Arcade Redemption Ticket Countdown

I have an idea for a project and wanted to see if someone could give me a little guidance on if they think this will work or not (and give a push on where I should start on it.)

I work at a local Laser Tag arena. We also have a video arcade and some of the machines reward the players with redemption tickets. Customers take these tickets to a machine which counts them and presents the customer a receipt with a barcode on it. The barcode not only includes machine ID data, but includes how many tickets the receipt is for. I know there are companies that make PC systems that do exactly what I'm wanting to do...but I believe I can do it myself cheaper with an Arduino!

Here are the major components that I think would be in the project: - Arduino (UNO, but could be flexible if I need a different version) - Barcode Reader (Maybe a neutered CueCat, USB or Serial?) - LCD Screen: Displays how many tickets remain for the customer. I could use an LED display but wouldn't need more than 4 digits (I haven't seen a customer with more than about 3-4 thousand tickets at one time.)

Basic Operation Ideas (Primary wants): - Scan a start barcode or use a pushbutton on the enclosure to Zero the counter. - Scan customer tickets. Additional scans add to the total displayed. - Scan redemption barcodes to deduct tickets from customer totals.

Secondary Operation Ideas (not immediately needed, can be added later): - Support for handling multiple customers. Each customer would be given a number (1-4). A toggle/pushbutton would be used to select the customer the operator is working with. LCD would display that customer's remaining tickets. - Large size wall-mounted LED Display (4 customers = 4 rows of 4 digits)

Questions: - First things first...before I go any you think this is possible? - I would assume the barcode reader would read data as string of characters. I would have to convert the string to an integer in order to do math calculations. But if the barcode is not only the machine ID along with the ticket count (and possible other information), how do I separate the string or integer into separate components. Would it be easier to split the scanned data as a String or after I convert it to Integer. - A basic security check should be performed on the Machine ID vs programed valid IDs before adding the ticket to the customer total. I don't think this should be a problem at all. {Does ScannedID match known Machine1ID or Machine2ID?} - What about a 12 keypad? Should I use a keypad to deduct tickets from customer or should I attach barcodes to every redemption item (or codes in a notebook) and scan to deduct? Use a different barcode format for the redemption items so that the Arduino knows it's a deduct or use a toggle on enclosure (Add/Deduct).

I know I'll have LOTS of more questions for the forum and the forum will have questions for me. There's still info I need to locate on the ticket counter machine on what format the receipt barcodes are in and how the codes are arranged.

Thank you in advance, Chris

Well, clearly not the baseline Arduinos.

The question is - why use a high-end Arduino when a Raspberry Pi is probably cheaper?

This sounds like the theme park system where a customer buys a ticket which is simply a bar-code, has initial credit on it and can simply scan it for entry to attractions, or top-up their credit at "ticket" booths. Clearly this would work very well (as an alternative) for "redemptions". It does however, require full networking.

An interesting notion with such a system, is that it is perfectly possible - and valid - to duplicate tickets using a photocopier, or even email them. That sounds however as if it could instead be a problem to your proposed system.

Yes, there are existing redemption systems (expensive) that use a wireless network to connect everything (games, redemption counter, token sales kiosks, etc). It allows for a coinless arcade by loading "tokens" or "Credits" onto a plastic card that when swiped deduct game amount from the players account. Even tickets won on a game will be loaded back onto the account for later redemption. That might be a future upgrade to our Laser Tag facility, but at a much later date.

Yes too, copying of the barcoded ticket receipts could still be an issue, even now, when we manually add up all the customer's tickets (calculator) and then use the calculator(s) to keep track of how many tickets they have left. Being able to handle multiple customers is currently limited to the number of calculators we have floating around the redemption counters. (Right now 2)

I haven't thought about using a Pi. I already had an Arduino Uno that I've dabbled with and thought I could go ahead and use it for this project (if it was feasible). I'll research down the PI road as well.