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November 4, 2016
about 3 years ago
To achieve longer range than my previous NFC equipment I ordered the following:
I could read the cards at 8cm maxium ONLY (using a powered USB hub with nothing else connected to it) while the product description claims a 180mm range !
Actual range using matching Sparkfun parts is about half of the claimed range... I was very disappointed !
Later I found this comment from Sparkfun stating that ID-20LA Readers have a 2.75" range maximum using the cards (maximum range is achieved with the cards)
Why not stating that instead in the product description ?
To get a better understanding, I read the datasheet from ID-Innovation and it seems that the design of the USB board is pretty bad to achieve long range:
Section 17 advises not to put a copper ground plane nor noisy power supply tracks under the module. The USB board has a wide copper plane and the FTDI USB chip...
Connecting the module to the board using wires (pin 1, 2, 11 and 10) and I could get a little 2 or 3 cm range increase which is significant but still far below expectations.
The datasheet also warns very clearly that power supply requirements are pretty demanding for long range and strongly advises using a regulator based power supply with a voltage ripple of less than 3mV PKPK (recommenging using a ZLCL400 regulator).
The USB boards schematics show that the module is fed from the USB 5V without using a regulator !
So I tried powering the module directly from a regulated power supply. Range did not increase both in 3.3V and 5V voltages. Same results when I tried to feed the USB board from that power supply.
I guess this module requires a better power supply to achieve desired range. To be continued !
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