Use NFC stickers to track electronic components with the use of a Particle Photon and a database back-end, along with a webpage interface.

Imagine being the owner of a makerspace, where it is up to you to organize and track what you have in inventory. Sometimes your members might take components and not return them, or they bring their own stuff and then combine it with the spaces. This issue is why I have created an inventory management system that uses NFC and storage bins to organize and track components with the power of IoT.

General Layout

Each bin gets assigned a name, description, general type, and an NFC UID that corresponds with its sticker. Parts go into bins, and each part has a name, description, quantity, type, and which bin ID it belongs to. All this data is hosted on a MySQL database. I used a NodeJS webserver to create a cloud API which could then do certain actions to the MySQL database, such as creating new parts or removing a bin. On the hardware side, I used a Particle Photon with a 128x128 OLED screen and NFC reader, along with an MPR121 for virtual buttons.

I have also created a webpage that allows for full access to the API, where it is possible to change almost anything about the bins or parts in an easy and clean way.

Webserver

I decided that using the Express library would be best for my use case, as it allows for the creation of an easy RESTful API, along with easy path creation. I began by using npm to install express, along with cors and mysql. Then I included them in the top with require(package_name). I used the createPool function in the MySQL library to connect to the MySQL database, as it allows for the creation and release of connections easily and safely. Each API path has its own function, where app.post is for POST requests, and app.get is for GET requests. The string is the path to send the data, such as /parts/get_all_bins. The content of the functions varies, but in general, each one establishes a connection to the database, parses the request data, and executes a certain query. Adding a buffer between the database and device creates a layer of security and control.

MySQL Database

So now there is a way to access and change the data, but where or how is the data stored? When I installed the MySQL database, I also installed MySQL Workbench, which allows users to manage their database. I created a new schema called components and made two tables: parts and bins.

Each table needed different columns, since bins dont have a quantity and parts dont need an NFC UID.”

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