Fellowship One MacGyvered

All it took me was a printer, a sheet of paper, some laminating film and a hole-punch.

We’ve been using Fellowship One for about five months now and the check-in system for our kids church is great. This weekend we introduce another change, we’re starting self check-in using two of our kiosks. Self check-in is great, the parents have been issued with barcode tags (like the ones you get from the video library) and just walk up to a kiosk, scan, select their kids on the touch-screen and collect their labels. When it’s pack-up time you just hit the escape key, enter the code and shutdown the PC and… wait a minute how do you hit the escape key when you’re scanning and using a touch-screen (therefore: no keyboard)? Sorry to say this Fellowship Technology, but FAIL.

I started thinking about this a few months ago. I was sure there must be a way of having an escape barcode. I tried printing several using different barcode formats, but nothing worked. In frustration I tweeted my church IT peeps on twitter (#citrt). To my dismay I discovered that the way most churches were “escaping” from self check-in was to cold-boot the PC. Only Justin Moore (at GCC) seemed to be thinking along the same lines, but still he didn’t have an solution either.

So now in a world first, I have the solution thanks to a little bit of MacGyvering. Turns out the problem was the scanners themselves. They will only scan barcodes of a minimum length (4 characters, in the case of the Metrologic). So the solution was simple, create a barcode that reads: ESC+NUL+NUL+NUL. And here it is:ESC Bar Code

It’s encoded in CODE128, (1) because it supports control code characters, (2) it’s enabled by default on the Metrologic scanners (and probably most others), and (3) I have software that produces them.

So there you have it. Leave your comments, thanks, adoration, praise etc in the comments below. Cheques can be mailed to me here at Crossway.

Special thanks to Steve Fogg for the title of this post.


9 Responses to Fellowship One MacGyvered

  1. You’re my hero, MacNuttall!


  2. Mark DeMoss says:

    Nice work…just need something blown up to make it a complete MacGyver 🙂 I’ll pass your amazing work along to another church that is working toward the same goal. Keep advancing the ministry for Him!


  3. Neil Nuttall says:

    Here’s a bit of an update with a little more tech info:

    The barcode is Code 128 not GS1-128 (or UCC/EAN-128). And according to info on Wikipedia I would suggest that it’s Code 128A http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_128#Subtypes

    I could also note that it is possible to create the same barcode using Code 39 in full ASCII mode, but as the Metrologic’s don’t have the full/extended mode on by default (and I didn’t want to have to go to each scanner to enable it), I figured it would be easier to go with Code 128 as it’s natively full ASCII.
    To have created it using Code 39, just use a Code 39 barcode font (http://www.barcodesinc.com/free-barcode-font/)to print the following sequence: *%A%U%U%U*

    If you do want to use Code 39, please consult you barcode scanner’s manual as to how to set it Code 39 Full ASCII or Extended mode.


  4. Neil Nuttall says:

    The good folks at Fellowship Technology have just featured my solution in episode 1 of the Fellowship One Cooking Show.

    Check it out here:

    Or here:


  5. […] 3. Fellowship One MacGyvered […]


  6. Thanks on your marvelous posting! I truly enjoyed reading it, you will bbe a great author.

    I will ensure that I bookmark your blog and may come back very soon.
    I want to encourage yourself to continue your great work,
    have a nice holiday weekend!


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