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Wireless Authentication of Smart Doors using RFID


This final report outlines the implementation of an Internet­enabled door Authentication system using radio frequency identification (RFID). The project was undertaken as a senior Electrical Engineering CAPSTONE project. RFID is an exciting technology that could have the potential to revolutionize convenience and security for consumers worldwide. This project served primarily as a means of investigating this potential, with a particular emphasis placed on controlling overall system cost while offering security.

The importance of this consideration is in direct response to the perceived over inflation in price of professional RFID solutions for offices, businesses and universities. It is the position of the team undertaking this project that a system with many of the convenient features of a professional solution could be built for a small fraction of the cost.

The inexpensive system attempts to maximize the available features without sacrificing the low price point of approximately $78 per door. Each lock in the system is independently Internet­ enabled to eliminate the need for a dedicated connection to a central network controller device. Instead, each lock is permitted to communicate directly over the Internet to a central cloud­ based database server, provided by Amazon Web Services.

This server is maintained by a door administrator who is able to use the web interface to manage user access profiles, remotely disable lost RFID cards, view door access logs and suspicious activity, and easily send messages to other administrators within the system. The web interface for the door administrator allows for advanced system control without the need for expensive proprietary software, advanced knowledge of the system’s architecture, or the high installation and maintenance costs associated with dedicated communication wiring.

Security is also an important consideration that was addressed in this project. AES­128 CBC encryption has been implemented to enhance the resilience of communication between each RFID module and the central server against man­in­ the middle attacks. Of particular concern is the interception of RFID card ID numbers being transmitted in the clear when the RFID module attempts to poll the online database, and when the database sends a positive authentication message to the RFID module in order to open the door.

It is on these two communication branches that encryption would be applied. Additionally, the system has been insulated against denial of service attacks through the use of free Cloud Flare services, which dynamically blacklist IP addresses that attempt to hog server resources through excessive http requests.


A. Trades Leading to Proposed Solution:

Several of the discussed solutions for door authentication were compared and arranged into a decision matrix. This table organizes design considerations and places a weighting on each of them. It, then, shows the relative score for each criterion that each option has been assigned.

Each of these scores were compiled into a final overall score for each option. RFID scores the highest overall among the four considered options for door authentication. It was particularly attractive for its high convenience, which was the design criterion that received the most weight.

B. Technical Requirements:

Current technical requirements demand the following of the proposed system:

  • The system should not take longer than 2 seconds to open the door after an RFID card is read.
  • RFID cards should be capable of being read from a distance of at least 2 cm but not
    greater than 10 cm.
  • In the event of system failure, the system should still permit normal (manual) operation of the door.
  • The electronics of the door should be powered with the electrical supply available in
    the wall. Each door’s RFID module should be capable of connecting to the Internet, either through Wi­Fi or Ethernet.
  • The dimensions of the system’s circuitry enclosure should permit the module to be
    installed within the wall. If the customer objects to installing the system within the wall,the enclosure should allow for the system to be mounted on the wall beside the door on the inside of the room.

C. System Description:

An RFID card receives its power wirelessly from the RFID reader located at the door. This allows the RFID card to wirelessly transmit its identification information to the reader. The reader then passes this information to the Atmega328P microcontroller of the Arduino Uno.

Next, the RFID unique identifier (UID) is encrypted in Javascript by Node.js which is
run by the Linux operating system, OpenWrt, on the Yún shield. After the encrypted UID is sent to the server, the server decrypts it in order to compare it to the registered UIDs that are stored in the database.

System Diagram.

System Diagram.


Some of the IEEE standards associated with our project are Wi­Fi (802.11) and Ethernet (802.3). There are two types of Wi­Fi standards that this project adhered to:
802.11b and 802.11g.

  • IEEE 802.11b
  • IEEE 802.11g
  • IEEE 802.3


Economic ​­-The price of one device must not exceed more than $40, the final system including two devices and administrator control part must not cost more
than $110

Environmental​­- The unit should be able durable and be able to operate under everyday work conditions. The power consumption should also be kept minimal.

Manufacturability-­ The final system must be modular and easy for BTC
Solutions to reproduce.

Health and Safety​- ­ The device should not be able to injure users or anyone around it.

Lawful­- FCC regulations on RF transmission require less than 4 Watts of power be emitted from any unlicensed source.


A.RFID Module:

The hardware setup of the online RFID authentication system includes the following

  • MFRC­522 reader for scanning RFID tags/cards
  • Arduino Uno R3 microcontroller
  • Iduino (generic brand) Yún shield with an embedded Linux server
  • Electric strike plate used to lock or unlock a door
  • NPN Darlington Switch Circuit to drive electric strike plate
  • LEDs to provide visual feedback of scan result to user
RFID Module.

RFID Module.


A. Software Requirements:

This system server utilizes the following software technologies, which must be installed on any freshly­ launched virtual machine:

  • Apache ­ HTTP server
  • MySQL & Database ­ needed to store and query data in database
    (optional) Phpmyadmin ­ allows for viewing and editing of the system database
    in Internet browser
  • PHP ­ used for server­side scripting by browser GUI
  • Javascript ­ used by server­side scripting
  • Node.js ­ server­side Javascript environment used for encryption and communication
    with Yun


A. Working Prototype:

The working prototype of this project includes a small door model with a electric strike plate. Two enclosures are installed on both sides of the “wall” next to the metal key lock, the small one in the front contains a RFID reader and LED circuits and the big one in the back includes a Arduino Yún Shield, Arduino Uno R3 and a switch circuit. Working prototype’s picture.

RFID Module End Product Installed on Door Model

RFID Module End Product Installed on Door Model.

Test Used to Benchmark the System Performance:

In order to measure the power consumption of this system, a voltmeter was connected in parallel with the power adapter to measure the voltage, and an ammeter was connected in series with the power adapter; instrument readings were taken for 20 times under different circumstance: while the system was idle, and while the system was reading cards and processing. The power consumption of the whole system can be calculated by multiplying average voltage and current values.

Test Results:

The test results are shown in the table below. The voltages of the system while idle and processing are both 12 V. The currents of the system while idle and processing are both 220 mA, yet it is constantly at 220 mA while idle, and fluctuating while processing. Therefore, the power consumption is averages to about 2.64 W.


One aspect of the project that motivates the team is the investigation of RFID technology for the purposes of determining a reasonable price point for the finished product. Early in the conception of the project, the team discovered that professional door authentication systems for schools and businesses could easily cost up to $3000 per door. This number seems unreasonably high given the price of the electronic components themselves.


Although the proposed RFID door authentication project was undertaken as a senior design project for the Electrical Engineering department, unique aspects of the project require considerations that go beyond the purely technical. One of the most important skills that this project emphasized was communication within a group setting. While technical knowledge forms the bedrock of any competent engineer, the ability to work well with others is fundamental for success in a professional or research environment.


Given the request of the electrical engineering faculty for an RFID system for their offices, there was much motivation and enthusiasm for creating a simple, inexpensive, and reliable access control system that used RFID technology. The baseline cost of $3,000 per online door for LMU’s current One Card system necessitated this senior project.

In addition,today’s RFID technology offers improved methods of access control, especially when compared to magnetic stripe technology which is starting to become antiquated just as much as metal keys are. All the more surprising, metal keys are still being used in the electrical engineering department. One key per lock is unnecessary, inefficient, and unsafe considering that thousands of dollars accrue in both metal key and mag­stripe systems due to proprietary maintenance and upgrades which could lead to a serious flaw in the system if avoided.

The risk of damage or theft of valuable assets is highly disproportionate to a single key that is worth cents. This team’s design addressed these issues by designing the system such that a single, lightweight RFID card can hold multiple access rights, maintenance of the system is extremely low and can be easily handled by a new administrator, and the quick termination of lost or stolen RFID cards by the system administrator ensures the safety of people and their assets. As engineers are known to produce efficient, cost ­effective, and practical solutions,this senior project progressed such skills with the added benefit of the opportunity to help and give back to LMU.

  • An Internet ­enabled door system with RFID can be implemented for a fraction of the
    cost of current commercially­ available solutions
  • A custom online administration system has been created to easily manage the system
  • This cost­ effective system is easy to maintain, secure, and convenient

Source: Loyola Marymount University
Authors: Austin A. Hentrup | Deyi Lu | Peter R. Roldan

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