Magnetic stripe cards are cards that are capable of storing data. This is completed by modifying the magnetism of the iron based particles located on a band of magnetic material that is located on the card. The magnetic stripe is then read by swiping it through a magnetic stripe reader. This type of magnetic stripe card is commonly used for identity cards, credit cards, and for transportation tickets. There are some magnetic cards that will contain a microchip, a transponder device, or an RFID tag. These are commonly used in companies that require electronic payments or need access control to certain areas of the building.
Information is stored on magnetic stripes using characters. Each of the characters will be made up of several bits. The polarity from the magnetic particles located on the stripe will be changed in order to define each of these bits. There are several different schemes that exist in order to determine whether each of the bits will be a 1 or a 0. Some of the most common schemes that are used are F2F, which is called the Aiken BiPhase or the Modified Frequency Modulation known as MFM.
The encoding scheme that is chosen is determined by the user and the application. If conformance with ISO/IEC 7811 is needed then the appropriate choice is F2F encoding should be used. For applications that need larger amounts of data encoded, MFM is often the more suitable choice.
How Magnetic Stripes Work
The user will define all of the requirements for the magnetic stripe. This includes the expected signal amplitude, how coercive the stripe is, the bit density, as well as the encoding method that is used. The card manufacturer will use the amplitude and the coercivity to determine which type of magnetic material should be used.
The stripe is made out of small particles that are bound together using resin. The density of these particles is one of the controlling factor of the signal amplitude. The density combined with the thickness of the stripe will provide a method to control the amplitude. The more particles the higher the amplitude of the signal. This is important as it will define the type of reader that is needed for the cards. There are certain standards that exist for cards that are going to be used in an interchange environment, such as for banking. These standards ensure that the magnetic stripe can be read by financial terminals throughout the world.
The magnetic stripe encoder will serve as the access control for access to computers or doors. The encoder is used to read, write, erase, copy or rewrite all of the LoCo and HiCo magnetic stripes on the cards. This means that you can use the cards over and over again by simply changing the information that is on the magnetic stripes.
When purchasing a magnetic stripe encoder it will include a free full version of encoding software to use with your magnetic stripe cards.