Easy Phidgets RFID

RFID board and toys

I’ve been wanting to try out the Phidgets boards for a while but didn’t have a chance until recently when I finally ordered myself an RFID starter kit. I didn’t know anything about robotics or anything at all about how the boards work, and honestly I pretty much still don’t. I was really impressed with how easy it was to get it up and running. It took maybe 10 minutes while I was watching TV.

For this past PittMFUG meeting I decided to make the simplest possible app using phidgets to show how easy it was to use.

What do you do with a phidgets RFID board and a packet full of RFID tags? The first thing everyone seems to think of is to put the RFID tags into a person. Not a good idea. The kit even comes with a warning specifically saying not to do that.

I went with the next best thing: toys on my desk.

Each toy in the app got an RFID tag taped to it and it’s photo taken. Then, I made a note of which tag ID was on each toy and set up the app to show the picture that matches the toy when it is within range of the RFID board.

The Moose

All in all, this app took less than an hour to build. And most of that time was spent taking the pictures! While the toys are a silly subject, a few tweaks and this could easily be turned into some kind of simple kiosk application. So, if you’ve been thinking about trying phidgets and think it’s too hard, you’re wrong.

Here’s the source for my super toy reading app. You’ll have to get your own phidgets board and toys though.

A couple of notes..

Here’s a few other things I discovered while playing around with the RFID kit:

It does work through a table, but not through someone’s leg. So you could easily mount the board underneath a table or board to conceal it and thing will work just fine.

If two tags are both within range, neither will be read.

You can’t read the RFID chips in your pets. Trust me, I tried…. and then finally did the research to find out that those use a different kind of chip.

I was not able to detect any RFID tag besides the ones that came with the kit. So, if you have crazy plans to read your pet’s RFID tag or that fancy one that unlocks your door at work, you’re out of luck. Sorry.