CueCat, meet Arduino

Have you ever felt like you needed a portable barcode scanner around the house? No? Well, [Mkanoap] did, so he made one. He has hooked his CueCat up to his Arduino to capture barcode data and store it on an SD card. He is using it as an inventory tool for his personal library. Where before he had to carry a laptop around to do his scanning, or lug the books to his desk, he now just scans wherever he pleases.

You may notice some silly sounds dubbed over the video. Take note, these are the actual sounds it plays. The camera didn’t pick them up well enough, so he dubbed them in. You wouldn’t want to miss out on the entire experience would you?

Comments

  1. SDC says:

    That’s a pretty nice project. I bought a Cuecat on eBay (couple of dollars) and did something similar w/ a small Python script and SQLite database on my laptop, but this one is more portable.

  2. Hacksaw says:

    I once neutered a Cuecat.

  3. Avaviel says:

    Wait, is that a book by Orson Scott Card?

  4. Agent420 says:

    I remember hitting up all the local RatShacks to get these for free.

    The thing to do imo is do build the circuit inside the CueCat housing.

  5. I wish I would have kept my CueCat. Could have some fun with this.

  6. rallen71366 says:

    @Hacksaw – After seeing your screenname, your comment made me cringe.

  7. Wutang36chambers says:

    Good work.

    Now if you could get the ISBN/Price Database from Amazon and store it on the sd card as well (you would have to update it as often as possible), and then have it compare prices and give you an audial “buy” notification if it fits your requirements (IE, resell value of more than $5 etc)

    It would obvioussly be much better if it had a display for this usem but I figured I’d throw that out there.

    This is cool for scanning your library and inputting it into programs like Book Collectorz or librarything etc but to make it really useful it should provide some type of remote information

    Still could be useful for inputting a large amount of books to your Amazon store as well. Sort them,scan them, and xfer the ISBN #’s to the appropriate spreadhseet, upload and boom!

    good work

  8. Paul Potter says:

    That really is good, and love the sound effects. :)

  9. fartface says:

    @Wutang36chambers why? take a photo of the book at B&N and use the app that compared it to amazon, click order because it’s $20.00 cheaper with shipping and continue looking. It’s already done with something you already carry.

    What you want already exists and works on the iPhone. one even does electronics and tells you the price around you at other stores.

  10. blue carbuncle says:

    Buy a cart for the book haulin’. Done in one.

  11. MS3FGX says:

    @Wutang36chambers
    If you want all that, you might as well get a G1 off of eBay and install one of the bar code scanning apps. Amazon even has their own now.

  12. tantris says:

    looks useful, i would use it on my pantry, so that my computer can tell me, what needs to be eaten soon.

  13. Wutang36chambers says:

    @fartface @MS3FGX

    1. I don’t own a cellphone, so not, it’s not something I already have. My home phone costs me $7.50 per month and i’m fine with it.

    2. All of the cameras based barcode scanning or cover recognization solutions suck. BADLY. Have u ever used it? It doesn’t work half of the time and takes FOREVER to bring back any result.

    Having the ISBN/Price database will allow you to do exactly as I said without having to:

    1. Have internet connection
    2. Waiting on said internet connection to query the prices and bring them back.
    3. Text based and database based is MUCH FASTER
    4. Im not talking about for myself, its for resell geniuses.

    This would be by far the cheapest way to implement, far cheaper than buying a cellphone.

    Ultimately the arduino could be replaced?by components, write some code, gather AMZN database, and boom

    Its definitely interesting to me as there are 20 or so business that sell subscriptions to such devices for anywhere from $20-$60 per month per device.

    Yes, its not a laser, but it woulud be WAY faster than using your camera fon to take a picture 5 times before it got it right and another 30 seconds to 2 minutes to get the results back..

    No thankx, Id rather scan it and know in a few seconds and move onto the next possible item for resell.

    Could you imagine scanning thousands of books in one day via your cellphone camera? Have fun with that!

  14. J4y says:

    I’m really surprised that bar code readers did not become house hold items in the late 90’s. A lot of my friends would often asking if I had borrowed a game, CD or DVD. If they had something like this then they would know who borrowed what.

    Great use for the cuecat.

  15. MS3FGX says:

    @Wutang36chambers

    Have YOU ever used the image based scanners on a modern phone? It certainly doesn’t sound like it, as that isn’t at all what my experience has been with any of the ones I have run on the Droid.

    You don’t actually take a picture of the bar code, first of all. The software processes a live video stream, so you just point the camera at the code and it picks it up. You don’t need to repeatedly take single pictures; and returned results are near instantaneous on 3G, and even if you were stuck on a 2G network it wouldn’t take 2 minutes to return a item lookup.

    In fact, there is at least one commercial inventory management tool on the Android Marketplace that is designed for exactly what you are getting at; small businesses that don’t have the money to spend on a dedicated inventory system.

    Also, you don’t need to actually have a cell phone contract to get a smartphone, that is why I said get one on eBay. You can buy one outright on eBay, install the software over WiFi, and use it to your heart’s content without ever connecting it to a carrier. Again, it doesn’t sound like you have much experience with modern phone technology.

  16. Wutang36chambers says:

    @MS3FX

    I attend many book sales and see many idiots fumbling around with their Android phones or their iphones, while I zip right by scanning about 1 b ar code and getting audiol results or buy triggers at a rate of about 1 item per half second or so.

    Live lookup is not faster than database lookup no matter what type of phone you have, not even with T5 let alone 3G….

    Also everything you mentioned requires an internet connection, which costs money and is usually not available in all the places you will be buying items for resell.

    And, no, im not looking for inventory management, its called a database price lookup by ISBN.

    The current method utilized by most people in my field requires a $200+ Laser Barcode Scanner + a compatible PDA.. this can easily peak over $300.

    How much does a cuecat and an arduino cost?

    2 fatal flaws;

    1. Web lookup takes too long on any connection
    2. Lookup via image recognition is NOT useable in a professional setting

    It might work for someone who just needs to buy a couple books for school, but not for me.

  17. Wutang36chambers says:

    I guarantee that this cuecat+arduino solution can scan items much faster than any image recognition solution can (cover and bar code based), and that’s not even including the time it takes to fetch the live results….. time is money

  18. JONNY says:

    DAMN! I think I threw away my cue cat. Mainly, because, its, not…..um…USB.

  19. Pavel says:

    @JONNY
    I was under the impression that since the PS/2 cuecat works like a keyboard wedge, you can convert it to usb with a simple USB->PS/2 adapter

  20. hmm I’d be interested in something like this for my DVD library…

  21. Agent420 says:

    ^ Re ps2 vs usb… imo the ps2 version is much easier to interface with ucontrollers; not all chips have usb.

  22. walt says:

    instructables BOOOO!!!!
    cool hack though

  23. Dave Mathews says:

    Great job putting this together! This is one of my favorite hacks that I’ve seen in 10 years for my CueCat invention yet!

    Dave

  24. Erik says:

    @Wutang36chambers

    My 3G connection needs at worst ~250ms to make a http request, usually 100ms.

    I agree that a ~$300 laser scanner is better at reading barcodes than a ~$9 integrated CCD. But you miss the point.

  25. Wutang36chambers says:

    How do I miss the point? Because I dont own a cellphone? And ye, maybe thats the speeds you get when you are in a good area, but everyone I know with iphones and 3g is always complaining about how long it takes to load… When you need it you need it, and you cant rely on a good 3g connection..

    maybe its just because I live on the coast, I hear everyone complaining about cell quality anyways, I heard Hawaii is the same way.

  26. Indigent says:

    @Everyone
    Clearly, we all need to stop what we are doing and create the perfect system for Wutang36chambers. Remember, nothing that anyone else does on the internet is as good as what this fine person could come up with.

    Please refrain from congratulating Mknoap on his successes, as they were not good enough for Wutang36chambers.

    Someone please buy this jerk a droid.

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