Instrument Control (GPIB, Serial, VISA, IVI)

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Magnetic Swipe Data

Magnetic Swipe Data

I have a USB magnetic swipe/card reader. I would like to use lab view to extract the raw data, i.e. 0's and 1's, it detects and also the waveform produced by the device to produce the raw data. How can I get labview to interface with the usb device?


The usb magnetic card reader can operate in one of two modes:

  • keyboard mode
  • HID mode


Using a MAC, it sees the following info for the usb device attached to it:


 Product ID:    0x0001
  Vendor ID:    0x0801  (Mag-Tek)
  Version:    1.00
  Serial Number:    SOFTWARE_ID
  Speed:    Up to 12 Mb/sec
  Manufacturer:    Mag-Tek
  Location ID:    0x06200000 / 3
  Current Available (mA):    500
  Current Required (mA):    100


Device part number: 21040140 made by MagTek. Reference manual on it:


On the windows side of the house, I have not seen how the device is interpreted. At the moment I am having trouble getting it to be detected on my Win7 64bit VM.


Any leads would be appreciated.

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Re: Magnetic Swipe Data

Keyboard mode will be the easier mode to deal with. That makes it look like the characters were typed in from a keyboard. I have no idea what you are referring to as the "waveform produced by the device". I'd like to see a magentic card reader that duals as a function generator.


As for the programming side of it, LabVIEW has input VIs in the Connectivity -> Input Device Control that you can use to monitor the keyboard.


As for the virtual machine, can't really help there, since it's a virtual machine issue. You need to look at the configuration of the virtual machine and whatever software you are using to see if you have the necessary drivers installed that allow a virtual machine to access the USB ports on the host computer. These are not always "automatically" installed.

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Re: Magnetic Swipe Data

Thanks for the quick reply.


To clarify on the waveform,  a magnetic swipe is really a selenoid. It detects a magnetic waveform, i.e. flux reversals, on the card to detect 1's and 0's.  I will probably end up taking the device apart and investigate whihc wires I can use to see this waveform. If I go that route, what can I do from the NI standpoint to acquire this analog data? a DAQ? Which one? Thanks!

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Re: Magnetic Swipe Data

Hi jhandal,


I may be misunderstanding, but would the magnetic waveform be best represented by a digital signal?  From what I can tell the magnetic data will either be an on or off, which would make me think digital instead of analog, although analog would still work.  


As far as which product for data acquisition beyond that, I'd want to know a bit more about the application.  What are you wanting to do with this information ultimately and to what purpose?  Also, are you using a standard PC with LabVIEW?




-Dave C

Applications Engineer
National Instruments
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