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Frequently Asked Questions


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What is an iButton?


The iButton is a computer chip enclosed in a 16mm thick stainless steel can. Because of this unique and durable container, up-to-date information can travel with a person or object anywhere they go. The steel iButton can be mounted virtually anywhere because it is rugged enough to withstand harsh environments, indoors or outdoors. It is small and portable enough to attach to a key fob, ring, watch, or other personal items, and be used daily for applications such as access control to buildings and computers, asset management, and various data logging tasks.

How Do I Get Information Into and Out of the iButton?

Information is transferred between your iButton and a PC with a momentary contact at up to 142kbps. You simply touch your iButton to a Blue Dot receptor or other iButton probe, which is connected to a PC. The Blue Dot receptor is cabled to a 1-Wire adapter that is attached to a spare PC port. 1-Wire adapters exist for USB and serial ports. The Blue Dot receptor and 1-Wire Adapter are inexpensive.

How Durable Is the iButton?

The silicon chip within the iButton is protected by the ultimate durable material: stainless steel. You can drop an iButton, step on it, or scratch it. The iButton is wear-tested for 10-year durability.

What Can I Do with the iButton?

The iButton is ideal for any application where information needs to travel with a person or object. Affixed to a key fob, watch, or ring, an iButton can grant its owner access to a building, a PC, a piece of equipment, or a vehicle. Attached to a work tote, it can measure processes to improve efficiency, such as manufacturing, delivery, and maintenance. Some iButton versions can be used to store electronic cash for small transactions, such as transit systems, parking meters, and vending machines. The iButton can also be used as an electronic asset tag to store information needed to keep track of valuable capital equipment.

What Do I Need to Put Together an iButton Application?

There are four components fundamental to any iButton application:
  • iButtons
  • A host system: this can be a PC, a laptop, a handheld computer, or an embedded system.
  • A reader/writer device to get information into and out of the iButton.
  • A layer of software to interface iButtons to computers and produce the desired information in the desired format. Several software development kits (SDKs) are downloadable on at no charge. Maxim also offers 1-Wire Drivers for Microsoft platforms, along with the OneWireViewer, a demo application that can read/write/exercise any iButton.

Product Link: DS1921K - Thermochron iButton Starter Kit


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