Wearable PCB Guerilla Currency - the 'Golden Goat'





Introduction: Wearable PCB Guerilla Currency - the 'Golden Goat'

Every self-respecting anarchist will understand how enslaved we are to the capitalist economic system which takes us repeatedly to the brink of the economic apocalypse through the bankers' greed and incompetency.

Local currencies are becoming more and more popular in some towns and cities in the UK and abroad and have several important advantages over regular national currencies:

  1. Keep the wealth in the community - not getting spent 200 miles away.
  2. Independence from inflation / deflation and economic collapse due to bank failures etc.
  3. Protection against central government 'Austerity'.
  4. Protection against 'Speculation' in financial markets.
  5. Farmers and food producers can employ workers in the spring and pay them in the summer.
  6. They work especially well in poor neighbourhoods.
  7. Particularly useful after the impending Apocalypse when all national currency will be defunct.

Now, with easy access to CNC machines, 3D printers etc. anybody can make their own currency, set up their own bank and be independent from the impending economic apocalypse. Vive La Revolution !!!!

Originally, I wanted to get my currency laser cut out of stainless steel, but this would have been very expensive so I had to think of a cheap and effective way of achieving the same end result. Fine if I had my own 3D printer! (But I don't). I made some PCBs about a year ago and they worked really well, were cheap to make and looked totally awesome so I thought: 'Why not make my currency on PCBs?'

I have now made my own currency, or note/tokens, as I need seasonal workers in the spring to help me plant and weed vegetables which then get harvested in the summer. autumn and winter. I have used PCB circuit boards as the format and designed them to be primarily a currency, but also an interesting object to wear as a pendant and even to produce electronic projects! (Yes, they are fully functional PCBs with USB, ATMEGA and ATTINY85-20SU chips, LEDs, mini speaker, 20 x 4 LCD, power regulator and hackable tracks/pins). And just to top it off ........ They are plated with real gold!

To quote John Rogers: "A new currency incentivises people to share their scarce resources and do more with assets in which they have already invested time and money: personal skills, business inventory, rooms, vehicles, etc. It releases dormant potential for exchanges that otherwise might not happen." Don't you just love it?

Why is it called the 'Golden Goat' when I'm selling vegetables? Good question! For a long while Tecwyn has been obsessed with goats so, to placate him, I called it the Golden Goat. Personally, I would have called it 'The Golden Carrot' or something like that. I don't even have any goats so I have had to rig an exchange rate of one Goat = one sack of vegetables. Very complicated ....... Sigh! (Coincidently, It's also the Chinese year of the goat this year 2015)

Step 1: Legal

Please make sure that it is legal to create your own currency where you live. Some countries will require that you pay tax on transactions, even if they are on a bartering basis, so this would require some research.

Step 2: Historical Information

The term 'Guerrilla Currency' or 'Guerrilla Money' was first used in the Philippines during the second world war. After the Japanese invaded the different islands, each one set up their own resistance movement and alternative government with their own underground currency. More information can be found here:


Check out this local currency: Philippines guerilla currency

Step 3: Designing the Currency

When designing a currency note or token, there are a few really important considerations listed below:

  1. It must be difficult to copy.
  2. It should have dates and serial numbers, if possible.
  3. Consider putting a 'use by date' on the currency. No, I am not joking!

  4. If other people want to use your currency, consider limiting it to a certain geographical area. Eg. An island.
  5. Make the currency multi-purposing eg. Wearable, data storage, etc.

The note/token must be of a sufficiently complex design so that it is difficult to copy and should not be symmetrical or have obvious geometric patterns. This can be achieved by having lots of complex artwork, holes drilled in it and even chips soldered on containing serial numbers etc. There are also hundreds of small errors included so that it makes it hard for the potential forger to copy it easily. The drill holes are really useful as you can quickly line them all up to see if it is a forgery or not.

The token should look plausible, that enough work and attention to detail has been done to give people faith in the product. I've made my tokens multi functional as well, so they are wearable, can be made to be musical or activate flashing LEDs etc.

Step 4: Making a PCB (Printed Circuit Board)

There are a few very good bits of software that can be obtained for free, for example, Eagle and Design Spark. Making PCBs is fairly easy and the software is very intuitive. Here are 14 key points to understand, listed below:

  1. Copper Pour - after the circuit tracks are laid down, the rest of the board is covered with copper using the copper pour command.
  2. Isolated copper pour islands - Big areas of isolated copper can act as capacitors and have very undesirable effects on the electronic performance. Always provide links to ground.
  3. Double sided - These boards will be smaller and the connections much stronger than single sided boards, where the tracks tend to readily separate from the board itself.
  4. Copper Pour area - The area within the board where you want copper poured needs to be marked out with a box on each layer of the board. I generally use 2 layers, top and bottom.
  5. Ground - Label everything connected to ground with the same net name eg 'GROUND'. This way, when you do the copper pour, all the grounds will be connected when you select the appropriate option.
  6. Vias - These are copper encased holes that can be used to connect a circuit on the top of the board to one on the bottom. Can also join top and bottom copper pour areas very nicely. Very useful!
  7. SMT - Can you solder very small components? There are some excellent tutorials for soldering on Youtube.
  8. Heat sensitive components - LEDs and power regulators will get warm or even hot during use so use heat sinks/fans and separate hot components from heat sensitive ones. Circuit boards may even crack due to heat so in these cases consider using expansion gaps, or slots in the board.
  9. Track size - wide tracks for power, narrow ones for signals.
  10. Documentation layer - This does not get printed on the board and is for reference only.
  11. Gerber files - You need to create this set of files in the software output. It's easy! Send these to your manufacturer.
  12. Manufacturers - These are almost exclusively in China and the company I have dealt with Sitopway, is very reliable and helpful. Don't be intimidated by ordering from China - it's totally cool! Remember, China shuts down for 10 days during the Spring Festival around the Chinese new year, the dates of which change from year to year!
  13. Check your boards before ordering. Check them again. Keep checking them over and over again. You WILL find mistakes!
  14. Order a small initial batch of 10 to check the boards are ok before ordering a full batch.

If anybody can think of anymore useful tips please use the comments box below and I will add them to this list.

Step 5: Electronic Components for Basic LED Functionality

Step 6: Using and Managing the Currency

There are some very important points to consider:

  1. Keep the currency in a safe as it is valuable.
  2. Never give people the design blueprints.
  3. Make a note/coin/object that represents a real item like a pound of gold, a box of eggs or a cow, for example.
  4. Check if you need to pay tax on the transactions with your local laws.
  5. Try and keep tabs on how much currency is in circulation at any time.
  6. Never circulate more currency than you can fulfil.

The last point needs some explaining - people will quickly lose confidence in your notes/tokens if you don't fulfil whatever promise is made on the note. In the case of a farmer it may be that he needs seasonal workers to pick the apples in October and they will get turned into cider in December. If he goes off and drinks all the cider himself, the workers will be very unhappy and come knocking on his door asking for compensation. It would be a good idea to keep a ledger of how many tokens get handed out and received back again. This could partially be helped by using a 'used by date', but this might also reduce the trust in the currency.

Step 7: Trust in the Currency

Any currency is based on trust, even US dollars. If people, for some reason started to lose trust in the USD and switch to the Euro, we'd see a flood of USD notes come into circulation from all the people around the world who have them stashed in their mattresses and there would be massive devaluation. The same would happen if the US government decided to print a whole load of money to get themselves out of a fix.

Trust is also important on a micro scale. The simplest example would be an everyday family with husband, wife and two kids. The kids wanted to trade their chores with each other when one of them had a special event to attend, like an online video game tournament. They decide amongst themselves to print their own currency and create 20 printed paper notes, each worth 1 hour of chores and give themselves 10 notes each at the start of the scheme. James does not want to pay Sally out of his pocket money as he is saving up for a new B57 bomber, so when the tournament comes around he gives her one of his notes. Also, they agree that the notes will only be used within the boundary of their home.

Another day, Sally has some friends randomly turn up at the doorstep and she is supposed to be washing the car. James agrees to do her chores and gets the note back again. They all still get paid their pocket money, even if they don't do the chore and pretty soon James is in control of a brand new jet powered aircraft.
Obviously there is a high element of trust and it would not work if the kids did not cooperate with each other or if one of them tried to counterfeit the notes.

Step 8: Infation / Deflation

It used to be very common for a currency to be set against the price of gold and for the bank issuing the notes to hold massive reserves of gold in their vaults to back up the currency. This is fine until one day some clever guy discovers a massive reserve of gold ore underground in his back yard and digs it all up and floods the market with it. Suddenly gold will lose it's value and the whole economic system starts to become unstable. The same could be true of your own currency if you link it to the value of a sheep, for example. If all the local farmers switch from cows to sheep, the notes will be in serious trouble although at least your community will still have something to eat!

The big advantage of printing notes yourself is that you can do small print runs and change the currency as and when needed. A 3D printer in the garage would be ideal for this. PCB's are not bad as even gold plated ones can be printed fairly cheaply in batches of 20 - 50. Obviously, the batch size and individual costs must balance out so if it's a very small batch then the value of each note must be high enough to make the printing cost effective.

Step 9: Final

If you enjoyed this Instructable or if it inspired you, please vote above, top right. Thank you.

Please Vote NOW!

Voting will help save the planet

Step 10: Local Currencies in the UK and Resources

Check out this local currency: Totnes Pound Note local currency

Check out this local currency: Lewes £1 Pound Note local currency

Check out this book about local currencies: How to Create Local Currency Book

Check out this book about local currencies: NEW People Money: The Promise of Regional Currencies (book)

Also: The Map - How to Out Your Local Economy (Ebook)



    • Trash to Treasure

      Trash to Treasure
    • Epilog Challenge 9

      Epilog Challenge 9
    • Paper Contest 2018

      Paper Contest 2018

    We have a be nice policy.
    Please be positive and constructive.




    For some reason this instructable wasn't in my 'latestinstructablesfrommembersyou'refollowing-list'. I'm really going to believe that somewhere some big brother is watching me. Or a fat sister, or a crazy grandmother - who said it had to be a brother, btw.

    You told me you voted for one of my ridiculously playful projects, while you came up with THIS? I am the one who's going to vote now, a serious vote for something serious.

    I like the idea, since it is based on something I nearly lost - that thrust thing - and which takes us back to early, sustainable system-based communities. Exchanging services or goods, materialized by goat notes. In fact, that's what we all do at small scale. I know knothing about computers, so I ask my friend to repair mine when the cat peed on it. He knows nothing about beer, so I help him to drink his stocks.

    Without the kidding, this idea is awesome and it's a shame it hasn't been featured yet. Respect for your skills, btw, you are the real guerilla. Voted. Triple.

    And now I'm going to read it all over again.

    I guess this is indeed one of my more serious 'Ibles - I find I do have to be serious sometimes or I get bored with myself. I was certainly rather bemused that it was not featured but am very excited to think that there might be a real live conspiracy against me - what fun! Or maybe your crazy grandmother is trying to protect you from crazy ideas from a crazy old gypsy with no teeth?

    This is way cool and very philosophical project. Your causing potential legal trouble for yourself by calling it currency. Just call it a gift certificate. That's essentially what it is but of course times 100 for the awesomeness of it. So much of the world around us for example electronics, combustion engines, construction, we don't understand, therefore it is very costly to us. Your goat notes are so close to giving people knowledge about electronics. We understood the world around us, how to build and modify it, design it, we would be less dependent on the knowledge and power of society, on having to pay people to produce goods and provide us services if we could do those things ourselves. At this point in history, with the knowledge on the Internet, 3d printers, availability of cheap raw materials, we are almost to a paradigm shift. Whereas manufacturing long ago replaced the artisan, it is almost developed now to a point where every individual can be an artisan manufacture, what with 3-D printers, cheap or free computer design software, etc.

    I don't believe there is an impending economic collapse, and impending sudden running out of petroleum fuel, and impending death of the world by pollution, massive famine from overpopulation, etc. The reason being that as these issues arise, society will adapt. However it will not address those problems until it 'needs to. Once fixing those problems makes sense economically, those problems will be addressed, for instance increasing cost of petroleum fuel will lead to the increasing production of alternative fuel vehicles. Nature, not exluding human society, has a remarkable way of self-buffering to maintain homeostasis.

    These goat notes would be more valuable if people realized how useful they were. If you had a youtube channel showing all the things that could be made from a goat note.

    I dont know as I agree with even needing to make them hard to counterfeit. There are many electronics components made by different companies and those in the know are willing to pat the 10-20 percent more to buy them from a trusted source rather then a Chinese countefeit of unknown quality. This is good technology. Let it spread. Also let counterfeiting inspire to make an even better, more useful goat note. People feel the need to patent their ideas, perhaps instead a need could be felt to have more good ideas.

    Also I have some experience with small scale agriculture. There seem to be extremes between large scale agriculture with its machine, tractors, technology, etc, able to pay migrant workers 10-20 thousand dollars per year to help with planting and harvesting. And then on then on the other extreme, small organic farms either unable to afford or rejecting mechanized farming, the result being that they have to work full time, unable to pay their workforce at all, depending on wealthy/organic minded individuals who are willing to pay retail price as part of a CSA, community supported agriculture, what this means is that on a weekly basis they receive a box of random vegetables.

    Again, organic low impact agriculture would be more succesfulyl if it were economically competitive. The problem is commercial organic farming is very little different, having many of the same problems as conventional commercial farming.

    I envision a future in which there are super markets, not supermarkets. Where the families are the companies, and the mariages are the mergers. Imagine an oganic farmers market, but thanks to the aid of small tractors the farmers are able to sell crops competitively. Combine this with resurgence of artisans as 'artisan manufacturers' and there's no reason why every individual or family couldnt be their own 'mini walmart' of sorts.

    One day I would like to change the game, to have a warehouse, to have land. The perimeter of the warehouse will be divided up into cubbies like a beehive. The people that have a cubby ae the famers, the producers, the worker bees. Their cubby is their sanctuary and nobody needs to do 'errands', because what isn't produced onsite is delivered in a bulk order through online ordering. It is such a shame, these masses of individuals behaving as vehicles doing errands, focusing on a shopping list rather than greeting each other, ignoring when they could be uplifting, seeing how they might be on similar paths, have similar goals. When people come together, cross paths, let it be a meeting, a celebration, an appreciation. Let people share knowledge so the world runs more efficiently, at a more relaxed. Saying money is time is time is money. Trading I will pay you laters for I will give you nows.

    Instead of going to a store you just go to the warehouse, pick up your order amongst a community you know and trust, use your cubby space as a workspace/sanctuary/however you see fit, then go pick your fresh fruits and vegetables. A totally different type of agriculture where small plots of family vegetables live together and interbreed, no need to weed or till, just to cover crop with short clover and add compost/manure from the dead plants dairy cows, plants pollinated by bees, minimal human intervention except to help express/ plant the seeds of the diverse organisms that nature expresses, the five fingered ears of corn, the peppers within peppers, the oddly shaped tomatoes, letting nature be the biological engineer but speeding along the process. Of course a perimeter of orchard, the fallen limbs fueling efficient rocket mass heaters. Okay, Im trailing off but at least to a happy place. I share my vision with you because I imagine you may have a similar one, and I see you have skills, therefore I see you as a key player in the shared vision which I think is the vision the world/human society has for itself underneath of it's pettiness/worry/doubt. Prosper Goat note man. Profit prophet.

    Wow, what a great comment! Thank you so much!

    We should obviously agree to disagree about man finding a solution to the impending economic collapse. I hope you're right and I'm wrong on this one.

    haha. yea. To the reverse, I hope you're right and I'm wrong about that. Economic collapse would be some massive stirring up of the pot. I'd like to see that. Maybe not full on Mad Max collapse, somewhere around where Cuba is now.

    I am kinda confused how your currency is used. Do you give people the board or transfer data between them like bitcoin?

    At the moment I give people the boards, but there is the possibility of having data on the boards themselves in the future if I can work out how to do it.

    If any person could make there own currency, such as this. then the economy would be useless. If someone wanted a new car, for example, then he could simply make more currency, and pretty soon the new currency would have no value.

    I would not say get rid of the national currency. But, from personal experience, there are a lot of transactions that simply would not happen unless I had a local currency. When people come and help me plant my onions, four example, I will not have to pay them with the national currency, I pay them with a goat note and then they will certainly come back later in the season and buy my vegetables so it is a win win situation. Otherwise I run the risk of paying them with national currency and they will forget to buy the veg. Lastly, I have to work harder to market the vegetables that I can't exchange with the workers.