Observer Scan and Control Documentation at Indiana State University Libraries

For general information about Observer click here

Observer Scan & Control Documentation: as of January 10th, 2005 (Version 2005)

Observer Scan has three distinct parts. The first part is the Windows application that serves as the main control center called Observer Control Module. The second part controls loading the barcodes into the Endeavor/Voyager Circulation Module in Discharge mode so that your browse counts get updated. This part is called Observer Load, and is directly executed from Observer Control module. The last part is the Symbol Palm application that scans and stores the barcodes on the Symbol Palm PDA called Observer Scan.


Observer Control Module is a 32 bit application that will run on Windows 95 to Windows XP. The Observer Scan Module is designed to run on Symbol SPT-1500 or 1505 as well as the SPT-1700. These models feature a built in laser scanner on to a Palm III PDA. If you plan to use the reporting within Observer, you will need Microsoft Access 2000 or later installed.

Windows Installation:

For FTP download extract the package and run setup.exe to install the actual software.

XP User: You will need to have Administrator privileges to install and likely to run ObserverControl.

95 & 98 Users: It is recommended from Microsoft that Windows 95 and 98 users should run Dcom98.exe first, and then run Setup.exe. Dcom98 is a Microsoft package to add Distributed Component Object Model to Windows. For more information see:

This will install the Windows application used to transfer the barcodes from your Symbol Palm Pilot. Once installed you can also use it to install the Observer Scan software on to the Symbol Palm Pilot itself. See section titled Symbol Installation for details.

The first step in the installation is to set the installation directory. The default is C:/Program Files/ObserverControl. It can be changed as you desire, but you will need to relink one table in Report.mdb if you pick another directory to install. The is a one-time task described below under “Relinking BarcodeTable”. No other action on your part will be needed to complete the installation. This version of Observer has the ability to run queries from your Voyager Oracle database using ODBC. If you use the reporting capability within Observer, you will need ODBC drivers installed and configured for this function to work properly.

The second step involves loading the Palm Desktop software that came with your Symbol Palm Pilot. Just insert the Symbol / Palm CD-ROM into your drive. It should automatically start the installation of the Palm Desktop. You can accept the default path, or install it anywhere you like as long as it is on your local hard drive. You will need to pick a User Name that will exist on your PC and the Symbol / Palm. If you are going to have multiple Symbol devices you may want to assign a department name or the like, but you could just use one name for all of them. After the installation is complete you should see an icon in the lower right Sys Tray will red and blue arrows. This will enable HotSync to transfer data between the Symbol / Palm device and your PC using the Palm Cradle supplied and connected to your Serial / Com port.

If you need to load the Observer Scan software onto the Symbol / Palm proceed to the next step Symbol Installation. If you have already loaded Observer Scan on the Symbol / Palm you will need to register Observer Scan & Control with the HotSync manager. This will only need to occur one time per PC. To register just start Observer Control on your PC, click Control from the menu, and click RegisterPalm.

Symbol PDA Installation:

To load the Observer Scan software first exit the HotSync Manager running the in Sys Tray (red and blue arrows icon). To exit HotSync right click the icon then click exit. Next start Observer Control, and from the menu click Control, then InstallPalm. This will restart HotSync for you and load the Observer Scan software onto the Symbol / Palm. You should only have to do this once per Symbol / Palm unit. However if in the future you need to reload the application onto the Symbol / Palm you can do this at any time. This will also register Observer Control with the HotSync Manager. Usually the HotSync box will not automatically go away after the installation and you must click the “Cancel” button after it is finished.

Daily Use of the Symbol / Palm:

Scanning Function:

To start scanning barcodes turn your Symbol / Palm scanner on, using the aqua color on button on the lower left corner. Using the stylus that is inserted in the back, touch the Applications Arrow if it is not already displaying your applications. Next touch the Observer Scan icon. You should see a Welcome to Observer Scan screen with a button “Start Scanning”. Touch the “Start Scanning” button with the stylus. You should hear a couple of beeps as the scanner is started and an “Initializing” message. As the Initializing messages goes away you are ready to start scanning barcodes. Just aim and push either of the aqua colored buttons on the top left or right. After each successful scan you will hear an audible beam and the number should appear in the list box. The Count in the lower section should also be incremented. You can store from 1 to 1000 + barcodes. If you turn off the Symbol / Palm the barcodes will remain in memory until you specifically erase them with the Observer Control Module. You can add more at any time you choose.

Loading Barcodes to Voyager:

This involves a few steps but it is fairly simple and you are guided through the process. First return your Symbol / Palm to the HotSync cradle. Second start Observer Control on your PC. Should be in your Start / Programs Menu. Click the button “Setup HotSync”. It will ask you to click on the OK message then hit the button on your HotSync cradle. During the HotSync process all the barcodes contained on the Symbol / Palm will be transferred to your PC. After the barcodes are transferred, the “Prepare Barcodes” button should be activated. Click the Prepare Barcodes button. This will copy the barcodes from a Dbase 5 format to a standard text file. Also, it can generate a Microsoft Access database that can be used for reporting purposes. See Output from Observer for further details.

The number of barcodes to be loaded will be displayed, and the “Start Voyager Upload” button will be activated. Click the “Start Voyager Upload” button and the Observer Load process will begin. It will ask you a User ID and a Password for your Voyager Circulation Module. After you enter those values it will start Voyager Circulation Module in Discharge mode, login and begin the transfer of each barcode one at a time to the Circulation Module. The discharge function is completely automatic so you can just sit back and watch. Since data is sent to the active window, no other user input should be done while the discharge process is in action. At the end of Observer Load it will display a load status message showing any barcodes that were rejected. Several options for the Observer Load step can be pre-configured using the Options menu from the main Observer Control screen. If you do not set the Options in advance, it will start Voyager Circ.exe from C:/Voyager path. If you have it loaded somewhere else, be sure to set the Options in advance.

* Note: The Circulation Operator ID used should have “Override Item/System Blocks”, and have “Discharge” only privileges. Otherwise the Voyager Upload script could get out of sync should an Override message appear.

Erasing Barcodes from the Symbol / Palm:

You can erase the barcodes stored in your Symbol / Palm scanner at any time. Just return the Symbol / Palm to the HotSync cradle and start the Observer Control Module on your PC. Click the Erase Barcodes on Palm button. After a confirmation it will ask you to push the button on the HotSync cradle to complete the process. You will now be ready to start the scanning again at any time.

Output from Observer:

After you click Prepare Barcodes, Observer will output a text file called browse.txt. It contains all the barcodes transferred from the Symbol / Palm. It you choose, it will also output an Access database called browse.mdb that can be later used to generate reports. You also have the option to append to the existing browse.mdb database, or load into a new one. If you choose to load into a new one, the previous one will be deleted.

If you scanned the barcodes just to generate a report from them, you can simply click ShowReport menu item after the Prepare Barcodes step. (You will need to link your Voyager/Oracle tables in C:/observer/Report.mdb for this to function, see Linking Tables section) This will start a query that will pull data from your Voyager server via ODBC. You can view this report online, print a page at a time, save the complete document as an HTML file, or print the entire report with the options given. This may require you to link the following tables in the report.mdb database one time: BIB_ITEM, BIB_MFHD, BIB_TEXT, ITEM, ITEM_BARCODE, MFHD_ITEM, MFHD_MASTER. They should be renamed to drop the unique identifier such as “ISUDB.”.

You will find a sample usage report in the Access database called report.mdb in the C:/Observer folder. The report.mdb will not need to be changed since it uses the browse.mdb as input for reporting. Reminder, by default Observer Control will not generate the Access database used for reporting, so remember to set your option as your first step in Observer Control if you would like one created.

If you need to keep the browse.mdb database for later reporting purposes, just manually copy it to another folder before running Observer again. At that point you could choose the option New Access Database.

Linking Tables:

Complete this section once after the installation for reports to display within Observer. Open report.mdb in C:/observer. Click on the “Tables” tab. Leave the “BarcodeTable”, but delete the other 7 tables listed (right click on table, then delete). Now relink each of the 7 tables (click File, Get External Data, Link Tables). In the Files of Type box, scroll down to ODBC Databases(), click Voyager as your source and click Ok. Enter your user ID and password in the ODBC driver connect box (dbread, dbread). At the list of available tables, left click to select (xxxdb_BIB_ITEM, xxxdb_BIB_MFHD, xxxdb_BIB_TEXT, xxxdb_ITEM, xxxdb_ITEM_BARCODE, xxxdb_LOCATION, xxxdb_MFHD_ITEM , and xxxdb_MFHD_MASTER) then click OK. Last step is to rename the tables to drop the “xxxdb_” Off each name. Just right click on each table one at a time, and click “Rename”. Then just drop off the “xxxdb_” from each one.

Relinking Barcode Table (If not installed in the default directory)

   1. Open the Report.mdb database located in the directory you install ObserverControl.
   2. Make sure the “Tables” object is select on the left hand menu
   3. Right click on BarcodeTable
   4. Click Link Table Manager
   5. Check the first box next to BarcodeTable and click OK
   6. Navigate to the directory you install ObserverControl and click on the Browse.MDB database
   7. Click OK and exit Access. 

This is a one-time function.

Trouble Shooting:

Barcodes do not transfer during the HotSync Process:

1. Make sure you have at one time completed the RegisterPalm process. To do so, click Control, and RegisterPalm. This will complete the registry entries needed for this process.

2. Make sure you have the cradle securely connected to the serial port on the back of your PC. Also, be sure the Palm PDA is secure on the cradle.

3. Make sure HotSync Manager is running in the lower right Sys Tray. (Icon with red and blue arrows).

4. If you have a version of Palm Desktop newer than version 3.03, try uninstalling it, download 3.03 (free download) and install it.

5. Make sure you have scanned barcodes with the Observer application on the Palm/Symbol scanner itself

6. Ensure that you can hotsync the device just using Palm Desktop.

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Updated: January 11th, 2005