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Make Magnetic Cards Part of Your Creation

By Ewan Fisher Subscribe to RSS | December 9th 2011 | Views:

One of the fastest growing hobbies in the UK is home electronics, which is no longer the sole preserve of the trained engineer. More and more people want to understand how electronic devices work, and the best way to learn is to build them for you.

There are thousands of beginners out there building home electronics kits to improve their knowledge, as well as many trained electronics engineers who are working in their spare time to build innovative gadgets that could one day have important commercial applications. All of these people need to get hold of the best quality parts from a reliable supplier, and fortunately they can find everything they need from one of the online stockists that have recognised the growth in home electronics.

With the incredible range of components that is available on the market the only limit on the creativity of hobbyists and enthusiasts is their imagination. No matter what kind of device you want to create, the chances are that you will be able to find all the necessary parts online.

Take, for example, an access device that requires some level of security. One way of building such a device is to use a magnetic card reader/writer as the key. This is the kind of device that many hotels now use to provide access to rooms, which is why you often get a magnetic card instead of a key these days, which can also be used to switch on the electricity once you are in the room.

While this might seem quite high-tech, all you need is a magnetic card reader/writer and some cards with magnetic stripes that can store information. A magnetic stripe card can store data by modifying the magnetism of tiny, iron-based particles on a band of magnetic material. They should be familiar to us from the cards that banks issue for use in ATM or debut card transactions.

These cards were invented way back in 1960 by IBM as part of a contract with the US government to provide a security system. Since then, they have become commonplace, and we use them all the time, usually without giving the technology a second thought.

In fact, they are now so familiar that you can buy magnetic card reader/writer from home electronics suppliers and use them to build gadgets that require security data to grant access to a room or to a device, or to identify the person holding the magnetic key card.

With just a quick search online it is easy to find magnetic card reader/writers from manufacturers like Sparkfun. For a reasonable price it is simple to purchase a heavy duty, low coercivity, three-track reader/writer that is powered through a PS2 port and passes information through an RS232 serial port. This is easily robust, reliable and inexpensive enough to meet the needs of any home electronics enthusiast.

Maybe you want to make a lock for your bedroom door, or make a device to prevent anyone else logging on to your computer. No matter what application you have in mind, the magnetic card reader/writer technology is readily available. Take a quick look online and you will find suppliers that can not only source the component, but also give you all the advice you need to use it. Get hold of the parts and then let your imagination run wild.

Ewan Fisher - About Author:
For electronics enthusiasts looking out for electronics components like magnetic card reader/writer for their own creations, their search should end at Proto-PIC. It is an one-stop solution for UK electronics components.

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