It’s Pi All The Way Down With This Pi-Powered Pi-Picking Robot

While most of us live in a world where the once ubiquitous Raspberry Pi is now as rare as hens’ teeth, there’s a magical place where they’ve got so many Pis that they needed to build a robotic dispenser to pick Pi orders. And to add insult to injury, they even built this magical machine using a Raspberry Pi. The horror.

This magical place? Australia, of course. There’s no date posted on the Pi Australia article linked above, but it does mention that there’s a Pi 4 Model B running the show, so that makes it at least recent-ish. Stock is stored in an array of tilted bins that a shuttle mechanism accesses via an X-Y gantry. The shuttle docks in front of a bin and uses a stepper-controlled finger to flip a box over the lip holding them in its bin. Once in the shuttle, the order is transported to an array of output bins, where a servo operates a flap to unceremoniously dump the product out for packing and shipping. There’s a video of a full cycle below, but a word of warning — the stepper motors on the X-Y gantry really scream, so you might want to lower the volume.

The article goes into more detail on not only the construction of “Bishop” — named after the heroic synthetic organism from Aliens — but also the challenges faced during construction. It turns out that even when you try to use gravity to simplify a system like this, things can go awry very easily. There’s also a fair bit of detail on the software, which surprisingly centers around LinuxCNC. And there are plans to take this further, with another bot to do the packing, sealing, and labeling of the order. If they need all that automation down there, we guess we found all the missing Pis.

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How To Crack A Master Lock

Long, long ago we covered a method to crack a Master lock in about 30 minutes or less. Here’s a revival of the same method but now the instructions to retrieve the combination are in info-graphic format created by [Mark Edward Campos].

If you didn’t get to try this the first time around, here’s how it works: A combination of a physical vulnerability, math, and brute force is used. First, the final number of the code can be obtained by pulling up on the latch while the dial is rotated. Because of the way the lock is built the correct number can be extrapolated using this trick. Secondly, a table of all possible first and second number combinations has been calculated for you.  Third, it’s your job to brute force the correct table of possibilities which includes only about one hundred combinations.

We’re not really into felony theft and hopefully you’re not either. But, we have a nasty habit of needing to use a combination lock that’s been in a drawer for a few years and having no idea of what the correct code might be.

Update: We’ve had a lot of comments about shimming as a better method. For your enjoyment we’ve embedded a video after the break that details how to shim a Master lock using a beer can. Just remember: friends don’t let friends drink and shim.

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Photographic Key Duplication

[Ben] and his associates over at the University of California at San Diego came up with a way to duplicate keys using a picture of them. They developed an algorithm that uses measurements from known key blanks to extrapolate the bitting code. Because the software is measuring multiple points it can correct the perspective of the photo when the key is not photographed on a flat surface, but from an angle.

They went so far as to test with cell phone cameras and using a telephoto lens from 195 feet away. In most cases, correct keys were produced within four guesses. Don’t miss their wonderful writeup (PDF) detailing how key bitting works, traditional covert duplication methods, and all the details of their process. The lack of available code prevents us all from playing secret agent (or felon) with this idea but [Ben] did mention that if there is sufficient interest he might release it.

Lock bumping showed us how weak our security is, but this is a bit scary.

[Thanks Mike]

LockCon Coming Soon

The Open Organisation Of Lockpickers (TOOOL) is planning a new annual gathering for lockpickers. October 9-12th they will hold the first ever LockCon in Sneek, Netherlands. The event was spawned from the Dutch Open lockpicking championships, but they’ve decided to expand beyond just competition into a full conference. This year the conference is limited to just 100 lockpickers, technicians, manufacturers, hackers, and law enforcement members. They’ll compete in picking competitions, safe manipulation, and key impressioning.

On a related note: Organizer [Barry Wels] just became the first non-German to win an SSDeV competition with his key impressioning skills. We covered key impressioning when we saw his talk about high security keys at The Last Hope. He says it’s only been about two years worth of study and 500 keys to become a master. He managed to open the lock in 5:13 filing two whole keys during that time.

[photo: Rija 2.0]