SparkFun's Latest RFID Reader Scans up to 300 Tags Per Second — But Don't Stand in Its Way

With a 16-foot range, when paired with an optional antenna, this RFID reader is a beast — but comes with a radiation warning attached.

Gareth Halfacree
1 month agoSensors / HW101

SparkFun has announced the launch of a high-performance Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tag reader capable of scanning up to 300 tags per second — though it does come with a warning about maybe not standing too close to it while it's doing so.

"We are excited to announce our newest RFID sensor with the SparkFun Simultaneous RFID Reader featuring the [JADAK] M7E Hecto," SparkFun's Chris McCarty says of the company's latest launch. "Replacing the ever popular M6E Nano board, this new version features a high read rate and extended range and can significantly improve processing speed in applications like inventory management or access control."

SparkFun has upgraded its Simultaneous RFID Reader sensor board, doubling its read rate to a blister 300 tags per second. (📹: SparkFun)

As McCarty says, the RFID scanning board replaces the company's earlier JADAK ThingMagic M6E-Nano based version, which could deliver a scanning rate of up to 150 tags per second and write tags in just 80 milliseconds. The upgrade to JADAK's ThingMagic M7E-Hecto module brings with it a major performance boost for scanning, with SparkFun claiming up to 300 tags per second is possible with the new board — and if the one-to-two foot range of the on-board antenna isn't enough, an external antenna offers a read range of up to 16 feet.

Great RFID scanning power does come with great RFID scanning responsibility, though, and SparkFun has a note attached to the product. "Ensure that personnel do not stand in the radiation beam of the antenna unless they are more than 21cm [around 8.3"] away from the face of the antenna," the company warns, "to adhere to FCC limits for long-term [radio-frequency radiation] exposure."

Another upgrade in the new revision is the addition of a USB Type-C connector, which can power the reader and delivers a data connection via a USB to UART bridge. The board can also be powered from a 3.3V power supply via unpopulated breadboard-friendly 0.1" pin headers, which include serial connectivity and access to four input/output pins.

The new SparkFun Simultaneous RFID Reader is now available on the company store for $299.95 before volume discounts, with more information available in the hookup guide; at the time of writing the earlier M6E-Nano based version was also still listed for sale, discounted to $235.95 for those who don't need USB connectivity or the higher scanning performance of the M7E-Hecto.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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