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Standard Game port based Reader

Magstripes use magnetic fields to encode data. Each magstripe reader contains a head which outputs an analog signal of the magnetic fluxes on the card. A specialized chip, called an F2F decoder, converts these signals into digital outputs. We use the game port as a means to read these outputs into the computer. Stripe Snoop will parses these data, and decode the data stored on the magstripe.

What our finished project will look like. (Click for larger image)

Parts List
Make sure you can get the data sheet for your TTL reader, and that it supports Track 2. Check the manufacturers site. Using the pinout from the data sheet, solder wires from the Cat 5 cable to the 5V, GND, DATA, and CLK pins, making sure you are using the CLK/DATA pair for Track 2 if you reader supports multiple tracks. The contacts you have to solder to could be quite small; after soldering the wires, I covered the contacts on the reader with hot glue to make sure they wouldn't shift, break, or short each other out. Take your time and solder carefully.

Close up on the solder points, with hot glue to protect against shorting or arcing. (Click for larger image)

Next, solder the opposite ends of the wires in the Cat 5 cable for 5V, GND, DATA and CLK to the DB15 connector to was shown in here:

Circuit diagram to connect wires to TTL reader to DB-15 connector

The end of your DB-15 connector will end up looking something like this:

Joystick plug after wires have been soldered to it. (Click for larger image)
Feel free to use hot glue to seal these solder points on the DB-15 connector. A word of warning: not all the grounds on a game port will really be grounds. Check using a LED to make sure the 5V and GND going to your reader are really active.

If you don't have a game port on your PC or laptop, please continue construction with our Parallel Port Adapter. If you want to know how to modify your reader to read all 3 tracks with only a single track reader, go to our Modification page.

You reader is now complete! Download the latest version of Stripe Snoop and you are set. There are lots of other fun applications you can do with a magstripe reader. I built a working Coke machine!.

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