Connecting a Serial Scanner to a Honeywell VM3 running Windows 7

The VM3 manual tells you to go to Control Panel, Enterprise Settings, Data Collection to set this up, but there is no Enterprise Settings (formerly Intermec Settings) to select in the control panel.

To access Enterprise Settings, start File Manager and navigate to \Program Files(x86)\Intermec\IVA\bin and right click on the “Intermec Settings” program. Add a shortcut to your desktop and you’ll have access to the features described in the manual.

Note: Select ASCII as the scanner type for a serial scanner and match the baud rate, parity, data bits, and stop bits and you’ll be good to go. If not, make sure the Virtual Wedge is enabled; it’s the last choice in the main menu.

How to connect a Honeywell 6870 Ring Scanner to a Desktop PC

Most desktop PCs do not come with Bluetooth installed, so the first thing you need is a USB Bluetooth dongle. I used this one from Amazon. Plug this into your Windows 10 PC and the OS should automatically install the proper drivers. I got a message on one PC saying that the software didn’t install correctly, but Device Manager said it was working properly, so I ignored it.

Expand the hidden icons on your Taskbar:

Right click on the Bluetooth icon and select Add a Bluetooth Device:

The Settings screen will appear. Click on “Add Bluetooth or other device”

Choose the first option; the scanner will show up as an HID, or keyboard device. Wait for the 8670 to show up in the device list. This may take a few minutes.

Click on the text and the scanner should connect and the blue LED should light up. Windows will display this message:

Open Notepad and scan a bar code, it should appear. Refer to the user’s manual for any additional settings.

Replacement vehicle dock power supply for 203-808-001

I have a customer that has been using powered CK3 vehicle docks on their fork trucks for a number of years and they needed another power supply, part number 208-808-001,  for a new fork truck. I found out that Honeywell had phased out this part, though not the vehicle dock itself. I called tech support and the parts department and was told that there is no replacement for this power supply. This part is used for both the CK3 and CK75 powered vehicle docks.

However, Honeywell still sells a vehicle power supply for the CV61, part number 203-779-001. I called tech support and found that it uses the same DC/DC converter as the CK3 kit, 851-070-003, but it has different output cables. The CK3K kit looks like this:

There’s an input cable on the top left, an output cable on the top right, and some mounting hardware, an in line fuse, etc. in the two bags. The power supply itself has one four pin input connector and two outputs, a two and three pin connector:

The output cables for the CV61 are different than the vehicle docks. But, if you purchase part # 226-341-007, a three pin to three pin power output cable, along with the CV61 power supply, 203-779-001, you’ll have what you need to hook up your CK3 or CK75 vehicle dock.

 

 

Improving the Performance of a Honeywell CK3X Computer

We were at a customer site recently that has been using Intermec CKB computers for the past seven years. The CK3B is going end of service at the end of this year, so they purchased some CK3X computers to begin replacing the older units.

When we asked how the new units were working they told us that nobody was using them because they were slower than the CK3Bs.  This was surprising since the the CK3X has a faster processor, a faster radio, and more memory than the CK3B.  Both computers were running the same program and were connected to the same access points.

We confirmed the issue by doing an inventory transfer transaction with both computers which hit the database multiple times. The transaction validates the location and item number then does an update to a location table. The CK3B’s response time was about half a second while the CK3X took over a second to do the same transaction.

The culprit turned out to be the power setting on the radio.  By default the CK3X is configured Fast PSP (Power Saving Protocol) which turns off the radio at idle times to save battery life. When we switched this to CAM (Constant Awake Mode) the CK3X outperformed the CK3B. It seems that the CK3X radio was going to sleep in between transactions. This is probably a mistake by Honeywell aggressively trying to maximize battery life.

We did some testing to see how much the CAM setting impacted battery life. We pinged a CK3X every two seconds until the battery died and found that when in Fast PSP mode the battery ran for an average of 21 hours and ran for 14 hours in CAM mode, or a one third reduction in battery life.

Since 14 hours if well past the full shift needed for a battery, we think that CAM should be enabled for the CK3X, and that the increase in performance is worth the loss in battery life, especially when transactions are doing a lot of I/O.

To get to this setting on the CK3X click on Start, Settings, System, then Intermec Settings. Next, go to Communications, 802.11 Radio, Funk Security,  Profile 1, and scroll down. Under the SSID will be two radio buttons for Power Mode.

More on the CN80

The CN80 has two options for scanners, the N6603ER standard range scanner, which turns out to be surprisingly good at DPM scanning,  and the EX20 long range 2D scanner. The EX20 uses the optics from the Intermec EX25 but the decode is done externally.

The result is a much snappier scanner. Pairing the Intermec optics with a Honeywell decode has improved the CN80’s read rate without sacrificing any of the distance performance of the EX25.

First Impressions of the 8680i Wearable Scanner

The 8680i is a small 2D scanner that can be mounted on the back of a glove and is triggered by touching your thumb against the back of your middle finger. You can see the contacts on the glove:

The scanner connects to the glove mount by snapping it together, allowing it to break away if needed.

The scanner’s radio supports Bluetooth (standard) and 802.11 WiFi (advanced). The advanced scanner includes a software development kit that allow an application to send and receive data to the scanner through a socket connection.  The scanner has a small display that can show two lines of text. This picture doesn’t do it justice, it’s really pretty bright and readable:

Put together, it looks like this:

The scanner can also connect to a computer or handheld via Bluetooth, but I think the best use of this device is using the 802.11 radio with an application directing a user through a pick list. We will be testing out this feature in the near future as well as the range of the 802.11 radio.

You’ll need Honeywell’s EZ Config utility to set up the scanner, version 4.5.27 or better. This can be downloaded from Honeywell’s tech support FTP site.

The glove and scanner are pretty comfortable, the scanner works well, and the finger trigger feels natural. This is a very nice set up and may redefine hands free picking.

CN80 Preliminary Test Results

We got a couple of demo CN80 computers from Honeywell and were surprised by the results of some of the testing we put it through.

The first is the range of the radio. Normally, we’d see a Honeywell reader drop off the network at when it got 350 to 400 feet away from an access point. We were able to get over 700 feet away with the CN80. We repeated the test with an old Cisco 1242 access point (802.11g only) to see if it was beam forming that accounted for the extended range, but we got the same results with the old access point. This will be of great interest to anyone who has an outdoor wireless network.

The second surprising result was the standard range 2D scanner, which uses the Honeywell N6603ER engine. We enabled DPM mode and it read most of our DPM samples as well, if not better than dedicated DPM scanners. It’s performance was very impressive.

Avoid Interleaved 2 of 5 Code

I was asked to recommend a scanner by a customer who sent me samples of their bar codes. They were all Interleaved 2 of 5 code, which is a numeric only code whose only saving grace is that you can print a lot of digits in a small space. Here are three symbologies encoding the numbers 1 to 8:

You can see that Interleaved 2 of 5 takes up the least space, but Code 128 is pretty close. Interleaved 2 of 5 has a built in defect in that the stop/stop patterns are not unique and if the scanner enters or leaves the code in a spot that resembles a start or stop, the code can be short scanned.

Code 128 is always printed with a check digit anyway and has a unique start/stop pattern, making it a superior code to I 2 of 5.

My customer’s bar code looked like this:

This is a picture from our microscope. Notice that the narrow bar measures .1 mm, or 3 mils. This is a 300 dpi printer. The wide to narrow ration of this code should be 3 to 1; this is printed at 4 to 1. Lastly, the narrow bar under the red arrow should be one element wide, this one is two.

Their printer is doing a bad job printing this code, but fortunately for them modern scanners are pretty forgiving and this code can be read reliably with a Xenon with high density optics.

 

PM series printer real time clock

All PM series printers have real time clocks in them. They become functional when a battery is inserted in the printer’s motherboard. You’ll have to remove the cover to access this; the PM43c battery slot looks like this:

The printer’s display will show the date and time if a battery is installed.

Only printers configured with 802.11 WiFi boards can be ordered with a battery installed from the factory. You can order the battery separately, part number 318-051-001 , but they are a standard battery that you can get anywhere:

In the newer firmware you can also configure the printer to contact a time server to synch its clock. Select Wizards, Calibration, Date & Time from the main to enable the time server.

If your printer can’t be connected to the Internet you can sill use the real time clock by manually setting the date and time using the Wizard or the System settings.

NB: When you set the time manually make sure that you use GMT time, not your local time. There’s a bug in the firmware that will change the clock setting according to the time zone and DST settings when the printer’s power is cycled after the clock is set.

 

How accurate are bar code scanners?

We sold some badge scanners to one of our customers who later said he was getting incorrect data from his scanners. We got a sample badge from them, scanned it, printed it, and attached it to a label rewinder. We then took the badge scanner apart and mounted the scan module near the label and recorded each scan into Excel:

We were able to collect over a million characters in just over a day. The result? Zero errors. We looked elsewhere for the customer’s issue.