Project query: CueCat barcode scanner

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#1
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Hey All -

I'm sure most people here are more or less familiar with the CueCat barcode scanner and the fiasco that went with it a couple of years ago ... I have a couple here at home, and you can get them on ebay for $5-$10 or so. Easily modified to spit out normal barcodes, and many are already pre-modified.

The only hassle is that they're tied to a computer to use, either via keyboard wedge, or USB. Who wants to lug around a laptop when scanning your bookshelf ?

So I'm thinking it couldn't be too hard to build a small AVR interface to it, battery powered, making the CueCat a portable device. This is something that would accept the CC keyboard interface, and store all barcodes in ram/eeprom/whatever.

You then plug it into your computer (serial, keyboard again, usb, whatever) and hit a button. It would then stream all the barcodes down to the PC. Push and hold the button to wipe the eeprom.

The USB version would probably be the easier one to hack (I don't have one so I can't check) if you can get the bitstream before it enters the supposed USB interface. Otherwise you have to decode the keyboard protocol for the keyboard-wedge version - it stuff keystroke scancodes down the wire.

So, has anyone done anything like this ? Any ideas ?

Dean 94TT
"Life is just one damn thing after another" Elbert Hubbard (1856 - 1915)

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Hi,

I had done exactly what you looking for, check my web site
www.microsyl.com

Yours truly,
Sylvain Bissonnette
www.microsyl.com

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Sylvain -

Hah ! Perfect ! I knew someone out here must have fiddled with this things :) I'll check out your project. Did you hack the CueCat to remove the encryption, or are you decoding it in your AVR ?

Dean 94TT
"Life is just one damn thing after another" Elbert Hubbard (1856 - 1915)

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Chancy99 wrote:
I have a couple here at home, and you can get them on ebay for $5-$10 or so.

Amazing. I got one a long time ago when Radio Shack was giving them away. Tried it a few times, put it on the shelf for a couple of years and discarded it.

Don

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Yes, the hacking is done by the avr

Sylvain

Yours truly,
Sylvain Bissonnette
www.microsyl.com

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OK, I took a look at your setup. Pretty slick :)

From what I can see, your CueCat doesn't use the keyboard wedge anymore - it now goes directly into the AVR, dedicated. Of the 7 keyboard pins (6 really, with 1 Shield/GND) you're only grabbing two of them, Clock (pin 5) and Data (pin 1), into INT0 and INT1. Those are wired directly between the CueCat and AVR.

You're re-using the cable to a normal 9-pin serial I assume ? Given that the CueCat needs 5V that it would normally get from the keyboard, you must have a battery and regulator in there somewhere ...

Since many systems don't have serial ports anymore, I'm thinking about doing it all via keyboard. The AVR would monitor for particular key-combinations, like ctl-alt-c to clear, and ctl-alt-g to get the stored codes. That way you could just leave a double-adapter connected to the computer all the time, and just plug in the CueCat when you want to talk to it.

Did you ever do any current measurements ? How much juice does the CueCat and AVR together suck down ? How long does your battery last ?

Dean 94TT
"Life is just one damn thing after another" Elbert Hubbard (1856 - 1915)

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I had never done some current measurements, in this project the cue cat was connected to a powersupply,... no battery

Yours truly,
Sylvain Bissonnette
www.microsyl.com