ThingMagic Micro (UHF) RAIN RFID

ThingMagic’s 2-port M6e-Micro is one of smallest embedded UHF RAIN® RFID reader modules, offering the high-performance capabilities of the M6e in a small form factor. Its exceptionally small size and powerful performance yield increased efficiency, reduced development costs and time-to-market advantages for a wide variety of solutions.

The Micro is designed to meet the demands of high performance RFID handheld, mobile, and stationary readers. It offers two antenna ports and supports the ability to transmit up to +30 dBm for demanding applications. The edge connections for signals, power, and RF allow the module to be soldered directly to a motherboard as a standard component. The on-board connectors allow the module to be mated to a motherboard as an add-on option.

Features of the Micro RFID reader module include:

  • Small size: 46 mm L x 26 mm W x 4.0 mm H (1.6 in L x 1.0 in W x 0.16 in H)
  • Support for the EPCglobal Gen2 (ISO 18000-6C) protocol (IP-X and ISO 18000-6B optional)
  • Support for two monostatic RF antennas through U.FL connector or solder-down board-edge connections
  • Separate read and write levels, command adjustable from -5 dBm to +30 dBm in 0.5 dB steps
  • 28 solder-down board-edge connections or Molex low profile connector, providing access to DC power, communication, and GPIO signals
  • UART and USB 2.0 control/data interfaces
  • Two 3.3V bidirectional ports configurable as input (sensor) ports or output (indicator) ports
  • North America, EU, India, China, Korea, Australia, and Japan regions are supported with a single SKU
  • Operating temperature range of -40°C to +60°C
  • Tag read rate of 750 tags/second using high-performance settings
  • Maximum tag read distance of over 30 feet (9 m) with 6 dBi antenna
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What applications are the Micro best suited for?

Examples of applications that the Micro was designed for include:

• Hand held devices and scanners

• RFID label printers – desktop and portable

• Point of sales devices

• Smartphone accessories

• Small USB dongles

What are the primary differences between the Micro and other ThingMagic modules?

The Micro is an addition to ThingMagic’s embedded UHF RFID module family and designed for applications requiring a very small form factor, multiple antenna ports, and high performance. See the chart below for the primary differences related to module form factor and performance:

M6e Micro M5e M5e-Compact
Size (L x W x H mm) 69 x 43 x 7.5 46 x 26 x 4 82 x 54 x 5 56 x 36 x 5
Antenna Ports 4 2 2 1
Power (dBm) 31.5 30 30 23
Read Rate (tags/sec) 750* 750* 200 200
Protocol Support Multiprotocol Multiprotocol Gen2 Gen2

* Using high-performance settings

What are the most important and competitive features of the Micro?

A combination of the key features listed below and their corresponding benefits make the Micro the value leader for embedded RFID modules in this size class:

• Small form factor: High performance RFID can now be designed into the latest smaller form factor mobile and handheld products and stationary readers where size is important.

• RF Power output adjustable up to 30 dBm: Results in tag read distance over 30 feet which is valuable for many hand held scanner applications.

• Read rate (up to 750 tags per second using high performance settings): Speed is important in many hand held applications as well as in high performance fixed reader designs. Faster read speeds also permit shorter transmit times, resulting in power savings for battery-powered devices.

• Two external antenna ports: Provides more flexibility than modules of comparable size resulting in increased read area and increased percentage of successful reads.

• Flexible mounting options: The M6e-Micro is designed for both solder-down and mating to a mother board, providing superior design flexibility for developers integrating UHF RFID into their products.

What regions is the Micro certified for?

The Micro is pre-configured for FCC (North America & South America) in the 902-928 MHz band and ETSI (EU and India) in the 865.6-867.6 MHz band. Subsets of these bands support operation in other regions, including Korea, Australia, and P.R. China.

Am I required to buy a Micro Development Kit?

First time Micro module purchases must include a Development Kit (DevKit). The DevKit includes one module, a test fixture, AC power adapter, plug adapter kit (US, UK, EU, AUS plugs), sample antenna, sample tags, and instructions for obtaining the SDK/API. Your DevKit purchase also initiates access to one year of ThingMagic Support.

I’ve written code for the M6e and other ThingMagic modules. What software engineering is required to use that code on the Micro?

The ThingMagic API supports all ThingMagic products. In this case, you will simply need to recompile your code using the latest version of the ThingMagic API.

Does the Micro support bi-static operation?

No, the Micro is monostatic only.

What is the lowest temperature that the Micro can operate in?

The Micro meets all its specifications to temperatures as low as -20° C. If necessary, ThingMagic will assist customers with determining what specifications change at temperatures below -20° C.

Is the Micro Lead Free?

Yes, the Micro is ROHS compliant.

For a battery-powered device, does the Micro consume less power than the M6e?

Yes, the Micro consumes around 0.5 W less than the M6e when both are set to +30 dBm. As the RF output power is reduced, the difference becomes more significant. Below +20 dBm, the Micro consumes around 2 W of DC power whereas the M6e consumes just over 4 W. When not transmitting, both modules consume a similar level of DC power.

The Micro has a higher tag/second read rate than other ThingMagic modules. Why is this?

The M6e and Micro represent ThingMagic’s newest additions to our embedded RFID module family. As such, these modules offer the most recent advancements relative to form factor, efficiency and performance. Several performance optimizations available with the M6e and Micro deliver an improved base read rate, and when coupled with application specific capabilities such as ThingMagic’s Fast Search algorithm, result in market leading performance. The differing characteristics of our module family – including tag read rate – provides customers with the greatest number of options when considering embedded RFID for their products and services.

Can the Micro be used for near-field and/or NFC applications?

NFC products operate in the 13.56 MHz frequency band which is a different technology than the products ThingMagic offers. As such, Micro does not work with NFC tags. However, near-field UHF tags are supported and the high power level of the Micro will help read smaller populations of UHF tags at a greater distance.

Do I have to handle compliance requirements with the FCC? For example, if we use the Micro in a mobile unit, do the mobile unit and reader have to be recertified with the FCC?

One of the benefits of using the Micro and other ThingMagic embedded RFID modules is that we do most of this work for you. OEM customers don’t have to be compliance experts and can leverage ThingMagic’s expertise in this area. The Micro is FCC certified with high-gain antennas. As long as you certify your product with antennas of the same gain or lower, you can use ThingMagic’s FCC Modular Approval license for your finished product, including the Transmitter Module FCC ID. If you use an antenna that does not fall under ThingMagic’s certification, you will need to get a permissive change for your product. ThingMagic can assist with this process.

Do I need to be an RFID expert to add RFID to my products?

No. As with FCC compliance, OEM customers can leverage ThingMagic’s expertise in RFID to help develop your product quickly and cost effectively. Using a ThingMagic embedded module and software support tools will result in considerable time to market and cost savings compared to designing in RFID on your own.

What are the interface ports available on the Micro?

The interface ports available on the Micro include USB, UART, and two (2) U.fl ports. The board-to-board connectors include power and interface connectivity.

What types of RF connectors does the Micro have?

The Micro includes U.FL (also known as IPX) RF connectors.

How does the antenna protection on the Micro compare to the M6e?

Both the Micro and M6e modules monitor the PA current and will cease transmission if the PA could be damaged by transmitting into a broken connection or an antenna which has been severely detuned by a metallic surface being brought near it.

Does ThingMagic plan to introduce any custom small form-factor antennas to work with the Micro?

Not at this time. There are antennas on the market that are suitable for many applications. If you can’t find what you are looking for, ThingMagic may be able assist by introducing you to an appropriate antenna manufacturer.

My antenna is currently connected by a cable and a connector to the module. Do I have to use a solder-down or board-to-board connector for the antenna, or can I connect to the module directly?

You can connect to the module directly. Even if the data and signals use the solder-down connection, the RF can be connected by a cable. If you are using a board-to-board connector for the data and power, the RF connector will be facing the board, but there is enough clearance to attach a U.FL connector to the module underneath.

Can I control the Micro with a PIC processor? What are the minimum processor resources needed to control the Micro?

The Mercury C API is designed to be ported and run on a wide variety of runtime environments, ranging from full host operating systems to bare-metal embedded platforms. In order to best support embedded systems it avoids large memory buffers and dynamic memory allocation (where possible, interfaces are created so that if dynamic allocation is available, the user can take advantage of it without difficulty), and has several memory saving features including the ability to build only a subset of the API (strip out unused protocols, advanced features, etc.).

Does the Micro support the battery assisted tag encoding and reading?

Yes. For the most part, the existence of a battery in the tag is transparent to the reader, but in some cases battery status information is available and the Micro is capable of retrieving it.

Are there any characteristics of the Micro that would prevent a hand held device in which the module is installed from being certified intrinsically safe?

There is nothing specific to the Micro itself that prevents an OEM from designing a complete handheld unit that is intrinsically safe. If you are manufacturing a handheld unit, we suggest you incorporate the Micro module and get an intrinsically safe rating for the entire unit.

Where can I buy the Micro?

Contact JADAK to purchase the Micro and all other ThingMagic RFID products.

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