Monk Clever Card Kit............

Les Pounder tries out English com­pany Monk’s RFID kit, with hopes that he can au­to­mate the dog open­ing the door. Now we just need a ro­bot for walkies!

Linux Format - - CONTENTS -

Les Pounder uses this RFID kit, with hopes that he can fi­nally au­to­mate the dog door.

For new users, the sheer vol­ume of projects and com­po­nents is be­wil­der­ing. Where do you start when you know noth­ing about electronics or the Rasp­berry Pi? Well, typ­i­cally you pur­chase a kit from one of the many busi­nesses that have popped up to sup­port the Pi com­mu­nity.

Si­mon Monk, au­thor and electronics tin­kerer, has a range of Monk Makes kits. The lat­est is an RFID card kit for all mod­els of Rasp­berry Pi. RFID (Ra­dio Fre­quency Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion) is of­ten used with key fobs to track em­ployee move­ments around a build­ing by touch­ing read­ers lo­cated at door­ways.

In­side the kit is the RFID reader that con­nects to the Rasp­berry Pi us­ing the GPIO util­is­ing the SPI pro­to­col. There’s also a series of cards and key fobs that can be read and writ­ten to, a mo­men­tary switch, and an RGB LED for use in projects. For those new to the Rasp­berry Pi, the GPIO num­ber­ing sys­tem can seem con­fus­ing, but pre­sented with the kit is a “Rasp­berry Leaf” that fits over the GPIO and pro­vides a quick ref­er­ence for the GPIO Broad­com pin num­ber­ing.

By fol­low­ing the well-writ­ten guide­book we were able to quickly build our test project, which checked that the RFID reader was work­ing cor­rectly. This is the first in a series of six that form the ma­jor­ity of the guide­book. Each project came with a series of im­ages and di­a­grams to ex­plain how to con­nect the com­po­nents, and was ac­com­pa­nied by code seg­ments, which can also be down­loaded from the web­site. All of the code for a project is fully ex­plained and clearly pre­sented in the guide­book.

The projects vary from the sim­ple (read­ing the con­tents of an RFID card) to the ad­vanced (us­ing RFID cards in­stead of cash in a game of Mo­nop­oly). But what links the projects is how prac­ti­cal they are. All six projects can be used as the ba­sis of an­other project, and by in­clud­ing these projects in an­other we can remix and rein­vent, which is a com­mon project trait.

The next level

Once you’ve mas­tered the six projects, the guide­book pro­vides a ref­er­ence on us­ing the Sim­pleMFRC522 li­brary that en­ables the RFID reader to be used with the Pi. To test how easy it was, we used Project 2 to write a web­site URL to an RFID fob. We then cre­ated a sim­ple ap­pli­ca­tion that read the URL from the fob and opened the de­fault web browser to that URL. This was ac­com­plished in just eight lines of Python. Speak­ing of Python, it’s great to see that the projects and li­braries are us­ing Python 3.

This is a great kit that moves away from ob­vi­ous top­ics for most starter kits. By con­tain­ing all of the parts, the soft­ware and con­fig­u­ra­tion steps as part of a well-paced and writ­ten guide­book, this kit will pro­vide an ex­cep­tion­ally in­ter­est­ing route­way for those com­ing to the Rasp­berry Pi.

For those au fait with the Rasp­berry Pi, this is still a great kit. Us­ing RFID read­ers with the Pi can be prob­lem­atic, but fol­low­ing the guid­ance of this kit we were able to have a work­ing project in un­der 30 min­utes and the Python 3 li­brary is eas­ily us­able. One mi­nor nag about the li­brary is that it needs to be in the same di­rec­tory as the project code. This can be solved by copy­ing the Sim­ file to /usr/ lo­cal/lib/python3.4/dist-pack­ages/, but it would be great if that were han­dled au­to­mat­i­cally by the in­staller.

But de­spite that, this is a great kit to use and it’ll in­spire a lot of mak­ers! Fea­tures Per­for­mance Ease of use Value

Com­ing as a full kit, the Clever Card Kit of­fers six projects, fully sup­ported and ex­plained in a great guide­book. Hats off to the Monk team.

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