Parallax RFID Reader for Ten Bucks

We  received a tip about Radio Shack putting Parallax’s RFID reader on clearance for around $10. The only reference we could find that indicated Radio Shack sold the reader was a review page. The reader originally sold for around $50 in the stores, so getting it for $10 made it worth a curiosity trip to a local Radio Shack. The store we visited did not have the reader marked down in the drawer, but it rang up for $9.97. It is too bad that the reader was so expensive in the first place, otherwise Radio Shack might still be selling them at full price. This is by no means a promotion, we just though we would share the information in case you were interested in getting one yourself. If Radio Shack is out, you could always build your own reader.

The reader we purchased only came with one tag, perhaps that is why the they have been on clearance. Hooked up to an FTDI USB to serial cable, it would repeatedly send out the tag’s number whenever it was in range. We tried an HID-labeled card and a tag of the kind that can be found in books and DVD cases. Neither worked with the reader, but we’ll keep looking.

Thanks to [bluewraith] for the tip.

102 thoughts on “Parallax RFID Reader for Ten Bucks

  1. “you’ve got questions, we’ve got blank stares”

    The dude at my store could not even point me to the soldering kits. He showed me the soldering iron, and pointed out that this one had a lot of other stuff included in the bag (solder, pick, wick, etc)

    I found it in the parts drawer. It was not marked down and did ring up as “on sale”. Came with one card tag and a round “world” tag.

    I would not even call ahead, the sales droids don’t even know what a MOSFET is.

    These are not the sales droids you are looking foor

  2. Just bought the three my store had. For $9.97 each they are worth it just to experiment with. Like others said they aren’t compatible with most RFID standards, but at least they come with 2 tags each.

  3. W00t, local store had none in drawer but six in back. I got three. :-D The sales “droid” was at least helpful enough to dig through the back for the thing. Good to know service is still important somewhere. I hope this doesn’t mean the end to components at RS; I would no longer have any reason to come into the store. It has already decomposed into “The Shack” and the next step will probably be “The Shizzack” then “Tha Shizzie” where you can get only cellular phones. Just a prediction.

  4. I picked up 2 kits at the Raadio Shack in Rarcho Cordova, CA. Good luck having the staff there know what you are looking for. The staff at this store didn’t even know they carrier parallax products.

  5. DON’T FORGET!!!
    When you get your receipt, do the survey and make sure you tick “Cables, Parts & Connectors” for the main reason you went there. Let your feedback tell them that we aren’t going to let go of a ready supply of electronic parts. Say what you will about selection and price, sometimes you need a resistor or 741 op amp or some alligator clips today!

  6. Picked up 2 more today. I figure if I’m going to carry around an rfid card for one reason, why not use it for a couple more things.

  7. Struck out at first, but picked up the last one in the drawer at the Boylston St. Boston store. I don’t know if there are more in the back, though. The cashier was impressed they even sold them.

    The guy working at the Mass Ave (near Huntington (where I stopped first)) knew what he was doing though, after looking things up, searching the drawers and going in the back, he gave me a list of addresses to go find it. Really helpful guy.

  8. These went on clearance a few weeks back. I was ready to buy them all up, but I just couldn’t for the life of me think of anything to use them for. Maybe I’ll just stash them in back until they are even cheaper and see how I feel then.

  9. Grabbed two from each of my two local ‘Slacks. I have a friend who might want one or two. If not, into the parts box they go (no project yet).
    WHY can’t I resist cheap geekery!? I really don’t NEED these, they just looked too fun to pass up!

  10. And as it happens, there are more items going on clearance. The light sensor is already on clearance. But the RFID one is still at this local store. The clerk wasn’t surprised when I mentioned, nor was his backup. In fact the woman was quite surprised to realize that it, (the RFID one) was on clearance around the beginning of the past month. They are currently clueless as to why this is happening.

  11. @GCL

    This is actually pretty typical for radio shack, in my experience. I am assuming that they could have various reasons for cutting it (doesn’t sell enough/they are replacing it with something else/etc) but I have gotten CRAZY deals on random things at that store over the years, all clearanced for seemingly unknown reasons.

  12. @Nunya: Did you pick it up? I hadn’t seen this at first- I gotta get into Le Shack and snag it if you didn’t buy it! :D

  13. Well just found out about this yesterday and well I checked my local Radio Shack they were 36.99. Was this a few day sale?

  14. @Luke

    Oh, man! Either that’s a mistake, or radio shack saw all of the sudden sales and boosted the price back up!!! LOL!!!

  15. @Luke

    That must be a mistake. Just called a store near lansing, MI, they list the price as $9.97. Did you give them the stock number 2760032? Maybe they somehow entered the SKU for that other parallax thingy that is in the same drawer with the RFID reader?

  16. @Luke (Sorry for triple post)

    I just thought about it, did you actually have them scan it? Mine were still price tagged as $49.99, but they rang up as $9.97. The sales associate thought I was scamming them, and had to verify the price. Lol.

  17. @Jake

    I don’t mind the triple post. I had them scan it in and it did have 2760032 on the back. I might add I am in Alaska. I have no idea wither that would make a change or not. I will call my other Radio shack.

  18. @Jake (Or anyone)

    I just called my other Radio Shack and they have them for $36.97. Bummer I wanted to grab a few.

    Also is it RadioShack or Radio Shack?

  19. @Luke

    I thought radio shack’s pricing was the same at virtually all of their stores. Are they looking at the price tag on the things, or putting 2760032 in to their computers? Also, are you in the USA? I called about 6 stores in my area looking for these things, and they all had them in the computer for $9.97, but were price tagged anywhere from about $30 to 49.99.

    I am about done with a simple car door lock actuator using this and a small PIC. I don’t care what people say about these being limited in their uses, if I can get the entire thing in a working package for $10, and add a 2 dollar PIC and a few passives, I’m pretty happy!

  20. Does anybody know where I could get standard card size tags for this reader that also have magnetic stripes?

  21. @Jake

    I live in Alaska. But as most things go we are not part of the ‘USA’ when it comes to shipping and some deals in stores. Hell we don’t even get the five dollar foot long. So I think that might be the issue. I did have them ring it up on the computer with the number and it came out to the $36.97.

    Thanks though for your help!

  22. @Luke

    Actually, I didn’t mind her. I’ll guarantee you that she wouldn’t have let ol’ McCain spend almost 4 trillion non-existent dollars in less than 2 years!!!

  23. @Jake

    I called about it and it turns out that in Alaska they are privately owned and are franchises. So the cooperate stores may have it for 10 but the owners of the ones up here did not want to take it that low.

  24. @Luke

    I wonder if you could get someone on here to ship you some? A USPS small flat rate box is only $4.95 to ship, and most large cities in my state have at least 3 or 4 stores, if not more. I don’t have any extra at this point, but if I get some, I’ll let you know. I am heading to Grand Rapids, MI this weekend and I am pretty sure there is a radio shack in each mall that I am going to.

  25. Have used it with my BS2. See the link http://www.parallax.com/RS and follow N&V #120 for BS1 or BS2 code.

    Will try next with the Propeller. I need to find something to lock, like the refrigerator, so my 2 teenage boys don’t eat me out of house and home at night. :)

    I got a couple of these to play with.
    Thanks bluewraith for the heads up.

  26. I stopped by my local radio shack the other day after seeing this article, and asked the guy if they had any of the RFID readers left in stock. He stared at me for a few seconds and then asked me “What is RFID?”. I didn’t know how to respond to that, and just told him to look up the clearance number that sparticle provided. Seems all the Chicago area stores are out of them :(

    How the hell can you be hired at an electronic parts store and not even have a clue what RFID is???

  27. @Ken
    It’s simple, you complete an application and they hire you. There’s a store near me, one in Forest Hills, the manager there reminds me of the typical Red Neck, each time I walk in to either browse or buy something even, he dares me to be insulting to him. (I can’t! He’s already been insulted by me.)

    Oh and don’t ask about the part, swing over to their cabinets and dive into the one called Sensors, it should be in there.

    @Luke, it might be the same here. Franchising is common for those stores. For RS, in a small town not even big enough for a mall, they might arrange for a small amount to be roosting in a general store.

  28. If anyone is in the Houston area, the Kemah TX store has three. The League City store (646 and 45), however, I cleaned out.

  29. Good new! I ignored the information the guy at the one Radio Shack gave me and visited another location today. Their system said they had 4 in stock (only found 2 in the drawer though) even though the company wide inventory system showed 0 for the local store as well as all others around it. Whatever, I’m happy I was able to find one!

    Plus, the associate I dealt with tonight was a much more useful human being and actually seemed to understand that not all their customers are stupid people looking for cell phone accessories.

  30. several at the Latham Farms RS in Latham ,NY Rang up @ 9.97. “That’s the first one we’ve sold… didn’t know we carried parallax stuff!”
    ditto on the on-line survey. They are a pusillanimous parts store, but better than NO parts store…

  31. bought four units at one of the ten or so RS stores in Columbus, OH. Called the nearest store first and they actually said over the phone that the price was $9.97. Each board also came with two tags, a round one and a rectangular card. Tested two of the units so far – they work fine with this Arduino code and wiring setup:

    http://www.arduino.cc/playground/Learning/PRFID

  32. Anyone else having trouble with their unit sending only bytes containing FF?

    I’m thinking it’s just a mistake somewhere in my wiring, but all mine ever outputs is 0xFF, usually once when I wiggle any RFID tag by the antenna.

  33. I just found this post today, stopped by the Silverdale, WA RadioShack and found two of these readers for $8.47. I purchased both. The employees were clueless but I found the readers in the IC parts bin next to a Parallax sensor.

  34. In case anyone sees this post via google, they are still out there. I visited two stores today, one didnt have any left but the other still had two. Might be worth a shot to look if you are near a radio shack.

  35. Just confirming that even now they are STILL OUT THERE, just picked one up from my RS for nine bucks and they still had about five left.

  36. December 2nd, 2010, cleaned out a local (Poughkeepsie, NY) ‘Shack of three of these. $8.47 apiece, still labeled as $49.98. If it weren’t for Hack a Day, I’d have never known. (Yay!)

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