PiGates Validates Your Concert Tickets


[Seph] works for a company that handles ticketing for concerts and special events. One of his primary tasks is to check for counterfeit tickets at the gates of an event. Depending on the venue, this can be mag-stripes, bar codes, or one of several breeds of RFID. Until recently, netbooks coupled with USB readers performed the task. The netbooks weren’t a great solution though – they were expensive, relatively fragile, and took up more space than necessary.

[Seph] had a better idea. He created a ticket validation system using a Raspberry Pi. The Pi sits in a translucent case with a PiGlow RGB LED board. A USB reader (in this case a bar code reader) plugs into one of the Pi’s USB ports. These readers can operate in several modes, including keyboard emulation, which [Seph] chose because it wouldn’t require any driver work.

Using PiGates is so simple even a drummer could handle it. Normally the Pi glows blue. When a ticket is scanned, [Seph’s] python script reads the code and verifies it against an online database.If the ticket is valid, the Pi will glow green. A counterfeit ticket is indicated by flashing red LEDs.

Click past the break for more on PiGates.

[Seph’s] company tested the system at an event over Memorial Day weekend. PiGates was a huge success. His company is now planning to replace all their netbooks with PiGates systems.


If you’d like to read more about PiGates, check out [Seph’s] thread over on Reddit. 

30 thoughts on “PiGates Validates Your Concert Tickets

    1. yes, but then you add network, usb, custom pcb, pick and place time, distribution, parts ordering, increased development times and costs and you end up with a 5 months production time for the first prototype and a unit cost of +15€ all things considered, easier to just buy a pi and get it done in a day

      1. @nelsontb – This. Unless you’re making a ton of these to sell at low margin, it makes no sense. It’ll be interesting as we go forward how cheap, small, yet powerful computing makes it into more mundane things while becoming increasingly easier to DIY solutions.

    1. I take it you’ve never seen an airline boarding pass, printable voucher, or most regular tickets. Barcodes / QR codes, etc. on tickets are pretty standard. Each code is unique and tied to a database entry. Once the barcode is scanned, the database is updated and all subsequent copies are invalid. You can’t “forge” your own code without access to the database, and only one person per code gets in regardless of how easy it is to xerox a piece of paper.

        1. A fair lot of the time the ticket also has some sort of ‘hologram art’ or similar that a individual with access to run-of-the-mill photocopy machinery can’t forge.

          Though that is a valid point, but I can’t imagine someone else can copy the barcode of a ticket and print out a convincing copy unless they’ve had full access to it for some time first.
          Guess that is a warning why you should be wary of buying a ticket of someone who is neither a licensed vendor nor a person you trust.

        2. Don’t email copies of your ticket to other people? Don’t leave your tickets laying around in photocopying shops? In a way it’s like money; it can’t be stolen if you don’t let anyone near it.

  1. This is neat! I like it, but I think the addition of a piezo buzzer would probably be not too bad an idea… That way, the “ticket checker” person doesn’t have to keep looking back at where the PiGate is, they just have to hear the audible feedback.

    1. at first, that sounds like a good idea, but many venue’s aren’t exactly calm and peaceful retreats… though that could lead to an interesting hack where invalid tickets get announced over the entire venue’s audio system so that all the valid ticket holders that entered can point and laugh at the person trying to get in with an illegal ticket.

      1. Perhaps wire another signal LED onto the body of the scanner itself – Presumably the ticket scanner is already looking at the gun and ticket to aim them, why not put the feedback right there?

        Another option could be a belt/wrist strap mounted cell phone vibrate motor. Short pulse for good scan – steady vibration or a longer pattern for bad ticket.

  2. If someone went to the effort to forge a decent fake ticket to your show, let them in. Either they’re hardcore fans of your garage band, or they’re fucking over TicketMaster. Sell them a beer and a T-shirt (they’ve already pirated your music). If you’re garage, you want the goodwill, and if you’re in a TicketMaster venue, you can spare the pittance that is your split of the TicketMaster haul.

    1. yeah sure you should knowingly allow people to commit fraud

      “went to the effort to forge a decent fake ticket”

      yes indeed people with access to fancy photocopiers should get everything for free

  3. I wrote something similar for a company using cheap android tablets with a camera and USB port.

    I bet after you’d bought the Pi, power supply, case, LED board and SD card the tablets I got work out cheaper. Plus they have a battery and wifi and double up as POS for quieter ‘purchase tickets at the door’ gigs.
    The camera is fine for scanning QR.

    We also used networked receipt printers for printing QR code tickets.

  4. Been doing this for awhile with a pi and pitft.
    Then you can actually display meaning full data about the ticket scanned.
    Creating a secure system to validate the tickets with multiple units in a live environment I found to be more of a challenge. If you want to maintain a state of the ticket between readers, securely anyway.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.