RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) Reader
RFID readers are sophisticated hand-held tools used in railroad industry. They allow engineers and technicians to read detailed information about any particular railroad car and/or train (passenger or freight) without coming to close to that car. This is a safety precaution, which allows technicians to carry out their job without stopping car or train and without necessity to approach or mount moving cars. Each car in a fleet is equipped with a “black box” – small box that contains information about when this particular car was built, where it was built, when and which particular maintenance procedures it went through, part of what train this car is now, its departure and destination points and so on.
There are more than one challenge in designing RFID reader: it construction has to be very strong and robust and withstand drops and mechanical stresses. It must be fully functional in wind, rain, snow or heat conditions. Its design must have proper ergonomic considerations, such as operation with either left or right hand, operation with gloved hand, operation by large hand. It must have easy-to-read display that shows information in any conditions – fog, dark or in direct sunlight. Other specification was with device’s body and its directional antennae – body had to be impenetrable for outside RF waves and nice frequencies to prevent scrambling reading process. Front portion of the device was made out of smoked semi-transparent Poly-carbonate plastic and had to be of such quality as to be completely “transparent” to emitted radio signal, requesting “Black Box” to start transmitting required information. And, at last, this item had to be equipped with powerful laser beam, allowing operator to see and point his reader towards “Black Box” with enough precision. This block inside darkened transparent hood of antennae had also proximity sensors which would inform operator if he is located too far away from “Black Box”.