How-To

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March 11, 2019

How to Position the Sniffing Antenna When Tracing Payment Transactions

 

 

The Challenge

You’re using TraceCase to sniff into payment transactions in the field, but you’re faced with incomplete or faulty traces that are not helpful. The traces may be incomplete because signal transmission was too weak. Your problems may be caused by unfavorable handling of the antenna during the trace session. We’re showing you here how to handle the hardware in such a way the recorded traces are helpful for troubleshooting in the lab. 

The Solution

This short instruction will show you how to position the antennas correctly to achieve usable results. The payment terminal emits an electromagnetic field and the payment card (smartphone or wearable) must be introduced into this electromagnetic field in order to work properly. Here come some rules that you should follow:

1. This is near-field communication! So, you must come close.

2. Position the sniffing antenna on the center of the terminal’s NFC symbol.

3. Start tracing on the TraceCase app.

4. Introduce the card into the field. The movement must be slower than during “normal” payment transactions and the 3 items (terminal, antenna, card) should ideally be positioned in parallel. 

Step 1

Don’t you know the position of the NFC antenna because it’s not indicated on the device? TraceCase offers a feature that measures the magnetic field strength so that you can detect the point with the highest magnetic field strength.

 Detect the field strength on the lower part of the payment terminal: 2 blocks.

Detect the field strength on top of the NFC symbol: 4 blocks.

(In the same way you can also detect the intensity of the magnetic field on your smartphone or wearable.)

Step 2 

When you know where to measure, start the trace, place the antenna onto the terminal, and slowly move the card onto the antenna. Now, all magnetic coils are parallel to each other so that conditions for signal transmission are ideal.

The Conclusion

Keep these simple facts about near-field communication in mind and you’ve covered the electrical basics for successful tracing.


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