The SparkFun Simultaneous RFID Reader is an Arduino-compatible board to get you started with the M6E Nano UHF RFID Reader. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is becoming popular everywhere for tracking practically everything. Whether you want to get started by adding an RFID reader on your toolbox with tags on all your tools or allowing access to the tree house for your secret society meetings, this board may be for you!
With the Arduino shield footprint, you can connect this directly to an Arduino-compatible board, or a different microcontroller. You can also connect directly to your computer using the FTDI header on the board and read data using the Universal Reader Assistant.
Once you've started, this board will read EPCglobal Gen 2 tags (see Recommended Products) at up to 150 tags per second. Writing of tags is also possible at 80msec standard write. The board has adjustable power output from 0dBm to 27dBm, meaning that with the correct antenna you can read up to 16 feet (4.9m), or 1 to 2 feet with the onboard antenna.
Note: Your reader ships with a piece of gray, nonconductive Thermal Gap Filler to help with both heat dissipation and to cover the exposed ground plane (to prevent circuits from shorting against it).
There might be some interference if the M6E Nano RFID reader is trying to read a pile of RFID tags. This can cause issues reading a few tags that are directly on top of each other. It would be better to spread the tags at a certain distance from each other or move the RFID reader around to get a clear read on all the tags in range.
Based on 27 ratings:
3 of 3 found this helpful:
This was exactly what I need. I am making this review to encompass and answer every question I was having at the start of my project so if someone is trying to do something similar they can have more of their answers answered. My project that I used this for was to use python in a Raspberry Pi to interface with this reader using an external antenna up to a distance that would cover a normal traffic lane. My project would essentially be a Time-Trial RFID Timing System.
It worked, I have all the parts that I used from Sparkfuns site listed at the bottom of this review.
Preparing the board for use with internal antenna First, when I ordered these parts I did have to solder on the connectors. Another thing to note also, The serial USB breakout that I ordered did not have all the matching labels on the reader (TX0 and AX1 were switched) but matching BLK to BLK and GRN to GRN is the correct way of connecting it for reading through USB. I also bought the 6AH Lithium Ion batter for external powering, I am sure smaller battery options are viable I just needed more than an hour of run-time with mine at full power.
connecting the board with the Raspberry Pi 3b+. Utilizing the serial breakout, I physically connected this with a simple USB to USB Micro cable. Programmatically connecting the Pi to this unit was one of the more difficult parts. For me, I had to make sure the latest python version was installed along with the python-mercuryapi python wrapper. For simple non-GUI related programs using this you can get away with python 2.7 but I wanted to use the tkinter python GUI library for this project so Python version 3.7 or later was easiest to work with. I had to google how to find the correct reading tty address and for my pi with this connected it was TTYUSB0. It might be different for others but this was mine.
Using the internal antenna When starting if you are not using external power, you have to set read power to 5 dB otherwise the unit will brown out and become unresponsive until you restart the read attempt. The successful read distance I was getting with both external power and the USB set up for powering was about half a foot. I have a hunch this was because allowing the USB to provide power to the system was producing noise and degrading its read accuracy. That will be discussed in the external antenna portion.
Preparing it for an external antenna. First, follow the directions listed in the guide they provide for setting up external antenna. Second look at the schematic. I spent a few extra minutes removing solder unnecessarily because I thought I had accidentally bridged a connection between SJ1 and SJ2. These two connections are bridged internally so as long as SJ1 is desoldered and no longer jumped and SJ2 is jumped with solder, that is what is necessary. When using the WRL-14131 Antenna that was recommended with the USB and Battery providing power, I was only getting a read distance of about 7 feet. After carefully severing the power jumper to the USB as listed in the guide using and Exacto knife, I was able to get read distances over 15 feet which to me is a great success. I believe the noise introduced by USB power significantly degrades the range of the unit with both external and internal antenna. So if you find yourself lacking distance it is something to consider.
PARTS I USED LIST: SEN-14066, WRL-14147, WRL-14131, CAB-14132, WRL-00662, DEV-14050, PRT-00553, PRT-09749, PRT-10217, WRL-14147, PRT-13856
Parts I used not listed on Sparkfun: Raspberry Pi 3b+, USB to USB-Micro cable
1 of 1 found this helpful:
It works as advertised. Range was not better than 8 feet with the recommended antenna at max power, however changing the antenna to the 80mm ceramic the range improve above the 18 feet. Thanks Sparkfun and Vince5 for your posting.
2 of 2 found this helpful:
I can read a tag from over 5 meter away using a 80mm ceramic antenna.
3 of 4 found this helpful:
This is mostly a great board. It works as advertised, and I've had no trouble using it. (I'm using it with Mercury API on a Raspberry Pi.) Based on that, I would have given it 5 stars.
However, the mechanism for switching from the internal to the external antenna leaves a lot to be desired. The solder jumpers that need to be changed are very small, and I ended up ruining my first board trying to switch to the external antenna. I bought a second one, and succeeded in enabling the external antenna on that one. But, I am cranky that I had to spend $400 instead of $200.
Also, it would be nice to be able to switch back and forth between the internal antenna and the external antenna. Some sort of DIP switch rather than a solder jumper?
Now that I've got the external antenna working, I'm a bit disappointed in its performance. I've sometimes been able to read tags 8 feet away, but other times I've had trouble reading tags 3 feet away. And I haven't been able to pick up tags at anything close to the advertised 16 feet. (This is at maximum power, of course.) Also, if you want to read the user memory, the tag needs to be closer than if you just want to read the EPC.
2 of 3 found this helpful:
The reader works great, even without the antenna the range is better than any other hobbyist RFID devices I've found for this price. The supporting documentation is very thorough and helpful. If you want to add a bigger range to your rfid projects, buy this.
1 of 4 found this helpful:
the board works well with the supplied thingmagic software, however the arduino library does not connect to the board.
No support from sparkfun for 4 days so far, may as well buy the chip diectly from thingmagic and bypass the sparkfun board.
Sorry about the delay for support - the only case I see that you have open is #220744 that was submitted 23 hours ago. While our technical support team is very dedicated to offering the highest level of service that we can, at the same time they are a small department of 7 technicians that handle cases in the order in which they were received.
Sparkfun went a long way to make this approachable to makers and hobbyists. First, it is an Arduino shield so much of the hardware connecting is taken care of out of the box. Second, their tutorial was thorough and the included examples made reading the first tag a simple matter. Third, this was on the low-end of the price scale for UHF modules but it used a high-end chip. I used an Arduino UNO clone to start and had no troubles. Don't forget to buy the Interface Cable RP-SMA to U.FL (WRL-00662) if using the external antenna, it was not listed in the Hookup Accessories.
It's missing the cable for the larger antenna, and it's NOT listed as 'recommended' have not tested it because of this. But it's a very nice shade of red!
This expensive RFID reader doesn't work either with the standard Arduino Uno as described in the tutorial or with a serial Rx/Tx module to communicate with it. Does this RFID reader needs to be flashed ? Would REALLY appreciate some quick and pro help
We're sorry you're having trouble. Please contact our technical assistance team for help with your board. We do test these before shipping with a RFID tag so you should have received a working unit. Our support department should be able to get you up and running.
Works as exprcted, easy and fast. I owned other pcb unit, programing is easy and support is best fit for me.
I have two gripes with this component. Firstly, the range without an external antenna is measly: you'll be lucky to get 6 inches. Secondly, it doesn't support multiple antennae.
That said, it does work; you'd pay at least double for a Simultaneous RFID Reader elsewhere; and no one else - to the best of my knowledge - makes a Simultaneous RFID Reader which slots in so well with an Arduino.
It worked exactly as it described, was able to read 10 tags simultaneously. excellent RFID reader
From an RFID, programming, interfacing perspective it is wonderful, worked well in every way that matters. I was able to easily read a pile of 30 or so tags simultaneously. The most difficult part, for me at least with vision issues, was switching to the external; antenna - more "generous" sized pads would have been appreciated for something the end user would likely need to rework. Clean power is essential for use at higher power levels, as is a proper heat sink for continuous usage. Worked great. Would recommend.
Got this and the antenna, and everything worked great, could read tags across the room!
Setting this shield up with an Arduino Uno was my first arduino project and the hookup guide was excellent. The unit works as described and the range is even quite good with the onboard antenna. Really can't complain about much on this thing. Thanks Sparkfun!
Works great, and SparkFun has great documentation available, as well as libraries and code examples. My only advice to buyers is to make sure you read the setup documents, especially if you're connecting and external antenna. There's some quick soldering of jumper pads required, but they have it all step by step with illustrations, so it should be quick and easy. Overall this reader works great!
Have worked with this extensively for a project and find it very reliable and fast, once you get past the software learning curve. Range is more than I need, 2 feet plus with 3" adhesive tags. For my application I needed non-blocking firmware so had to re-write major portions of the posted arduino library.
Work really well, only thing missing is a physical jumper to switch between the onboard antenna and the external antenna. Solder jumper are a bit annoying to deal with during developpement.
I started my RFID integration project by buying the M-series chipset straight from the manufacturer in the form of a dev kit and trying to get things working with their C code base. It was a huge waste of time. The code base provided by SparkFun for this breakout board was significantly better written and documented.
The only bad thing I will say about this breakout is that the linear slot antenna printed on the board is not worth even attempting to use. If you're trying to do anything with RFID at a range that's greater than ~1", save yourself some trouble and go straight to using an external antenna.
0 of 3 found this helpful:
After installation of the Universal Reader Assistant utility under Windows-7, and connection via a known working FTDI USB-to-Serial controller, the software will not connect to the device. It just hangs and so is useless. This has turned into an expensive "boat anchor".
No issues what-so-ever. I followed Sparkfun's tutorial (well written) and was reading RFID tags in a short time. Using windows 10 with Arduino.
Longest range I have ever used on an RFID. Works a bit strange sometimes, but sparkfun tech help gave me some advice. Used in a large art installation. Going to purchase a second one for a zoo project!
Engineers gave wrong voltage to the board. New Piece worked really well. I am adicted to this site now. Previous Comments- "I am not harsh but unfortunately, it worked well and produced good results for 2 hours and suddenly the board is dead, no response at all. I do trust this company and product. I just reorder it. Hope this (new piece) will live way longer than previous one. Also when we order from India, we end up paying 100% import duty that is a bit hard.
I am willing to come and change this rating as soon as I receive the latest order and it works for me. "
I'm sorry to hear that! Please contact our technical support team for help with this. They will be glad to help.
I'm using the SRTR to count laps for a charity walkathon. So far, I've soldered the header for Serial Basic, connected them via USB to my Ubuntu machine, and programmed with a python wrapper to the Mercury API (see github). Tags are read and written successfully using the PCB antenna. I'll try the high-gain antenna soon. I appreciate SFE comments on power and thermal management, as those will definitely be a concern for my project.