A look at 'itemv'

The 'itemv' (ISO 7816 EMV smartcard analysis) board came back last week, and it works great! I wanted to point out a few things that are noteworthy about this board.

The ample "spare" space on this board is used to list EMV commands and what they mean, so the PCB itself doubles as a reference card. I imagine someone snooping on a transaction, and decoding the messages on the screen using what's written on the PCB instead of going to the thousands of EMV spec books -- pretty cool, no? I'm really impressed with Eurocircuits' silkscreen process -- it allows very fine details and this small of a font size that's still very crisp and readable. On the bottom side there's also a silkscreen block that can be used as a scratchpad.

The traces really give out an organic feel when light is shown through the board. I really like this extra visual dimension, and try to incorporate that into all the boards that I make. In a stretch I could justify this layout by claiming that the ground plane between the traces shields them better, but it would have worked just fine without it.

This board was also designed to allow power analysis of EMV cards. The setup of the pins allows having either a throughole or SMT small value resistor on the ground and/or power trace. There are also turrets for the scope probes, and a general purpose header for a jumper, or a simple wire hook. The two dual header pins configuration allows putting anything you want between the actual card and the board's "card", or simply creating a short using a jumper.

Finally, one of the annoying features of the old "smartcard interface monitor" I've used in the past was that it was hard to grip when you insert and eject the card from the reader. I solved this by adding indentations on the sides for fingers -- really simple with PCBmodE.