I am trying to build an RFID system that will help with data collection for my research. What I need is for a timer to start when a race start gate drops, and then, when an athlete moves through the start gate, for the timer to stop. This will tell me how long it takes from when the gate drops until the RFID sensor (placed on the person's hip) passes through the gate. I think I am basically looking to make a simple RFID race-timing system, but it needs to be cost-effective and there is no need for long-range reading at all. I don't need it to provide live timing—I can use Microsoft Excel afterward to pull the data out that I want. I am pretty new to RFID, so if there is any way to be pointed in the right direction, or if there is specific equipment I should use, that would be very helpful.
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The big question is how close the tag can be to the reader antenna. Race-timing systems originally put tags on sneaker laces and readers on the ground, so the tags could be within a foot (no pun intended) or so of the reader antenna. If you can use that system, or if you can guarantee that an RFID wristband on the subject's wrist can get within 1 to 3 feet of the reader, you can use a low-cost HF reader module, which is available on the Internet. You will need antennas, cables and software that will take the data from the reader and enter it into your database.
If you cannot guarantee the subject's tag will be within 1 to 3 feet of the reader, you will need to use a passive UHF RFID system. You can also buy these on the Internet. Again, you will need antennas, cables and software that will take the data from the reader and enter it into the database. A simple search for "HF RFID reader" or "UHF RFID reader" will turn up a variety of online purchase options.
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