pinned insect databasing (was: Maintaining databases)

Doug Yanega dyanega at DENR1.IGIS.UIUC.EDU
Fri Dec 1 10:30:45 CST 1995

I'll rename this thread for the benefit of those folks not concerned with
insect curatorial idiosyncrasies.

>From: Margaret Thayer <thayer at FMPPR.FMNH.ORG>
>>Is it possible for a laser bar code scanner to bounce a reading off of the
>>inside base of an insect box, perhaps given the right reflective layer, so
>>that bar code labels could be added face down on the bottom of the pin?
>>Jim Beach
>This sounds like an interesting idea, but one nasty practical problem is
>that over time specimens get moved around in trays, trays get reused, etc.,
>and you wind up with a lot of pin-holes in any smooth top layer.  [snip]
>Another practical difficulty this method would run into is that the bar code
>labels would need to be up off the bottom of the tray to be read, but many
>pins are already full enough of labels that there's not room to allow that
>(without making all except the top printed label unreadable).
>Tiny transponders on pins sound interesting, but it may be a challenge to
>attach them securely enough to withstand pin-handling.

I think Margaret is correct about the practical difficulties inherent in a
reflective layer, and the constant moving around of specimens is such that
Norm Johnson's technique of specifying *location* in the collection itself
becomes a major extra expenditure of energy (when multiplied across a few
million specimens). As for transponders, as I recall they exist now in a
size which is small enough that one could glue one to one of those
rectangular points so popular in Europe, and thus not have to worry about
securing them directly to the pin (it would also make it so you could put
the specimen in a relaxer without steaming the transponder, as well). My
concerns about those are a matter of how durable they are (will 50 years
exposed to PDB fumes disintegrate them?), and how resistant they are to
obsolescence (since barcodes at LEAST also have the code written out on
them). I suspect it won't be too long before we have a better idea about
these things.

Doug Yanega       Illinois Natural History Survey, 607 E. Peabody Dr.
Champaign, IL 61820 USA      phone (217) 244-6817, fax (217) 333-4949
 affiliate, Univ. of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Dept. of Entomology
  "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
        is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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