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Smart Card Reader and Programmer

By Peter Smith

Back in the January 2003 issue of SILICON CHIP, we described a basic smart card reader and programmer that is capable of accessing the EEPROM (data) memory component of Gold wafer cards over a Phoenix-type interface.

This type of programmer is all that's needed for cards that contain pre-programmed PICs. For blank cards, however, it's only half of the solution. Read on to find out why.

Smart card smarts

Smart cards come in dozens of different configurations, with different microcontrollers, memory sizes and even contact positions. However, the cards that we're interested in conform to a recognised set of ISO standards, described in ISO-7816 and entitled "Identification Cards - Integrated Circuit Cards with Contacts".

Parts 1-3 of this document define things like physical dimensions, contact size and position, and interface AC & DC characteristics. They also describe the protocol used to exchange information across the card interface.

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