Is this possible—and, if so, where should I look to begin experimenting?
Yes, it is possible, depending upon the speed at which the cylinder rotates. If it is moving at an extremely high speed, that might pose a challenge, but it only takes a fraction of a second to read a tag, so it should be doable. I would recommend testing a high-frequency (HF) reader, if you can place the reader within 18 inches or so of the tagged cylinder. There are plenty of HF readers available for purchase via the Web or through a distributor. You can also purchase passive HF tags over the Internet. Just make sure the tags and readers use the same air-interface protocol (I recommend ISO 15693). If the cylinder is composed of metal, you could also try low-frequency (LF) tags and readers. HID Global makes the heavy-duty IN Tag, for instance.
If you cannot get the reader antenna close enough to the LF or HF tag to read it, you can try a passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) system. There are plenty of metal-mount tags that will work on a metal cylinder. You can buy UHF reader modules online to carry out some testing.
You will also need to develop a piece of software that will conduct the counting for you, or display the number of times that each tag has been read. I would recommend asking the company from which you purchase the reader if it has something appropriate or could tell you how to develop it.
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal
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