Magnetic Card Reader/Writer

Replacement: None. We do not carry a direct replacement for these card readers. This page is for reference only.

This is a heavy duty, low coercitivity, three track magnetic card writer and reader. This unit takes power from an available PS2 port (includes a pass through connector so you can still use a mouse or keyboard) and passes information through the RS232 serial port.

Please note: This writer works with low coercitivity cards only.

Magnetic Card Reader/Writer Product Help and Resources

Customer Comments

  • The reason users are having problems as they are prob trying to illegally copy cards hence it wont work due to very tight security and lack of knowledge no this reader wont copy and write certain cards but this reader and writer is working perfectly on legitimate projects :-)

  • I have a doubt, it is necessary to have a computer to use this? I want to use it just with a microcontroller (PIC) sending and receiving information by RS232 in direct communication between PIC and the device.

    • No. You do not need a computer.
      You would instead likely need a separate IC like the MAX232 (which Sparkfun should have) as a relay between you’re PIC and this device.
      You’ll also need to provide power to the unit at +5V DC capable of 250mA.
      The circuitry to support this is pretty trivial. The software to communicate properly is likely not. You will need to essentially provide an R232 driver to manage things like baud rate, and then develop software that controls the device - which armed with the command set and sparse datasheet provided here shouldn’t be impossible.

  • Does anyone know if the card-keys used at hotels are lo-co or hi-co.? Can this device be used to program them? I’m considering using it for my project. Thanks.

  • really i don’t know what is the problem with you all…<br />
    it’s 100% working <br />
    <br />
    reading/writing…..etc<br />
    just with good knowledge of what are you doing..

  • Be forewarned: This product only works with cards encoded/decoded with ISO standard cards (ISO 7811).
    If you need help writing code against it, see:

  • I’ve gotten this to work, both reading and writing. But so far, only with the Example software, and only on COM1. The read/writer gets its 5V power from the ps2 connector. Without the ps2 connector connected, the device will not work.

  • Has there been any progress on getting this to work? What exactly is wrong with it? Is it just a lack of working software? I can’t seem to find a sub $400 3 track mag stripe r/w and I don’t understand why Sparkfun would sell such an expensive product that is known to not work.

  • Hi,
    I would have to agree with JGP. This item is basically useless and neither Sparkfun nor the forum has been able to provide a clear path to simply copying/writing data.
    I have never had a project or product be so under supported or cluttered. All that I ask of this item is to copy card A to card B, at present there is no way to do this…

  • Buyer beware. Mine is little more than a paperweight. It will not write lo-co cards that are readable by Verifone terminals. As best as I can tell, it doesn’t actually write at all. And yes, the cards I’m using are most definitely “lo-co”, not “hi-co”.

Customer Reviews

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