Aluminum Bitcoin Keychain


Here’s a cool way to bring a physical presence to your Bitcoins: a custom CNC milled QR code Bitcoin address!

[ch00f], one of our occasional writers here at Hack a Day, has just finished this slick aluminum Bitcoin QR code keychain. He started by creating a vanity Bitcoin address using a program called OCLVanitygen, consisting of his dad’s first initial and last name at the beginning, followed by a random string of numbers. It only took his Radeon HD6790 6 hours to solve, which amounted to approximately half a trillion guesses in order to find the address! 

He then took his shiny new Bitcoin address and created a QR code from it using an web-based generator. [ch00f] then increased the resolution of the image in Photoshop and imported it into a CNC program called CamBam. A converted CNC Taig mill got to work tracing out the code with a 0.049″ carbide end. The total milling time was just over 2 hours. A bit of black spray paint, some sanding, and a few layers of clear coat later and the keychain is done!

[via Reddit]

55 thoughts on “Aluminum Bitcoin Keychain

      1. CNC milling is a “unique technique”? Wow, I’ve been a 1337 hacker for 20 years! And I was correcting punched tape by hand with a hole puncher, that makes me a totally uber 1337 hacker.

    1. Hacks don’t have to be complex, they just have to do something in a non-conventional method of your own design. Building a chair from ikea is not a hack (some times more difficult than one) but making a table out of the parts for a chair would be a hack.

    1. Glad someone else brought that up it really doesn’t seem like it would work with the rounded cutouts and the chain coming through the corner. The last image in the imgur album shows the cut for the chain going through the edge of a bit, with the chain blocking the ability to scan the corner bit or bits in the space where it was drilled. I’d say it’s just a novelty as is, but perhaps in future versions the creator would start with a block that has enough extra space for a border with the keychain hole going through the border or something like that.

      Overall though it’s definitely cool and should prove to be a conversation starter about bitcoin (or QR codes in general maybe). The efforts put into making it and detailing that process are definitely appreciated though – cool idea!

      1. As part of the QR standard there is inbuilt data correction. Depending on the encoding scheme it is as high as 30% redundant. One thing i like to do is to slap an image on the QR (logo usually) to give it some “zaz”. Keep the image small and it works well.

        1. Oh or one of my favorites, You make a QR that is huge (like lorem ipsum copy pasted), then embed a Qr within that QR. If you do it right, it is hard to see, but the computer will read it (takes some playing but it is cool).

        2. The QR standard does have inbuilt data correction, but there are certain elements of the QR code which cannot be damaged and allow it to still work. The square parts in the 3 corners and the smaller inset square, for example, cannot be damaged since they provide the position/orientation/alignment data for the rest of the code. There are also some timing marks between the 3 larger corner squares and a few chunks that contain version and format information. None of these are present in the corner that was punched for the keychain so the code should still work, assuming it was created with a high enough error correction level.

          1. Though now that I think of it the chain itself could easily disrupt the “quiet region” around the code. It’s probably not enough to break anything, though there may be some chain orientations that make the code difficult or impossible to scan. Worst case scenario you could remove the chain and it would stay scannable, even with the hole.

      1. Additionally, I found the source image and it scans perfectly. As long as the targets in the four corners are ok and the alternating bit markers are intact, a sizeable amount of bits can be changed or edited. This is actually configurable in the generator algo. if you increase the level of error correction, more can be missing but it also tends to increase the amount of data and the complexity of the QR code.

    2. Ok seriously people. Sometimes i think you’re only here to argue. Just try and scan the image! There’s absolutely no reason to argue about error correction or whether or not it’s scannable or not without even trying:

      Be scientists, not pedants! :)

      And yes, btw, i can scan it fine from a picture so it will undoubtedly work in real life too :)

    1. At this point it isn’t even debatable. Bitcoins are not stable, the value is super inflated, but if the anonymity stay around, then i think it will stabilize and be valued for black market trade, but at 750 each. it isn’t a real currency at this point.

        1. Yes, and people use sex for the same thing, that doesn’t make sex a real currency. It needs to be stable to be a “real currency”.It has changed more the 700% over the last few months. If one day i can buy a meal, and the next day it is worth a computer it isn’t stable or predictable enough to use as a currency.

          1. You are FUNNY.

            It really doesn’t matter what YOUR opinion of a currency is. What matters is the opinions of the two parties on either side of the transaction. If they are able to successfully exchange value then THAT is what makes it “currency”

          2. Sex is NOT currency, it’s a service, like toilet cleaning. If you pay someone to clean your toilet you CANNOT turn around and sell the cleaning of that toilet to someone else. YEAH you are the EXPERT on currency!

          3. F, i never claimed to be a expert in currency, nor did i say that bitcoins don’t have value. The state department does recognize bitcoin as a currency. So i can concede this if you would like. But i believe that the recognition is a double edged sword. By calling it a currency it can be leveraged in legal actions differently then property is.

            But the moral of the story is if i had something valued at $700 i would not accept a bit coin for that item. It is just that simple. I do not trust it to maintain its value. If i do not trust it to maintain its value then it is not a currency.

          4. It can be used as an item of exchange, therefore it is a currency! But instead of trading it for goods and services now, you should sock it away under your e-mattress to buy more goods and services later. If your 1 BTC can buy a bushel of dehydrated strawberries now, and the price can only go up uP UP, imagine how many truckloads of dehydrated strawberries you can buy next Tuesday!

        2. “People are using it to exchange value so it MOST CERTAINLY IS “real currency”.”
          Semantics. There is no such thing as a “real currency” as a thing, as it only describes the circulation of “value”. In this sense Bitcoin is currency. What bitcoin isn’t is a monetary unit.

          1. That is why I did explain it, regardless of semantics. Often an indication that various definitions do not necessarily represent the same thing. You could certainly use the terms to mean the same thing, but really they do not. This is where a semantics caution is in place. Claiming something is a semantic argument isn’t an argument in itself and I did not intended it to be.

    2. I’ll forgive you since this is Hack A Day, not Economics A Day, but the entire notion of inherent value as it’s currently applied to currencies and commodities is nonsense. Outside the framework of a society the only thing which has inherent value is that which sustains and defends life. Within the framework of a society, things which sustain and defend the society also gain some modicum of “inherent” value. Since our societies rely fairly heavily on trade, anything which reduces the friction of trade has some degree of inherent value.

      This is the ONLY sense in which Bitcoin has value, but it’s also the only sense in which dollars, yen, euros, pesos have value. Gold, silver, etc do have some inherent properties that give them a nonzero value, but that value isn’t remotely close to current trading prices – gold is expensive because we view and use it as a value store, not because it’s just THAT useful. If it were that useful, we’d be buying it all up for industrial use, not to stuff in a safe and never touch.

      Currencies themselves, Bitcoin included, are only as valuable as the utility they provide. Since governments typically force the use of their preferred currency on their citizens, those currencies automatically have high utility – they’re accepted by everyone because they have to be. Bitcoin does not have the privilege of such forced use scenarios and must expand on its own merits, but that does not mean it won’t expand and that doesn’t mean it has no value.

      Still, all of that is just societal value – in the zombie apocalypse gold is just as useless as dollars which are just as useless as bitcoins. Want an apocalypse-proof currency that actually has real inherent value? Canned food and clean water.

      1. If you really believe all that nonsense, then you probably also believe economics is a science, which it isn’t.
        In reality there is a very distinct difference between what economists think the value of something is and what something actually is worth.

        If we want an internet revolution in monetary units, we better base it on something else than the ludicrous concept that only economic growth means monetary stability, which has proven to be bubble after bubble, time and time again.
        What economists pretend to know about the future, they certainly lack in knowing the past, which is why most of us historians hate the crystal ball toting bastards.

        The only impact of infinite inflation based value on real world commodities is a negative one in the sense that it somehow demands to exaggerate a commodities worth, but in the end, when the “krach” comes, this defaults back to the baseline without the help of fast virtual trading networks.
        Bitcoin will burst and hopefully nothing of to much worth will be lost.

        1. “If we want an internet revolution in monetary units, we better base it on something else than the ludicrous concept that only economic growth means monetary stability, which has proven to be bubble after bubble, time and time again.”

          That’s sort of how standard FIAT money works, except that the bubble is controlled by countries.

          1. “That’s sort of how standard FIAT money works, except that the bubble is controlled by countries.”

            I think of all the entities that try and control money, countries are the most inefficient and inept at it. It’s countries that react to the fluctuations of the exchange, often not very fast and mostly not the other way around.

  1. Okay apparently my comment earlier today was eaten, probably due to a url. Doing things like this have been deemed money transmitting by the federal government. It is a crime if you do not go through a bunch of paperwork. Seriously, making things like this is breaking federal law. Someone else got a nasty letter by FINCEN over the tokens he was making. It made the tech news rounds four days ago.

  2. Really nice! Can you provide more info on how you imported to CamBam? When I use create heightmap, then import, I get a raster scan for the toolpath (x, y) associated with an Engraving operation… from the pics you provided I see a more conventional toolpath. What am I missing?

      1. I did this via a pocketing operation – not sure if it’s any better a way than yours, but it does get you a polyline you can edit if you need that:
        – In CamBam, do a Draw / Surface / From Bitmap, at the size you want the finished code to be, leaving the depth at 1mm.
        – Then Edit / Surface / Plane Slize Z, with a depth of 0.5. That will generate three slices (at z=0, -0.5, -1).
        – Use View / XZ plane to delete the slices at 0 and -1. Delete the surface, too.
        – Select all then Edit / Polyline / Arc Fit, with a tolerance of something like 0.001. That simplifies the polyline a lot with no loss of accuracy.
        – Select all, then Machining / Pocket. Set Optimisation Mode on the pocket to None, which makes the toolpath generation much quicker at the expense of a small increase in machining time.

  3. CryptoCafe is going to be big in the world of Bitcoin, be sure to sign up for the big release announcement. The website is owned by a public company called Myriad Interactive, the stock symbol is MYRY and its predicted to be very big!

    Myriad Interactive Media Begins Development of Bitcoin Platform

    For more information and to read disclaimers and disclosures:

    Thnaks !

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