Hi! I’m Kishan Patel with atlasRFIDstore.com. Today we are going to take a look at the ThingMagic RFID Reader Modules.
In this video, we are going to talk about the differences between reader modules and fixed readers, when to choose a reader module, as well as other ancillary devices that are available to expand upon the development process, such as the xPress Sensor Hub and its available Interface Modules.
Before we begin, let’s briefly talk about why people purchase RFID reader modules.
At the most basic level, a finished reader will include a processor, memory, power supply, antenna connectors, and a durable case built around an RFID reader module. Out of the box, finished RFID readers when connected to antennas, are ready for deployment.
Unlike finished RFID readers, reader modules are small, embeddable readers requiring custom engineering. These reader modules are meant for original equipment manufacturers and developers to use for three main reasons:
- Embed into existing products to create a “smart product”.
- To be used in the creation of a new, finished reader.
- Or, to create an entirely new product with RFID capabilities.
Here are a few advantages of RFID reader modules:
- Low Price – Because the customer only pays for the hardware that the application requires, mass scale implementations are often much more cost-effective when the project implements RFID reader modules. This allows customers to avoid readers that are otherwise “over engineered”.
- Increased Flexibility – When developing on RFID reader modules, this enables increased flexibly to specify things like the module’s frequency ranges, sensor options, and processing power instead of being limited to a finished reader’s design.
- Custom Form Factor – Where finished readers come with an existing case, RFID modules enable the customer to tailor fit the RFID reader’s finished dimensions based on the application’s needs.
There is a three-step process as customers move from proof-of-concept to full scale deployment using RFID reader modules.
Stage 1: The Software Stage
Purchasing a Module Development Kit is the first step in interacting with the basic module, chassis, and power adapter – this allows users to simply attach antennas and begin reading tags. The Mercury API is ready for download and enables a developer to begin writing code and start interfacing with the reader module.
In this stage, you can:
- Test different antennas
- Test different tags
- Connect to a PC and run the Universal Reader Assistant demo program
- Have access to technical support
- And finally, write the custom software
Now, let’s take a look at what is included in the M6E Reader Module Development Kit.
- This is a M6E reader module attached to a mobile chassis unit.
- It has four, reader-to-use RP-TNC Female connectors, allowing for connection of four RFID antennas.
- On the chassis, it has a connection for the AC power supply, and two mini USB ports. Next to those are available GPIO ports for use with auxiliary devices.
- Also in the Development Kit, is a 6-foot antenna cable, a USB to Micro B cable, an AC Power Adapter, a 7 dBic Patch antenna, packet of sample tags, the Mercury API, and full schematics.
Stage 2: The Hardware Stage
Once the software is developed in stage 1, the xPress Sensor Hub can be purchased and the custom software can be loaded. The Mercury xPRESS Sensor Hub’s ARM Processor allows for compiled code to be tested in a demo or proof-of-concept environment. The xPRESS Sensor Hub comes with the engineering files that may be needed to select appropriate form features.
In this stage, the xPRESS Sensor Hub is ideal for:
- Adding additional modules for functionalities such as – Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, PoE, GPS – as well as for pre-screening for regulatory compliance.
- Demonstrations or reader-for-customer use.
- Accessing information like reference design files, schematics, layout files, and Gerber files. This information provides circuit board manufacturers with detailed specifications for designing a custom circuit board and layout.
- Finally, at the end of this stage you will have a designed a custom form factor, circuit board, or product reader for development.
Now, let’s take a look at what is included in the xPress Sensor Hub Kit as well as other available accessories.
- This is a Micro Reader Module attached to a microcontroller-based motherboard.
- On the motherboard is a connection for the AC power supply, and two mini USB ports, next to those are available plug-ins for additional interfaces like PoE and Wi-Fi modules.
- Also included with the xPress Sensor Hub are 2 USB cables, an antenna adapter cable, and additional schematics and Gerber files.
- Separately, other interface modules are available for purchase at this stage such as Bluetooth, GPS, PoE, and Wi-Fi plug-ins.
Stage 3: Mass Production
At the third stage, customers can begin purchasing reader modules themselves in volume to fit into their custom-designed circuit board or product that will work with their developed software. Onscreen is a single M6E Module for use in the Mass Production Stage.
Thanks for joining us and walking through RFID Reader Modules. For more information on the ThingMagic reader modules or on all things RFID, please visit our blog or our RFID resources page, and, as always, if you have any questions at all, send us an email or give us a call.