iFob: Keyless entry

iFOB-11-M (Custom)

[Nate] hates keys. He’s gone through a lot of effort to remove them wherever possible. He has a keypad at home and a keypad at work, but he still has to carry car keys. His solution is to build a device he can carry in his pocket that will unlock the car via RF. To do this, he’s utilizing the guts of a Nike iPod puck along with an Arduino and an iPod serial board. He has managed to get this all working, but still has to carry his key to actually start the car. We know what his next project will be.


  1. JB says:

    For someone who hates keys, did he ever hear of wireless car starters? An easy hack to bypass the key requirement and you get to start the car with a RF remote.

  2. TJHooker says:

    unless some decent crypto with PKP is implemented this isn’t very wise. you can also use ‘rolling code’ which is what the most secure oem and aftermarket alarms are using now on top of passive transponder keys.

  3. JB says:
  4. bubba says:

    I use Digital Guard Dawg for keyless Jeep starting. Its an rfid relay that triggers the push button starting.

  5. aaron says:

    I dont think he’s too worried about someone cloning that signal to get in his car… if I did the same on my car I wouldn’t worry a second about that.

    Cool project, was reading about it on sparkfun last night.

  6. Liam says:

    @tjhooker: Yes, because most car thieves are building RF transmitters in the hope that someone, somwhere, has a car with a home made RF unlock feature.

  7. john says:

    yeah not to be captain obvious but he probably likes building stuff more than he hates keys :)

  8. checking says:

    Was this article header meant to say “keless” or was it supposed to say “keyless”?

  9. raged says:

    why not leave the keys in the glove box to star the car, so now you have the wireless dangle to unlock the doors.

  10. peter says:

    Id love to do something like this, but im pretty sure it’d invalidate my insurance, and no one else would insure me!

    or i could just not tell them and when i crash or my car gets stolen, have the insurance invalidated by them finding out then, meaning no insurance pay out…..

  11. Tim says:

    Erm don’t most car keys already do this? In fact some car keys don’t even have a real key part anymore – it is just a fake plastic stick.

  12. BigD145 says:

    Why use a wireless car starter when you can just hide a button?

  13. ChrisInNc says:

    I have never seen a remote start setup that allowed you to drive the car without the key. I’m not saying that they don’t exist, but the way most of them work requires the key to be inserted anyway just to unlock the steering wheel and keep the car running.

  14. TJHooker says:

    @liam: it’s not that frequent. Passive transponder keys are super secure because of the crypto.

    code catchers where over hyped years back.

  15. ChrisInNc says:

    oops…I need to learn to read the posts completely.

  16. Adam says:

    So they’ve designed something many vehicles are already equipped with. (See BMW, Jaguar, Mercedes, etc.)

  17. stunmonkey says:

    I second the idea that he just likes building things, which is perfectly acceptable.

    You can already cheaply buy purpose-built products that bypass the key and do both keyless entry and allow for keyless driving. They are easy to install, and actually cost less than an arduino.

    If it didn’t use one, however, we wouldn’t see it here on shillforarduino-A-Day, now would we?

  18. IceBrain says:

    I don’t like keys either, but having to carry a small box doesn’t seem much better. If he had used an arduino with bluetooth he could then use his phone as the wireless “key”.

  19. Matthew Thiel says:

    Well, you don’t even need a fancy-brand car for dongle-unlock/starting anymore. My 2008 Nissan just has a button on the handle to open the car, and a button on the dash to start it. As long as you have the fob in your pocket, it just kinda works.

    I understand the DIY fun of something like this, but I would personally be way more interested in something that handled all my damn online passwords using a physical device. If only every auth-system supported something like SecurID…

  20. bill says:

    I’m working on a similar project… The hardest part in removing the key (at least in my car) from the picture is disabling the steering lock. It is mechanically actuated buy turning the key, not an electrical signal.

    I picked up a cheap rfid kit off ebay. They work well :)

  21. goe says:

    Why not buy a renault?

  22. TJHooker says:

    Honda started using passive transponder security in the 1995 prelude. the key turns, the ecm inits and powers the antenna around the lock cylinder, and the transponder in the key head does a response basically. It’s actually been working going on 3 decades as a solution because it was used in higher end cars before that; i think the corvette had them in the 80s as an option. the chip alone keeps the car from being cranked because the ecm which controls ignition, and fuel timing does a cryptographic challenge/response from the key that isn’t trivial cryptography.

  23. TJHooker says:

    I’d like to correct myself. The ECM ASIC on most domestic manufactured cars use a static code in the passive transponder, the higher end cars use ‘rolling code’.

    Jet makes a unit that can create clones off a single key for any static code system which is a lot of makes. Also people often leave valet keys in the glove compartment. for ford they have a unit that can do a clone strait of the ecm interface.

    The best way for a static code solution is just get a RFID ASIC and make a reader with non-volatile memory to store keys. You just have to find the frequency and format the chip manufacturer is using. texas instrument’s are the only easy to find ones.

    Rolling code is the one that uses the crypto, and I think those are the ones that got fpga brute forced.

  24. .x says:

    I’ve been working on a similar system in my spare time, that uses RFID to unlock/open the door (shaved door handles soon upon success) and as the “physical” key. The physical lock for the steering wheel simply creates an electrical signal anyway, you just have to hack n slash a little further back. The ignition switch on my car has 6 pins which determine key position. So I just have the RFID reader transmit to those as outputs. Then I’ll route out the keyhole and where the ignition switch was to put in an engine start pushbutton. I’ll be making a site soon for all my car mods soon, once I get enough images and finished segments.

  25. napile says:

    Your project sounds pretty good and it reminded me of this product: http://www.advancedkeys.com/Prod_IUI101.html

    too bad it doesn’t come with push-start function though. Keep us posted with you project.

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