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Friday, May 09, 2008

Dissolved Oyster cards may make great magic wands

I'm sure a number of you read
Boing Boing (I don't but often get sent interesting stories from it - eg the spoof terrorist posters), its editor has a particular bugbear about the "Big Brotherness" of Oyster cards and how they can track your every move. Regular readers know I don't share this view.

As he hates Oyster cards so much, he showed a couple of attempts of how an Oyster card can be destroyed using some kind of industrial strength acetate and how the chip inside it will still work. Problem was that none of the attempts did actually work. At least not until now. Heads up to Gia who originally found this attempt.

SkeptoBot mananged to dissolve an Oyster card using very simple methods & ingredients:

Ingredients

1) 400ml of Nail Varnish Remover - I bought 2 bottles of Boots own brand at 99p each. I could probably have got by with one.
2) An oyster card - I bought a prepay one for £3, though I got a funny look when I didn't want to top it up there and then.
3) A jar big enough to contain the oyster card - I bought a jar of beetroot (urgh) for 72p.

Total Cost: £5.70


Once the Oyster card goes into the nail varnish it melts enough so that you can tear away the layers of plastic and you are left with the chip. He said:

"It's best to keep checking the card, first it will get soft, then after about 90 mins it folded over and I was able to peel off the first layer of the card, exposing one side of the chip. Then I cut the centre of the card out with scissors (so there was less plastic for the acetone to work on). I put these pieces next to the jar, and I was quite suprisied when the time-lapse showed them wobbling about.

Then after another half hour or so, the other side of the plastic loosened enough to peel that away exposing the intact chip and antenna
."

You can see a time lapse video of the whole process below:


But would it actually work? After all the meltdown, would he then be able to get the chip topped up and would it let him through the gates on the Tube? He took the chip, put it into an Oyster card wallet, so as not to look suspicious, and then topped it up with some cash, then videoed the experience (see below):


It worked. So one now has potentially endless opportunities of not being restricted to your blue card if you want to get about. SkeptoBot quite fancies sticking his chip onto a wand and waving it in front of the reader, saying something like "Open Sesame" and the gates would open - as if by magic.

Watch his blog for further developments to see if he can turn it into a wand.


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