Inexpensive Mac barcode scanner.
June 14, 2007 9:42 AM   Subscribe

Looking for a barcode scanner (>$100; usb, wireless or firewire) to import books into delicious library on mac 10.3.9. Must be plug and play (no cuecat).
posted by jchinique to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Just an FYI: The last time I used a Cuecat on a Windows machine, I believe it was plug and play...
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 9:52 AM on June 14, 2007

Have you tried using a plain ole webcam? I use my outboard iSight - and DL works fine with that - any webcam that works on the Mac will do the trick.
posted by DandyRandy at 10:00 AM on June 14, 2007

I have never used their products, but this company makes barcode scanners and they seem to have a wide range of products.
posted by hsoltz at 10:04 AM on June 14, 2007

isight works well - and cuecat is plug and play on my 12" powerbook.
posted by luriete at 10:24 AM on June 14, 2007

eBay has some.
This one is usb, plug and play, and reads EAN13. (not sure if mac- compatible)
posted by MtDewd at 10:44 AM on June 14, 2007

Response by poster: Sorry, missed the clarification: do not have isight; they've been discontinued new and seem to be reselling pretty high. Also, I've heard cuecat needs to be modified to work with delicious library. I don't know if the resolution on a less expensive cam will pick up the barcode. D.L. sells their own scanner (flic brand, if i'm not mistaken) or recommends isight.
posted by jchinique at 10:48 AM on June 14, 2007

USB Cuecats can be modded to be plug-and-play, and the ones for sale often have been. (They're modded to act like a generic USB HID, and are as OS-agnostic as a USB keyboard.)
posted by Zed_Lopez at 10:52 AM on June 14, 2007

Best answer: Cuecat is plug and play if you get a modded version. I think I paid 8 bucks (incl. shipping) for my modded one off ebay a while back. There's about 40 listings right now.

I used it without any problems in cataloging my 1700+ books, cds, and dvds in MediaMan (which is apparently eerily similar to DL - a merely coincidental similarity, I'm sure *cough*)

If you can't find a modded cuecat on ebay, or don't trust it, librarything sells 'em for $15.01 with shipping. Incidentally, librarything is a great online alternative for cataloging books (it doesn't support music or movies [yet]).

Make sure you get a cat with USB (the really really old ones are PS2 and might not be plug and play), and make sure it's modded or hacked or modified. If it's not, the output won't just be the bar code, it will also include the unique id string that the cuecats were designed to "share" with retailers. You can either use a driver to strip that crap out, or you can mod the cat yourself. I don't recall the exact procedure, but the mod is pretty simple. I think it involves snipping a wire or maybe some ultra-light soldering. Google has a plethora of walk-throughs.

Though honestly, just get a modded cat and save yourself that hassle. Take the money you saved on a "real" scanner and invest in more books.
posted by yggdrasil at 11:04 AM on June 14, 2007 [3 favorites]

I was thinking of asking something like this, so thanks for saving me the trouble!
posted by Medieval Maven at 11:30 AM on June 14, 2007

When I cataloged my library I just took a video camera and held books in front of it one by one, then fed the resulting recording to Delicious Library. Worked like a charm.
posted by dmd at 1:52 PM on June 14, 2007

ooh! i've been thinking about getting DL, and also would need a way to scan the codes. Thanks for posting this!

I'm curious how people with DL enjoy the system. Is it worth the trouble? Is it just over-anal? also, what's the deal with DL being developed for Leopard that I keep hearing about? Is that a problem?

Is there anyway a webcam could handle this for the mac? I've been looking for a mac-capable webcam anyway, though they seem impossible to find, so this would be a possible 2-for-1 solution.

Sorry to threadjack, but it looks like you're satisfied with the 'best answer' you got above. Thanks!
posted by prophetsearcher at 1:55 PM on June 14, 2007

I know your pricing was probably a typo, but I'll recommend something that costs >$100 anyays.

I've had great success with this barcode gun. Its around $135, and if you have a lot of stuff to scan in, it is worth the investment. The cuecat is slow, very finicky and unless you want something cheap/useful/fun for the first 10 minutes, I wouldn't recommend it.
posted by mphuie at 3:22 PM on June 14, 2007

If you can't find a modded cuecat on ebay, or don't trust it, librarything sells 'em for $15.01 with shipping.

Just as a followup, I ordered a CueCat from LibraryThing last week after I read this post. The 'cat arrived today and it is most definitely not modified. Perhaps they used to sell modded CueCats but no longer.
posted by jamaro at 6:13 PM on June 18, 2007

The LibraryThing page says "LibraryThing reads data from unmodified [emphasis added] CueCats like these."

And modding a Cuecat doesn't mean just one thing. There's "declawing" it to not include its serial number in its output. Making it a generic USB HID device is a whole different thing.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 8:50 AM on June 19, 2007

Followup to my followup: I modded my CueCat last night, turns out it is a trivial procedure involving loosening two screws and snipping the leg of a chip. It took 5 minutes, a Phillips head, a magnifying glass, and a pair of cuticle scissors. Directions with pictures here, via a very helpful LibraryThing board poster.

Making it a generic USB HID device is a whole different thing.

Not sure what you mean here; before and after the above-mentioned mod, my computer recognized the CueCat as a USB text input device requiring no additional drivers and its output was/is writing behind the cursor of any text editor.
posted by jamaro at 10:32 AM on June 19, 2007

strike my last comment for the record. I'd been under the mistaken notien that the USB cuecats were the results of modding ps/2 ones.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 12:31 AM on June 20, 2007

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