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FAQ - Last Updated:

What is Stripe Snoop?
What is this database you are talking about? Is it mySQL?
Wait, didn't I read an article in [2600 | O'Reilly's Make Magazine] about this?
What magstripe readers are supported?
What operating systems does Stripe Snoop support?
What are the system requirements when using a hardware reader?
What about a magstripe writer?
Why did you release Stripe Snoop under the GPL?
I work for a company. Would you be willing to license part of Stripe Snoop under a non-OSS license?

How can I contribute to Stripe Snoop?
Do you accept donations? What do you do with any donations?
The donation recipient is listed as "OSDN / VA Software." Is that you?
I don't have a Paypal account. Can I still donate?
How do I report an unknown card?
How do I report an unsupported reader?

Magstripe Theory
Where can I learn about how magstripes work?
What is the difference between "Hi-co" and "Lo-co" readers and cards?

Where can I order a TTL Magstripe reader?
Whats the difference between an Omron V3A amd V3B?
Why do some Omron reader names end with 'K'?
Can I use a USB-to-game port adapter with Stripe Snoop?
Where can I buy a Serial reader?
Can I connect a TTL reader to the Serial port?
Can I use a USB-to-Serial convert with Stripe Snoop
Will you support reader XXXX?
Where do I get the parts for the various circuits on this web page?
What is a buffer chip and why do I need it?
What type of buffer chip do I use for the parallel port adapter?
What kind of DB-15 connector do I need?
What are the capacitor values needed for the 5V power supply?
What is "Card Present," and should I use it?

Trouble Shooting - Hardware
How do I solder to the small pins on the Omron V3A/V3B readers?
My TTL reader doesn't work! Whats wrong?
But my wiring is correct! Whats wrong?
Stripe Snoop returns all 1's or all 0's when I swipe in raw mode
Why doesn't Stripe Snoop respond when I swipe a card?

Troubleshooting - Windows
Why does Stripe Snoop's window close after I swipe a card?
Will Stripe Snoop work on Windows 3.x?
What is this error about not finding Inpout32.dll?
Why is Stripe Snoop trying to run a Privileged Instruction?

Troubleshooting - Linux
You want me to run this as root? Are you nuts?
Why isn't the game port working?


Q:What is Stripe Snoop?

A: Stripe Snoop is a suite of research tools that captures, modifies, validates, generates, analyzes, and shares data from magstripe cards. Numerous readers are supported to gather this information. In addition to simply displaying the raw characters that are encoded on the card, Stripe Snoop has a database of known card formats. It uses this to give you more detailed information about the card.

Q:What is this database you are talking about? Is it mySQL?

A: Stripe Snoop's database is a much looser meaning of the word. The database is merely a collection of information about the format of different cards.

For example, an airplane ticket has a magstripe that is encoded according to a standard (which, incidentally, is not published). The data on the magstripe is arranged into different fields, with different lengths. Some of these have prefixes. Stripe Snoop's database holds all these known characteristics about airline tickets. When you swipe a card, Stripe Snoop can test it to see if it matches the characteristics of any of the cards in its database. If so, Stripe Snoop can supply more information about that card, because the database tells Stripe Snoop what the different fields of the card represent.

Q:Wait, didn't I read an article in [2600 | O'Reilly's Make Magazine] about this?

A: Why yes, yes you did. I wrote both articles. The 2600 article provides a little more background information and theory about magstripes, and is available for free download in the developer's documents. The Make article offers a much more detailed explanation on how to construct the readers, and includes several detailed color photographs of the construction process.

Please support both magazines, I do.

Q:What magstripe readers are supported?

A: Stripe Snoop currently supports several types of readers, from powerful homebrew versions, to feature packed commercial grade readers. Readers that connect to the game port, parallel port, and serial port are currently supported. A homebrew USB-based reader is under development. A magstripe reader is not required to use Stripe Snoop!

Q:What operating systems does Stripe Snoop support?

A: Since Stripe Snoop currently runs on all versions of Windows, Linux, and other Unix-like operating systems. However Stripe Snoop is currently limited to the x86 platform with accessing hardware readers. Stripe Snooop can be used (And is actually useful) without a hardware reader.

Future versions of Stripe Snoop should support other architectures. Serial readers can work on other systems, either directly, or with a USB-to-Serial adapter. Work is currently being done on adding support for Macs (OS X or later), Linux/PPC, and Linux/Unix on DEC/Compaq Alphas.

Q:What are the system requirements when using a hardware reader?

A: If you are using a homebrew magstripe reader that is connected to the game port or the parallel port, you will need an x86 system running at 200MHz or faster. On older systems (less than 600MHz), make sure the system is not heavily loaded. A Pentium III 450 was unable to run Stripe Snoop while playing an MP3/OGG file, or while running SETI@HOME.

As a rule, Windows tends to be more bloated than Linux. I have successfully used Stripe Snoop with a game port reader on a 486DX-2 running Slackware Linux.

Q:What about a magstripe writer?

A: Soon my friends soon! Stripe Snoop is evolving into a suite of tools to capture, manage, and analyze card data. bitgen and mod10 make it very easy to modify existing card data, and make sure its valid. Writing it back to a card is the next logical step, and something that I will address soon. Stay tuned!

Q:Why did you release Stripe Snoop under the GPL?

A: Well, its not because I like Richard Stallman, that's for sure. I don't believe that all code should be Free Software,and think he is pretty much a coding communist.

One of the reasons Stripe Snoop was created was the lack of cheap or quality magstripe software, especially that would run on Linux. I have worked very hard on Stripe Snoop, and the last thing I want are the very companies that have expensive, crappy software from using my code and not contributing code themselves.

In this regard the GPL provides the protections I want, even if I disagree with most of the creator's politics.

Q:I work for a company. Would you be willing to license part of Stripe Snoop under a non-OSS license?

A: Stripe Snoop is published under the GPL. Read the GNU General Public License in detail to understand exactly what that means if you plan to derive works from Stripe Snoop.

If you are interested in incorporating some of Stripe Snoop's technology into a product and the GPL is not appropriate, non-OSS licenses of Stripe Snoop (in parts of in whole) can be purchased. I have licensed Stripe Snoop technology to companies for inclusion in commercial products before. Contract work to port all or parts of Stripe Snoop to a specific platform for your product is also an option.

Please feel free to Contact me at if you are interested in more details regarding contracting or licensing.


Q:How can I contribute to Stripe Snoop?

A: Stripe Snoop always needs help in several areas!