Add a Barcode Scanner to the Kiosk

This topic shows you how to add a barcode scanner to your kiosk.  Zen Planner works with most basic USB barcode scanners. These scanners are designed to plug into the USB port of your computer and when a barcode is scanned, the scanner inputs the barcode number into Zen Planner as if you were typing the number in with a keyboard.

Choosing a Barcode Scanner

Zen Planner doesn't sell scanners but it will work with most off-the-shelf USB readers. You can usually find good deals and most bar code scanners start at around $100 for a basic handheld model, and get more expensive for fancy models. We require a basic bar code scanner gun, similar to those sold by Hewlett-Packard or Symbol Technologies, with these features:

  • a USB scanner that plugs into your computer and works like a keyboard wedge
  • is able to decode the "3 of 9" or Code 39 barcode font
  • is able to be configured to automatically add <ENTER> after scanning a barcode

We have received feedback from database owners that they were able to find compatible scanners on Amazon.

Activating Automatic Carriage Return

Your barcode scanner will include a manual that will allow you to activate various options on your scanner. To automatically check students into a class using the barcode scanner, make sure you activate the option that automatically adds a carriage return (i.e. adds the Enter key) to the end of every barcode that you scan. This will submit the barcode into the kiosk and trigger checking the student into the closest class.

Check your barcode scanner's manual to find the special barcode that enables the carriage return on your scanner. For Hewlett-Packard barcode scanners, refer to this help document on their help website and follow the instructions to enable the carriage return option. 

Testing Your Barcode Scanner

Since a scanner works similarly to a computer keyboard to enter letters and numbers, you can perform a simple test to check that your scanner is compatible with Zen Planner. You can also use this test to check if your existing scanner will work with the kiosk.

Plug your scanner into the kiosk computer and open a text editor program, such as Notepad or Word.  Scan a barcode with your scanner, then check the text document to see that the scanned barcode number appears and the cursor appears on the line below the barcode number.  If it does, this means your scanner is reading your barcodes and is automatically adding the carriage return character after it reads the barcode number. Your scanner is ready to use with the kiosk.

If the cursor appears next to the barcode number, this means your barcode scanner does not have the carriage return character option turned on.  In this case follow the directions in the Activating Automatic Carriage Return section above to enable  this option.

If the text document does not display the barcode number, your barcode scanner is either broken or incompatible with Zen Planner.  Please order another scanner that meets the requirements outlined at the beginning of this article.

Next Steps

Setting Up the Attendance Kiosk

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