Design And Implementation Of Radio Controlled Car Lock With 5-Minutes Ignition Deactivation Facility

Project and Seminar Material for Computer Engineering

Design And Implementation Of Radio Controlled Car Lock With 5-Minutes Ignition Deactivation Facility


The rate of car theft nowadays according to daily crime analysis is on the increase. Manual key locks have proven to be inefficient. This thesis aims at designing a radio-controlled car door locking system. The two main objectives are to unlock a set of vehicle doors when the owner approaches his or her vehicle and to lock the vehicle after the owner leaves. In addition to automatic door locking the system monitors the engine for inactivity. After five minutes of inactivity of the driver, the engine automatically deactivates. In order to design this system, the
establishment of wireless communication between the vehicle owner and their vehicle is required. The radio transmission must ensure vehicle security and also be reliable in various climates. In this study, I am using radio frequency identification mechanism for the automation.

RFID, Radio Frequency Identification is an inexpensive technology, can be implemented for several applications such as security, asset tracking, people tracking, inventory detection, access control applications. The door locking system is implemented using passive type of RFID which can activate, authenticate, and validate the user and unlock the door in real time for secure access. The advantage of using passive RFID is that it functions without a battery and passive tags are lighter and are less expensive than the active tags. A centralized system manages the controlling, transaction and operation task. The door locking system functions in real time as the door open quickly when user comes near the vehicle. The system also creates a log containing check-in and check-out of each user along with basic information of user.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

The Autonomous Radio Identification Vehicle Locking System is designed to improve vehicle security and accessibility. With the use of wireless technology vehicle owners are able to enter as well as protect their automobiles with more passive involvement. Originally, vehicles were accessed and secured manually by inserting a key into a lock. More recently, a keyless entry system was created which allowed the owner to lock and unlock their vehicle with the touch of a button. Communication between the owner and the vehicle was established using wireless technology. With the Autonomous Radio Identification Vehicle Locking System, wireless communication expands upon past technology. It is able to grant access and security without pushing a button. For this new technology to work, the vehicle’s internal computer must be utilized in conjunction with sensors that can detect the owner’s presence, as well as the status of the locks. Finally, the circuit design needs to turn the locking mechanism in the lock or unlock position. The fields used are RF communication, digital systems software programming, logic circuit design, as well as microelectronic design [1Dr. S .N. Sing/ 2018].

RFID, Radio Frequency Identification is a fundamental and inexpensive technology that enables wireless data transmission [Zeydin Pala ET all, 2007]. This technology has not been very often used in industry due to lack of standardization among the manufacturing companies earlier. RFID technologies are efficient [Zhang, 2005] and secure compare to other network. With RFID, wireless automatic identification takes a very specific form: the object, location, or individual is marked with a unique identifier code contained with an RFID tag, which is in some way attached to or embedded in the target. RFID is not a single product but a comprehensive system, a typical RFID system include three basic elements: RFID tag (transponder), reader (transceiver) and back-end application system (or database), which demands the support of the computer network. The software is used for management, controlling, transaction, operation and maintaining record of the various users.

A digital door locking system is also implemented and governed by RFID reader which authenticate and validate the user and open the door automatically. It also keeps the record of check-in and check-out of the user. It’s very important to authenticate the user before entering into a secure space and RFID provide this
solution. The system enables user to check-in and check-out under fast, secure and convenient conditions. The system include door locking system which open when the user put their tag in contact with reader and the user information matched with the information already stored in database. The RFID controls the opening and closing of the door. In this study we utilize RFID technology to provide solution for secure access of a space while keeping record of the user. We used passive type of RFID here. The passive types of RFID are battery-less and they obtain power to operate from reader. The major advantages of passive RFID are its cost effective and small in size. Due to above advantages, it is widely used by inventory tracking technology [Goodrum, 2006]. Current antenna technology makes it possible to smaller in size.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Due to inefficiency of already developed car door locking system which has led to numerous car thefts, there arises the need to research further on the best way to ensure top security of our cars. Manual key locking system which was the first to be implemented failed due to the ease at which car thieves can produce keys which open car doors.

An automatic, more intelligent system is therefore needed to develop our smart door lock there are some sub-problems we need to solve. First we need to study two basic technologies: RFID technology and a network attached door lock. We will combine these technologies to develop our smart door lock. Based upon our study of RFID we must create an application that can run on a smartphone to respond to the RFID reader when it is queried. We need a corresponding application running in either the network attached door lock or in the cloud to query the smartphone via RFID. Given the RFID communication between the reader and the smartphone an application running in either the network attached door lock or in the cloud will determine whether the door should be unlocked or not.

While we have some basic experience with microcontrollers and some knowledge of computer communication systems, we did not yet have any knowledge of RFID technology. Combining these different technologies in one project should take our knowledge to the next level. Our first step in doing this is to connect a microcontroller to the Internet, and then connect a RFID reader to this microcontroller. Note that one of the other areas that we want to explore is the use of Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology, so that we do not need a separate connection from our microcontroller to the building’s power mains.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The main objective of the thesis is to design a wireless door security system using radio frequency identification reader and microcontroller. The system also have an engine monitor which deactivates the engine after five minutes of driver inactivity. To design this, graphical user interface (GUI) is designed for drivers to communicate with the overall system. To achieve the stated objective, the following specific objectives are laid out.

i. Ensure accurate data transfer between RFID reader and Personal computer (PC):

The data which is read by RFID reader when the card is tapped on the RFID reader is send to the PC through serial transmission. To access this data a database is designed on the PC using Java.

ii. Ensure accurate data transfer from PC to ATMEGA32 microcontroller for Door Access.

The RFID Card number which is tracked by the RFID reader is now compared with the data present in the database. If the Card number is present in the database then the PC will send a signal to the ATMEGA through the Java programming for Door Access.

iii. Proper microcontroller security:

RFID reader will be placed in the car door and the microcontroller will be placed inside the car where it cannot be modified or access by someone outside the car. The microcontroller will be connected to a server via a Power over Ethernet (PoE) capable switch. This network connection provides power to the microcontroller, RFID reader, and electric strike plate (or motor to turn the latch).

1.4 Scope of the Study

This project work is narrowed to one car only. The system will be managed through an app where the administrator of the lock can create electronic keys and manage the lock. Note that these keys can be designed to work only during a specific time or even a one-time-only key.

1.5 Limitations of the Study

The following are some factors, which acted as an impeachment or constraints to the progress of the project work;

a. Lack of source codes:

This was the main limitation experience during the course of this research. Arduino source codes required to create connection between the radio reader and the sender was difficult to obtain. This made me use the available but less preferred codes for the implementation.

b. Lack of Documented materials:

Also, it was difficult to start the project initially because reference materials at my disposal are limited.

c. Financial constraint:

This is another factor that limited me in carrying out this project effectively. This project involves hardware and they are costly to obtain.

1.6 Organization of the Study

This thesis is divided into five chapters.

  1. Chapter 1 gives an overview of what the project is about. It will give the reader basic background material so that the reader can understand the concepts that will be subsequently used in this project.
  2. Chapter 2 will also summarize some of the related work relevant to this project.
  3. Chapter 3 covers the methods used in the project to achieve our goals which contains a range of both software and hardware tools.
  4. Described in chapter 4 is how we tested our prototype to see if it fulfilled our purposes with the project. Since we did not accomplish all of our goals,
  5. Chapter 5 reviews our conclusion and describes what we have left undone in addition to suggesting what could be done in future work to build upon this project.

1.7 Research Questions

This research work will be guided by the following research questions:

  1. Why proposing a RFID door lock system. Is it really important?
  2. How will the proposed computer-based system affect the existing conventional system?
  3. Is the system strong enough in preventing unauthorized access?
  4. Does it address a short-term or a long-term security need?
  5. Do the users have access to needed computer and communications equipment?

1.8 Definition of Terms

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID):

Is a technology that incorporates the use of electromagnetic or electrostatic coupling in the radio frequency (RF) portion of the electromagnetic spectrum to uniquely identify an object, animal, or person.

Secure Access Module (or Secure Application Module):

Is based on Smartcard Integrated circuits and is used to enhance the security and cryptography performance in devices, commonly in devices needing to perform secure transactions, such as payment terminals.

An Electronic Lock: (or Electric Lock):

Is a locking device which operates by means of electric current. Electric locks are sometimes stand-alone with an electronic control assembly mounted directly to the lock

Ubiquitous Computing (or “ubicomp”):

Is a concept in software engineering and computer science where computing is made to appear anytime and everywhere.

Chapter Five

Conclusion and Future Work

This chapter summarizes our conclusions and suggests some future work that could be built upon what has been done and could address the parts of the original problem that have not been realized. The chapter ends with some reflections on the economic, social, and ethical issues considered during this thesis project.

5.1 Conclusions

To make a system that would achieve the project goal as stated in section 1.3 required that we achieve eight different sub goals (as stated that in the beginning of chapter 3). While we did not succeed in realizing some of our goals, we did managed to develop a working RFID reader that can read the UID of an RFID tag by using a RFID shield connected to a MSP430537a microcontroller via a SPI interface. We also managed to send UDP packets containing the RFID tag’s UID to our UDP server that based upon the UID either granted or denied access to the user. Although the result of the access decision was indicated via a green or orange LED on the board, this could easily be turned into a signal to control a relay to activate an electric strike plate for a period of time or to active an alternative means of unlock/locking the door’s lock.

Because the project spans of a wide range of disciplines involving both hardware and software, there were a lot of tools for us to learn and use. Programming a microcontroller and learning how to connect two different SPI devices included some debugging which led us to learn how to use a mixed signal oscilloscope. Also, we learned how to create, send, and receive UDP packets with the microcontroller. In addition to using the microcontroller we learned how to send and receive UDP packets using Java programming to realize our UDP server.

For monitoring the network traffic we used the software Wireshark. We learned how to make use of this software both for examining the protocols and packets that were being exchanged. Additionally, we learned that we could generate UDP messages within the application running on the microcontroller to display debugging information via Wireshark.

If we were to do the project again one of the things we would do differently is to read more about what is required of the components to function together before starting our coding. We would also not take for granted that things will work correctly right away. Furthermore, we will be more aware that there might be information missing in the documentation of the product, such as we experienced with the need for the second power source for the TXB0104PWR chip on the RFID shield. We think that reading the documentation and looking at the schematics of the components would prevent errors such as this from taking as much time as it did.

Additionally, rather than getting stuck on one problem in the early stage of the project one should focus on going further with the other goals rather than spending too much time attempting to fix one specific problem. In the end we managed to get a working system, despite some parts of the project being modified or eliminated because of the limited time for this project. For the future we learned that when developing a system we should do a lot more research (specifically reading and studying the documentation) in order to avoid minor problems causing a lot of frustration and unnecessary time being spend on them.

The most significant outcome of this project was that we learned how to interface the RFID shield to any SPI capable microcontroller, rather than requiring that the RFID shield be plugged into an Arduino. When doing research on this project we found that no one had previously solved this problem despite many people having encountered problems when trying to make use of RFID shields with platforms other than the Arduino. We published our solution to this in a posting to the TI E2E Community on October 17 2013 at 06:56 AM so that others could build upon our solution.

5.2 Future work

Currently we have a RFID reader that only reads a RFID tag’s UID then sends this information in a UDP packet to a simple UDP server that makes a decision and responds with an access granted or denied response. Our RFID reader is currently only reading a tag in MiFare target id mode; the next step would be to make it work in peer to peer mode so it can communicate with a smartphone with an RFID interface. Once the RFID reader works in peer to peer mode, then one could develop an Android application that will use NDEF for transferring a message. On the 31st of October 2013 Google introduced KitKat 4.4 [49], a version of Android which makes it possible for an Android smartphone with RFID to emulate a RFID smart card. This was something that we did not have during our project. This card emulation mode will be very helpful for future communication between the RFID reader and a smartphone.

Creating a full-fledged server with a database of all the RFID tag UIDs which should be granted access should be developed together with a webpage to manage the keys, update the database, and generate one-time or limited use soft tags that could be used by a smart phone – rather than being limited to making an access or deny decision based simply upon a tag’s UID.

Because of the limited time we did not research how the lock should be installed on the door. The system needs to have a set of sensors and motors to be able to detect if a door is opened/closed and locked/unlocked, what type of sensors and motors should be used and how they should be installed is something that needs to be researched and developed.

An additional area that has not been explored in this thesis project is how to implement appropriate security for this system. This includes how to realize the appropriate cryptographic functions in the motherboard and how to realize them at the server. Using these cryptographic functions is should be possible to secure the boot loader (so that only properly signed code could be loaded), so that cryptographic tokens could be utilized for access control (rather than using UIDs which could easily be generated using a RFID equipped smartphone), and developing timed challenge response security so that one could ensure that the RFID device is actually in front of the RFID reader and not elsewhere (in order to avoid relaying of RFID communication). Also in the case of RFID tags there is unused memory in them which could be used to put in some security functions. Since our RFID reader forwards data to a UDP server there is a need of securing this transportation over the network, and using a usual Transport Layer Security might be a good idea to look into.

Last but not least it would be great to make the network bootloader work, since it would ease the process of distributing updates to the software that should be run in the board, while avoiding the need to physically attach the FET debugger to the board.

5.3 Reflections

The goal with our bachelor’s thesis project was to simplify a way to control access via a locked door. Since RFID technology is becoming more widespread – as seen in public transportation, loyalty cards, and smartphones – the choice of using the RFID technology together with the UDP packets seems a very smart and useful tool for the future. In this sense we consider this bachelor’s thesis project to have a positive social impact if this solution can be realized and deployed in the future.

The use of the MSP430F5437a ultra low power microcontroller together with RFID shield and having everything powered via PoE makes the hardware of this project energy efficient, this means environmental considerations were taken in the choice of the hardware. Moreover, because the board we used supported PoE all of the power for the system was sent over the Ethernet cable, thus eliminating the materials and labor costs associated with having to provide mains or another separate wiring plant to power the system.

As our board utilized the RFID shield designed for an Arduino by interconnecting the shield via an SPI interface with a MSP430F537a microcontroller with an ENC28J60 for its network communication, we avoided the need for an Arduino with two shields – one for RFID and for Ethernet and an external power supply and a nearby mains power outlet, thus there was a lower economic cost by using this hardware.

We have not encountered any ethical issues when carrying out this bachelor’s thesis project other than the issue of identifying users to be given access to a door based upon the UID of their RFID tag. This requirement could be removed in a future implementation that used cryptographic tokens. As noted in the previous section all security considerations have been ignored in this project and remain for future work.

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