everhack Stuff I've been messing with, or just thinking about.


RFID reader, part 2

After a few more days of hacking on this I'm a lot closer than I was.

At first, my avr-rfid antenna was oscillating strongly enough for the processor to run and start trying to send the code; but I couldn't see any induced signal in the reader (transmitter)'s antenna.

Finally I decided to pay attention to the schematic note "tune for 125khz resonance with C1" (http://scanlime.org/2008/08/simplest-rfid-reader/) and start playing with the reader coil windings. Previously I had been trying to tune the capacitor to the coil instead of fixing the capacitor at the spec (1nf) and tuning the coil to resonate properly.

I realized in the process I had only about 19 turns of wire in my coil instead of 30+ like are called for, and just not enough inductance. I ended up adding about 10 or 11 extra turns to around 30 like I should have done to start with, sanding off a little of the insulation every couple turns to recheck the oscillation.

I also dispensed with the single-layer wrapping of the coil wires, and instead cut "V" grooves about 1/4" down from the corners of the wood block. Now the wire is more of just a tight bundle instead of thin and wide like a ribbon.

Anyhow, after retuning my reader coil to the maximum voltage at 125khz with the 1nf capacitor, I hooked it all back up to the Teensy and VOILA I now see a pretty good variation in the reader coil when the card is near, meaning BITS!. Not only that, but i also see the same types of variation when I try my Hackerspace badge and my work badge, so I'm definitely getting closer!

I have not yet started implementing the detector code, which I'll have to port from Scanlime's original propeller assembly.. Looking at the 'scope signal I admit I still can't quite tell a 1 from a 0 though, only that there's SOME kind of deliberate modulation going on 🙂

In the photo attached, the upper (yellow) signal is the oscillation in the AVR-RFID tag. It looks to me like the first few and last few pulses are 1 cycle shorter than the ones in the middle.
The lower (blue) trace is the oscillation in the reader coil. When there's no tag near, the peaks go away and the signal is a nice flat 125khz sine wave. Once the tag gets close enough to run and start pulsing (1 inch or so), the wave pattern appears superimposed on it.

It looks to me like the valleys go just a little lower each time the tag pulse is wider....

The Teensy is working a little harder now, generating:

- 125khz differential 5v signal to oscillate the reader antenna

- pwm signal at 1000hz through a matched RC low pass filter to give a smooth but variable analog threshold voltage. This voltage is automatically tuned (in scanlime's implementation), along with the actual reader frequency for peak performance.

-still TODO: pulse counting on the detector circuit signal to start trying to detect some actual bits.

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