[Aaron] was looking for a cheap RFID reader that had some easy to follow documentation and a standardized interface. Most everything he saw was pretty expensive, so he decided to buy a cheap $10 reader from eBay to see how easy it would be to work with.
The reader came with very little documentation, but [Aaron] did know that the device identifies itself as a USB keyboard, outputting scan tag data into a text editor. That functionality wasn’t incredibly useful, so he took it apart to see if he could interface with it in some other manner. Exposing the PCB revealed an unknown IC for which he could find no documentation, but the board did include some breakout pins, so [Aaron] started by probing those for data.
He tried reading the data in both a terminal program and with a logic analyzer, but nothing seemed to make a whole lot of sense. He turned the sampling rate of the sniffer down, and things started looking a little better. After comparing the data from the sniffer with known tag codes, he noticed that each digit had an offset of 39 applied, so he whipped up a bit of code to correct the numbers.
[Aaron] did a good amount of legwork to get usable data from the reader, but at a cost of $10 it can’t be beat. We certainly know what we’re going to be hunting for on eBay this afternoon…