BuildBrighton RFID door system – ready to go live!

It was touch and go for a while at the last BuildBrighton meet-up. The ethernet module was proving most disagreeable – sometimes it worked, sometimes not. Sometimes it seemed like the server wasn’t listening, sometimes the response came back almost instantly.

So to just get a serial-to-ethernet (and back again) interface working, we threw an Arduino Mini Pro onto a board and loaded in the UIPEthernet library. Everything was screaming “nooooo! Learn to do it properly” but we just needed some results – and quickly. So Arduino it was.

Even using a library, the response was intermittent, until Steve discovered a single line of code that seemed to fix things: Ethernet.maintain() is a function call that makes ethernet connections much more robust; and suddenly our project worked first time, every time.

Here’s a quick video of it working:

The video shows the members website where keyfob IDs can be assigned to members, and credentials set (who can open the door, who can use the CNC etc.)

When a key is presented to the reader, it seamlessly queries the website and pulls down the latest credentials for the keyfob. The video also shows that keys can be revoked by unticking the “is a valid key” box – when the updated keyfob is presented to the reader, the hardware shows a message “not valid” (and refuses to activate the relay which activates the door). In the same manner, we can easily activate new keyfobs, and add “permissions” to different users, all through the web-interface.

Having proven that the system works end-to-end, we just need to package the circuit up so that it can be put into a suitable enclosure and mounted outside the main BuildBrighton door. We’ve already had a lot of interest in the new door entry system, with quite a few members being given their own keyfobs, ready for when the system goes live. With a bit of luck, it’ll be some time tomorrow evening!

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