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:
- Keep the wealth in the community - not getting spent 200 miles away.
- Independence from inflation / deflation and economic collapse due to bank failures etc.
- Protection against central government 'Austerity'.
- Protection against 'Speculation' in financial markets.
- Farmers and food producers can employ workers in the spring and pay them in the summer.
- They work especially well in poor neighbourhoods.
- 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)
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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:
- It must be difficult to copy.
- It should have dates and serial numbers, if possible.
Consider putting a 'use by date' on the currency. No, I am not joking!
- If other people want to use your currency, consider limiting it to a certain geographical area. Eg. An island.
- 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:
- Copper Pour - after the circuit tracks are laid down, the rest of the board is covered with copper using the copper pour command.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- SMT - Can you solder very small components? There are some excellent tutorials for soldering on Youtube.
- 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.
- Track size - wide tracks for power, narrow ones for signals.
- Documentation layer - This does not get printed on the board and is for reference only.
- Gerber files - You need to create this set of files in the software output. It's easy! Send these to your manufacturer.
- 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!
- Check your boards before ordering. Check them again. Keep checking them over and over again. You WILL find mistakes!
- 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:
- Keep the currency in a safe as it is valuable.
- Never give people the design blueprints.
- Make a note/coin/object that represents a real item like a pound of gold, a box of eggs or a cow, for example.
- Check if you need to pay tax on the transactions with your local laws.
- Try and keep tabs on how much currency is in circulation at any time.
- 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
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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)
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