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Choosing the Right RFID Tags

 

This is part 3 of 5 in our Mastering Race Timing Series.

Find more information on Race Timing in the following guides:

 

A Guide to Building Your Own Race Timing System (Part 1)

Selecting the Right Equipment (Part 2)

How to Properly Tag Racers (Part 4)

A Guide to Race Day (Part 5)

 

INTRODUCTION

This guide is for individuals interested in using RFID for race timing and would like help selecting the right RFID tags for their system. The five most popular RFID tags for race timing are the Alien Squiggle, Smartrac ShortDipole, Smartrac DogBone, Hu-Tag XC1, and the Disposable Triathlon Tag. All these tags are high-quality tags currently used by race timers around the world. Choosing the right RFID tag can be difficult for both new timers and experienced timers because each RFID race timing system and course is unique. This eBook will compare these five tags and provide information specific for each tag in order to help you make an informed decision. While this eBook is full of important specifications, the only definitive way to select the best RFID tag for your application is through thorough testing.

TAG COMPARISON

SMARTRAC SHORTDIPOLE

The SMARTRAC ShortDipole RFID tag is one of the most popular race timing tags because it is small and cost effective, and, with a global frequency range (865–928MHz), it can be used around the world. This tag is available in three types of chipsets – Monza 4D, Monza 5, and Monza R6 – and is primarily available in two formats – wet inlay and paper-face tag. The wet inlay and paper-face tag have a general permanent adhesive on the backside which makes it easy to apply them to racers’ bibs. Both forms can be encoded and printed using an RFID printer, making the pre-race process quick and easy for the timer.

IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT THE SHORTDIPOLE

  • The Monza chipset in the ShortDipole has a non-randomized EPC number encoded to the EPC memory bank. For race timing, you have two options for encoding:

1. Encode your own EPC number (e.g. the bib number) to the EPC memory bank.

2. Purchase the tag pre-printed and pre-encoded for an additional fee.

  • The SMARTRAC ShortDipole Monza 4D, Monza 5, and Monza R6 come in quantities of 100, 1,000, 5,000, and 20,000.
  • The ShortDipole has an average read range of 5 meters or 17 feet.
  • Monza 4D and Monza 5 tags are very closely related with the same amount of EPC memory. The additional specifications (True 3D Antenna Technology and Self-Serialization) separate them from the Monza R6; however, these specifications are not relevant in the race timing industry. Because there is no need for sensitive data, serialization, or omnidirectional usage, the primary items that affect tag selection for a race timing event are the amount of tag memory and tag sensitivity. Due to its increased sensitivity, most race timers tend to prefer the Monza R6 version. (Specifications are shown below.)

SMARTRAC DOGBONE

The SMARTRAC DogBone has a wider form factor than the ShortDipole. However, a larger tag means a larger antenna, indicating it will usually achieve longer read range than smaller tags.The DogBone is a global RFID tag and is sold with either a Monza 4D or Monza R6 chipset. It is typically sold as a clear face wet inlay, but it can also be purchased as a paper-face tag. The wet inlay and paper-face tag both have a general permanent adhesive layer on the back which enables the tags to be adhered to a racer’s bib. Both forms of the DogBone are able to be utilized with an RFID printer for quick printing and encoding.

IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT THE DOGBONE

  • The Monza chipset in the DogBone has a non-randomized EPC number encoded to the EPC memory bank. For race timing, you have two options for encoding:

1. Encode your own EPC number (e.g. the bib number) to the EPC memory bank.

2. Purchase the tag pre-printed and pre-encoded for an additional fee.

  • The  SMARTRAC DogBone Monza 4D and Monza R6 come in quantities of 100, 1,000, 5,000, and 20,000.
  • The DogBone has an average read distance of 5 meters or 17 feet.
  • The additional specifications listed for the DogBone (True 3D Antenna Technology and Self-Serialization) are not relevant in the race timing industry. Because there is no need for sensitive data, serialization, or omnidirectional usage, the primary items that affect tag selection for a race timing event are the amount of tag  memory and tag sensitivity. Due to its increased sensitivity, most race timers tend to prefer the Monza R6 version. (Specifications are shown below.)

ALIEN SQUIGGLE

The Alien Squiggle is a high performance RFID tag in a small form factor. Measuring 99 mm by 12 mm, the Squiggle can be used in smaller spaces than other tags, such as the DogBone.The Squiggle is available with either a Higgs 3 (ALN-9640) or a Higgs 4 chipset (ALN-9740) and is a global frequency tag.The Higgs 4 chipset is usually recommended over the Higgs 3 chipset for race timing because of its standard 128 bits of EPC memory as well as its increased sensitivity and read range. The Squiggle comes in two forms – wet inlay and paper-face tag – both with a general permanent adhesive on the backside.

If needed, the Higgs 3 Alien Squiggle (ALN-9640) contains a high memory capacity (512 bits) in its User Memory bank, allowing it to hold more than one set of data for a specialty race.

IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT THE SQUIGGLE

  • The Higgs 3 and Higgs 4 chipsets in the Squiggle have a randomized, unique ID number encoded to the EPC memory bank. For race timing, you have three options for encoding:

1. Use the unique EPC number to the EPC Memory Bank and associate it with the bib number in a database.

2. Encode your own EPC number (e.g. the bib number) to the EPC memory bank.

3. Purchase the tag pre-printed and pre-encoded for an additional fee.

  • The Alien Squiggle Higgs 3 and Higgs 4 come in quantities of 100, 1,000, 5,000, and 20,000.
  • The Squiggle has an average read distance of 4.5 meters or 15 feet.
  • There is no need for sensitive data or password protection. The primary items that affect tag selection for a race timing event are the amount of tag memory and tag sensitivity. (Specifications are shown below.)

HU-TAG XC1

The HuTag XC1 is a durable, reusable, plastic RFID tag that is designed to be used in rugged conditions. It is able to withstand water and mud, making it an ideal choice for triathlons, mud races, and any other race susceptible to water. The HuTag is rated IP 68, which means it is weatherproof and able to withstand rocky or rough terrain. A waterproof Velcro strap that can fasten the tag to the runner’s ankle is also available for purchase with the HuTag. Both the strap and tag are made to be comfortable to the runner so they will not interfere with the race. The HuTag is only available in the Monza 4QT chipset, but is available in both US (902 – 928 MHz) and EU (865 – 868 MHz) frequencies, allowing for optimal read ranges in almost any region.

IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT THE HUTAG XC1

  • The HuTag is available in the Monza 4QT chip set which has a non-randomized ID number encoded to the EPC memory bank. For race timing, you have two options for encoding:

1. Encode your own EPC number (e.g. the bib number) to the EPC memory bank.

2. Purchase the tag pre-printed and pre-encoded for an additional fee.

  • The Hu-Tag XC1 comes in standard quantities of 10, 100, 600, 1,200, 2,400, 4,800, and 9,600. Non-standard quantities may be available upon request.
  • The Hu-Tag XC1 has an average read distance of up to 6 meters (20 feet) when read horizontally, and a distance of up to 4 meters (13 feet) when read vertically.
  • The HuTag can also be purchased with a high-quality poly-face label that has specialized adhesive for use on the HuTag. Printing is available in black and white. Customized, color labels are available upon request. (Specifications are shown below.)

DISPOSABLE TRIATHLON TAG

The Disposable Triathlon Tag is a lightweight, comfortable race timing ankle tag that has two Smartrac ShortDipole RFID wet inlays inside. It has 4 mm thick foam on the back which decreases interference between the RFID tag and the human body. This disposable tag is waterproof and designed for triathlons and mud races. It is delivered with the Monza R6 chipset and is a global (865 - 928 MHz) RFID tag. The band has a general adhesive on one end that is designed to peel and stick to the other end, creating a comfortable and reliable fit around the runner’s ankle. When purchased without the printing and encoding option, the tag comes pre-encoded with a non-unique number, and must be encoded by the race timer.

IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT THE TRIATHLON TAG

  • The Triathlon tag is only available with the Monza R6 chipset which has a randomized, non-unique ID number encoded to the two tag’s EPC memory banks. For race timing, you have two options for encoding:

1. Purchase the tag with the general, non-unique number and manually encode the bib number on BOTH tags.

2. Purchase the tag pre-printed and pre-encoded for an additional fee.

  • The Triathlon tag comes in standard quantities of 3,000,10,000, 25,000, 50,000, or 100,000. Non-standard quantities may be available upon request; however, the minimum order size for this tag is 3,000 units.
  • The Triathlon tag has an average read distance of up to 4 meters (15 feet) when read horizontally. (Specifications are shown below.)


Want to learn more about race timing?

You just completed the third guide in our Mastering Race Timing series. Read the next whitepaper in our series, How to Properly Tag Racers.

   

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