Maintaining databases

Margaret Thayer thayer at FMPPR.FMNH.ORG
Fri Dec 1 09:36:04 CST 1995

>All of you avid readers of BarCode News or who have a degree in optics
>should know the answer to this one!
Well, I'm neither of those, but...

>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.  If that
layer is paper (as over over cork in old unit trays), it's merely ugly, but
I think it would mess up the rather precise reflection I assume you'd need
for scanning little code 49 bar code labels.  (One of the many nice things
about the ethafoam or similar tray liners that are now pretty standard is
that the holes close up when you pull a pin out and are invisible.)

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.

Margaret K. Thayer      thayer at
Adjunct Curator
Field Museum of Natural History - Zoology, Insects
Roosevelt Road @ Lake Shore Drive
Chicago IL 60605, USA   tel. 312-922-9410, ext. 838   fax 312-663-5397

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