Can one see what's inside a contactless PVC card?

Seeing as though working with my local PTA might not get me anywhere after all, I’m thinking of getting one of their regular full-size DESFire transport card, with the hope that either

1/ It actually contains one of them small SIM-sized transponder (unlikely)
2/ The chip’s capacitor is compatible with one of Amal’s implant-sized antennae

Also, I just saw a video of how that card is supposed to be used, and it doesn’t look promising. See this capture:

Now I know how they “solved their reader issues”: they installed a friggin’ tray around the readers to keep the card still and properly positioned during the transaction - meaning I’d have to get lucky and hope it’d read the implant in my hand when it’s positioned above the tray - and keep it there why I do stuff on the screen with my other hand.

So I’m thinking, the best course of action would be to check the physical setup of the card: if it’s a smallish antenna and it reads well when the card is positioned in the tray antenna up, then I might go ahead and ask Amal to do a conversion. There would be a fair chance that it’d work. If it’s a full size antenna going all around the card, the drop in signal and inability to position my hand at the bottom of the reader would probably make the idea unworkable.

Anybody knows if it’s possible to see the antenna through the card, against a strong flashlight, or under infrared of UV light, short of dissolving it in acetone?

Yes, you can use a powerful flashlight and see the antenna/hardware design. You can also use xray to see through the card but that kind of setup can be harder to find/use.

A very good source for this:
Doegox: See through HF Cards


Haha! Someone made a collection of see-through photos of HF cards. Just fabulous :slight_smile: Thanks for the link man!

This demonstrates once more than everything you can think of can be found somewhere on the internet, and also everything you never thought about :slight_smile:

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Maybe not the “inside” you were talking about

But are we unable to see the raw data in the chip?

What I keep imagining is the “copy protected” cds from 2000s, you’d run it thru a program that would
Copy the cd bit for bit without actually processing anything, resulting in a perfect copy (also copy protected lol)

Also, I really want some of these, but can’t find a listing I trust, or isn’t a 5000 pc minimum


Practically, yes. The data on the card is stored in the form of charges. Good luck getting access to the teeny tiny cells inside the potting and measuring those charges without help from the chip itself. It’s theoretically possible, just totally impractical for anybody but the best equipped chipmaker’s labs.

I didn’t mean physically observing or measuring but just dumping the raw contents

Again I know know enough to be dangerous here

How can you dump the raw content without physically measuring it yourself if the chip’s own circuitry won’t help you and you can’t abuse it into doing it anyway?


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Lol I didn’t actually catch that I was just skimming google of transparent cards, like I said… most didn’t seem trustworthy… now we can add quality

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no worries I was just shocked they would use this as a promo shot