Monday, March 09, 2009

ETech: Hands-on RFID for Makers

My afternoon tutorial is Hands-on RFID for Makers given by Tom Igoe and Brian Jepson. We've been given, well purchased, but you know what I mean, an Arduino mini pro, a bread board and a SonMicro SM-130 module to allow us to read and write to the Mifare RFID tags that O'Reilly are using here at ETech.

The finished tag readers

We kicked off by accessing the card reader directly from our laptops using Processing and Tom's SonMicro library, first to just read from the card and then to write to it...

Once we got that working we moved to an Arduino-based reader that reads Mifare tags and stores them. From there we moved on to the hooking our RFID readers up to the to web and the O'Reilly conference database, with Processing providing a GUI interface to the Arduino code.

Long time readers of this blog will know that I have some, lets call it philosophical problems, with some of the proposed uses of RFID technology. But that said, there are some really interesting things you can do with tags, and while I approached this tutorial in a "know your enemy" frame of mind it was really fun, and I'm probably going to try and play with tags some more when I get back home. For instance, I can see some uses for the technology in the distributed sensors stuff I'm working on these days...

...of course that was all probably helped by the fact that Tom ran one of the clearest, well documented, hands-on tutorials I've seen. If you've got the opportunity to take a course with him, do it, you'll enjoy yourself.

Update: Pat was also blogging this one...


  1. Hi Alisdair,
    are Toms presentations available on line aor by email. I'm very interested to know more.


  2. Most of the workshop material is online already, but I think the talk will go up on the web eventually on the ETech site.