Mr. RFID-I-Sam and Testing RFID Tag Ranges

Testing RFID Tag Ranges
Real World Range Testing

It recently occurred to me that this year marks my 20th year of experience with RFID. In 1992, my dad, David Carta Sr., had a customer in Chile who wanted to be able to identify cattle electronically using something called “RFID”. The end user wanted a working sample program and hardware to show how RFID could track cattle information. Always up for a challenge and on summer vacation from grad school, I jumped into the project.

My father visited a company named Trovan in Santa Barbara with a promising technology of a chip embedded in a glass rice grain that could be read when injected into animals. After purchasing a reader and some tags, we built a working program to demonstrate the solution. The project never bore any fruit, but this event began my interest in rapid system development, RFID, and databases.

Fast forward 20 years, I now have three kids of my own, Sam (5 yrs), Andrew (3 yrs), and Thomas (1 yr). Sam recently announced when he grows up he is going to work with me, so he was delighted when I came up with a project that he could help with. One night before bedtime, Sam and I set out to answer this question:

“How far away can you read RFID tags?”

We set up an impromptu range test facility in our living room. We marked out 2 foot distances on the floor of the living room with little pieces of blue tape marked with the appropriate distance. Sam would walk towards me with a tag, while I would point the SmartAT870 handheld reader at him. When the reader beeped and flashed, Sam would look at the floor and figure out the distance for me. We had a great time with our experiment and Sam unknowingly got to practice interpolation!  

Obviously, this was far from a scientific test, but as a rough measure, it should be helpful for anyone with questions about tag ranges with this handheld. Ranges will be different for both fixed and desktop readers.

Who knows what Sam will eventually do when he grows up. But just like I still treasure the memories of being able to help my dad create something new, I’m betting 20 years from now, Sam will remember helping his dad out with all sorts of fun RFID testing. Sam and I hope you enjoy the results of our test.

Dave Carta
CEO Telaeris, Inc.

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