If you are buying books for resale on Amazon using your Droid’s camera as a scanner, you will soon discover that it is a s-l-o-w process. You can speed it up by using a handheld, bluetooth scanner instead.
Bar code scanners are both familiar and mysterious. Anyone who buys or sells anything (which is pretty much everyone) sees them every day. The red light comes on, beep, the item name and price appear. Easy peasy. But when you try to recreate that process yourself with your own smartphone and a hand held scanner, you may find yourself, like the scientist in the cartoon, wondering if the explanation of Step 2 couldn’t be clearer.
I am going to talk about one particular scanner and the Android, although the information can generally — if not specifically – be applied to other scanners and phones as well.
The laser scanner I use is called the Scanfob. I use it with Serialio software on my Droid 2 and the FBAScout application. (I also use it on my Windows PC, which we’ll talk about in Part 3.)
The Scanfob is a small, handheld scanner. It is made by Opticon, and marketed by them as the OPN-2002. The only difference is that the Scanfob has been rebranded and pre-programmed for the Serialio software. But any application that works with the Opticon OPN-2002 should work with the Scanfob, and vice versa.
Before I describe how to get your phone and scanner talking, let me clarify two things the scanner/Android combination cannot do.
First, it cannot connect to the Amazon database in an area with no cell phone reception. If you find you do most of your book scouting in a dead zone, you may want to investigate the older PDA/database models. They store data locally on a memory card installed in the PDA. The downside to this is that the data is not live, and prices can change quickly on Amazon. Also, PDAs are out dated. Most are no longer manufactured or supported.
Second, while the scan is undeniably faster than using your phone’s camera to “scan” a bar code, the scanner itself cannot speed up the connection between your phone and Amazon. If you cannot get 3G or 4G speeds on your phone, the scan will still feel slow as it fills in the Amazon data (even though it will be the fastest method).
With those caveats out of the way, let’s get started.
To begin, you will need to make both your Scanfob and your Droiddiscoverable.
The Scanfob has two buttons: the Scanning Trigger and the Function Key. The first time you pair the Scanfob with your Droid, hold theFunction key for 5 seconds. When it is discoverable, you’ll see a blue light (instead of the normal red). You can also scan the “Make Discoverable & Connectable” barcode provided by Serial Gears
Now that the Scanfob is discoverable and ready to be connected, let’s connect it to your Droid.
There are two possible ways to do this
- By using your phone’s Wireless & networks panel (found under Settings) or
- Through SerialMagic Gears.
Let’s review the Android’s Bluetooth settings first.
USING the ANDROID’s BLUETOOTH PANEL to PAIR YOUR SCANFOB WITH THE DROID.
- Download and install SerialMagic Gears for Android from the Android Marketplace. When you install SerialMagic Gears, it will automatically register your Droid with the Serialio database. You should not have to do anything else.
- The Scanfob connects to the Droid via Bluetooth. So the first step is to make sure that Bluetooth is turned on. From your Droid’s Home screen, tap the Menu button and then select Settings. Next tap on Wireless & Networks. Look for Bluetooth and tap the checkbox to turn it on if necessary.
- Next, tap on Bluetooth Settings, which is directly beneath “Bluetooth.” Tap the Discoverable check box so that your phone can be found by your Scanfob.
- The Scanfob, must be discoverable as well. Hold down the Function button on the front of the Scanfob for 5 seconds. Alternately, you can scan the “Discoverable” barcode that Serialio supplied with your scanner.
- On your Android, tap on Scan for devices.
- When you see your Scanfob in the list of Bluetooth devices, tap on its name.
- When you see the Scanfob Pair & Connect message, tap it.
- Enter the PIN (usually 0000) to complete the pairing
- The message underneath the Scanfob should change to Paired but not connected.
- Open SerialMagic Gears.
- Tap on Menu | Connect to connect your Droid to the Scanfob
- You’ll see a message saying Connected to Scanfob [Device ID number]
USING SERIALMAGIC GEARS for ANDROID to PAIR YOUR SCANFOB WITH THE DROID.
- On your Droid, turn on Bluetooth and make your Droid discoverable (see above)
- After you have downloaded and installed SerialMagic Gears, open the app on your phone.
- Use the Menu button within SerialMagic Gears to show the various options. Tap on Connect.
- You’ll probably see a message saying there are no paired devices. Tap on Scan for devices.
- It may take a few seconds before the Scanfob appears. If it is not found, go back and make sure it is still discoverable, then try again.
- The Scanfob should now be listed. Tap on its name to connect it.
- The pairing notification will request a PIN number to complete the pairing.
- Enter the PIN 0000.
Your Scanfob is now ready to use. You can customize its behavior further by tapping on the SerialMagic Gears Menu icon, then choosing Options.
You will need to reconnect the Scanfob and Droid if you turn the Droid off or if you haven’t used the Scanfob recently. The Scanning Trigger and the Function Key make this simple.
If the Scanfob 2002 is not Bluetooth connected to your Droid, holding this Scan button for 5 seconds will put the scanner into Reconnect mode.
If the Scanfob is already Bluetooth connected to your Droid, and you want to disconnect it, hold the Functionbutton down for 5 seconds.
Don’t forget, you can also print out a list of bar codes from Serial Magic that can be used to program your Scanfob. For instance, if you are scanning in public, you’ll probably want to use silent mode and vibrate, instead of the default beep.
ONE LAST TIP: Once your Scanfob and Droid are paired, you should be able to use the Scanfob with any application that accepts text input.
Tap and hold on the input field. You’ll be asked to select an input method. ChooseSerialMagic Keys
NEXT IN PART 3 – USING THE SCANFOB WITH A WINDOWS COMPUTER