2014 marks thirty years since the miners strike. To mark the anniversary, St. Helens art service and libraries have commissioned the 30 Years Of.. project from artists collective Re-Dock. In it, they are working with a group of ex-miners to capture their memories and engage with the younger generations, who've grown up in a St. Helens that no longer sends people underground to dig for coal.
MCQN Ltd is providing technical and Internet-of-Things expertise with the project. As part of that we're using RFID to bring some of the mining artefacts to life. The miners are loaning some objects that relate to their life and work with coal, and adding an RFID tag will let the objects trigger recordings of the miners talking about how the object was used, and what it means to them.
The miners and artists aren't coders, so we chose to use the graphical flow-chart programming of Node RED to let them get involved with building up the logic to trigger the recordings.
Node RED is a powerful yet friendly interface for such a project, but didn't have support for RFID readers. In the past, for both Arduino and Raspberry Pi projects, we've used the SL030 RFID modules (in the UK SK Pang sell them here) so that was a natural choice here.
To let the SL030 modules work with Node RED we've developed some new nodes for Node RED, and broken out the RFID interfacing functionality into a Node.js module so that it can be used by others in non-Node RED projects. None of it has been exhaustively tested, beyond our use in the "30 Years Of..." project, so should be considered somewhere between an alpha and beta release.
The Node.js module has been published with npm, so can be installed simply with
npm install rfid-sl030.
To use it with Node RED, you'll need our fork of the extra nodes repository (until we're happy with it to submit a pull request). The code for the Node.js module is also available as rfid-sl030 on github.
Let us know how you get on if you use it.