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“)

38 thoughts on “Portable Password Vault

  1. 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.

  2. … 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.

  3. @sigflup

    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 :)

  4. @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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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?

  8. 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:

  9. 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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