21 October 2016

BookFetch Scanner working and ready to test

I have finished building the scanner end of the BookFetch project. This is the device that will be taken into shops and used to quickly and easily log their entire stock of books for publication on the BookFetch website. Here's a video of me demonstrating how the Raspberry Pi with the Python scripts running, is able to post scanned barcodes up to the website.

It's worth mentioning my supporters at this point. Matt Thurling, Adam Watts and the guys at Compuwave on North Street all gave things to make this happen. This project has been built entirely using redundant technology that was sitting idle on the dusty shelves of friends and colleagues.

This surplus of consumer tech is a distributed but rich pool of resources for the hobbiest maker. I would even go so far as to say that most of my 30+, male friends have at least one Raspberry Pi - still in it's packaging - buried inside a box full of proprietary adapter cables whose value is now purely sentimental. I'm unsure whether this says more about my tendency to gravitate toward geeks, or if it's a comment on the abundance of creative opportunities that exist in modern Britain, but which are never realised because work related stress, an obsession with home ownership and society's relentless pressure on us to breed somehow manipulate our personal priorities. The point is, I was able to post call-outs on social media and within a couple of days get my hands on a Raspberry Pi (originally retailed for £26), an 8GB SD card (RRP £8), a USB barcode scanner (sold on eBay for about £30) and a couple of USB cables, without spending any money. Now obviously the individuals donated these items for free because this project is for a charitable cause but they could only afford to do so because their value was victim to fast-moving trends. As consumer tech moves forward at a bewildering pace it leaves in it's wake a rapidly devaluing stock of perfectly functional components which should not be ignored.

The code demonstrated in the video above is all open source and available at github.com/martinjoiner/bookfetch-scanner-python

What's next?  Make it pretty. Well it's more than just aesthetics, it needs to be packaged up into a robust and portable box so I can test it in my local charity shops.

Please do follow me on Twitter @martinjoiner, I will be blogging and Tweeting at each stage of the BookFetch project build.