How to start your installation
StaRFIshrail has been designed as a system for multiple RFID points on a model layout.
If you just want one or two RFID points, then this is probably not the system for you.
However, you should look at the overall costs to get a complete system in place - often parts of a system may appear cheap, but when the overall cost is taken into account, they become more expensive.
Also, StaRFIshrail is a system which does not need any tweaking or adjustment - follow the installation rules, and it will work. All components have been tested before despatch.
The Hub is the central board in the system and you will need one of these, which will service up to 32 RFID points. You can add more hubs to a larger system, each servicing up to 32 RFID points. Up to 16 hubs can be connected together via CBUS® , and all the data received can then be sent to your computer control system (JMRI, RocRail etc) via a single Ethernet port. For systems with more than one hub, the hubs can either be connected together, or more than one Ethernet port to your computer control can be used.
The Hub is a board 100mm by 85mm, and has the following connections:
1] 8 I2C and power ports, using RJ45 (Ethernet 8 way) connectors
2] Ethernet Port, set to 100M ethernet, with unique MAC number
3] CBus connector (3 way, 3.5mm)
4] USB connector (Micro USB B)
5] 10-20V power input socket, using 2.1x5.5mm connector
You will need a power supply for the hub and the attached readers. Any common dc supply, with an output voltage of between 10 and 20V, and a current rating of 2A can be used. The dc input socket is 2.1x5.5mm (2.1mm inner diameter, 5.5 mm outer diameter). The hub supplies power to all the readers via the RJ45 connectors, so no additional power wiring is required. The power input is reverse polarity protected. Suitable power supplies are available from StaRFIshrail, but you may prefer to purchase one locally.
You will need at least one reader attached to the hub. The readers come in either single, dual or quad boards, and connect to the hub via RJ45 Ethernet cables. The quad boards are the most cost effective, having 4 RFID readers on the a board, and these should be used in areas such as stations and fiddle yards, where RFID points can be quite close together. Dual readers are probably best for main lines. Single readers are best for single lines, or out of the way places.
The readers come in three options - short, medium or long. This refers to the matching radio frequency elements for the aerials. and it is essential that the correct aerials are matched with the readers, otherwise the read distance will be dramatically shorter than expected. Readers are supplied with the correct length aerial wires, and are clearly marked S or M or L. Additional aerials can be purchased in Short or Medium or Long.
This reader has just one RFID point, with two RJ45 sockets for daisy-chaining, and a 2 pole, 2 position switch for setting the address.
This reader has 2 RFID points, with 2 RJ45 sockets for daisy-chaining, and a one pole, 2 way switch for setting the address.
This reader has 4 RFID points, just one RJ45 connector, and no address switching.
You will need connections between the Hub and the readers. These are standard Ethernet "patch" cables, either Cat3, Cat5 or Cat5e - it really doesn't matter which you use, so go for the cheapest. These are available from a number of sources, or you can order them through the StaRFIshrail shop.
You need to plan the length of cables you need - and then work out the costs. Do not assume that Amazon and Ebay are the cheapest, as prices vary widely for exactly the same product. International customers are advised to buy cables locally, as shipping costs may make buying from the StaRFIshrail shop prohibitive. Planning is essential so you get the cables you require. I like to use colour coded cables, as this makes wiring easier.
If you are connecting either to a computer system, or between hubs with CBus, then you will need twisted pair cable, but the matching plug-in connector for CBus is included with the Hub.
To connect the Ethernet to the computer system, you will need an Ethernet patch cable - and maybe a small Ethernet router.
You will need an number of tags for affixing to your rolling stock. At the very least, you will need one tag for an engine, and one tag for the last truck/carriage in a train. The StaRFIshrail tags (shown left, with N-gauge track for comparison) are approximately 6mm by 9mm, and will give a read distance of up to 30mm - though you are best not to use them too close to the limit. There are commercial tags available from Murata in 3mm square (approx 15mm read distance) or 8mm square (approx 30mm read distance) as well.