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[aprssig] APRS and barcodes

scott at opentrac.org scott at opentrac.org
Sat Oct 28 01:24:06 UTC 2006

Seems that serial barcode scanners are out of fashion these days.  A cheap
USB keyboard wedge type cost me about $50 on eBay, with shipping - has a max
scan distance of about an inch, and a scan width not QUITE wide enough to
scan an express mail tracking number.

A very nice Symbol handheld serial laser scanner cost me under $20 with
shipping.  It works at a distance of about a foot, scans VERY wide barcodes,
and is much sturdier than the cheap USB model.

Anyway, I hooked it up to a Tracker2 and started seeing what I could do with
it.  There may be a way to configure the scanner (I haven't even looked up
the manual yet), but as-is it doesn't send a carriage return at the end of a
scan.  So I tweaked the Tracker2 command console code a bit, and now it'll
accept commands bracketed in /* */.

So what does this mean?  Well, for starters, you can print out lists of
configuration commands and use the scanner to set up the tracker.  This
might be useful for events where you've got a bunch of them to configure -
you can have a sheet printed out for each unit to be configured.  Or just
print the unique stuff (timeslot assignments, callsigns) and have a page of
common configuration options.  Since it waits for a terminating */ sequence,
a single command could be composed of multiple barcode segments.  For
example, you could scan /*INTERVAL and then 30*/, 60*/, or 120*/.

Since the T2 does messaging from the command line, you could use it to send
canned messages to any of a list of recipients, including email addresses.

Once I get some object creation code written, you ought to be able to use it
to scan a race participant, for example, and have the tracker send an object
identifying that participant at the current GPS position.

Or you could do the reverse, and use the POSITION command to set the unit's
fixed position, and wander around with a tracker and barcode scanner,
scanning your current location instead of using a GPS receiver.  Seems like
that'd have limited applications, though.

I'm just throwing this out there to see if it'd be useful to anyone, and to
see if anyone else has any ideas for killer applications for it.  If you
think of anything interesting, let me know.


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