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MagChip Head, MagStripe Read Head w/ Decoding ASICs
(IDT1300 Series)
MagChip Head Specifications

ID TECH's MagChip ASIC is integrated with a MagStripe read head with a mounting spring assembly. The MagChip Read Head Assembly delivers reading and decoding capabilities in a very small package. The MagChip ASIC, MagStripe data decoding IC, is mounted directly on the read head to decode up to three tracks of data. The head, in turn, is mounted on a spring that provides support, deflection, and gimble for good contact with the magnetic stripe. Signals from the MagChip are CMOS-level Clock & Data outputs of decoded serial data bits.




  • Low power- sleeps when not reading

  • Less than 1.0mA per track when reading a card

  • Superior reading of high jitter, scratched, and worn MagStripe cards

  • Supports bi-directional card swiping and decoding

  • True AGC handles signal amplitudes from 1mV to 1V p-p

  • +/- 2000V Electro-Static Discharge (ESD) protection

  • Typical card swipe speeds form 3 to 60 IPS

  • Head & spring life exceeds 1,000,000 card swipes

Functional Description
The read head signals are amplified by the MagChip using an autoscaling amplifier. The amplified signal is used to decode the magnetic stripe signal (dual-frequency data encoded using the principals of Aiken’s F2F encoding) into a digital data format consisting of the magnetic stripe data, clock, and “media detect” outputs, all of which are CMOS level signals. Additionally, the MagChip has a automatic power-down sleep mode that saves energy. Since the MagChips are mounted directly on the read head, the low amplitude analog signals are amplified and digitized without exposure to external “noise” for maximum noise immunity. The F2F data rate ranges from less than 200 to greater than 30,000 magnetic flux reversals per second, depending upon data density and the velocity at which the magnetic stripe is passed across the “read” head. One clock pulse is required for each data bit, and the “media detect” signal is held true while magnetic head signals are present. The assembly’s standard confi guration consists of the read head, one, two or three decoding circuits, wing spring mounting, and a cable assembly with 8-pin connector (for single or dual track confi guration) or 10-pin connector (for triple track).

Head life is 1,000,000 card cycles (with media that meets ISO 7811 magnetic stripe properties) under a non-contaminated environment. Spring assembly is 1,000,000 card cycles as well.

Operating: -35C to 70C (10% to 98% relative humidity). Storage: -45C to 85C (10% to 98% relative humidity).

Data Output
Data output is a serial stream of digital bits, the level of which, with the corresponding clock, represents each data bit that was recorded on the magnetic stripe track. No data filtering is required, as the first 6 to 9 bits (after MagChip wake-up) from the leading edge of a magnetic stripe are not provided as output, as these bits are used for circuit synchronization. A data output high level is a ‘ZERO’ value data bit, and a low level is a ‘ONE’ value data bit. The data output is last-bit-first when media is passed by the head in a reverse direction.

Clock Output
Clocking output is normally high, and goes low to indicate a data sample time. The data output is stable and may be sampled on the falling or rising edge of clock, or at any time while the clock is low. The MagChip clock goes low approximately 2 μsec after the data output is valid. The clock width changes with speed. (Please refer to the AC Characteristics table for minimum/maximum signal timing.) The receiving interface for MagChip data must sense the high-to-low clock transition and acquire the data bit level during clock pulse. The clock width changes with speed. (Please refer to the AC Characteristics table.)

“Media Detect” Output
This output indicates the presence of encoded magnetic media passing the read head. This signal is normally high; a low output indicates encoded media. The output is an open drain type with high impedance; the outputs of several MagChip circuits can be connected together. A pull-up resistor is needed for proper operation of this output if it is to be used.

Sleep Mode Function
The MagChip will automatically enter a power-down sleep mode when a magnetic head signal is not present. The MagChip will automatically wake-up when a magnetic head signal is present. The outputs Data, Clock, and Media Detect are at a high level during sleep mode.


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