Magnetic Card Reader Translator


In one of their products, our client used a generic, inexpensive, magnetic card reader that became obsolete, and was no longer available. Because our client’s product was deployed in a critical application, it was important to replace units as they failed. Unfortunately, because the reader was obsolete, new units were not available. The client conducted an exhaustive study of alternative readers, and quickly determined that newer readers provided data in a different format than the old one had. This seemingly left two options, change the back office software to accommodate the new format, or find a magnetic card reader that supported the old format. The first option was cost prohibitive, because the end customer was a large government organization using a legacy software application which would have been very expensive to modify. As for the second option, unfortunately the old format was just no longer supported.

Our solution was the design of a small, inexpensive unit to translate data from the new format into the old format. Given the client’s limited volume requirements, one of the keys to success was to minimize development cost. Therefore, an off-the-shelf processor module was selected for ease of software development. This processor module was then augmented by a Wavetrix-designed interface and connector board. Once the design was completed, units were built, the firmware was written, and prototype units were tested and accepted by our client, we acted as the manufacturer for several production runs of these units. They were deployed in the field without any issues or reported defects. Our turn-key solutions are not simply designs that work in the lab. They are robust designs that can be manufactured and used in the real world.