Picking locks with Toool

What Maker Faire would be complete without teaching children the joys of jiggling and twisting locks until they’ve opened? Toool, the open organisation of lockpickers made their way to New York this weekend to show off their bumping skills and get the kids interested in manipulating small mechanical devices.

The guys from Toool had a very cool setup – just a bunch of tables and chairs with a few picks and torsion wrenches. There were a few classic Master Locks on the table, but also a series of six tumbler locks each labeled with a number 1 through 6 signifying how many pins were in the lock. The idea is to get someone started on a one-pin lock, and eventually have them work their way up to the full six pins.

In the video after the break, one of the more animated guys from Toool explains why they were there, and also shows off picking a Master Lock twice in under 30 seconds. Seriously, people: educate yourself on locks before buying one.

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Picking handcuffs with laser cut keys

At this year’s HOPE conference, German competitive lockpicker and security researcher [Ray] gave a talk about escaping high security handcuffs that are probably being used by your local police and other LEOs. He’s doing this with 3D printed and laser cut keys because, you know, security through obscurity never works.

Two years ago, [Ray] gave a talk at HOPE on 3D printing Dutch handcuff keys (you can listen to his conference as an .MP3 here). This time around, [Ray] copied the keys of Bonowi and Chubb handcuffs, very popular brands for American police. After obtaining a key from each of the two brands, [Ray] broke out the calipers and micrometer and designed his own versions that can be printed on a RepRap or Makerbot, or just laser cut from a piece of plastic; the perfect material for sneaking one through a metal detector.

The .DXF and .STL files for the handcuff keys will be available on Thingiverse shortly. We’d suggest watching this Thingiverse account (nevermind), as they have the files for [Ray]‘s earlier Dutch handcuff key.

Knock lock with logic chips

[Eric] needed a project for his digital logic design class, and decided on a lock that open in response to a specific pattern of knocks. This is a fairly common project that we’ve seen a few builds with ‘knock locks,’ but this one doesn’t use a microcontroller. Instead, it uses individual logic chips.

The lock senses the knocks with a piezo, just like every other build we’ve seen. Unlike the other builds, the knock pattern is then digitized and stored in an EEPROM. [Eric] only used 12 chip for this build, a feat he could accomplish with a few digital tricks, like making an inverter by tying one XOR input high.

We’ve seen a 555-based knock lock before, but getting the timing right with that seems a little maddening. [Eric]‘s build seems much more user-friendly, and has the added bonus of being programmed by knocking instead of turning potentiometers. Check out [Eric]‘s knock lock after the break.

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Cracking a manipulation-proof, million combination safe

So you spent the big bucks and got that fancy safe but if these guys can build a robot to brute-force the combination you can bet there are thieves out there who can pull it off too. [Kyle Vogt] mentioned that we featured the first iteration of his build back in 2006 but we can’t find that article. So read through his build log linked above and then check out the video of the new version after the break. It’s cracking the combination on a Sargent and Greenleaf 8500 lock. There’s an interesting set of motions necessary to open the safe. Turn the dial four revolutions to the first number, three revolutions to the second, two revolutions to the final number, then one revolution to zero the dial. After that you need to press the dial inward to activate the lever assembly. Finally, rotate the dial to 85 to retract the bolt which unlocks the safe.

The propaganda on this lock says it stood up to 20-hours of manual manipulation. But [Kyle] thinks his hardware can get it open in a few hours. His hardware looks extremely well-engineered and we’d bet some creative math can narrow down the time it takes to brute force the combo by not going in sequence.

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2010 sees new lock impressioning speed record

[Jos Weyers] tipping us off about this lock impressioning video. It shows his final round of the lock impressioning championship at this year’s SSDev conference. Even though he shaved about fifteen seconds off of his 87-second single-lock record from last year he came in third overall because the competition averages times over several rounds.

This method of opening locks uses a file to create the correct teeth after examination of tiny marks on a key blank from trying to open the lock. We’ve seen foil impressioning as well as electronic impressioning, but video of the competitions makes this our favorite method.

Electronic key impressioning

[Barry] shared his postulation on how electronic key impressioning works (google cache). You may remember his foil impressioning demo from earlier in the month, but now he’s addressing a piece of news we must have missed. Apparently, a handheld impressioning device is about to hit the market that can tell you the key codes for a lock in a matter of seconds. [Barry's] guessing at how this is done from his experience with a similar device aimed at car locks. When the circuit board seen above is inserted into a lock, it completes a circuit between the lock housing and the wafer. The firmware monitors the conductors on the tip of the PCB to calculate how deeply the cut should be and at what point on the key.

This would be fun to try with a homemade PCB, any idea how to deal with wrapping traces around the edge of the board like that?

Foil impressioning defeats security locks

Apparently it’s been around for fifteen years but using foil impressions to pick locks is new to us. This is similar to using bump keys but it works on locks that are supposedly much more secure. This method uses a heavy gauge aluminum foil to grab and hold the pins in the correct place for the lock to be turned. The foil is folded over and slits are cut where each pin will fall. It is then inserted into a lock on a tool shaped like a key blank. Jiggle the tool for a bit and the cylinder will turn. This just reminds us that we’re much more dependent on the good will of our fellow citizens to not steal our stuff, rather than the deterrent that a lock provides.

We’ve embedded a detail and fascinating demonstration of this method after the break. The materials in the video are from a Chinese-made kit. We’re not sure where you find these types of locks, but we don’t feel any less secure since our keys could be obtained from a distance anyway.

Update: Video now embedded after the break. The link is down but you can try the Google Cache version.

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