MAKStripe Parallel Port has to be connected to a free parallel port on the PC. In the mainboard BIOS setup of the PC, this port has to be configured as a Standard Parallel Port (SPP).
The read and write procedure is time critical, so a faster PC > 300MHz is recommended.
The software "Magnetic-Stripe Card Explorer" will also work on slower PCs - it has been successfully tested on a 100MHz Pentium, but the error quote will be higher. Magnetic-Stripe Card Explorer requires a monitor / graphic card resolution of 1024 x 768 or moore.
The read and write procedures are time critical. It is strongly recommended to exit all background applications such as a Internet connection / download, tape / HDD backup procedures, TV cards, and other similar applications, which require a high amount of CPU time, before starting a read or write procedure.
The software "Magnetic-Stripe Card Explorer" has been successfully tested with Windows 95 / 98 / ME / NT / 2000 / XP. The software accesses MAKStripe Parallel Port directly through the parallel port and does not need any drivers.
The swipe speed, with which usually a magnetic stripe card is being swiped is in the range between 20 and 50 cm/s. In this swipe speed range, the data is decoded error free with highest probability.
Depending on the quality, with which the magnetic stripe card has been written, its age and condition, it is often possible to read the magnetic stripe card successfully with a very low swipe speed ...
... or a very high swipe spped.
The minimum swipe speed in the first example is only 7 cm/s at the start of the card and the maximum swipe speed in the second case is 140 cm/s at the card end.
Reading Magnetic Stripe Cards
Start the software and select the "Decode menu".
Press the "Scan port for data" button and swipe the card through the reader. After the data is read, press the "Stop scanning" button to stop scanning the port.
The software will read all 3 tracks from the card, the real bit rate and swipe-speed through the whole swipe process of the magnetic stripe card are estimated. The data are demodulated according the F2F modulation and displayed. If ANSI or BCD character sets are detected, the software will decode the data and check the parity and the LRC checksum. If both parity and LRC are "OK" (green) then the data has been read correctly - otherwise a new swipe has to be performed.
The display is given with the ALFA or BCD character set (in case, such data is present).
or in binary form
or in ISO standard
To save the data, select the "Save" command from the "File" menu. The data will be saved in original form "as is" with the complete swipe characteristics. Even if the data is in a non-standard format, it will be saved correctly.
MAKStripe Parallel Port offers, as a direct magnetic stripe card reader, advanced signal analysis options far beyond the technical opportunities of a normal magnetic card reader.
In case of magnetic stripe card readers, which do contain a decoder chip, the data will be decoded and the signal will be submitted time delayed through two data lines (data and clock) to the PC, where further processing is performed.
Beyond the usual data decoding, the exact signals on a magnetic stripe card can be read, and with the graphical representation of this data you can identify in one look the data modulation, signal quality, and various schemes of non-standard tracks, that are used for authentication purposes.
MAKStripe Parallel Port submits the digitalized data in real time to the PC, the real bit density and also the swipe speed during the entire time interval of swiping of the magnetic stripe card can be estimated.
Although it is reasonable to expect that the swipe speed is constant during the whole process, the swipe speed is in the beginning rising and after a period of acceleration it reaches a relative constant value.
The reason herefore is that after the magnetic stripe card has touched the magnetic head, the swiping speed decreases rapidly for a short period of time until the magnetic head has raised and taken it's correct place on the card. Afterwards the speed is increasing and the continuous swipe speed is reached at approximately 60%.
Every magnetic stripe card reader/writer is unique. The bit density differs at the beginning and the end of the card. Knowing this fact, it is possible to examine if the tracks of the magnetic stripe cards have been written with one and the same magnetic stripe card reader / writer, in single or multiple swipes, or with different writers.
Also a analysis of the quality of the written data is possible.
Here some typical examples:
This are data from a magnetic stripe card, written with a high quality writer. Both tracks have been written in one swipe. A difference can hardly be noticed.
In this case the first track is written in the first swipe, the second track is written in a separate swipe. It can be noticed that both tracks have been written on the same magnetic card writer model. The two tracks are almost parallel.
Tracks 2 and 3 have been written in one swipe. Track 1 has been written afterwards on a different magnetic card writer.
With MAKStripe Parallel Port and the software "Magnetic-Stripe Card Explorer", every single tick, bit or character with the flux direction, its size in microseconds, and its position can be analysed.
In order to eliminate noise and HF (radio waves) interference, the trigger level for the Analog -> Digital converter is several micro volts above 0V. For this reason when reading data from the card, the Flux1 length will be shorter then the Flux 0 length, or the opposite may take place depending on the direction the card was swiped.
If the card is older, and the magnetic field is week, this effect will be more noticeable.
The length difference will also be different for different swipe speeds and bit density. If you swipe the card with a higher speed, the signal will be stronger then if you swipe the card with a lower speed.
The F2F modulation method, mostly used in magnetic cards applications, enables to write the data and clock together on the magnetic card. In this modulation a magnetic flux reversal between two clock cycles ( a tick) will mean a logical "1" and if such a magnetic flux reversal is missing, it represents a logical "0".
The track data contains two tick duration sizes, the first smaller size for the "1 bits" and the second larger size for the "0 bits".
The tick duration for the "0 bits" is two times longer then the tick duration for the "1 bits".