About cards

We carry access cards and tags from many door access manufacturers: Rosslare, HID, Keyscan, Indala, Kantech, Paradox, Northern Computers, Honeywell, Keri, AWID and more …

ABOUT CARD FORMATS

Buyers please buy original cards made for the card access system you have! Even though all access cards look the same they are not. The chip inside the card is encoded with a specific format determined by the card access brand. Simply it means that Kantech card access works with Kantech cards only, Honeywell card access with Honeywell cards, Paradox card access with Paradox cards and so on. There are exceptions to the rules but that requires detailed knowledge of the installed card access brand. Don’t count on it. Take it as tires on the cars or doors, yes they all look the same but they will not fit every situation.

Using matching brand name encoded cards is mandatory and usually results in higher security of the system. Unfortunately choice of card access brand may limit the number of sources where cards can be purchased from and possibly higher cost for credentials.

We carry the most popular brand names of cards formatted as per manufacturer’s production requirements. However when opting for exotic brands buyer also gets very unique card formats that come from few sources at a higher cost. Example: Sensormatic, Hirsch, Continental and more.

DIFFERENT CARD TECHNOLOGIES

There are more than few card technologies in use today. As already pointed out all cards may look the same but in reality they are not.


1. Bar code cards
2. Mag stripe cards
3. Wiegand cards
4. 125 kHz RFID (usually called prox) cards
5. 13.56 MHz RFID cards

The first 3 should be abandoned if they haven’t been already. They provide marginal if any protection over copying. Wiegand cards have tiny wires embedded inside the card body. Let’s put it this way, nobody buys cards with those technologies anymore.

The best solutions are the last 2 technologies that are essentially contactless. Those cards do not require physical contact with the reader in order to be recognized. The result is quick operation, readers last almost forever and could be used in harsh environments. Those cards are also quite hard to clone. That especially stands true for smart cards.

WHAT YOU GET WHEN BUYING CARD ACCESS FROM ALMEX?

With card access systems we sell and we supply original Rosslare prox cards, HID prox cards or HID iCLASS smart cards. All three of these card families are encoded with common:


• 26 bit Rosslare format
• 26 bit, H10301 format - general open Wiegand format
• 37 bit, H10302 format - general open Wiegand format

What is the advantage here? The buyer is not locked into card supply from a single or very few sources. That also means that the buyer is not forced to buy at expensive prices. The operator still has a lot of control over security and card access system as explained below.

ABOUT CARD NUMBERS

Every card access credential (card, tag, keychain tag) has a chip embedded inside. The chip is programmed with unique serial numbers and FC (Facility Code). When issuing the card operator of the system assigns a specific card number to the person so for example John Doe gets card 12345. There may be also an extra 3 digit code called FC (Facility Code) or SC (Site Code) programmed in the cards.

So how unique are the numbers? Not very unique. A 26 bit cards range is 00001 to 65535 maximum. 37 bit cards have a maximum number of cards in the millions. FC range for 26 bit cards is 001 to 255. So back to everyday practice, it is possible, for larger users to get duplicate card numbers.

The remedy is to:


• use dilligent book keeping and record number ranges used in the system
• always use the same or very few FC codes in the system
• use Rosslare cards and tags, they have numbers that will never repeat
• use 37 bit open format. The numbers never repeat since HID is taking care of that
• order a unique format called Corporate1000 where HID creates proprietary format with numbers that never repeat

In practical terms buyer of the cards should to record the card range received. Next time when ordering just make sure that range to be received is not overlapping with existing cards.

Usage of FC is not mandatory. However larger organizations would want to use FC and buy cards with example FC 123. If all cards with that facility code are used up then introduce a new facility code and continue. Obviously, door access controllers must be capable of taking different facility codes, and all panels we sell are.

ABOUT FACILITY CODE AND SITE CODE

FC and SC are the same thing and pertain to the extra 3 digits encoded in every card. Not every access card has an FC or SC. Those cards that have it are not visible to user. They are imprinted on the box of cards. The FC range for 26 bit cards is 001 to 255.

What is the significance of a Facility Code? In a card access system that uses FC cards S/N 10,000 with FC050 and a card with S/N 10,000 with FC100 are NOT the same. That means if FC is used in the system it has to be entered and matched. If FC is not used in the system card S/N is only thing that matters. Trying to enter those 2 cards with S/N 10000 will produce “DUPLICATE CARD” error.

So by design using FC promotes security since it is introducing another 3 digits presented card has to match! Using FC also enables multiple cards with same serial number but different FC to be used in the same system.

Some access controllers demand FC and most of them don’t. About 95% of buyers that come to Almex to buy the cards don’t even know what FC is, so they just use card S/N in their systems. When there is a relatively small number of card holders in the system FC could be ignored as a nuissance. If there are many thousands of card holders using FC could be the only way to introduce multiple matching card number ranges, but with different FC numbers. Remember there are only 65535 possible card numbers available. Sounds like lot but in larger organizations it is not.

Some manufacturers like Rosslare take duplicate cards problem out of picture. They manufacture cards and tags with numbers and FC combinations that never repeat! Great headache solver!

For enhanced security door controllers demand card FC entry. Example are: Intelli-M, HID EDGE, Keyscan and others.

IT NEVER HURTS TO ASK!

If unsure about card brand or format call or e-mail. We do answer every call and every e-mail. Quickly we’ll try to identify what you have or point you at right direction