Use A Cellphone As A Magnetic Card Reader

Card Reader

this is a really different feature for your cellphone, provided you have a Siemens MC 60 mobile phone. it’s the ability to use the phone as a magnetic card reader. how you ask? the MC 60 has the ability to record sounds to use a ringtone or whatever. when a card has data on it, and you swipe it through a card reader, it will make a “swoosh” sort of noise. these are the two tones the card makes..the two tones being 1 and 0. after this, the binary data is read and interpreted with whatever information may be on it. 2600’s Off the hook was talking about this on their show a few weeks ago, and how it’s used with metrocard

25 thoughts on “Use A Cellphone As A Magnetic Card Reader

  1. i have an lgvx7000 that can record sounds in i’m assuming the same manner as he mc 60. i can set them as ringtones or whatever. i’ve also found that if i during a call i set it to record it’ll record only what is said on the other side of the line. from these recordings i can set ringtones as well. i’m only assuming the same functionality can be made of the lgvx7000 as the mc 60. it would be interesting to hear of someone trying this

  2. good hack, but still slow on the posting. I would hope that hack a day would get back on track and get the cool hacks out before any other site. It seems to me that they just go through other sites that post stuff a day or two before…and that’s lame. So I guess my over all request is for hack a day to stop being lame with stupid hacks that aren’t hacks and stop be slow on cool hacks.

  3. Lame?

    you have amnesty to create your own hack website, which you can keep as uptoday with “cool hacks” as you want.

    even though stuff posted on here is occasionally repeats… i still think they’re doing a nice job.

  4. Great to hear that there’s interest in this sort of a thing. The discussion we had on Off The Hook ( will be followed up by two articles in the next issue of 2600. These will consist of a description of how to build your own reader extremely cheaply, the source code of an application to decode the “sounds” made by the magnetic head, a discussion on how this design was used to reverse-engineer New York City’s MetroCard, and more. Additionally, an online resource will be made available to compliment the articles.

    Happy hacking!


  5. Although this is a really cool article, bear in mind that the mag stripe is not actually being read by a standard phone: It’s read using a modified mag stripe read head that is plugged into the phones external mic port, so should work with any phone that has a similar jack….

  6. Didn’t mathew broderick try a lower-tech version of this is that old movie “Wargames”? And using a sound recorder to record digital information is nothing new. I’m surprised it took this long to get the attention of 2600.

  7. I need to know how to use my prepaid cell phone for calls without buying minutes for it every fucking week…even if i didnt use all of the minutes they cut off the phone and i have to buy another card….the service is primetime wireless cellular phones (1-888-231-1222) my last card number : [ 01023809439 8097 ]…it also looks like its a serial number at the bottom that reads : 11078905 074 64152…please help me get free minutes!!! email

  8. This is almost as big a hoax as the “If you lock your keys in the car you can hold your cell phone up to your car and have somebody on the other end with the remote.”

    Sorry to disappoint some people but this would never work. The data stored on the card is digital not analog. In real card reader’s a reader head scraps up against the head and creates magnetic pulses. Even if you assumed your cell phone could pick this up, there’s not an ampification circut. The recording is geared for human voice. The audio therefore wouldn’t have the bandwith for any program to distinguse 1’s and 0’s.

    You made it sound like any phone that records ringtones can do this. I assure you mine can’t. :P

  9. Just for Joe (#16) I think that they actually mean to hook up a card reader to the audio input to your cellphone and parse the data that comes in?

    Its very possible to use the magnetic head on a tape player and slide the head of the magnetic stripe across it, and hook that up to the mic plug on your computer. The same should be true for a cell phone if it has an audio in jack, and the same should work for a card reader as well.

    Unless of course they mean actually recording the sound of someone swiping…that I’m not sure if its possible :S

  10. i have a virgin mobile i buy minutes all the time … is there someone who can tell me how to get free minutes without buying a prepaid phone card (

  11. Can someone please give an anwser as to if one can or cannot hack a prepaid phone, for free min or air time? There must be a randomly generated code that can be used to activate some of the cards? I own a verizon wireless prepay phone-UTstarcom.

  12. i have an at&t phone i buy minutes all the time … is there someone who can tell me how to get free minutes without buying a prepaid phone card every friggen week? (

  13. Google Voice has changed my life. I can’t believe the functionality that it offers, take for example the ability to listen in on voicemail messages. I’ve got a few extra invites. Also I hope that Apple rethinks the GVoice App, hwo could such an killer application get killed by Apple?

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