This video is part of two, three-series videos on Unboxing, Setting Up, and Installing the Alien F800 UHF RFID Reader. If you have not set up your reader and connected it to your computer, check out the first two videos in our series:
- Alien F800 4-Port UHF RFID Reader: Unboxing, Setting Up, & Installing via a Power Supply and Console Cable
- Alien F800 4-Port UHF RFID Reader: Unboxing, Setting Up, & Installing via a PoE Injector
Determine the one that works best for you depending on how you will be powering your Alien F800 Reader.
Hi, my name is Russell Hilyer, from atlasRFIDstore.com, and we are going to walk through the features and capabilities of the Alien Gateway Software.
The Alien Gateway Software is a user-friendly testing and demonstration tool that is used to setup, configure, and test Alien readers performance and settings alone, and also in conjunction with auxiliary RFID equipment like RFID antennas, cables, and tags.
This is The Alien Gateway Software. When you look at the home screen, you will notice a top, left-hand, and right-hand menu.
Aside from locating and connecting to RFID readers, which is located in the right-hand menu, the most frequently used menu will be the left-hand menu because it contains the testing applications.
The left-hand menu is made up of four applications –
- Tag Grid
- Command Line Interface
- Tag Programmer
Alien’s Gateway software has a lot of features and capabilities. For this video, we are only going to walk through how to read and write RFID tags using the Tag Grid and Tag Programmer applications.
Here is a basic walk through on the Tag Grid application:
The Tag Grid is essentially a tag reading application that performs a basic inventory of RFID tags in the read area. While the Tag Grid is basic, it allows users to play with different settings on the reader and see how that affects the read range and sensitivity of the reader.
As soon as the application is opened – the readable tags in the area will pop up on the grid on the main portion of the screen. Each grid square will display a unique tag’s EPC number, an icon or image, and the persist time since the tag was last read. In a minute, we will talk more about persist time.
On the left-hand menu, called the “Property Panel” – there are a few common testing settings.
Within the panel there are five Box headers – Antenna Selection, Acquire Parameters, RF Attenuation, G2 Mask, and Alien Command Line.
Tag Grid – Box 0
Under ,“Tag Grid”, the first drop-down menu determines how many tags to display on the screen at once. The program defaults to “dynamic”, meaning as many tags as seen in the read area.
The next drop-down menu is “Persist Time”. The persist time is the amount of time a tag’s data remains on the Tag Grid after it is read. As you can see, the persist time is constantly counting down from a preset time.
With this menu, there are a few different options to choose from for setting that time. When the countdown reaches 0:00 the tag will disappear from the Tag Grid display until it is read again. If it remains in the read area, the tag will stay on screen and reset the persist time and restart the countdown.
For this demonstration, we will toggle the persist time from 3 seconds to 1 minute to show the difference between the two settings.
Tag Grid – Box 1
In the first box, labeled, “Antenna Selection”, you can choose to read from a specific antenna port, or all ports at once, depending on your application or testing requirements. There must always be at least one antenna selected. The number of ports that the software offers you to choose from depends on the connected reader.
Tag Grid – Box 2
In the second box, “Acquire Parameters” there are two parameters to toggle between, “Inventory”, and “GlobalScroll” mode. “Inventory” mode is for multi-tag environments, and is what the software works best in and will default to.
Beneath that is a drop down that defaults to “Cycles = 1”, with a number 1 in a box beside that. The parameters in that drop down govern how the inventory algorithm acquires tags. For more information on the different algorithms, refer to Alien’s Reader Interface Guide.
Tag Grid – Box 3
The third box, “RF Attenuation”, is a parameter with a scroll bar between 0 dB and 15 dB. The higher the power listed below the scroll bar, the lower the reader’s transmit power.
This is because attenuating an RF signal is defined as a way of reducing its power. In this program, the highest transmit power will be when it is set to 0 dB – which is the default.
Tag Grid – Box 4
“G2 Mask” is the fourth box in the Property Panel. This can be a very useful tool in an area, or read zone, that has a large number of RFID tags. Basically, a G2 Mask applies a filter that only allows certain tags to respond during an inventory.
With the first drop down, you can choose a memory bank to filter with, then at what bit number you want the mask to start, and the length of the mask in bits.
You can also check the “Exclusive” box so that the filter only includes tags that don’t match the intended mask. For more information on G2 Masking, checkout Alien’s Reader Interface Guide.
Between boxes 4 and 5 are two tabs called, “SpeedFilter”, and,“RSSIFilter”, which are also tag filters. These are more complex tools that allow the filtering of tags by a range of values.
Filtering abilities include data ranges based on information about tag movement and energy. For instance, filtering for “stationary tags”, “moving tags”, or “amount of backscatter energy received”.
Because these are more technical filters, by default they are disabled, but can easily be enabled by checking the, “enabled”, box beneath the set of numbers.
Tag Grid – Box 5
The last box in the Property Panel is the “Alien Command Line”. This is used to manually address the reader if a desired setting isn’t available to change within the Tag Grid Property Panel.
By typing a recognizable Alien command and hitting return, the reader will return the reply in the receiving line.
Underneath that is a small activity panel that clearly states the number of tags, and allows you to clear or save the Tag Grid.
If you need to turn off or pause reading, you can halt all tag reads by clicking the Alien logo at the bottom of the Property Panel. Simply click it again to turn it back on.
Command Line Interface
The Command Line Interface, which we will not cover in this tutorial, is an application that allows users to manually interface with the reader using specific, predetermined commands that are outlined in the F800 Interface Guide.
Here is a basic walk through on the Tag Programmer application:
Like Tag Grid, Tag Programmer is an essential, basic program that allows you to read and encode UHF RFID Tags. Tag Programmer can be overwhelming at first, because of the amount of options and data.
The left-hand menu is similar to Tag Grid with basic settings like, choosing the read antenna(s) and controlling the RF Attenuation.
At the top-center, there are three tabs, “Single Tag”, “Many Tags”, and “Tag Ops”. The Single Tag tab is most commonly used and enables quick encoding of one tag at a time.
Within the tab, capabilities include, programming EPC or User Data, creating Access and Kill Passwords, and Locking specific memory banks. There is also information about each tag, such as, the type of tag, EC type, and the TID number.
For this tutorial, we will show you how to read and encode a single tag within this application.
As you can see we have one tag in the read zone, and the EPC number is shown here. In order to only read one tag in our read zone, we have actually turned the RF attenuation to 15 dB, as you can see in the left-hand column.
Now we are going to re-program this tag’s EPC number from the one shown above, to the one on the screen using the “EPC Data” box in the center of our screen.
We can just type in the desired EPC number and click, “Program EPC”, and as you can see above, our EPC number has changed.
Under the tab labeled, “Many Tags”, you have the same capabilities and information, but you are able to see all the tags in the read area, click on each one individually, and change its specific information.
Similar to Tag Grid, if you need to turn off or pause reading, you can halt all tag reads by clicking the Alien logo at the bottom of the Property Panel. Simply click it again to turn it back on.
The Readometer, which we will not cover in this tutorial, is an application that allows a user to monitor different read parameters of a tag read, like reads per second and the total number of reads per antenna.
Parameters like, reader Session, Cycle, and RF attenuation can be set to fine-tune the read.
That concludes our video on Navigating the Alien Gateway Software. Be sure to watch our other videos about Alien Products in our Alien RFID Playlist.
Thanks for taking the time to walk through these steps with us. For more information on all things RFID, check out our blog, our RFID resources page, and subscribe to our YouTube channel. And as always, if you have any questions at all, please send us an email or give us a call.