Build Your Own RFID Race Chip Timing System

New race directors and race timers often ask for our guidance with putting together an RFID race timing system, also known as a chip timing system. They often have a do-it-yourself mentality and are eager to build their own chip timing system, but may not necessarily know where to begin.

After watching other companies set up timing systems at races, most DIY race timers are familiar with the basics of race timing, but the inexperience of managing a system may create some headaches when you begin building your own system. This short guide will point you in the right direction and cut down on those headaches.

Updated on April 4, 2014: With the continued popularity of this article, we turned it into a video! We hope the video makes it even easier for you to get up-to-speed with RFID chip timing. 

Basic equipment needed in an RFID timing system:

  1. Reader:   will scan the tags as they cross checkpoints and finish lines.
  2. Antenna:  The serves as the crucial piece that communicates information between tags and the reader.
  3. Chips/Tags:   contains the RFID chip which stores and processes unique information. Race participants will wear a tag, usually on their bib.
  4. Cables:   connect the antenna to the reader.
  5. Timing Software:  Software will process the information and track time stamps of participants.

At , we offer off-the-shelf equipment for your system, so you can buy all the necessary readers, antennas, tags, and cables. If you’re looking for a complete timing system with software, take a look at our chip timing starter kit.

Also, many of our customers use a software development kit (SDK) from the manufacturer and code their own timing system. If you are interested in going this route, we provide the SDK at no additional charge with the purchase of a reader.

I asked Rick Williams, our lead sales engineer, to give us some suggestions for hardware options:

RFID Reader

RFID Antenna


RFID Cables


If you’ve created your own race timing system or have questions or comments regarding this post, please let us know by posting below.

If you would like help creating your own race chip timing system, you can contact a sales engineer at by emailing or calling (888) 238-1155.

To learn more about all things RFID, check out our  website, our YouTube Channel, or contact us

To read more about RFID race timing, check out the links below!