Apple had just announced AirTags an extremely short while ago (less than a month, to be precise, during its highly anticipated Spring Loaded event) and modifications are already coming up to make using them even simpler than it was first supposed to be. AirTags are tiny devices which can easily be concealed, and can be attached to small, misplaceable items like bags and keys. They are integrated into Apple’s Find My network, and can send a signal to the user’s iPhone about the location at which they (along with the item to which they are attached) have been placed. While they are pretty small and sleek, problems did arise when they were kept into wallets, giving rise to a bump in the design.
Now, however, this problem too might become a thing of the past, as a YouTuber has found a hack to make the tracking devices super thin by converting them into a card, making them fit into wallets easily. Vlogger Andrew Ngai has managed to separate the logic board (including the PCB) of the device from its plastic shell.
Ask him how he did that, and the answer will be, “By the use of some tools and practicing patience.” These “tools” happen to be a heat gun, which came in handy while detaching the board, which was glued in hard onto the shell, and 3D printer (which proved to be important for developing the card). Oh, and he also took some help from the iFixit Guides (which are available on the iFixit platform, a community wherein users are able to interact and help each other fix up or repair things). The website has tons of guides to help users know how exactly the circuit of the AirTags works, and to come up with interesting changes to it, much like Andrew did, with or without having to break the device down itself).
After separating the board, next comes the removal of the thick and heavy battery, the CR2032. Andrew got rid of this by cresting a direct connection, that is, directly attaching the battery to the circuit, instead of using a wired network, that is mostly used to make sophisticated devices, including the AirTags.
The final step is incorporating the separated components of the AirTags into a sort of crude but sleek system, and for this, Andrew makes use of a 3D printed card (yes, that’s where the 3D printer came into the picture). Attached all the components to this card (and putting the battery on its side), allows for a direct connection to be established, making the circuit run.
In effect, the round and slightly bumpy AirTags have been converted into a slim platform chip card, which is thin enough to be fitted into one’s wallet. Apple Inc. might have a thing or two to learn from Andrew, so as to make the design of these tracking devices more attractive and practical. Andrew has even gone one step ahead to help anyone who might want to follow their tutorial and come up with their own AirTags card, and has uploaded the STL File pertaining to the 3D printed holder on Thingiverse, where it up for a free download. Talk about being a Good Samaritan.