Bargain Bin Barcode Scanner Keeps Track Of Shopping Needs

For most people, a Post-It note or dry-erase board suffices to ensure that household consumables are replenished when they’re used up. But hackers aren’t like most people, so this surplus barcode scanner turned kitchen inventory manager comes as little surprise. After all, if something is worth doing, it’s worth overdoing.

[Brian Carrigan]’s project began with a chance discovery of an old barcode scanner in his local scrap store. Questions as to why we can never find bargains like a $500 scanner for six bucks aside, [Brian] took the scanner home for a bit of reverse engineering. He knew it used RS-232 but it had been unceremoniously ripped from its connectors, so identifying pins took some detective work. With power and data worked out and the scanner talking to a Raspberry Pi, [Brian] set about integrating it into Wunderlist,  a cloud-based list management app. Now when someone eats the last Twinkie, a quick scan of the package looks up the product name via an API call to the UPC database and posts it to Wunderlist. And we’ll bet the red laser beams bouncing around the kitchen make a great nightlight too.

With smartphone barcode reading apps, this might seem a bit like overkill, but we like it just the same. And if barcodes leave you baffled, check out our introduction to these studies in black and white that adorn just about everything.

18 thoughts on “Bargain Bin Barcode Scanner Keeps Track Of Shopping Needs

  1. Wow, very cool. I had started a similar project in 2009 to make an “Intelligent Pantry” using some Symbol Technologies RS232 Barcode Scan Engines I picked up. Never finished the project, but I would still love a way to have an inventory of the pantry without having to dig through it…..

  2. I think that’s an awesome idea- I’m forever getting in trouble for useing the last of something and not telling any one :(

    Having it sitting on the bench all the time is much more practical than getting my phone out finding the right app openingbug and then scanning.

    With an always on scanner I pull the last 2 weet bix out of the box and on the way to thebin just scan it as I drop it in. – mount it on the bin and that’s even better – connect a switch to the lid of bin so when the lid opens the scanner turns on and scan /drop /close lid – no extra effort required …

  3. You can get a handheld USB scanner for $8 on FleaBay (or just use an app on your phone), but holy cow did Brian engineer this up one side and down the other! This is a whole supply chain management system writ small – pretty cool.

    (check back in a few months to weigh the marital discord when someone tosses-without-scanning)

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