How Do You Install a Barcode Scanner?

by Keith Evans

Point-of-sale systems, and some private computer systems used heavily for online shopping, rely on bar codes to quickly, easily and accurately identify product information. Most bar code scanners come with universal serial bus (USB) interfaces for easy connection to the computer, though some older models may still require a serial port for connection. This article will review the steps of connecting both USB and serial bar code scanners.

Installing a USB Bar Code Scanner

Locate the USB connector on the bar code scanner. Bar code scanners, like other computer peripherals, connect to the computer by way of a data cable. At the end of the data cable, most likely opposite the scanner itself, should be a small rectangle-shaped plastic and metal connector. This connector is the USB terminal that will plug in to the computer's USB port.

Locate the USB port on the computer. The USB port, whether on the computer or a peripheral device, will be rectangular in shape and feature either the letters "U S B" or a small network diagram showing two circles, a square, and an arrow.

Connect the USB cable to the computer or peripheral device. Once the USB connector and port have been identified, push the USB connector firmly but gently into the available USB port. USB connectors are keyed so that they can only be inserted the correct way; if you feel solid resistance while inserting the USB connector, remove the connector from the port, turn it over and plug it in.

Install bar-code reading software. While the bar code scanner can scan the bar code into the machine, software must decipher the meaning of the code. Bar code scanners, if purchased new, should include a version of proprietary bar code software compatible with your scanner. If your scanner did not come with software, or if it is missing the installation disc, bar code software may be purchased on the Internet from sites like WaspBarcode.com.

Installing a Serial Bar Code Scanner

Locate the serial connector on the bar code scanner. Bar code scanners, like other peripherals, connect to the computer by way of a data cable. At the end of the serial cable should be a rectangular, typically male connector. The cable may be pinned with nine, sixteen, or more pins depending on the design of the scanner.

Locate the serial port on the computer. Most computers have at least one serial port, usually found on the back of the machine. The port will be female, maybe blue in color, rectangular in shape, and should be approximately the same size (or slightly smaller) as the serial connector.

Connect the serial cable to the computer or connected peripheral. When both the connector and port have been identified, push the serial connector firmly but gently into the port. Like USB connectors, serial connectors are keyed so that they can only be inserted the correct way; if you feel solid resistance while inserting the connector, remove the connector from the port, turn it over and plug it in. Do not use excessive force while pushing on the serial connector, as it is possible to bend the connecting pins and damage the connector.

Install bar-code reading software. While the bar code scanner can scan the bar code into the machine, software must interpret the meaning of the code. Bar code scanners, if purchased new, should include a version of proprietary bar code software compatible with your specific scanner. If your scanner did not come with software, or if it is missing the installation disc, bar code software may be purchased on the Internet from sites like WaspBarcode.com.

Tip

  • check Bar code scanners typically connect to a bar code information database; connecting to and using the database may require additional steps in a large production environment. If the serial connector on an older bar code scanner is not male in gender, the process of connection may require a gender changer adapter available at electronics stores.

Items you will need

About the Author

Keith Evans has been writing professionally since 1994 and now works from his office outside of Orlando. He has written for various print and online publications and wrote the book, "Appearances: The Art of Class." Evans holds a Bachelor of Arts in organizational communication from Rollins College and is pursuing a Master of Business Administration in strategic leadership from Andrew Jackson University.