Friday, May 19, 2023

Inventory system part 2 – tools to use for NFC and QR

 As type NFC tag I selected round NTAG213 stickers. I experimented already with these tags. They have sufficient capacity for this applications, are easy to attach and also can be ordered easy (Aliexpress).

I have a lot of A4 printer labels 7cm x 2.5cm (3 columns 10 rows) and I wanted to use them also.

I like a relative big QR code and also a storage number written in digits. On small storage drawers a 7cm*2.5cm label is too big. So I decided to print text for two labels on one label and after printing cut the 7cm in 2x3.5cm. So in theory fit 6columns and 10 rows = 60 labels on one A4. Unfortunately I could not easy fill the complete A4 width. There missed a little piece of the QR code in the last column. So I decided to not use the last column and print 5 columns each 3.5 cm x 2.5 cm and discard the last 3.5 cm column. On small drawers I did put the label with the QR and number in readable format on the backside. At the front I want a small label with the content as text (and perhaps a small QR code).

It is possible to create QR codes that direct link to a webpage with the ID on the tag in the URL. However I decided not to do that and create a QR code that only gives the number.

To use NFC tags and QR code some tools are needed. I can build something to read and write NFC tags with a microcontroller like Arduino or ESP32. As my android smartphone as this is most times already available, using my phone is preferred.

For NFC tags several apps are available in the app-store(s). One app that draw my attentions and is Scan-it to office. With this app you can read an NFC tags, read a QR code, take a pictures, enter some text, and do several things more. The scan results can end up in a Google spreadsheet, a word or excel document, a database, a webform (using chrome browser) or are send to your (Windows or Apple) computer as if you entered the data using your keyboard. The free “demo” version that, at random intervals, does not send the captured data but a message. A paid version that doesn’t has this limitation costs (at the moment) less than 4 euros for one month for one smartphone. A three months or a year subscription gives discount and there is also a licence for use on multiple smartphones (e.g. for a company). A review and more details about Scan-it to office will be presented in a separate blog post. As already mentioned I will write on my blog also about some other NFC apps and what they can do.

To bulk print labels with QR code and a number, using my 7cm x 2.5cm (3 columns 10 rows) labels on A4 works good. Creating small labels describing the content of small drawers is a bit more difficult as you can only print a lot of labels at the same time, and after that you need to sort out on which drawer to put which label. There are now relative cheap small label printers available that can print directly from a smartphone app. I ordered one to check if this can help me with my inventory system.

So currently a lot of material that can be used for my blog posts even when I have not much time for real electronic projects. 

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