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Magnetic Strip Card Software
USB is driven with the software "SwipeCard
USB", which is supplied with SwipeCard USB
and is working.
with Windows Mobile 5/6, ARM CPU PXA2xx, VGA
640x480 and USB Host
SwipeCard USB we do supply all versions of
the Software SwipeCard USB for Windows, Linux
and for PocketPC with Windows Mobile 5/6.
- If a older
operating system like Windows 95/98 is used
and the connection of the magneticstripe
reader / writer to the parallel port of a PC
is desired, we do recommend MAKStripe R2TAO
- The data,
saved on any of the above operating systems
is fully portable and compatible to the other
operating systems, so for example data
acquired on Linux operating system can be
transferred and processed further on Windows
and vice versa.
running on Windows
running on Linux
running on PocketPC with Windows Mobile 5/6
- We would
like to emphasize following remarks for
Explorer, running on PocketPC. USB does take
the necessary power directly from the
PocketPC, so no external power supply is
needed. The power, taken from the PocketPC is
in Idle/Reading mode approx. 50mA and in
Writing Mode : approx. 300mA. SwipeCard USB
for PocketPC has been tested on a
Fujitsu/Siemens n560 PocketPC. Due to the
small display available for MAKStripeExplorer
on PocketPC, the buttons have not a full
description, but do contain only the
necessary amounts of letters, so they could
fit on the screen. There are also no ToolTips
and there is no Help-System for the PocketPC
version of SwipeCard USB. The disposition of
the buttons and their functionality are
identical with the versions of SwipeCard USB
for Windows or Linux.
USB running on a Fujitsu/Siemens n560
- The software
"SwipeCard USB" for Windows NT / 2000 / XP /
Vista and for Linux, the manuals and the help
systems, available on the CD, supplied with
SwipeCard USB are available both in English
and in German language.
USB with German Language
Magnetic Stripe Cards
- Start the
software SwipeCard USB and press the "Scan
Port for Data" button or the function key F5.
USB is now in Scanning - Mode and expecting a
card to be swiped. During each swipe the data
are read and displayed. The Scanning - Mode
can e stopped by pressing the "Stop Scanning"
button or the function key F12.
- 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 check sum. 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
- or in ISO
- 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
- 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
- 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 speed.
- 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.
USB 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
- 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
USB 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
- 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
here fore 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 its correct place on the
card. Afterwards the speed is increasing and
the continuous swipe speed is reached at
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
- Here some
- 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
- Tracks 2 and
3 have been written in one swipe. Track 1 has
been written afterwards on a different
magnetic card writer.
SwipeCard USB and the software "SwipeCard
USB", every single tick, bit or character
with the flux direction, its size in
microseconds, and its position can be
analysed. By selecting in the "Signal
Analysis" menu a part of the data, available
on a track, by left clicking and moving with
the mouse, all details for the selected data
will be displayed.
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
- 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".
- In the
Tick_Nr. / Tick_duration graphic, the Ticks
are grouped in two streams. The first
represents the "1 bit" ticks, the second the
"0 bit" ticks.
- The two data
groups in one stream are the "Flux"0" and
"Flux 1" Ticks, the length difference as
described before, is clearly noticeable.
- On a week
signal the "Flux0" and "Flux 1" duration
difference is much larger.
- This card is
also read error free, but it is much more
error sensitive on too slow or too high swipe
- With the
Tick Nr. / Tick duration graphic, immediately
the type of data on the track, and its
quality can be seen.
- A F2F
modulation will have two data streams. But a
track modulated with the more rarely used MFM
(Modified Frequency Modulation) would contain
3 data streams.
- With the MFM
modulation (also referred as MNRZb1, Miller
Code and Delay Modulation DM) the data
density is doubled without increasing the
magnetic transition density.
- This is
achieved by using 3 tick duration sizes. A 1
bit cell tick, a 1.5 bit cell tick and a 2
bit cell tick.
- If you would
swipe such a card in a normal magnetic card
reader containing a F2F decoding IC, you
would only get a error message without
knowing what has produced it. With MAKStripe
USB you can exactly see what data is on the
- A other
example of a non-standard track is this track
from a magnetic card used in a German
- It shows a
very elegant copy protection method. In the
lead-in data the "Flux 0" Tick duration are
much larger then the "Flux 1" ticks. After
the data starts (first 1 bit) , the data
stream continues with a normal F2F
modulation. This anomaly can not be noticed
with a normal magnetic card reader, and also
not be written with a normal magnetic card
writer. A card written with this track on a
normal magnetic card writer, would seem like
a correct copy on that reader / writer, but
it would not contain the correct lead-in
- Not only
that SwipeCard USB shows exactly every tick
duration, it is also capable to make a exact
copy of this track.
- With the
software "Magnetic-Stripe Card Explorer", the
read data can be saved / written in RAW
format, as they have been read out. No data
and properties are lost.
- Due to the
RAW mode it is also possible to develop
various copy protection schemes, to use and
- For example,
after the data end with the LRC (Longitudinal
Redundancy Check), there are written up to 60
bits "0" until the cards end. In part - or
also in the data part - a very simple but
effective copy protection scheme with the use
of a simple magnetic flux reversals could be
- For example
with a simple "lost" magnetic flux reversal,
you would make a undefined und unrecognisable
area in the F2F modulation.
- A normal
reader and / or writer would not be able to
recognise this hole, but it would see this
undefined area as a distortion in the swiping
procedure and would ignore it. SwipeCard USB
could identify this card without errors.
- It is
technically not possible to read or copy such
a magnetic flux reversal sequence with a
normal magnetic card reader and / or writer
containing a decoder / encoder IC.
- The copied
magnetic card would have the same data as the
original and would be seen as a successfully
copy. But the whole or other magnetic flux
reversal would not be present on the card.
USB is capable to read this and other total
non-standard tracks in RAW mode, to save
them, and to write them later to other
magnetic stripe cards. The copy would be 100%
- In the "Data
Analysis" tab, the data which have been read
/ loaded can be analysed. When displaying the
data, the exact start position and the
character size can be selected, so the parity
for each bit group and the LRC from the start
to the current position will be
- Using this
analysis possibilities, identification of the
bit size of unknown character sets and
analysis of possible errors can be performed.
- For example
on this magnetic card from a German company,
the identical data sequences are written 3
- Every data
sequence ends with the valid LRC and is
followed by a two "00000" bit groups (parity
is wrong) as separation data between the data
- These 2*2=4
"00000" are reproducing 4 parity errors.
- After the
analysis we know that the data has been read
correctly, even there are 4 parity errors
- On a other
card we have seen a very simple method to
confuse normal software, by inserting several
bits before the actual data starts. This data
stream can not be normally identified,
because the start sequence is not "Start
Sentinel". You can examine and identify such
data by skipping several bits by changing the
analysis start bit.
- For data
generation, the "Write Tracks" tab is
selected. Using the "Character-Set"
Combo-Box, the desired character set is
chosen. Characters are entered in the In the
"Data" field. If "Allow ALFA/BCD only" is
checked, only characters according to the
appropriate standards can be entered. The
start of the text is marked with a "Start
Sentinel", fields are separated with "Field
Separators" and at the end, "End Sentinel"
and "LRC" are inserted by pressing the
- In the "Data
Properties" section, the number of charcters
on a track, character set, track density in
Bits Per Inch, total number of bits on a
track, bits before data, bits in data and
bits after data will be shown. The parameters
character set, total number of bits, bits
before data and bits after data are displayed
as recognized, but can also be changed by the
- If the
"AutoCalc Properties" checkbox is enabled,
these parameters will be recalculated and
displayed in "Data Properties" while each new
character is beeing entered. If this checkbox
is disabled, then the "Calc Properties"
button is enabled and by pressing it, the
recalculation is done manually.
entering data has been finished, the track,
to which the data should be saved, has to be
selected by clicking on the appropriate
radio-button. By clicking on the "Save"
button, the entered data will be transferred
to the selected track. The typed characters
will automatically be converted in upper case
according to the standard. The generated data
can be saved in MAG format by selecting
"Save" in the "File" menu or in ASCII format
by clicking on the "Save TXT" button.
According to this procedure, data can be
generated for all three tracks of a
- Saving the
generated data in MAG format (Save option in
the File menu) does save all data of all
three tracks in a special binary format,
while saving in TXT format saves only the
data of the selected track in ASCII format.
Accordingly loading data in MAG format loads
all three tracks. If importing of ASCII data
is desired, then by pressing the "Load TXT"
button, ASCII data will imported and shown in
the "Data" field, where they can be modified
and saved to a track by selecting the desired
track and pressing the "Copy" button.
Modification / Editing
- The most
easy way to modify data is available in the
"Write Tracks" tab. In this tab all available
tracks of data which have been scanned,
generated or loaded from a MAG file, are
displayed. Selecting the track, which will be
edited by clicking on the appropriate radio
button and pressing afterwards the "Edit"
button, the characters are transferred to the
"Data" field, where modification can be made.
The process of transferring characters from a
track to the "Data" field can also be
performed by double-clicking the left mouse
button on the track which shall be modified.
- After the
data have been modified, they can be returned
to the track where they came from by double
clicking on the "Data" field. If the transfer
to another track is desired, then this is
performed by clicking on the appropriate
radio-button and afterwards on the "Save"
- In the
following example, the data from track 1 have
been copied to the "Data" field by
double-clicking on them. After modification,
track 3 has been selected as new destination
by pressing selecting the third radio button.
By pressing the "Save" button, the modified
data from track 1 have been transferred to
- Using the
procedure, described above, easy and fast
modification of characters can be performed.
If unusual editing of characters or ticks is
desired - for example for creation of
security cards, which cannot be read with
other hardware, then the "Signal Analysis"
tab can be selected.
- In the
"Signal Analysis" tab, addition sophisticated
opportunities for changing and modifying of
each character and even of each separate tick
- If "Work on
Characters" is selected, by left-clicking on
a character, the opportunity is given to
change the select character or to insert new
characters after the selected character.
"Work on Ticks" and left-clicking on a tick,
the tick can be deleted, the length can be
modified or new ticks inserted after the
selected tick. So it is possible to work on a
very detailed level in order to perform any
Tracks with SwipeCard USB
USB is able to write to LoCo magnetic stripe
cards. In each writing procedure one, two or
three tracks can be written - in any desired
bit density, modulation and character set.
SwipeCard USB is controlled directly by the
software SwipeCard USB Explorer, and it
depends only on the software what can be
magnetic stripe cards are the most used
magnetic stripe cards, as for example cash
cards, credit-cards, identification cards,
etc. SwipeCard USB is not suitable for
writing HiCo magnetic stripe cards, which are
rarely used - in industry buildings and at
airports, where strong magnetic fields exist,
which could damage the magnetic stripe card.
- Because the
data are written by SwipeCard USB direct -
without using a encoder chip - it is possible
to write exactly defined data to the card,
with a defined start, data stream and end.
For copy protection purposes also characters
with inverted parity can be written and
modulations used, which do not comply to any
- Through the
input of various parameters, influence on the
bit density and also the size of single bits
can be undertaken. So writing of tracks with
any desired properties can be performed.
- Also fully
unknown data, not depending on the used
character sets and modulation, can be read,
analysed and written on other magnetic stripe
- Writing a
customized magneticstripe card is performed
with two swipes. The swipe speed and
characteristic is determinated by making a
reference swipe before the write swipe. Both
swipes should have the same swipe speed. Due
to this reason, for writing to a card, there
must be some data at least on one track of
the destination card, which can be used as
reference. Therefore if writing to a blank
card is desired, there must previously be
written some temporary data to this
destination card. This process, called
formatting a reference track is performed by
pressing the "Format" button or F7 function
key and swiping the destination card through
SwipeCard USB. The destination card which
will be formatted, has to be swiped through
SwipeCard USB during the time period given in
the "Duration" field. The formatting process
is in fact a process of writing a simple 0
bit data stream to the selected track(s) for
calibration purposes. Formatting will be
performed on all tracks for which the
checkoxes of "To be Processed" have been
selected. It is necessary that at least one
track is formatted - which track is
irrelevant. After at least one track has been
formatted, the writing process can be
- If there are
already some data on any track of the
destination card, then it is not necessary to
perform formatting as described in the
previous paragraph. In such a case SwipeCard
USB will accept the existing data as a
reference track for calibration.
- The process
of direct copying is performed in two swipes.
During the first swipe the source card is
read and during the second swipe, the data
are written to the destination card.
- First the
original magnetic-stripe card has to be
scanned. The scan process is started by
pressing the "Scan Port for Data" button or
the function key F5. After a card has been
swiped, the "Direct Copy" button in the
"Write Tracks" tab will be enabled and the
data, available on the scanned card will be
displayed. All checkoxes of "To be Processed"
will be selected, which means that all three
tracks will be copied.
- Pressing the
"Direct Copy" button and swiping a formatted
card or even a old card containing any data
through SwipeCard USB , will result in an
exact copy of the original card. When a card
is swiped through SwipeCard USB, the raw data
from the last swipe remains in the internal
buffer. With "Direct Copy" this raw data is
written to a other card "AS IS", without any
analysis or modification.
- If all
checkoxes of "To be Processed" are selected,
empty tracks of the original card will also
result in empty tracks on the destination
card. Using "Direct Copy", beside copying all
three tracks, it is also possible to copy
selected tracks of the source card to the
destination cards - in such a case, the
appropriate checkoxes of "To be Processed"
have to be selected and the unwanted tracks
have to be deselected. In the example on the
following picture, the scanned card has data
on track 1 and track 2. Track 3 is empty. If
all checkboxes are checked, a exact copy will
be made with data on tracks 1 and 2 and a
empty track 3. On the other side, if for
example checkox 1 an 3 are unchecked, only
track 2 will be transferred to the
destination card - tracks 1 and 3 would be
left on the destination card unchanged. If
the checkbox for track 3 - which is empty on
the source card in this example - would be
checked, then track 3 on the destination card
would be erased.
- Pressing the
"Write" button or the F8 kunction key, starts
the writing process of the tracks for which
checkoxes of "To be Processed" are selected.
If the "Auto Adjust Data" checkbox is
selected, the data will be optimized before
they are written to the destination card.
- It is
possible to select any combination of tracks
to be written together - 1, 2 or 3 tracks.
Old data on the destination card or formatted
tracks will be overwritten if the appropriate
checkox of "To be Processed" is selected. The
process of writing is performed in two
swipes. During the first swipe, SwipeCard USB
reads the reference track and during the
second swipe the data are
- If writing
to a old card, it is not necessary required
to erase any track. During the writing
procedure the old data on the destination
card is overwritten by the new data. But it
is possible to Erase and/or eRase the track
you intend to write to, in order to avoid any
errors resulting from the previous data and
to get a high quality track without
distortion. This is performed by selecting
the track(s) which shall be erased, using the
checkoxes of "To be Processed", pressing the
"Erase" or the "eRase" button and swiping the
card through SwipeCard USB. The erase
procedure will have a duration which is
defined in the "Duration" field. Within this
time, the card has to be swiped.
- "Erase" is
erasing the track in the "Flux 0" direction,
"eRase" in the "Flux 1" direction.