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Barcode Font - Code 39 Full Ascii Scanner

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Programming your barcode scanner to read the "Full Ascii" character set

We often get support calls from customers interested in understanding how to read the Code 3 of 9 (Code 39) Full Ascii character set with their scanner. All scanners ship with the Full ASCII option for reading Code 39 barcodes disabled. Programming the scanner to read the ASCII character set is easy, and can be done quickly by locating and scanning the barcodes for that option from the scanner's manual. Most customers don't know (or care) that the firmware of just about every barcode scanner can be programmed. But, when designing and installing a barcode scanning solution, the programming features of the firmware can save a lot of work. Here's some examples how programming the scanner can make your life easier:

  • Limit the length of the barcode scanned
  • Exclude scanning of barcode symbologies that aren't used by your application
  • Put a "prefix" string before the scanned characters, or a "suffix" after the string of scanned characters. Some scanners are pre-programmed to send a Carriage Return which mimics the operator pressing the "Enter" key on the keyboard

Corded and Wedge barcode scanners are programmed by scanning "special" barcodes from the manual. The hardest part of the programming process is locating the appropriate programming barcodes in the manual for the scanner. The manufacturers don't make this easy for you. There is no standardization for what the manual is called. Most often it will be called a "Users Guide", "Programmer's Reference Guide" or "Product Reference Guide". Generally, when you purchase a new scanner, you will receive a QuickStart Guide which only describes the basics of how to get the scanner to input into Microsoft Word or Excel.  The QuickStart Guide generally doesn't have the detailed information to program the scanner to do the Full Ascii Conversion.

You might have received a CD with your new scanner. If this is the case, you should be able to find the manual included in it.  If you don't have a CD or manual, go to the manufacturer's website, and you should be able to download it. (if you need some help, just contact us). In the manual, look in the index for Code 39. Turning to that section, you should find the options for that symbology. You're looking for a single barcode to scan that says something like "Enable Code 39 Full Ascii".

Below is an exerpt from the Motorola / Symbol LS2208 manual - a really popular barcode scanner. Motorola calls their manuals a "Product Reference Guide". The heading and the picture of the scanner below are from the cover of the manual. The barcodes are from Page 12-39. All you do is scan the barcode. The scanner will make a "funny" beep, not like the standard "good scan" tone. That's it, the scanner is programmed to read the Full Ascii character set!


LS2208 Programming Instructions

Another popular barcode scanner is the HHP (now Honeywell) 3800g. Again, turn to the index of the manual (HHP calls their manuals User's Guides), and locate the section on Code 39. The barcode you need to scan is below, and is found on page 7-8. Again, all you have to do is scan the "Full ASCII ON" barcode, listen for the funny beeps, and you're done.

Programming Instructions for the Honeywell / HHP 3800g

All barcode scanners have this option. Again, turning on the Full ASCII character set for Code 39 is easy. The Full ASCII character set gives you much more flexibility in what you barcode, and how you use your barcode scanner.