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pinwc4
2007.02.16, 08:27 PM
I received an exciting piece for our secondary lap counter today....

http://www.flipsidehobbies.com/uploads/pinwc4/feigmodule.jpg

This module should make it so I can use various antenna lengths and be able to tune them without having to make a circuit for each. Hopefully I will have it running for the HFAY OLPS races we run next week. That way both tracks will have lap counters.

GrfxDan
2007.02.16, 09:23 PM
So have you had better luck with getting your homemade lap counter working correctly?

rharris
2007.02.16, 10:47 PM
what is that? is that a RF reader? Or just a component for the antena?

pinwc4
2007.02.16, 10:50 PM
what is that? is that a RF reader? Or just a component for the antena?

That is just for the antenna. The RFID reader module I am using with it is the TI S6350.

pinwc4
2007.02.16, 10:54 PM
So have you had better luck with getting your homemade lap counter working correctly?

I will not know until the next race. It always worked much better at my house than in the fellowship hall. But with this module I should be able to get a better field strength than my existing antenna.

I will get it wired up this weekend and if I can get a read distance of around 2 feet at my house I expect it will work at the fellowship hall.

GrfxDan
2007.02.16, 10:55 PM
I will not know until the next race. It always worked much better at my house than in the fellowship hall. But with this module I should be able to get a better field strength than my existing antenna.

I will get it wired up this weekend and if I can get a read distance of around 2 feet at my house I expect it will work at the fellowship hall.

Good luck. I hope you get it working.

rkk
2007.02.17, 01:00 AM
Please elaborate. What 2 lap counters are you using? If you are using a TI S6350 are you also using home brew transponders, loop, and software?

pinwc4
2007.02.17, 08:32 AM
Please elaborate. What 2 lap counters are you using? If you are using a TI S6350 are you also using home brew transponders, loop, and software?

One of them is the Core lap counter and then the second is my home brew one. The home brew one is made so that the Core tags work with it but I can also use just generic RFID tags. The loop plugs into the module posted above, that is then linked to a TI S6350 RFID module, some other bits of other electronic glue and you have an USB RFID reader. As is though, I do not have enough read range to work in noisy RF environments, hence the tuning module I bought, and lap counting software to use with it needs a lot of work.

I have had this project sitting on my bench for a while and am dusting it off now to try and finish it enough for next weeks races.

pinwc4
2007.02.19, 09:34 PM
OK, my numbers must have been way off. I am getting a read range of about 9 inches on average out of the Core lap counter, not 2 feet like I thought. Anyway I tuned the new lap counter and am getting around the same 9 inch average.

As per before it works for me at my house. Now we will have to see if it works where we actually race. I can tune this easier now so hopefully if it needs tweaked I can do it at the track.

GrfxDan
2007.02.19, 09:57 PM
OK, my numbers must have been way off. I am getting a read range of about 9 inches on average out of the Core lap counter, not 2 feet like I thought. Anyway I tuned the new lap counter and am getting around the same 9 inch average.

As per before it works for me at my house. Now we will have to see if it works where we actually race. I can tune this easier now so hopefully if it needs tweaked I can do it at the track.

That's good news. I hope it works well. If so, maybe I'll have you build me one...

rharris
2007.02.19, 10:06 PM
One of them is the Core lap counter and then the second is my home brew one. The home brew one is made so that the Core tags work with it but I can also use just generic RFID tags. The loop plugs into the module posted above, that is then linked to a TI S6350 RFID module

Does the core use the same TI reader? The TI web site says "not for new designes" I'm assuming they will discontinue it soon.

I have a core system. It would be cool to integrate a RFID reader with the open source lap counting software used by the Giro-Z IR system.

It would also be cool to use generic TI tags. The core tags are getting harder and harder to come by. They are just TI Tag-It cards, but core must be writing a code to them that the lap counter software looks for.

pinwc4
2007.02.20, 11:15 AM
That's good news. I hope it works well. If so, maybe I'll have you build me one...

You will want to wait for the next revision. The state it is currently in is very flexible for configuring different loop sizes but that flexibility added over 200$ to the cost. The next revision will have a fixed antenna loop which is much cheaper to produce when I come up with a reliable design.

pinwc4
2007.02.20, 11:37 AM
Does the core use the same TI reader? The TI web site says "not for new designes" I'm assuming they will discontinue it soon.

I have a core system. It would be cool to integrate a RFID reader with the open source lap counting software used by the Giro-Z IR system.

It would also be cool to use generic TI tags. The core tags are getting harder and harder to come by. They are just TI Tag-It cards, but core must be writing a code to them that the lap counter software looks for.

When I started this project TI did not have the newer IC's they are now recommending people design their projects around. I am going to stick with the S6350 while they are still being produced although a design around the TRF7961 could bring cost down quite a bit.

I spend some time trying to find a good open source lap counting system that I could extend for this use and did check out gzround and flaco that are used with the Giro-Z lap counting system. At this time I do not think it would be worth integrating into gzround but will definatly check out Flaco again after they release their next version. In our case we are writing software within Real Basic, which is somewhat like Visual Basic but allows us to be cross platform.

Core does also use the TI S6350 reader within their lap counter and in regards to the Core lap counter and generic tags you are right. Core locks out non Core tags using both a checksum of sorts in the tag and from within the software.

pinwc4
2007.03.19, 06:53 PM
Well, I got the next stage of this done. My custom PCB's have shown up. Using this takes the total build cost to less than 250$ now. I am still going to have to verify the board, solder everything together and tune the antenna.

Hopefully it will be together for this weekend but I have to finish the projector first.

Check it out...

http://www.flipsidehobbies.com/stuff/rfidpcb.jpg

rkk
2007.03.20, 12:04 AM
Thanks for the update. I am really looking forward to see how this progresses. RC Raceday used to have a software package but no hardware. Never got a chance to look at it closely though.

pinwc4
2007.03.29, 09:54 PM
Still moving slowly forward. I soldered everything that I can do up to this point. Now I have to tune the antenna, then solder the TI module in and it should be done. I greatly dislike tuning antennas....

http://www.flipsidehobbies.com/stuff/rfidscanner2.jpg

cdog4w
2007.03.30, 02:42 PM
Impressive work, I think we're all interested to hear how it goes. Did the software from the giroz package end up working?

pinwc4
2007.04.02, 09:02 PM
Success, I tuned the antenna at least well enough to pick up the tag in my car from ~9". Check it out, picture is linked since it is really large.

http://www.flipsidehobbies.com/stuff/rfidscanner4.jpg

The antenna may still need some fine tuning but in the current state I can now put it in an enclosure and take it to the track for testing. If our next race night has near as many people as the last having this second lap counter is going to be really helpful

Here is a picture of the board close up.

http://www.flipsidehobbies.com/stuff/rfidscanner3.jpg

I had a couple of mistakes on the layout that I will correct for the next version. Nothing major, just measurements from manufacturers that were wrong causing me to improvise. The obvious ones are the resistors that are much bigger than the spacing I gave the leads.

Unfortunately I did not have any female headers so I soldered the TI module directly to my board. I could not find any locally. It's a bummer how hard it is to find electronics components locally now.

GrfxDan
2007.04.02, 10:20 PM
Congrats! I'm glad to hear you've got it working... ish. Looking forward to having 2 tracks with lap counters.

pinwc4
2007.04.03, 12:49 PM
Congrats! I'm glad to hear you've got it working... ish. Looking forward to having 2 tracks with lap counters.

Well, with how the club is growing, by the time I get this second one going I am going to have to make a third.

briankstan
2008.11.02, 04:04 PM
how about an update on the hardware? :D

pinwc4
2008.11.18, 09:54 PM
how about an update on the hardware? :D

Sorry for the lack of response, the forum did not send me an email about a new post....

I had set aside this half of the project to focus on the software side. Now that I have an alpha release of the software I can now turn my attention back to this. Plus we had an incident in the room we race in that resulted in it getting flooded, my Core lap counter was under water so I do not know if it will work again. So I pretty much have to get my prototype working fully so that we can run races again.

My prototype has worked well enough for testing but I still need a more reliable antenna. I have tried a few different materials so far but either could not get the signal strength or had durability problems resulting in failures after repeated transport. I think I am going to switch to using coax for now. While it is thicker it should be reliable.

Hopefully in the next couple months I will have something durable enough that I could build and ship to people knowing it will work when they finish assembly.

briankstan
2008.11.19, 07:14 AM
oh man that really sucks about the Core, did you get if dried out?

I accidentally (yea right) landed my heli in my swimming pool this summer. After a complete disassemble and dry I was supprized that it still worked.

I'm in no rush, but just wanted to check the status of the hardware. Once completed I'd like to possibly put together a HFAY package using your timer.

pinwc4
2008.11.19, 11:38 AM
oh man that really sucks about the Core, did you get if dried out?

I accidentally (yea right) landed my heli in my swimming pool this summer. After a complete disassemble and dry I was supprized that it still worked.

I'm in no rush, but just wanted to check the status of the hardware. Once completed I'd like to possibly put together a HFAY package using your timer.

I have disassembled it and let it dry. But before I try using it again I am going to put it in a vacuum chamber with a moisture absorbent material to get it as dry as possible. Since you can not buy the Core hardware and I want to ensure my software works with it along with my own hardware I need to have a working Core lap counter to test with.

But this motivates me to get my own hardware done quickly as we can not race again until I have something.

That is a good idea with a HFAY package. The only catch will be some assembly will be required. I can not sell this as a fully functioning unit without getting FCC approval which will cost quite a few thousand dollars. Some basic soldering may be required to finish assembly. But it will be easier than solder FET's.....

If I were to give a safe high estimate I would say total cost will be around 300$.

You will need to buy a few parts yourself including the TI S6350 module for 160$, but tags are cheap at around 1$ each. Higher quantities could bring parts costs down some.

Email me so we can chat more about the HFAY idea.

jimb
2009.01.16, 09:12 AM
We are just starting up a club and i am very interested in your system i have downloaded software (only mac friendly system i could find) we are hoping to be in hfay next session. but since core is no longer available and used ones are hard to come by i would be very interested in your hardware also. thanks

kalou60
2009.05.04, 12:28 PM
A big up:D
@pinwc4: I like know if your project is alway in your head, and perhaps could you explain with some images and a tutorial will be welcome for my little hands.:cool:

pinwc4
2009.05.05, 01:12 PM
A big up:D
@pinwc4: I like know if your project is alway in your head, and perhaps could you explain with some images and a tutorial will be welcome for my little hands.:cool:

This project is not just in my head, I do have designs of it and originally had 5 boards produced for myself so I could tweak the design. It has been slow going I know as I have focused more on the software side. I needed software first as without it the hardware would be useless.

I have tried and failed at quite a few antenna designs, either they are not strong enough for the signal, not durable enough or not easy enough to produce. Right now I am trying to use simple computer ribbon cable, like is used to plug a CDROM into the motherboard of a computer. This approach looks very promising, it is durable, cheap and I can actually tape the antenna together at the right dimensions so that people would not have problems getting the antenna loop the right shape.

But I think I have a flaw in the antenna tuning circuit somewhere. No matter what I try I tune the antenna at one location and then when I take it somewhere else it is out of tune and can not pick up the cars good enough.

So while I have not said much I do work on it every couple of weeks and try to get it finished, I just have focused more on the software.

If you want to read up more on antenna designs TI actually has a few of good documents
TI Antenna Design Notes (http://www.ti.com/rfid/docs/manuals/appNotes/HFAntennaDesignNotes.pdf)
TI RFID Antenna CookBook (http://www.ti.com/rfid/docs/manuals/appNotes/HFAntennaCookbook.pdf)
100CM x 600CM Antenna Design (http://www.ti.com/rfid/docs/manuals/appNotes/HF1000x600AntennaRev2.pdf)

kalou60
2009.05.05, 11:37 PM
Thanks for your answers;)