MagicBands + RPi + LEDs = Fun


Disney has made RFID cool with their MagicBands. You can unlock your hotel door, buy a meal and even get into the park just using your band. It was honestly a lot of fun to use… so much fun that I wanted to keep using them when I got home. Luckily, you get to get the bands!

All that I had to do was create a complete MagicBand enabled infrastructure at my house. That seemed tough, so I decided to start small and make some LEDs blink.


Luckily, someone had already done the tough work of taking apart the band and digging up the FCC papers. The band has 2 radios, and one of the is standard RFID! This makes things quite a bit easier.

Knowing this, I hacked together a MagicBand reader using a Raspberry Pi 2, a Unicorn Hat, and a USB RFID/NFC reader. The RFID reader doesn’t come with software for Linux, but the LibNFC project has everything you need to do some fun stuff and it fully supports the SCL3711.


It actually didn’t take too much programming to put something fun together. I just hacked together the example program from LibNFC and the demo C program for the Unicorn Hat. I hardcoded in the ID number for my bracelets and play different LED animations when one is read on the RFID reader.

For extra fun, I put the Pi in a shoe box, cut out a window and lined it with velum to make a little viewer. Not sure what it is supposed to be exactly, but it is a lot of fun.

IMG_1096 IMG_1112

With all of this connected together, it is easy to see how it could be extended into something useful. You could create a smart lock, or fire off some internet task when a card or band is touched. It turns out that Washington DC’s SmartTrip card uses standard RFID and you could probably do something pretty fun since almost everyone in DC carries one around.

I put the code up here:






7 responses to “MagicBands + RPi + LEDs = Fun”

  1. […] rigged up a little piece of Disney magic at home for his kids and shared the results on his […]

  2. […] Luke Berndt found a fun reuse for the RFID enabled Magic Bands from Disney World using a USB powered RFID reader connected to a Raspberry Pi. via LukeBernt […]

  3. Paul Richards Avatar
    Paul Richards

    Thanks so much for your post. When I try to make, I get the error: png.h: No such file or directory

  4. Paul Richards Avatar
    Paul Richards

    apt-get install libpng12_dev
    seemed to help

  5. Shane monster Avatar
    Shane monster

    Are you able to rewrite all the programming without opening it up wirelessly? Or do you have to open it to rewrite the chip fully?

  6. Michael Gurba Avatar
    Michael Gurba

    Thank you for posting this. I created something similar to control Hue lights. When you use a Magic Band, the room changes to the color of the Magic Band. Thank you for the inspiration!

  7. Anonymous Avatar

    Would this work with an Intel Galileo board?