Portable password vault

This little box remembers all of your user names and passwords. Inside you’ll find an Atmel AT89S5131 microcontroller which has built-in USB capability. When the box is plugged into a USB port it identifies as a keyboard. Manipulating the buttons on the top and side will select and print out various stored usernames and passwords. Passwords are generated on-chip from a random seed and the device itself requires a passcode after power up as a security feature.

[SigFLUP's] included a pretty nifty configuration algorithm. It doesn’t rely on a terminal connection, since the device is a keyboard you can communicate with it in an editor window (which should make it platform independent). There’s no code available, but trying to write your own to the spec outlined in the demo after the break will make for a fun weekend project.

(We almost made it to the end of the post WITHOUT saying “Setec Astronomy“)


  1. Addidis says:

    its very similar to the rfid hid device I was considering. :D minus the rfid part. hehe.

    No code again. bummer

  2. sigflup says:

    Hello Addidis! Well, mail me at pantsbutt@gmail.com and I’ll mail back the a hex file for you. I’m not keen on showing the source code because it’s really really messy.

  3. projectbluebook says:

    hehe.. emulating a keyboard is pretty neat.

    i did wonder about using a broken usb keyboard (where some keys are broken) as the base for this, and a cheap micro such as 16F84 as the storage element and password selector.

  4. Ben Ryves says:

    @projectbluebook: V-USB has a demo project that makes designing a USB keyboard nice and easy – http://www.obdev.at/products/vusb/prjdetail.php?pid=5 There’s a VID/PID pair you can use (subject to the terms in the documentation) too. All you need on the hardware side is an AVR, the USB magic is done in software. :-)

  5. snowdruid says:

    nice projet and very nice reference to sneakers….. its a good movie by the way ^^ too bad this little box dosent crack the code just saves it …

  6. sigflup says:

    Ok, here’s the firmware: http://hobones.dogsoft.net/passypass.hex if anyone wants it

  7. sigflup says:

    … if you program your avr with that you’ll either have to hit the “reset” button on the passy pass to clear out the eeprom or clear it with your programmer. You can’t proceed without that all being zeros.

  8. Addidis says:


    Well bud I can totally understand , but how can the community help you get better if you don’t post it :)

    I had the misfortune to wreck a car really bad. remembering passwords is a pain in the butt. I currently use a biometric scanner (fingerprints)to handle passwords. This is kinda nice because of the portability.

    Thanks for posting this :)

  9. Addidis says:

    you should post the actual code going threw disassembly is no fun ;)

  10. sigflup says:

    @Addidis, oh it’s really ugly. Perhaps later when it’s re-written and a lot cleaner. I have to do that eventually.

  11. Yann Vernier says:

    Just to stem the confusion a bit, that hex file probably will do you no good on any AVR – the chip in this build is an 8051 based Atmel microcontroller. The 8051 family (now MCS-51) is a very popular 8-bit architecture with many manufacturers, originated by Intel.

  12. sigflup says:

    Sorry mates. Saying avr for anything atmel is very habitual. Yann Vernier is correct, this is an 8051-ish controller

  13. biozz says:

    making the job for burglars just that much easier!

  14. sigflup says:

    @biozz well, I think security has a lot to do with moving secret myself. I think moving it from your head to something that you keep on your belt is worth it. It’s probably more likely that you’ll re-use and/or make bad passwords then it is that someone will rob you for it… i feel.

  15. Addidis says:

    well thats lucky i guess, I have an 8051 dev board sitting here begging to be played with.

  16. tronic says:

    very nice. I was considering building exactly that but didn’t have time to do the research on usb keyboards. again, well done

  17. snowdruid says:

    dont see why. burglars probably wont know what it is and its password protected so not so much on the making it easier part….

  18. Red says:

    Anyone else spot the possible Uplink reference?

  19. Bob says:

    Great video there Shaky

  20. sd says:

    The video really demonstrates how neat this concept is. I must admit, I was doubtful about the idea from the description alone.

    My favourite part though has to be the way the menu system works. I initially imagined a binary program on the computer which communicated with the device. The actual implementation is beautifully simple, and cross-platform! Well done.

  21. HFH says:

    I wouldn’t push this crossplatform thing. Its just a keyboard emulator so its obvious that it’s crossplatform.

    Good hack even tho I will never replace my keepassx+sdcard solution.

  22. sigflup says:

    Awww!!! thank’s sd!!

  23. ehrichweiss says:

    Please post the code soon, I’m highly interested in this. I have an idea that would work great with this. It’s not exactly what you’ve got going on but this would make up about 90% of what I’d need to accomplish.

  24. sigflup says:

    @ehrichweiss I’ll give you the source code if you want, if you tell me what your idea is- I’m pretty curious. mail me at pantsbutt@gmail.com mate

  25. vonskippy says:

    That’s why I use passw0rd for all my passwords. See the clever part is the “zero” instead of the “oh” in w0rd. Keeps all those elite hackzors out of my systems. I can tell it’s working because my hard drive light is on practically all the time – which I’m guessing means it’s turning away all those nasties – right?

  26. sigflup says:

    @vonskippy that’s funny, that’s the same code I use for my luggage

  27. japkin says:

    Sneakers reference FTW!

  28. andrew says:

    Seatec Astronomy, bi0tch3s!

  29. zing says:

    If you have lost windows password,Windows
    Password Key 8.0 is a best choice

  30. Knuckleball says:

    TooManySecrets. :) Uplink was SUCH a good game! Awesome to see it still lives in the minds of some.

  31. Max says:

    I thought of something very similar. Unfortunately i don’t have the technical know how to build anything like this (yet).

    Now to make it about the size of a USB stick ;D

  32. Paul says:

    Fun project, I’m maybe ever going to make something similar.
    If I’ll do I’ll probably start a bit with Alberto Ricci Bitti’s “password vault”

    That one has source code available (via circuit cellar magazine).
    Fortunately my subsription started 3 months before Alberto’s article :-)
    Source code is n C but for a processor (PsOC) I’m completely unfamiliar with.

    Check it out at:


  33. Clueless_Being says:

    great put all your passwords in one nice place

  34. timmah! says:

    Actually it’s “SETEC Astronomy”.

  35. noise says:

    Nice project @sigflup!

  36. MS3FGX says:

    Clever concept, I especially like the menu.

  37. sigflup says:

    Thanks MS3FGX!!!

    Antoine Mercier-Linteau, please give me another email address. The one use use I cannot use. I want to discuss hid reports with you

  38. LamentableNewb says:

    Came across this in my biweekly browse of HaD, and am beyond enthused about it. I almost want to build my own, but… Well, “LamentableNewb” isn’t just an alias. I know my way around a soldering iron and have taken a couple electronics classes but with something like this I just wouldn’t know where to begin. *sigh* So envious.

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