The Scary Key

For quite a while I have been into hacking and penetration testing. The concept of gaining access to areas and systems that are supposed to be off limits. I’m not interested in illegally breaking into places, but the elegance and ingenuity used by hackers and penetration testers intrigue me.

A while ago I saw someone claiming that you could 3D print a key and have it work. However, I was sceptic that it would be as easy as it seemed on YouTube and doubted that it could even work. Therefore, I set out to test it.

The idea originally came from The Modern Rogue who tested this out together with Bill Doran from Punished Props. They took a photograph of a key, sketched it out and printed it on a regular 3D printer. Then they used it to open a lock.

For me it seemed like duplicating the kay would be a lot more complicated, without having some sort of template. Getting the pins replicated and precise enough to work for the lock is one thing, but keys also have odd grooves on the sides, to prevent ‘rogue’ keys to enter the lock. Designing and printing these details on the kay seemed daunting to me.

After considering the task for a while I realized that maybe the details on the key were not that important. Simply printing a key slim enough to bypass the grooves might work. Of course, the key might not be strong enough to turn the tumbler, but if it could slide in and set all the pins correctly, a flathead screwdriver could be used as a wrench to turn the lock.

I immediately wanted to test this theory, and how long it would take to get it to work. I have a clear padlock laying around, for training lockpicking (Just for the hobby). I took a quick photo of the key for that lock and imported the image into CAD. I am using Fusion 360, because it is free and quite powerful.

It didn’t take too long to sketch out the key, by simply drawing shapes over the teeth of the key. I extruded extruded the key image just a few millimetres. Just enough to have some structure, but still thin enough that it would easily slide into the lock.

Using OctoPrint on my RaspberryPi and my Ender 3, I printed my key. As soon as the key was finished I tested it on the padlock. It was very snug, and almost didn’t fit in the cylinder, but after a little bit of wiggling the lock popped open. The key held up just fine, and I didn’t need a screwdriver to wrench the cylinder.

You can easily feel that the kay is not the original, but for a 3D printed model it works remarkably well. The printing of the key took about five minutes and the entire project from finding the key and lock, to the lock popped open, took just 26 minutes and 20 seconds (Yes, I timed it).

It is a very ugly key and it looks like it is about to break even just laying on the table. It feels weak and fragile when you hold it, and it feels rough and unpolished when you use it to open the lock. But the point here is: It opens the lock. As a proof of concept this key proves how easy it is to duplicate a key. Obviously it would be significantly harder to copy a high end key and open a better lock, but remember this took me less than half an hour. Imagine what someone more skilled than me could do with a days work and an image of your house keys.

Remember this is all just for education! Please don’t go out and copy keys that are not your own, as that is still very much illegal.

Stay safe. Stay honest.

The Valentine Project

I was bored on valentine’s day, and mindlessly watching random YouTube videos, when I came across a cute little lollipop-project, that I had to try.

It was a simple and sweet way to give someone flowers and I immediately wanted to do just that. I knew that a store not far from my house had a sale on lollipops, so I went to get some of those, and a few different napkins.

The project is really simple. First, I ripped the napkins in quarters, and separated the layers, leaving me with thin sheets of paper in various colours; white, red and purple. Then I poked a lollipop through three layers of paper, one at a time, in altering colours, and folded each sheet around the lollipop head to form a flower.

I did this with seven lollipops, to have enough for a small bouquet of the paper/lollipop flowers. Finally I grabbed some straws to extend the “stems” of the flowers and put them in a small bottle, as a vase.

I think it looks pretty good, and it’s definitely a fun and sweet alternative to regular flowers. I think any girl with just a bit of a sweet tooth would be very happy to receive a bouquet like this on valentine’s day (Or any other day, for that matter).

The Coward’s Confession

When I first saw this project and decided to go shopping for the materials, I had a specific girl in mind (Remember this was on Valentine’s Day). I wasn’t sure I would give her the bouquet, as we don’t know each other that well. She is a very beautiful and very sweet girl, and I would have loved to give her flowers. My plan was to see how the bouquet turned out, and then give it to her, if it was nice enough. As I said before, I was quite happy with the resulting flowers, and I even knew that I could probably find her and surprise her at her work office.

I then spent over an hour debating weather it would be a good idea to go and surprise her and coming up with excuses why I shouldn’t and how it could go wrong. Truth is, I got scared, and wasted my chance that day.

The next day I decided to pull myself together and just chance it. If nothing else, I could play it off as a joke, and nothing serious. I went to apply for jobs at three other offices that day, with practically no fear, and “sold” my resume to the best of my ability. Then it was time to go to Aveva, for the big finally. Then I got scared again. I drove around for over an hour, trying to get myself to go to the office, where she works. I went over every possible scenario and outcome, if I finally went to talk to her. In the end I drove home, with the bouquet still in my car. I didn’t go talk to her. I still don’t know how she would have reacted.

I have a note on my phone that says: “Fear is the Enemy of Progress”. I have it there to remind me that we can never go forward if we are not willing to take chances. It usually helps me overcome my fears and drives me to move forward despite being insecure and nervous. In this case I went against my principles. I gave into fear. I let myself down.

This is my confession. This is the confession of a coward.