My last post has sparked a few questions that I thought were worth answering regarding some of the decision making on our kiosks.
I just read your 22 page essay on your check in build process. Did you give any thought to RF wireless keyboards? That would reduce the cabling spaghetti in the cabinet. The down side is batteries and the keyboard might disappear. I would hope that last problem wouldn't be a big problem in a church.
Thankfully the cabling in the cabinet is not a huge issue, but there are three very good reasons why we chose the keyboards we did over something RF:
(1) This was the smallest usable keyboard + mouse that we could find. It had to be very thin to fit on the hideaway tray.
(2) Cables are more reliable than RF, no lost connections and such.
(3) Batteries are another maintenance and cost item.
Joel - just read through the PDF on your blog about your kiosk system - or at least the Mac mini versions... just curious why you chose to hook up the printers as ethernet printers (which required buying a switch) instead of just using USB? and for that matter - why did you go with a wired network connection?
if you were starting over today do you think you'd still go with the Mac minis or would you just use iPads? (especially since the new minis cost $100 more.)
The printers are network printers connected to the windows servers, not local printers to the workstation. Since its 100% browser based and not OS specific this was the best way to make it work. Much faster and more stable than USB printer sharing on the minis. I have huge crowds of people using these things in short periods of time, and being rock solid is the single most important factor.
Wired network connections are more reliable than wireless, and I don't have as a single point of failure a wireless hub, I have a very nice POE Ethernet Switch. Since they have to be plugged into power anyway, a second cable is not a big deal.
As for today, I would still build this as is for our main campus, but we are using iPads for checkin at our second campus because an iPad + Network printer = $1100 or so instead of the $2500 these kiosks cost each. There is a downside though. The iPad requires a volunteer for every station. We generally have about eight checkin kiosks running with two or three volunteers. The kiosks do not have to be manned. If i left ipads out on a table for people to use for checkin, we would be replacing a lot of iPads that mysteriously disappeared...
The iPad checkin for the second campus has been built and tested, but we aren't "live" with it yet because I am waiting for the budget approval from the campus lead to buy the equipment to make it happen. Still, it's a pretty slick solution. I'll share that in another post.