How Can I Use a Barcode Reader With SoundCheck?

At its most basic functionality, a barcode reader can be used to input characters scanned from a barcode directly into any available field in SoundCheck. This is useful for quickly entering long and/or complex serial numbers or lot numbers in SoundCheck.

You can take this functionality a step further though. It is possible to scan a barcode that performs an action in SoundCheck. For example, you could have a barcode that, when scanned, would start a sequence. You could scan another unique barcode that would open the Signal Generator. This is possible because a barcode reader converts data read from the barcode into ASCII data that is sent to your PC. Essentially, it’s emulating keyboard activity. This is great for production line systems where a keyboard is not available to the operator and you want to simplify things.

We can take advantage of this by crafting barcodes which represent the keyboard shortcuts available in SoundCheck. Referencing the first example, starting a sequence through the keyboard is done by pressing F2 on the keyboard. Therefore, by generating a barcode which contains the same ASCII data as F2, we are able to mimic that function key being pressed by scanning that barcode. We have a barcode command sheet available for download (attached in this post) which contains barcodes for the most popular functions, such as starting and stopping a sequence and controlling Virtual Instruments.

Not all barcode readers are created equal. That’s why if you have your own barcode reader, you may notice that this functionality is missing out of the box. Most barcode readers need to be programmed to be able to read the correct symbology, or barcode standard. This is done by scanning a series of barcodes in the user manual that came with the reader. Sometimes an extended manual or programming guide for the reader needs to be downloaded from the manufacturer’s website.

The first thing that needs to be activated is the symbology called “Code 39 Full ASCII”, sometimes shortened to just “Full ASCII”. This is usually located in a section titled “Symbologies” in the appropriate manual. Sometimes, this is all that is needed. However, if you find that the reader is still not controlling SoundCheck properly, an additional functionality usually called “Function Key Mapping” may also need to be enabled. Function Key Mapping maps some special keys on the keyboard, such as the function keys, to ASCII values that are rarely used. This is what allows a barcode reader to send keys such as F2 to the computer which would start a sequence is SoundCheck.

Most barcode readers also have the functionality called “Advanced Data Editing”. This advanced functionality allows you to program the barcode reader to manipulate the data read by the barcode reader. This would allow you to program prefix and suffix commands, so that when a bar code is scanned, other commands can be stringed together. For example, you could program your barcode reader with the prefix F8 (which puts the cursor in the serial number field) and the suffix F2 (which starts a sequence). Whenever you scan a barcode, for instance the serial number barcode on your DUT, the serial number will always be properly placed in the serial number field and then start the currently open sequence.

Please note that each barcode reader is unique. Before purchasing a barcode reader for SoundCheck control, confirm that it supports Code 39 Full ASCII AND Function Key Mapping.

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