Using the ThingMagic Configuration Tool (TCT)

Overview

This article will walk through the initial setup and use of the ThingMagic Configuration Tool for Jadak readers.

Downloads

ThingMagic Configuration Tool: https://www.dropbox.com/s/j2kdwqbxxlp2l7h/TCT_RAINDEMO.zip?dl=0

Java JDK: https://www.dropbox.com/s/m6nqrwtwyn8mi9g/Java%20JDK%20for%20TCT.zip?dl=0

Installing the ThingMagic Configuration Tool (TCT)

To download TCT, click the link above and unzip the file to a local directory on your PC. If you do not already have the Java JDK installed on your computer, download and unzip the Java JDK file provided above and run the installer. Once this is done, run the TCT installer to install the TCT program onto your PC.

Connecting to a Reader

Once the program is installed, launch it by navigating to the install directory and double-clicking the program. TCT should launch and the user will be presented with the Home screen, shown below.

The ThingMagic Configuration Tool is a very handy tool for connecting and configuring any Jadak serial readers and modules. For this demo, we will focus on using the ThingMagic Elara reader with the TCT so we can show off some of its notable features.

Connecting to a reader is made simple in the Connect menu. Simply plug your serial reader into your PC and click the "Connect" button at the top of the TCT. The Connect screen will show all detected serial connections available, along with the corresponding COM port for each reader. If no devices are found, click the "Refresh" button to rediscover connected devices.

In the image below, you can see that the TCT detected 3 available devices on my PC:

The first device is a ThingMagic USB Plus+ reader that is using COM3, and the next two devices are both the Elara reader. This is because the Elara behaves in two distinct ways based on its current configuration: in CDC mode, the Elara is assigned a serial COM port on the PC and behaves like a standard serial reader. In HID mode, the Elara behaves like a keyboard emulation device, and will output nearby tag data directly to the PC as if typed by a keyboard.

First, let's connect to the standard serial port of the Elara reader by selecting the CDC option and pressing the "Connect" button. Once connected, the connected device's information will be displayed on the screen.

Configuring a Connected Reader

Next, let's configure the connected reader to read some tags. To do this, select the "Configure" tab at the top of the screen.

From this screen, we can set the connected reader's Region, Protocol and Antenna settings, as well as configure the device's clock and available read triggers. To set the reader to begin reading as soon as it is connected to a PC, enable the "On Boot" option under "Trigger". If the read or write power needs to be adjusted, click and drag the appropriate sliders or type the desired power level in the appropriate text box.

The Configure menu also allows the user to adjust the workflows of the reader, if the reader supports them. The Elara reader supports 4 distinct workflows (modes) to interact with tags: HDR, Monitor, Commision Single Tag, and Update Tag. A description for each of those modes is below:

  • HDR (Single Tag Read) - This mode reads the closest tag to the reader, once every second.
  • Monitor (Bulk Read Far) - This mode reads all tags near the reader and reports the tag data every second. This is the default mode for the Elara reader.
  • Commission Single Tag - This mode is similar to the HDR mode, and operates on the closest tag to the reader. In this mode, the user can specify data to write to the closest tag, as well as lock or unlock that tag's memory banks.
  • Update Tag - This mode is similar to Tag Commissioning, but allows the user to update the tag's USER memory and notify the host of the update.

Under the Advanced Settings screen, additional reader configurations can be made, including the reader's Session value and read Target. For additional information on these values and what they affect, please see the article linked below:

https://www.atlasrfidstore.com/rfid-insider/understanding-epc-gen-2-search-modes-and-sessions

The User Interface screen allows you to configure how the TCT interacts with your reader. For the Elara, we can select Enable HID to use the HID mode, and can set the data that we would like to see when a tag is reported. In addition, we can set the volume of the beeper that occurs each time a tag is read.

Once all desired settings have been configured, select the "Save" button at the bottom of the screen to apply your new settings. The default settings can be reapplied to the reader at any time by selecting the "Load Defaults" button.

Seeing the Results of a Successful Read

To begin reading tags using the newly configured reader, select the "Results" tab at the top of the screen. Since the default mode of the Elara is set to "Monitor", once the "Start" button at the bottom of the screen is pressed, the reader will read all tags in the nearby area and report the data to the screen every second. The reported data can be configured using the Configure menu outlined above.


Updating Firmware

The TCT can also be used to update the firmware of a connected serial device. To do this, simply select the Utilities tab at the top of the screen and open the Firmware Update menu. Select "Browse" and choose the appropriate firmware for your connected device and then select "Update" to install the firmware.

Elara HID Connection

If we select the Elara HID option, we are taken to the TCT Results screen, where we can see the tag data of any nearby tags that the Elara can read. To start and stop the Elara from reading in this mode, simply press the Caps Lock button on your keyboard twice. 

While operating in HID mode, the other tabs (Configure and Utilities) will not be available. These options are only available for devices using the standard serial connection.

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