Software and Hardware for Check-Ins

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Check-Ins can be scaled to your ministry's needs. Depending on your situation, specific devices, printers, network settings, and accessories will better suit your organization and optimize your Check-Ins experience. This article provides compatibility requirements and best recommendations for station devices, printers, and more.

Pick Your Station Devices

To use Check-Ins, you need a computer, phone, or tablet with access to the internet. To check people in using that device, download and install the Check-Ins app (available for Mac, Windows, Android, or iOS).

  • If you're going with Android, opt for the newest, name-brand tablet your budget can accommodate. They last much longer than an older, cheaper model, and name-brand tablets tend to have fewer issues with our printers. While this has a little more upfront cost, it'll save you time and money in the long run.

  • Kindle Fires run Android apps even though they technically have a Fire OS. So, you can go that route, but you'll want to get the latest Fire HD and not an older model.

  • iPads work well but can be pricey. To save money, consider an iPad mini with lower storage and Wi-Fi only. You don't need the latest iPad for it to work well; however, it is recommended that you have a version that can run the latest iOS.

Tip

If you plan to scan barcodes or QR codes, it is recommended that you use iOS/Android devices over Mac/Windows devices. This is because mobile devices have built-in cameras, so you do not need to purchase a separate scanner.  

Review Printer and Connection Recommendations

Check-Ins is compatible with multiple printer brands and models, depending on the type of station devices you have. The table below shows printer brand compatibility at a glance. Select the brand name for detailed specifications and setup instructions. 

Dymo

Zebra

Brother

Citizen

Print from Mac/Windows station device

Print from iOS/Android station device

Uses Wi-Fi

Uses Bluetooth

Battery option

Connect to multiple devices

Printing speed (1=Fastest)

2

1

3

4

Churches and ministries facilitate check-in in various ways, depending on factors like Wi-Fi network reliability and physical space. Consider the factors, then check our recommended setups for various scenarios below.

Caution

In most cases, a computer with a hardwired label printer is recommended as it is the most reliable setup.

  • Wi-Fi Network

    • How much control do you have over your network? Can you adjust firewall settings, move access points, open/close ports, and add/remove channels?

    • How reliable is your connection to the network? Does the internet drop frequently? Do you have a poor signal at your check-in location?

  • Physical Space

    • Where are the nearest power outlets? Do you need fully mobile stations, or can they be set up near an outlet?

    • How many stations do you want to set up in your space? 

    • How much traffic will gather in your space? 

Best Fit For Wi-Fi Printers

  • Strong Wi-Fi connection and total network control, such as churches in their own buildings with closed, managed networks.

  • Low-medium traffic check-in areas with fewer, well-spaced stations.

Best Fit For USB-connected Printers or Bluetooth Printers

  • Strong Wi-Fi connection but no network control, such as churches using rented buildings or sharing venues.

  • Weak Wi-Fi connection but total network control, such as in rural areas or churches using mobile hotspots.

  • High-traffic check-in areas with many people and stations.

Configure your Wi-Fi Network

It's best if Check-Ins devices are given priority on a closed, managed network and are in close proximity to access points/routers. With that, here are the other considerations:

  • Check-Ins requires access to these external sites to print a label.

  • Edit your wireless network: Under the Advanced Options, uncheck Block LAN to WLAN Multicast and Broadcast Data.

  • Manage your access points:

    • Balance multiple access points so that overlapping channels are physically as far apart as possible.

    • Adjust the signal level to be sufficient for the coverage area but not bleeding too far into the next access point zone that shares the same channel.

    • Set the minimum bitrate to 12 or higher if possible. This setting affects airtime usage in the 2.4GHz range, directly impacting interference levels in a multi-access point environment.

      • Use either your access points or a software-based tool as a monitor to show real-time interference/noise levels.

      • Capture the data at a busy time (i.e., when there are people in the building and most traffic is in the building), as well as idle times when not many devices are in use and not many people are around.

      • Compare the two to see if there are drastic differences and to determine which channels have the highest noise level, and then use the channels available with the least amount of noise. Once the data is obtained, it will be easier to guide which channels are best used.

    • Give priority to the Check-Ins devices on your network. If the network or access point has a limit for the number of connections allowed, ensure the Check-Ins devices are not bumped.

    • Adjust the channel selection in regard to placement and radio power for each of your access points. Which channel you use depends on your environment's noise level and what channels are available regionally. The three channels available to use in the US on 2.4GHz are 1, 6, and 11.

      Tip

      Brother printers can only connect to 2.4GHz channels. Most routers use a single SSID for both 2.4 and 5GHz bands. Separate these frequencies (by changing paraphrases/SSID) to ensure a more stable printer connection.

Scan to Check In

Checking in by scanning barcodes or QR codes is extremely fast. When you scan a barcode, mobile pass, or the Church Center app, the whole family can check in at a self or manned station. 

Android or iOS stations allow you to use their built-in cameras for scanning codes; however, if you're on a Windows or Mac, you must purchase a scanner.

Important

If you use a manned station with a scanner, the scanner will replace the keyboard, so you won't be able to type on screen. You must unplug or turn off the scanner if you need to type.

Existing or Custom Barcodes

If you'd like to scan barcodes instead of the Church Center app or mobile pass, you can either use barcodes people already carry on them or order some tags to give out to your people.

keys.jpeg

You can buy a collection of already printed barcode tags or make your own. Make sure you account for these settings:

  • Select Code 39 or Code 128 barcode symbology to work with both 1D scanners and mobile devices. 

  • If you're using only mobile devices or 2D scanners, order tags with QR codes instead of 1D barcodes, as QR codes scan quicker.

  • Do not use 4-, 7-, or 10-digit long codes since they could interfere with phone numbers.

  • If you create a custom Dymo label with a barcode, use Code 39 from the Symbology dropdown.

barcode.jpeg

External Scanners

The Honeywell 2D Scanner is recommended for scanning security labels, key tags, QR codes, and mobile passes. This scanner must be programmed to add a carriage return or 'enter' key after the scan, which is referred to as a Suffix.

To program the scanner, scan a code from their manual that automatically adds the Enter button after a scan. The directions are in their manual on page 69 (4-3: To add a Carriage Return to All Symbologies).

Another setting you may need to enable is the ability to scan mobile screens, found on page 60 (3-8: Mobile Phone Read Mode).

Caution

All barcode scanners, like the Honeywell 2D, act as external keyboards to your computer, but they do not all do this by default. If your barcodes aren't scanning, scan a code and press enter on your keyboard. If that works, program your barcode scanner to always add an "enter" (or carriage return) suffix after each scan. Check the manual that came with your device for instructions.

Kiosks and Device/Printer Stands

To keep your check-in area tidy and make moving stations simpler, you can invest in a stand that will hold your mobile device and label printer.

This standing kiosk has a Brother Printer mount and a case for your tablet, which is an excellent option if you have only one tablet.

kiosk.png

Another option is this Portable Tablet Kiosk if you have multiple tablets. This kiosk allows up to three people to check in simultaneously while only occupying a 15" x 17" space. This kiosk gives the feel of a permanently installed kiosk, but you only need to tip the kiosk and wheel it away.

tablet_kiosk.jpeg

For the full spectrum of kiosk ideas, join our Slack and Facebook communities!

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