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RFID Module Integration with dev board?

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Aug 9, 2015
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Disclaimer - I am very very new to Electronics (literally a week), but am doing a lot of reading to try and catch up with the knowledge I need for my eventual project.

Background: I run a lot of endurance running races and almost all of the races use UHF RFID passive chip timing systems where the runners wear a UHF passive RFID tag embedded in a sticky label attached to the number on their chest or attached to their shoes to signal when they go over the start line (with an antennae in a mat or at the side of the start) and again at the finish. The time difference between the two times (could be hours) gives their personal time!

Ultimately, i'd like to build by own RFID reader to time a race i'd like to organise, as a proof of concept if you like.

Off the shelf UHF RFID readers cost 0000's of dollars\pounds, so I would like to work out how to build my own.

Based on some of the reading I have done, the best bet seems to be integrating some kind of RFID IC module with some kind of microcontroller (Arduino\PI?) and controlling via an API.

So far, given my skillset (Java\.NEt programmer) the best bet seems to be one of the following modules:

**broken link removed**

of which the M6E (which allows multiple antennaes and seems to offer USB support) seems like a good bet (at around $300).

Thingmagic offer already constructed development boards and an express platform

which are essentially what I am after (albeit in an enclosure), but again they aren't that cheap, and you can't get the schematics for them (makes sense really) unless you have bought one.

A datasheet and integration guide for the M6E can be here.

**broken link removed**

I think essentially want to recreate the dev board seen in the link below, aand I guess put it in an enclosure as well, so that it could be used to time a race alongside 4 antennae and hook it via usb cable and attach it to my PC. I think I can actually use their API to write the software I need.

My question\project request is essentially fourfold :

1) How do you go about integrating a module like this? Is it simply (I doubt this) a case of wiring a 5VC supply and USB pins on the SMD Chip pins to a usb connector (which plugs into a PC and controller by the API and giving the chip a power supply via a separate circuit?

2) what kind of Pcb board do I need to host this? Does it need to be anything exotic?


2) What do I need to understand about electronics and USB first in order to understand my question?

3) What is a sensible learning path to getting to be able to implement 1)

Any pointers you can give would be greatly appreciated. I obviously have a steep learning curve to climb and so if this is unrealistic it would be reasonable for you to comment in that vein.

Many thanks in advance

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