This is a simple three track magnetic card reader with serial output. This reader connects to your computer with a DB9 for serial and a PS/2 for power and outputs a 9600bps 8N1 ASCII serial stream. Plug the reader into a serial port (or USB to serial converter), swipe your frequent shopper card, and you'll see the account number plain and unencrypted on the screen. We couldn't find a card the reader couldn't read. No drivers needed. No software needed. Just pure, wonderful serial.
If a board needs code or communicates somehow, you're going to need to know how to program or interface with it. The programming skill is all about communication and code.
Skill Level: Rookie - You will need a better fundamental understand of what code is, and how it works. You will be using beginner-level software and development tools like Arduino. You will be dealing directly with code, but numerous examples and libraries are available. Sensors or shields will communicate with serial or TTL.
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If it requires power, you need to know how much, what all the pins do, and how to hook it up. You may need to reference datasheets, schematics, and know the ins and outs of electronics.
Skill Level: Noob - You don't need to reference a datasheet, but you will need to know basic power requirements.
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Based on 2 ratings:
I didn't think the product page gave enough information about how to hook this thing up. I wanted to simply use it to read data off magnetic cards directly into my Arduino. I had to make multiple extra orders to make this connection happen:
DB9 null modem male-to-male converter (http://www.amazon.com/CablesOnline-Slimline-Transfer-Adapter-AD-N05M-2/dp/B00HGJ7JMU)
Serial adapter (https://www.pololu.com/product/126)
In the end, I only needed a 5 V, GND, and RX connection to the Arduino. It just seemed like all the extra hardware was overkill to get the connection job done.
Nothing bad to say about the product, it's working flawlessly !
I think it might be nice to explain that when using a serial to USB converter, there is no power, so you also need to plug the PS/2 connector (or use a PS/2 to USB adapter most probably). I know it's not directly related to the product but the video made me think the Serial to USB adapter was the only thing needed ;)