheet from scanner and and see if I can vlookup from other sheets. I’ll write a separate article on that process.
As I can now open a specific file with a ahk script (I think) I can actually place data on specific tabs – see Open Excel specific sheet article. So you can scan different data to different tabs.
The next thing to look for is how to go to the first blank row of a column (append).
Inventory Management Software (free software)
Thinking about scanners in shops etc, there is usually a POS screen to use the barcode reader, that is Window Always On Top & ACTIVE so as soon as you scan the data goes into the correct area from the scanner. A lot of this will be designed specifically for the company that uses it, like the supermarket ones. There must also be generic packages that can be adapted to different business scenarios, that will require a little adaptation to suit a particular business case.
On watching videos on Barcode scanners, they are being demo’d with notepad or excel, but only one demonstrates its use with an inventory programme, Simple Inventory Manger (Was smart but URL changed).
So I started looking into Inventory Management packages, and they are mostly on-line and in the cloud, free tiers are usually limited to about 100 items and then there is monthly subscription.
I’m wondering what happens when the system goes off-line? As a glance over the offerings I didn’t see anything about this.
The Cloud makes sense as you can access the information from anywhere, whereas a Desktop package would need to be run on a server somewhere for access in more than one location.
There is a free Desktop package that looks interesting called ABC Inventory Software but as you scale up to running it on a server you then have to pay about $2K US to buy the package. I think this has a DB in the background.
There is an interesting On-line package called Skyware Inventory and its free for one user then $10/month for each following. So this limits users but maybe does not limit application features I hope.
I hadn’t really thought about it but the reporting function is an interesting thing that you need too to manage the information .
So I think I should explore a couple of these Inventory Management tools, one in the cloud and one on the desktop, to see what they do and how they do it.
GlideApp and inventory
One of the issues I have with glideapp is that as it’s a web based tool you cannot access your mobile phone sensors. So reading barcodes is done outside the app and you need to bring the scan in from another app (a bit like the GPS exercise I did with App Inventor (that found GPS data from sensor & sent to GlideApp gSheet that then displayed info in Glideapp).
I plugged the dongle into a USB to USB micro connector so I could send data from scanner to the device, so as long as I had a programme with text active on screen when you used the barcode scanner it sent the data to the programme.
There is a method to use Bluetooth to pair the Scanner with a mobile device, but I find Bluetooth pairing a pain on cheaper mobile devices. I’ll have to try it but dongle method works fine, so a direct dongle to Female USB micro connector would be more convenient./ I could also purchase scanner with Micro USB dongle (I was initially looking at that but decided on full USB dongle instead).
So you can develop an inventory programme in GlideApps and use the scanner. Hurray.
I’ll think about something to build with Glideapps/Google Sheets and look to do inputting.
So maybe an Automate app to activate firefox and open Glideapp ready to do scanning with beep when ready. So scanning can begin.
I think I could move faster with the label maker but I’ll persevere with current tools. I may have to use the printer, something I haven’t used for a while now.
Trans-portability of scanner. This is really a one site tool, its too bulky to carry around with you on a regular basis but may be handy when going to a site that has bar/QR codes dotted around.
Connected up to mobile works fine, so maybe good for site surveys. So connecting dongle to mobile makes it an easier tool to use than using phone for scanning as its light and easier to use at odd angles.
I checked for QR code in door head at entrance and it connected and put link in Excel (and it followed link to browser, so that works).
There is a bit of versatility in its use, and tethering to mobile makes it more mobile, still a one trick horse though, but fast. Its now a matter of