Quick and Dirty RFID Door Locks Clean up Nice

homemade RFID Door Locks

[Shawn] recently overhauled his access control by fitting the doors with some RFID readers. Though the building already had electronic switches in place, unlocking the doors required mashing an aging keypad or pestering someone in an adjacent office to press a button to unlock them for you. [Shawn] tapped into that system by running some wires up into the attic and connecting them to one of two control boxes, each with an ATMega328 inside. Everything functions as you would expect: presenting the right RFID card to the wall-mounted reader sends a signal to the microcontroller, which clicks an accompanying relay that drives the locks.

You may recall [Shawn's] RFID phone tag hack from last month; the addition of the readers is the second act of the project. If you’re looking to recreate this build, you shouldn’t have any trouble sourcing the same Parallax readers or building out your own Arduino on a stick, either. Check out a quick walkthrough video after the jump.

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Simple Hack Puts an RFID Tag Inside your Mobile Phone

RFID Tag Cell Phone

RFID security systems have become quite common these days. Many corporations now use RFID cards, or badges, in place of physical keys. It’s not hard to understand why. They easily fit inside of a standard wallet, they require no power source, and the keys can be revoked with a few keystrokes. No need to change the locks, no need to collect keys from everyone.

[Shawn] recently set up one of these systems for his own office, but he found that the RFID cards were just a bit too bulky for his liking. He thought it would be really neat if he could just use his cell phone to open the doors, since he always carries it anyways. He tried searching for a cell phone case that contained an RFID tag but wasn’t able to come up with anything at the time. His solution was to do it himself.

[Shawn] first needed to get the RFID tag out of the plastic card without damaging the chip or antenna coil. He knew that acetone can be used to melt away certain types of plastic and rubber, and figured he might as well try it out with the RFID card. He placed the card in a beaker and covered it with acetone. He then sealed the beaker in a plastic bag to help prevent the acetone from evaporating.

After around 45 minutes of soaking, [Shawn] was able to peel the plastic layers off of the electronics. He was left with a tiny RFID chip and a large, flat copper coil. He removed the cover from the back of his iPhone 4S and taped the chip and coil to the inside of the phone. There was enough room for him to seal the whole thing back up underneath the original cover.

Even though the phone has multiple radios, they don’t seem to cause any noticeable interference. [Shawn] can now just hold his phone up to the RFID readers and open the door, instead of having to carry an extra card around. Looking at his phone, you would never even know he modified it.

[Thanks Thief Dark]

Upgrade Your Garage Door with Arduino and RFID

RFID Garage Door Opener

[Jason] really wanted to build an RFID controlled garage door opener and decided to turn to Arduino to get the job done. For someone who’s never worked with an Arduino before, he really seemed to know what he was doing.

The Arduino acts as the brains of the operation while an off-the-shelf NFC/RFID reader module is used to read the RFID tags. To add new keys to the system, [Jason] simply swipes his “master” RFID key. An indicator LED lights up and a piezo speaker beeps, letting you know that the system is ready to read a new key. Once the new key is read, the address is stored on an EEPROM. From that point forward the new key is permitted to activate the system.

Whenever a valid key is swiped, the Arduino triggers a relay which can then be used to control just about anything. In this case, [Jason] plans to use it to control his garage door. The system also has a few manual controls. First is the reset button. If this button is held down for two seconds, all of the keys from the EEPROM are erased. This button would obviously only be available to people who are already inside the garage. There is also a DIP switch that allows the user to select how long the relay circuit should remain open. This is configurable in increments of 100ms.

For now the circuit is wired up on a couple of breadboards, but it might be a good idea to use something more permanent. [Jason] could always take it a step further and learn to etch his own PCB’s. Or he could even design a board in Eagle CAD and order a real printed board. Don’t miss the video description of the RFID system below. [Read more...]

Stuffing an RFID Card into a Finger Ring


[Benjamin Blundell] loves wearable technology — but isn’t very happy with commercial offerings — at least not yet. He wanted to take one of his personal RFID cards, and fit it into a much smaller form factor, a 3D printed RFID ring.

The cool thing with most RFID cards today is they are made of a plastic that is quite easily dis-solvable in Acetone. Simply soak the card for about 30 minutes (depends on the card) and the plastic will simply peel away, revealing the microchip and copper antenna coil. It kind of looks alive when it’s melting…

The problem is, the antenna coil is generally the size of the card — how exactly are you going to fit that into a ring? [Benjamin] managed to find some surrogate RFID key tags, with a much smaller antenna coil. A little bit of solder later and he was able to attach his RFID microchip onto the new antenna! He mentions it is possible to wind your own antenna… but to get the frequency just right might be a bit challenging.

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RFID Jacket Flashes the Crowd at Make Fashion 2014


The [RADLab team] has created an eye-opening RFID jacket for Make Fashion 2014. For this project, [Dan Damron, Chris Zaal, and Ben Reed] of RADLab teamed up with designer [Laura Dempsey] to create a jacket which responded both to a dancer on the runway and the audience itself. RADLab stands for Radio Frequency Identification Application Development Lab, so you can probably guess that RFID was their weapon of choice for interaction. We’ve got a bit of RFID experience here at Hackaday, having recently used it at The Gathering in LA. The [RADLab team] didn’t skimp on processing power for this jacket. A BeagleBone Black running Debian controls the show. The BeagleBone receives data from a Thingmagic M6e 4 port UHF RFID Reader. The M6e is connected to 4 directional antennas. The BeagleBone responds differently depending on which RFID card is read, and which antenna reads it. With the data processed, the BeagleBone then issues commands to a teensy 3.0, which controls  WS2811 “Neopixel” addressable RGB LEDs sewn into the jacket.

During the fashion show, the jacket wearer danced with a second model who had RFID tags sewn into his t-shirt. The LED clusters on the front, back and sleeves of the jacket would light up, and change color and flash frequency based upon which tag and antenna got a read. Once the performance was over, the audience was encouraged to pick up tags and interact with the jacket themselves. The software was still very much beta, so the [RADLab team] monitored everything via WiFi and restarted the software when necessary.

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RFID Keepsake Box is Sweet and Secure


[Mike Buss] wanted to make his girlfriend something unique for her upcoming birthday — she had mentioned she wanted something to keep small mementos in, but [Mike] decided to step it up a notch on the awesomeness scale.

You see, a few years ago [Mike] read about the Reverse Geocache Puzzle by [Mikal Hart], which is an awesome box that gives you feedback as to how far away you are from the “secret” location that the box will open at — To raise the stakes however, if you ask for the distance more than 20 times it locks itself forever! Now, unfortunately, a memento box wouldn’t be very useful if you had to go to a secret place every time you wanted to open it… so [Mike] decided to secure it another way, using RFID!

It makes use of an Arduino, a Parallax RFID Reader, a micro servo, a button, an RGB LED, and a cleverly designed latch made of a metal eye hook and small copper rod. Since the box is battery powered, [Mike] has added an extremely clever fail safe mechanism. The 9V battery inside includes two extra contacts to the outside of the box via small screws. Completely inconspicuous, but if the battery is dead, simply hold a new 9V to the screws with the RFID card in place, and bam, the box opens!

We’re pretty sure she’s going to like it — check it out after the break!

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Arduino RFID Car Starter


[Pierre] recently bought his first car and decided to make his own RFID electric starter for it!

An Arduino Nano controls two relays which in turn can turn the car on, start it, and turn it off. Instead of adding a button for “push to start” he opted for a 13.56MHz RFID module. Now when he passes his RFID badge across the dash, the car turns on — if it’s held there for over a second, the car starts. Another pass and it will turn off.

His eventual goal is to relocate this circuit closer to the wheel and use an NFC ring to start it! He’s done an amazing job hiding all the components under the trim in his car so far, you can’t tell anything is amiss!  Check out the demonstration in the video after the break.

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