Development and construction of an autonomous NFC-reader

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Dr. Berényi Richárd
Department of Electronics Technology

Thesis: Development and construction of an autonomous NFC-reader

Created by: Péter Korsós

Consultant: Dr. Richárd Berényi Ph.D.

Hosting department: Budapest University of Economics and Engineering, Faculty of Electrical Enginnering, Electronics Technology Department

Main objectives of the project:

1. Research the available data on NFC technology, its principles, functions and standards!

2. List the possibilities of devices, focusing on integrated circuit components!

3. Develop and construct an NFC-reader device which tends to a certain task, is capable of operating autonomically and is controlled by a microcontroller!

4. Program the device, test it under realistic circumstances and demonstrate the results!

5. Rate the performance of the device and the results of the test!


NFC (Near Field Communication) technology is a very promising branch of the area of wireless communications in today’s world, where security and the protection of data is a primary concern. Every day we encounter situations where we risk our valuable data and we must protect what we have not just physically, but electronically as well. The basic idea of NFC is that the tag, a small and thin electric circuit without a power source, which can easily be fitted onto the side or packaging of any product, onto animals’ ears or onto the backside of a mobile phone thus creating an electronically readable barcode. This barcode can then be read by the appropriate device, while the reader supplies the energy needed for the tag’s chip to operate and to send out its contents. The lack of necessity of an integrated energy source allows the tag to be extremely small (the smallest existing is 0.4 by 0.4 millimeters and is as thick as paper), enabling further options of use, like hidden marking or theft protection. Its main characteristic compared to RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification) tags is that NFC communication can only be set up at really close range, usually less then 10 centimetres. This forces the participants to be in each other’s line of sight, thus rendering the actions of those approaching with malicious intent a lot more difficult.

The newest generation of smartphones are all capable of NFC-based communication and the technology can be widely implemented in smart posters (for advertising purposes, sharing various extra content), admission control (identification) and electronic payments at terminals (small, everyday transactions which do not need further identification). It can also be used to set up connection through more sophisticated communication platforms that need to exchange data beforehand (Bluetooth, WiFi) and in giving out a series of preprogrammed commands to devices (like automatically changing a telephone to flight mode or setting up an alarm just by touching it to a tag).

I chose the subject of my thesis the development and construction of a mobile authentication device, which expects NFC-based identification from the user. It then reacts to the correct code-card with acceptance and with refusal to the incorrect. It also transfers the results to both the LCD display and to the LED lights. Potential fields of usage include access control, border control of restricted areas and personal identification.

The main parts of the device:

The most important part of the device is an integrated circuit board, on which a Texas Instruments MSP430F2370 microcontroller and a Texas Instruments TRF7970A NFC-capable IC are located among other items. The task of the microcontroller is to control the process, to obtain the identifying data through the peripheral IC from a potential ID card and to evaluate that information. Afterwards it activates the LCD panel and with the display of the appropriate message and the lighting of the appropriate LED, it presents the results.

The steps of my work:

After the research of previously available data and documentations the circuit plan is created in PADs, it goes into production and then the components (resistors, capacitors and ICs) are placed onto the board. The following steps are to write and load the program to the microcontroller, to connect the parts together (the board with the LCD panel, the LED lights and the battery) and to organize and stabilize them inside a housing container. Finally, the then complete system needs to be tested under real circumstances and the results need to be evaluated.


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