Build your own RFID reader

We asked for it and our readers delivered. [Klulukasz] left a comment pointing to this diy RFID reader that was a final project in 2006 for a class at Cornell University. It is well documented and includes not only a schematic and code, but an explanation of the design considerations used during the build. The project uses an ATmega32 and the parts list priced out at about $50 at the time. There were plenty of responses to the RFID spoofer post pointing out that there are readers available for $40, but we want the fun of building our own.

A bit more vague with the details but no less interesting is this other simple RFID reader design. Thanks to [Chuck] for his comment which pointed to that link.


  1. BiOzZ says:

    not as simple as the sploofer O_o

  2. localroger says:

    This is about what I was expecting when I left the comment suggesting the ready-built unit. The Propeller one was a much better hack because actually simpler and cheaper than the commercial unit.

  3. Andrew says:

    I feel like this design is a little dated…
    A quick pursuing of digikey generated atleast 2 better options:
    1) MLX90109EDCCT-ND – $10
    You give it power a coil and a capacitor and your done.

    2) 568-2206-5-ND – $3
    Requires a crystal and a half dozen passive components but its cheap looks a lot like whats in the parallax design.

    I guess my point is why pay parallax $40 or fill 2 protoboards (unless flexing your analog muscles is your thing) when someone already made a chip that does everything your could want for very little money.

  4. Nick says:

    I agree with Andrew. Also I think I am too lazy to put all that effort into it when there are other easy options. :p Really cool however.

  5. tabula_rasa says:

    Arduino Spoofer + This = Death to RFID security?

  6. trc202 says:

    @tabula_rasa What security?

  7. pelrun says:

    Seeedstudio has cheap rfid readers too:

    I’ve got one and it works a treat.

  8. Scott says:

    Anyone have good info on how to read RFID tags implanted in pets – specifically cats in the United States? I really want to be able to read the tags in the 2 cats I have with an arduino for tracking/feeding/etc, but can’t find any good info on reading the special RFID frequency/protocols they use.

    Can anyone help?

  9. BiOzZ says:

    rfid was proven unsecure very very early on

    unless you own an rfid proof wallet your unsecure at the getgo

  10. smoker_dave says:

    This project is 4 years old!

  11. Jay says:

    Any projects on RFID detection? I’m mainly interested in seeing if an RFID chip exists more than reading it. It would also be nice if it supported on more frequencies than these project frequencies for RFID.

  12. dave says:

    what frequency rfid are used in mastercard paypass cards?

  13. dave says:

    i’ll answer my own question.. its 13.56 MHz

  14. Hkf says:

    Is there any open source solution for a rid UHF reader as this one does not work for high frequencies

  15. Randy says:

    Andrew, the Propeller-based one – which is nowhere near “vague” – uses a chip that costs only $9 even here in Canada, and using the code posted can read both HID and EM4102-based cards. I can’t find mention of HID or EM4102-compatible readers with the chips you mentioned, but maybe I’m not looking hard enough.

    As for why you’d roll your own… because learning stuff is fun, and this isn’t Buy-off-the-shelf-a-day.

  16. Rick says:

    Check out this website about reading pet-tag RFID chips:
    I’d appreciate hearing if you find more or better info about this.

  17. USK says:

    Any idea of some chip to build an UHF reader? who can help? Some book, site or documentation in regards to try to build a low cost uhf rfid reader?


  18. John Wilford says:

    Same here I built an RFID reader for work to do some experiments on some RFID chips only to find out the sample set I ordered and need are UHF code 1 Gen 2 chips and my reader is not. Now I need A low cost solution. All I need to do is verify that our procceses have not damaged the chips. any ideas would be apreciated.

  19. josh says:

    anyone have a build info email me at in australia hard to get 1/2 will pay for it asap

  20. Peter Lovell says:

    If you talk to the people who make the ATmega32 and tell them its for a project (justed be tell them the truth)and most of the time the are quite happy to send 3 or 4 as sample FOC
    dont lie to them as that will get there backs up

  21. deshaun says:

    where can i buy one from

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