There are many different types of RFID scanners available. As RFID functionality in Flex is currently still in a developing phase, we currently recommend and support one model of scanner at this time. Furthermore, flex only currently supports UHF based RFID Tags. In the future we hope to offer preferred compatibility with a wider variety of scanners and tag-reading solutions.
As such, this article currently exists to provide more information about our preferred RFID scanner, and may change or be expanded in the future as development on Flex 5 continues.
Currently, RFID scanning is possible by using the Flex 5 App for iOS, iPadOS, and Android. While you can use a PC or Mac with a scanner to read RFID Tag numbers, there is currently no way to scan RFID assets using the PC or Mac product(s).
To simplify the connection of these devices in all environments, we have chosen to connect to devices that support Bluetooth connections. Many devices support both "SDK" and "HID" based connection modes. For simplicity sake, we have chosen HID mode as this will support the same device, once configured correctly, to work in both apps and desktop browsers. Because we are using HID Mode, The device acts similar to a keyboard, and after acquiring the data from the RFID scan, it sends the data via Bluetooth as if a keyboard typed it in.
One thing to note with Apple devices is when you click in a text field, the device expects the user to enter text, and the keyboard automatically appears. Most devices allow some form of a shortcut to auto-hide the keyboard because the data will be streamed directly from the device instead of typing it in. The Device we have standardized on at present, the Zebra RFD8500 which allows the user to auto-hide the onscreen pop-up keyboard with a double pull of the device trigger. Make sure not to have the device near any tags during this process, or sometimes a reader can falsely send tags data into the app text field.
Preferred RFID Scanners
Our preferred RFID scanners have pre-made configuration files available - and come pre-configured if purchased or rented directly from Flex.
- Zebra RFD8500 (Bluetooth) - BarcodesInc Store Page
For the RFD8500 - we strongly recommend that you download the configuration file, as well as download and install Zebra 123Scan, even if you have purchased your scanner from Flex.
If you are a customer not located within the United States, please contact support for assistance with a configuration for a different locale.
This unit comes in different global regions (i.e US or EU) and with or without a barcode scanner. We recommend the model with a barcode scanner, please ensure you purchase the correct version.
To use 123Scan to make configuration changes or updates to the RFD8500, you will need a windows computer or, for macOS, a windows virtual machine available with programs like Parallels or VirtualBox.
Setup & Configuration
If you have already paired your scanner to a device with bluetooth, you may have to delete the pairing and re-pair after a scanner reset, firmware upgrade, or configuration change.
First, ensure you have downloaded the configuration file, and have downloaded and installed Zebra 123Scan. Also ensure your scanner's battery is fully charged, loss of power or connection during configuration may render the device inoperable.
Power on your scanner and connect it to your computer via the Micro-USB to USB cable. The scanner will beep to indicate it has changed modes, and your computer may recognize a new device.
Open 123Scan. You are presented with a few different options:
You can use the Actions menu to open and change configuration files. Additionally, we can Create a new configuration file, we can Load an existing file to our scanner, we can Clone/Modify the settings of the attached scanner, and we can Update the scanner's firmware. We'll refer back to these options as the Start Menu.
Before proceeding, make sure your scanner is connected to your computer via the Micro USB cable, and is powered on with a fully charged battery.
First, click the Update scanner firmware button on the start menu. A dialog box will have you confirm the scanner whose firmware you would like to update.
Select your scanner and click UPDATE FIRMWARE. Next, 123Scan will ask how you would like to update the firmware. Select Option 2 - Load firmware AND Reset to factory defaults.
Click Update Firmware. A dialog will ask you to confirm that you want to set the scanner to factory defaults. Click CONTINUE. The update will begin. you will hear the scanner beep as the update begins, and then beep again as it restarts. As the software will indicate, Do not disconnect the scanner until the process finishes and the software instructs you to do so.
The Firmware update is now complete. Next, you will load the configuration file- click CLOSE and leave the scanner connected to upload the configuration.
First, click the Load existing configuration file button on the start menu. A dialog box will have you open a configuration file. Select the file you downloaded, and click Open.
A new dialog box opens- your scanner will appear in an area that lists all connected scanners that the configuration can be loaded to. Click your scanner to start loading the configuration, or click LOAD TO ALL SCANNERS to continue.
The progress bar indicates the process of applying the configuration. When it is complete, you can click the CLOSE button and disconnect your scanner. Bluetooth pair it with your device of choice, and your scanner is ready to use.
Changing Scanner Settings
With your scanner connected and charged, click Clone/modify my connected scanner settings. With the RFD8500, you have two options- one for the RFID Reader, and one for the Imager/Scanner- the IPL3307.
Select the RFD8500 and click VIEW CONFIGURATION. You may see a warning dialog about USB communication- this can be closed and ignored. Once the configuration is loaded you have multiple options available.
You can Save the scanner's current configuration to your computer, you can select different categories of configurations to make changes to your scanner, and you can Load that changed configuration to your scanner as well.
For example, you can turn off a setting to use the scanner in conjunction with a text editor program on your computer to record RFID tag numbers to then apply to inventory in Flex. Click General, and scroll to the setting HID Virtual Keyboard for Apple iOS.
Un-check the box next to this setting, then click Done. You can now Save this configuration if you like, and then Load the configuration to your scanner. Process is similar to Load Configuration- Select your scanner to begin applying the configuration. Only disconnect your scanner after the process is complete.