NFC Support -> Bar Code Scanner

Discussion of ideas for your ultimate dream charger/analyzer
Mark
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NFC Support -> Bar Code Scanner

Postby Mark » Fri Oct 18, 2013 8:02 am

I think it'd be really cool if it were possible to add NFC support to the charger:

If you could add an NFC sticker to each cell that you owned, you could just hold the cell above the screen on the charger for it to recognize the type of battery as well as it's serial number. The charger could then automatically adjust settings to suit that particular cell (charging rate, maximum capacity, etc) it could also automatically log the results of charging to a database so that you would automatically have a comprehensive history of the performance of each battery that you own.

Unfortunately, I think that this is really just pure fantasy at the moment: Besides the additional cost and work required to add it to the charger, the cost of the NFC tags at the moment would be significant compared to the cost of the batteries that you were attaching them to! I also don't think NFC tags are available yet that are small enough and/or flexible enough to be stuck onto a AA cell (let alone a AAA cell)

One alternative that I've thought of would be to add a barcode sticker to each cell and have a scanner built into the charger (or attached to the PC that the charger is connected to) to perform a similar function. It wouldn't be quite as cool, but would still be quite useful!

ukoda
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Re: NFC Support

Postby ukoda » Fri Oct 18, 2013 8:20 am

Mark wrote:I think it'd be really cool if it were possible to add NFC support to the charger:

If you could add an NFC sticker to each cell that you owned, you could just hold the cell above the screen on the charger for it to recognize the type of battery as well as it's serial number. The charger could then automatically adjust settings to suit that particular cell (charging rate, maximum capacity, etc) it could also automatically log the results of charging to a database so that you would automatically have a comprehensive history of the performance of each battery that you own.

Unfortunately, I think that this is really just pure fantasy at the moment: Besides the additional cost and work required to add it to the charger, the cost of the NFC tags at the moment would be significant compared to the cost of the batteries that you were attaching them to! I also don't think NFC tags are available yet that are small enough and/or flexible enough to be stuck onto a AA cell (let alone a AAA cell)

One alternative that I've thought of would be to add a barcode sticker to each cell and have a scanner built into the charger (or attached to the PC that the charger is connected to) to perform a similar function. It wouldn't be quite as cool, but would still be quite useful!

I work with NFC and I suspect the price could be cheap but the problem is the metal body of the cell would stop the NFC antenna from working so it would fail.

On the other hand the barcode is a good idea as some label printers can do them. The trick is making a cheap and easy to use reader.

Paul.Allen
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Re: NFC Support

Postby Paul.Allen » Sat Oct 19, 2013 5:13 pm

The top will be machined aluminium, but the bottom will be plastic. However this doesn't really change anything because there is still the copper ground plane of the circuit board... and it is on the bottom.

Mark
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Re: NFC Support

Postby Mark » Sun Oct 20, 2013 1:21 am

Wouldn't it be possible to read it through the screen?

I don't think the metal of the battery would be a problem as long as you held it with the NFC facing the charger.

The biggest problem I think remains being able to find NFC stickers that would be small enough (and also cheap enough)

I think the barcode alternative would probably be the best alternative - It could be done entirely on the PC, so wouldn't need any hardware changes to the charger. The only obvious disadvantage would be that it would only work when the charger is connected to a PC with the software running and barcode scanner attached to it.

Mark
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Re: NFC Support

Postby Mark » Mon Oct 21, 2013 2:10 am

It looks like small NFC tags are a possibility:
http://www.nfcworld.com/2012/04/19/315168/smartrac-delivers-tiny-tags/

These look like they'd be small enough even for AAA cells!

Cost would still be a major concern.

Other possible concerns would be stay stuck onto a curved surface and also whether they would still work when curved (I'd expect so, but couldn't be sure without testing them) Also, some cells are already a tight fit in some applications, so adding an NFC sticker wouldn't help with that!

Edit: Looks like the tags in the above article can't bend around even an AA cell - minimum bending diameter of 50mm is a lot larger than the 14mm of an AA cell:
http://w3.smartrac-group.com/upm/internet/Web_RFID_ProductSpecification.nsf/ALLBYSALESCODE/3002281/$file/tech_speck_3002281.pdf

It'd still be awesome if it could be done!

DeweyOxberger
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Re: NFC Support

Postby DeweyOxberger » Mon Oct 21, 2013 2:59 am

I also work with nfc. NFC on a battery is hard to do. The battery is conductive stuff. It acts like a shorted winding in an air-core transformer and sucks up all the energy. You have to waste a lot of power to make it work. If you want to pursue it get your brain wrapped around all the techniques used to reduce eddy currents (work the A/L ratio and such). That will point the way to making the ground plane work. With the battery you are stuck. Nothing you can change.

What you need is a cheap id tag that is cheap to read. Optical or e-field based maybe.

Mark
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Re: NFC Support

Postby Mark » Mon Oct 21, 2013 4:41 am

Fair point - I hadn't thought of the battery acting as a shorted winding...

Looks like this isn't going to be feasible then - even in a dream charger!

Going back to bar codes, you could maybe include an upward facing bar code scanner in each slot. You then just insert each battery in with the bar code facing down and the charger could read the bar code once it detects the cell. I haven't looked into the cost of bar code scanners, so it probably wouldn't be cost effective, but we can fantasize! At least the cost for the bar codes for each battery would be next to nothing.

Paul.Allen
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Re: NFC Support

Postby Paul.Allen » Mon Oct 21, 2013 6:41 am

Yes, bar code would work in a dream charger... Probably not in this one, but we will see.

Mark
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Re: NFC Support

Postby Mark » Mon Oct 21, 2013 6:47 am

I don't think it would be reasonable to expect it in the upcoming 4 cell charger.

It might make sense to do it on the PC side for it though. (Becomes my job to implement though unless someone else wants to do it!)

ukoda
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Re: NFC Support

Postby ukoda » Wed Oct 23, 2013 3:03 am

DeweyOxberger wrote:I also work with nfc. NFC on a battery is hard to do. The battery is conductive stuff. It acts like a shorted winding in an air-core transformer and sucks up all the energy. You have to waste a lot of power to make it work. If you want to pursue it get your brain wrapped around all the techniques used to reduce eddy currents (work the A/L ratio and such). That will point the way to making the ground plane work. With the battery you are stuck. Nothing you can change.

What you need is a cheap id tag that is cheap to read. Optical or e-field based maybe.

Thanks, for expanding on what I said, that is what I was implying.

Interestingly the barcode solution does not have to be expensive it's just the demand is not there to drive the price right down. The most practical bar code in this case would be a CCD based device. This is generally the same technology as used in an optical mouse and given an optical wireless mouse can be purchased retail for about USD $8 then, in theory, a barcode scanner working over range of a few mm could be built for USD $5. The catch of course it mice are a dime a dozen but barcode scanners are mainly POS. Writing the word POS on a product is second only to writing Marine on a product for overcharging.


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