Reading bar codes with Arduino and unaltered CueCat

[Damcave] decided to try out some bar code reader projects. He got his hands on a CueCat years ago. The problem is that it outputs encrypted character sets instead of a clear text string. To get around this he used his Arduino to decrypt the CueCat’s data output.

Originally you could get you hands on a CueCat for free. It was meant to work like QR codes do now — you see a bar code, you scan it to get to a web address. It never really took off but you can still get your hands on one for about twelve clams. We’ve seen projects that clip a pin on the processor to disable to encryption. But [Damcave] didn’t want to mess with the hardware. Instead he connected the Arduino via the PS/2 connector and used software to translate the data. The encryption format has long been know so it was just a matter of translating the steps into an Arduino function.

Comments

  1. acomputerdog says:

    wow, i just found one of those cleaning up and was about to do the same thing. But there is an easier way to read the data, there is a pin on one of the chips (i think it was pin 11), that you can cut that forces it to output raw number strings. I have a modified one somewhere, Ill have to pull it out to find out what pin it was.

  2. vvenesect says:

    Other than being an intellectual exercise, this is like going from Los Angeles to Burbank by way of Las Vegas. Why bother when clipping that one little pin will get the same result?

  3. Josh says:

    While visiting the town where my grandparents live, (I lived with them while going to college) the local Radio Shack/thrift shop/hardware store (which I frequented regularly while in college) had a ton of these (5 boxes) that they just gave to me after 3 months of nobody showing interest. The town finally got broadband service in ’03. Before that, it was dial-up service to a long-distance number unless you were a college student willing to use CompuServe on an ISDN line.

    Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough room in my car to pack all my belongings and the trailer that was my electronics shop caught fire from a lightning strike. Oh, how I wish I hadn’t taken my broken TV instead of the CueCats!

  4. ka1axy says:

    The Inventor of the CueCat is still around. His website: http://www.jhuttonpulitzer.com/ touts it as an amazing success. Some of us remember differently, but the website is worth (and kind of) a “trip”…

  5. Galane says:

    I got a USB Cue Cat. There were several variants, some needed a little more surgery to declaw. Fortunately the one I have was a simple single pin clip to disable both its serial number and the pitiful encryption.

    After the modification a Cue Cat becomes a normal PS/2 “wedge” or a USB “keyboard” device. It’ll scan barcodes and drop the numbers anywhere the text cursor is, no special drivers required.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 96,695 other followers