Archive for the ‘Conference’ Category

Gorilla on Tour – LockCon 2018

Saturday, May 21st, 2022

Editors note:
We were recently reminded of the writeup from Michael Maynard (Aka Gorilla picking) on his experience at LockCon 2018. Michael gave us permission to share it with a larger crowd. We have shortened the report, slightly. Where the full report is on the UK locksport forum.

In 2018, LockCon was held in the old parts of the castle, while in 2019 we used exclusively the new building. The rooms are much nicer, and we have a lot more room for events. This year, 2022, we will have the new building once more.

Michael:
I was there as a guest of the OzSecCon – I won their picking comp and the prize was a trip to The Netherlands, for which I am eternally grateful. This trip changed my life, and I don’t think this is an exaggeration frankly – my horizons have been broadened immeasurably and my sense of what is possible both in the lockpicking world, and in life in general – have been given a serious shakeup. Living in a small town at the arse end of the world is all very well…but you do come to realise that you’re only seeing a very tiny fraction of the world and you get very limited by your environment.

I hate suitcases (don’t own one in fact) but it was clear that 15kg of locks and tools were never going to survive in the pack unprotected so I stuck all my tools and locks in a Peli case… and then that went into the bottom of the pack. The locks were in those two Tupperware containers and BOTH of those managed to get destroyed, even inside the peli case which in turn was inside the pack. Who knows how baggage handlers manage to do this.

Daypack had laptop plus a book to read and usual stuff you take on planes and was packed so that I could put it into the top of the big pack for ease of carrying. So allup load wandering point to point was 15kg lock stuff + 7kg normal stuff + 5kg daypack = 27kg / 59 lbs.

OK so, first stop is Amsterdam. I’ve been here once before on a flying visit about 30 years ago.

This time I have to say it was fantastic from the second I arrived at the station. I booked my accommodation online with no real clue what I was getting but it turned out to be awesome, a serviced apartment on a canal. This is the view from the window. Across the bridge (maybe two minutes walk) were a Kiwi-run breakfast place, a truly excellent pub which I spent a great deal of time in, an Indonesian place, a pizza place, and more people whizzing about on bikes than you could poke a stick at. Dutch girls on bikes are – er – memorable.

Yeah so the city is drop dead gorgeous, very photogenic with the canals and architecture and museums.
 

I could put a million touristy photos here but if you’ve been to Amsterdam you know what it looks like, and if you haven’t, the pics will not do it justice. So here, have a random canal.

So when we last met the gorilla, he was sitting having this beer (and a few more) at a small pancake house opposite the train station near Jan’s place, ie the middle of nowhere.

Jan turned up and we levered my pack into the back seat along with enough impressioning equipment to start a good sized locksmithing trade school, and had a happy 90 minute trip southeast along the motorways towards the Netherlands / German border. Well not so much happy I guess, as eye-wateringly terrifying. The Dutch and Germans are incomprehensibly bad motorway drivers and in particular will swerve across to change lanes for absolutely no apparent reason and no prior indication of intent, like a fighter pilot in a dogfight. The speed limit along certain sections is 130 and following distances are comfortably measured in thousandths of an inch. I have no photos of the drive because I was using both hands to hang onto the seat.

Eventually the countryside changed from built up industrial areas and agriculture to reasonably dense forest. The windmills died out altogether and from this I assumed that we were headed inland away from the coast, and that had I had a GPS with me it would have shown us to be 0.00000000001mm above sea level, a new personal record for me on my trip.

The castle really is a very, very splendid thing. Wikipedia tells me that there has been something – castle / manor house / fortification / whatever on this site since the 13th century, and that this particular building was built in 1838 atop the ruins of previous structures. Now for you northern hemisphere types, this probably isn’t too great a deal but for those of us in the colonies, it’s frankly a bit of a mind fuck. The Treaty of Waitangi – NZ’s founding document – was signed in 1840. So this building I’m staying in is older than my entire country.

I really wish these walls could talk. They’ve seen over a century of young blokes about to take holy orders as a monk trundling across the bridge with their only possessions clutched in hand – a Bible, a prayer book, and perhaps a filthy habit. What they would think about a hundred hairy arsed* lockpickers carting many kilos worth of housebreaking equipment into the hallowed cloisters, I can only imagine.

Thursday afternoon. You arrive in dribs and drabs, file in, find the attendance register, tick your name off, and collect your key. People who had attended this event before came armed with bespoke locks, and so within seconds of Jan collecting the bunkroom key he had whipped out a screwdriver and changed it for an Assa twin. Quite why anyone would want to break into your room while you’re away from it during the day I never quite fathomed; I mean what the hell are they going to do? Nick your picks? Nobble your best impressioning file?
 

I didn’t happen to have a spare 30mm high security Europrofile cylinder with me so my room was open to the ravages of anyone who cared to poke a pick in the keyway. In the event no-one saw fit to rummage through a week’s worth of curry-soiled underclothes and third-hand Lockwood cylinders so I think I might have got off lightly.
 

The accommodation was, of course, the monk’s cells and there were an absolute ton of them. It’s a big building. The rooms were all the same size, but depending on how much you spent you got more or less personal space.

The inside of the complex is exactly how you’d expect an old monastery to be. Or at least it’s how *I* expected it to be, but there again I’ve never been inside a real monastery so what the fuck do I know? Tiled floors in some parts, old stone flags in others. Themed murals on the walls, Nooks, crannies, staircases going nowhere and mysterious doors that open out onto nothing in particular. Absolutely magical, honestly.

And now, dear lockpicker, we come to the most important part of the whole trip, the conference itself.

Now there is one thing I have to cover right at the start: The organisation was kind of loose. People shambled about and came and went at all hours, the timetable was – er – fluid – to say the least, meals were infrequent and informal.

I’ve thought about this a lot and in the end I’ve come to the conclusion that the event has deliberately been kept relatively laissez faire, I think it’s a deliberate policy by the organisers. These are very clever, very efficient men who could happily organise a well oiled clockwork machine of a conference if they wanted. But you know what? The LockCon started as an unstructured gathering of like minded friends, and they’ve done their best to keep it that way. It’s limited to 100 attendees of which 85% are Toool members, with others like us by invitation. God knows they could sell three times the number of tickets at double the cost if they wanted to and have a massive event, but they’ve chosen to keep it the way it is and on reflection I think that’s great.

There was a great deal of sitting about both in the lecture hall and outside at the picnic tables. For me I think this was the highlight of the weekend. Where else can a shitload of locksmiths / hobbyists / industry insiders / hackers / red teamers / partners / children from any and all walks of life and parts of the globe all sit around and talk locks? Everyone had a story to tell. Everyone had a point of view. Everyone had a new thing to show or tell about or whatever. Mechanical guys talked to electronic hackers. Safe guys swapped ideas with pickers. Locksmiths shared tricks with hobbyists. I came away with a whole new perception of what’s new, what’s doable, and what’s interesting.

Now, the lectures. These sort of weren’t what I was expecting. I was expecting formal, high powered presentations but in fact it was more like a show and tell style thing. Again, I think this comes from the original intent of the conference which was an informal get together of geographically spaced out friends. The idea is that anyone can get up and share stuff they’ve been working on, at whatever level they choose.

There were industry guys. There were historical presentations. There was a fair bit of mechanical stuff. There was some very interesting discussion of photographic scanning and 3D printing of keys. The stars of the show were Moss and Boo, two Aussie kids whose big thing is getting into tamper-evident seals. They spoke in Melbourne as well and really are very good and were listened to with as much enthusiasm and respect as anyone else.

This is MH who was happy to have his pic in the public domain.

Finally, the competitions. Impressioning, pin picking, and lever picking. Goddamn, there are some VERY talented people out there and trust me when I tell you the Europeans have picking comps down to a fine art.

The rules were weird at first – you can hold and tension the lock any way you want – including holding it in your hand and tensioning from the cam. And you can attack the lock with pretty much anything short of a drill bit which meant that a lot of the good guys were doing a thing that was a cross between raking and zipping – just violently having at the lock for all they were worth with something sharp and pointy before trying to single pin pick it. This led to some sub five second opening times.

We say our goodbyes and Jan and I pile our shit in the car and hit the road. My pack weighs slightly less than it did on the way in but it’s still near the 23kg limit and I’m still weighed down with a huge stack of brass. The two heaviest things in my luggage are my old school laptop in my daypack, and the locks in my big pack.
 

Jan introduced me to the concept of savoury Dutch pancakes, which are basically a foot diameter pizza with the usual toppings (cheese, bacon, peppers, whatever) but with a pancake for the base. You then add syrup to this, or at least I did. Dutch food turns out to be remarkably delicious but stodgy, and if I lived here for any length of time I would be the size of a zeppelin despite any amount of bicycle riding. This is where I discovered that diabetes might just be an acceptable lifestyle choice.

36 hours of longhaul flights, airports, delays, and security theatre. I was jetlagged to hell when I got back – I always am – by the time I got to Napier I’d had three mornings in one and a half days and if that doesn’t bugger up your body clock, nothing will.

LockCon 2022 registration is OPEN!

Saturday, May 21st, 2022

Is normality actually restoring in the world? To be honest, I have no idea…. But it IS restoring in the lockpick world as LockCon looks to happening this year!! \o/ 

After a mandatory pause, we are looking forward to again discuss all the things locks in a castle in the city of Baarlo. LockCon will be held from Thursday 25th of August to Sunday 28th of August.

Want to join? Maybe want to give a talk? Workshop? Host a competition? Sponsor us? Fill in your details here and we will get back to you. (Regular attendees, please check your email.)

More information on LockCon: https://toool.nl/LockCon and all Blagbag posts on LockCon: https://blackbag.toool.nl/?cat=3

We are looking forward to meeting all of you again!

Italian lockpicking contest

Thursday, May 19th, 2022

Last week, the ELF (European Locksmith Federation) convention that was to happen in 2020, finally took place. It was organised by ERSI (Esperti Riferme e Serrature Italia) in Bologna, Italy.

The lockpicking competitions were set up by the folks from ParmaKey, such as Ivo, and they had help from Federico, now secretary of ERSI. Ivo and his team led the lever lockpicking contest at LockCon in 2019 as well and they used the same setup in Bologna.

There were three (small) competitions, in lockpicking, lever lockpicking and car opening.

In the lockpicking competition, there were cylinders and padlocks, both pin tumbler and dimple. In the final round, Torsten was the only one to open all 6 locks for the win. Both Béla and Harry opened 4, and with just a 4 second difference in total times, Béla took second place.

Competition in full swing
Torsten won the picking competition
Top-3 in lockpicking from Germany (Torsten, left), Hungary (Béla, right) and Greece (Harry, in white shirt), also showing Ivo (and Federico on the far left)

Then there was the lever lockpicking. Nice wooden stands were used with LEDs to show the lock being opened up to four times. These were 4 throw Italian locks, the same as those used at the previous LockCon. Both Morris and Mirko had 13 throws in total, but Morris did it a minute faster, earning him first place, with Mirko second. Federico Z. became third with 10 throws in total.

Morris won the level lockpicking competition

The third competition used similar wooden blocks as those used for lever lockpicking, but these held car locks (including the door handles). The corresponding lishi tool was supplied with each lock. Gianluigi won the final, opening 6 locks. Giovanni became second, opening 6 locks as well but slower, and Béla became third with 5 locks opened.

Gianluigi received his first prize in car opening

– Walter

Czech Lockpicking Championship 2019

Thursday, November 28th, 2019

Czech Lockpicking Championship 2019 by the Association of Czech Lockpickers.
Website: www.lockpicking.team

Report by Jan-Willem.
On Uklocksport Meastro posted an open invitation for lockpickers to compete in the Czech championship. The topic is a good read, you’ll find a lengthy discussion about the rules and difficulty of the locks. I’ve decided to join the competition and booked my flight.

The conference started on Thursday evening. I flew in on Friday and missed every easy method to get to the conference easily. I’ve haggled with the taxi driver and he took me to the conference. It took 90 minutes and was the most expensive taxi drive I’ve had to date. The Taxi driver did not speak much English and told me he was a diving instructor. From driving I understood he was a rally driver too. Just before dark I arrived at the location. The competitions had started earlier and meant I missed the padlock competition.

Main building at Youth camp Nova Zivohost

The conference was held at the youth camp at Nova Zivohost with many small cottages close to the river. The competition was held in a large cafeteria like room on wooden pick-nick benches. Even the most basic accommodation was more than sufficient. I’ve slept in a small cottage with bathroom on 200m.

Moldau at Youth camp Nova Zivohost

The championship has many disciplines; Padlocks picking, cylinder picking, safe locks, and impressioning. Safelocks and impressioning where new competitions this year.

Each competition had it’s own timetable, rules, and dedicated crowd. In between the competitions there where talks on various topics, from safe locks to decoders and lock patents to locksport groups. I’ve participated in Imperessioning, group 2 safe manipulation and freestyle.

The prices on display

The Friday night was used to get to know each other. Each lockpicking group had a small talk on the country and lockpicking group. Many nationalities where present. Not limited to: Italian, Czech, Hungarian, German, Austrian and Dutch. I’ve done a small and improvised talk on Toool, shown off a few projects like ‘the room’ at HackerHotel. The talks took quite a while as everything was translated from Czech to English and English to Czech. I’ve Marek to thank for translating every little detail.

Impressioning was my first competition. The pick-nick benches where a bit annoying as I could not get the right angle. I’ve brought my block-o-wood vice with me and it did work perfectly. In the first round we got one lock and 5 counted blanks. I’ve opened mine in 90 seconds and proceeded to the finals. After 7 minuted eight people opened the lock, four for each final. All the blanks where counted, all of them needed to be returned.

Jan-Willem at the impressioning championship

For the finals The Czech competition got extremely difficult locks: Fab 200, Fab 1000, Tokoz tech and Evva are no joke. These locks are restricted and wherefore I was not allowed to keep a lock, a blank or a photo of the keys. It was unexpected and quite annoying. I’ve managed to open the Fab 1000 and won the competition.

Impressioning setup.

I’ve entered the freestyle competition and it was a lot of fun, 5 minutes a lock. All tools allowed. Some of the locks where too hard. This included the Stealth key, Multilock and Xsecure (dimple). None of these locks opened on my table.

For the group 2 safe manipulation we had one hour to crack a S&G safe lock. Out of all competitors none opened the locks. I did not enter the Blitz (30 second knockout) or Cylinder competition. I used this time to talk with others at the conference. Many people have a story to tell if you talk time for them.

Table full of lockpicking equipment

The competition was a lot of fun but there are plenty of improvements to make. For me it all comes to communication but this is likely due to the language barrier. The competitors where likely overestimated, this meant that some competitions where harder than necessary. For instance if only 2 out of 16 open than the locks are too hard. Harder does not equal better or more fun.

I would like to ask to value competitions equally. Cylinder lockpicking was the larger competition. That does not mean it takes less effort to win freestyle, padlock or impressioning.

Thanks to the Czech team for organising this event. Please check www.lockpicking.team for the next event. 2020 will be LockFest and 2021 the next championship.

Certificate for winning the Czech impressioning championship

LockCon 2019 – Dutch competition

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019

One of the award ceremonies at LockCon is for a competition that takes a year. Every year, Toool has a competition with about 26 locks that are taken to all our meetings. Members of Toool can set a time on the opening of these locks and repeat doing so, improving their times as they learn more about the lock and how to pick it. It is very helpful in improving your technique but of course it is quite different from the lockpicking competition in which you get a lock you have never seen before and need to open it.

This years’ results are to be found at https://toool.nl/competitie2019/.

  1. Walter
  2. Jos
  3. Christian
  4. Tom
  5. Adam
  6. Rob

(Post by Walter)

LockCon 2019 – lever lock picking

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019

The lever lock picking championship has been part of LockCon for a few years now, thanks to Jord who set it up. This year, our friends from Italy brought with them a setup for a competition including locks in nice stands and tools to open them. The locks needed to be picked 4 times, for a full 360 degree turn. LEDs on top showed the progress.

There were 29 participants. In the first round, people needed to do one opening on one lock. The fastest 16 went on to the semifinals. Four groups of 4 would get 5 minutes per each of 4 locks. The best of each group, plus the best runner-up then participated in the final.

Impressioning Italian style

The final score was as follows:
1. Julian
2. Alex
3. Christian
4. Torsten
5. Nigel

Since Julian would rather not be in the picture, we include a picture of Alex getting prizes from Jos

(post by Walter)

LockCon 2019 – lockpicking

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019

The Dutch Open is one of the oldest lockpicking contests in the world – and the most international. This year, we had to cap the number of attendees to 66.

In the first round, 6 groups of 11 people were formed. They each needed to open 11 locks in at most 5 minutes each. The 2 best of each table then progressed. Then there were 2 shoot-out rounds, where 2 people would compete one to one, opening two locks in 15 minutes per lock maximum. That left three finalists and three people in the B finals.

I had high hopes and in the first round I opened 11 locks in a total time of 4 minutes and 1 second, the fastest of my table. But unfortunately for me, I was eliminated in the second round. The people who progressed get 6-pin locks and dimple locks to open.

The results were as follows:
A-Finals
1. Marc
2. Manfred
3. Julian
B-Finals
4. Oli
5. Max White
6. Robert

A- and B-finals times
Marc gets his prize from Jos

(Post by Walter)

LockCon 2019 – impressioning

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019

Some 40+ people participated in the impressioning championship. In the first round, one lock needed to be impressioned within an hour. The locks were sponsored by Abus and they gave us keyed-alike cilinders with a rather shallow profile. Within the hour, 32 people opened their lock.

The 6 fastest went on to compete in the A-final, the 6 runners up in the B-final. Both groups needed to open 6 locks in less than 15 minutes each. These were locks with more difficult profiles.

The result:
A-Final
1. Manfred
2. Jan-Willem
3. Jord
4. Walter
5. Cocolitos
6. Jos
B-Final
7. Alex
8. Oli
9. Mathias
10. Torsten
11. Datagram
12. Rebecca

All the times scored in the A and B finals
Jos hands the first prize to Manfred

(Post by Walter)

LockCon 2019

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019

For the 11th time in a row, Toool has organised LockCon, the international conference on lock sport. Before that, it was the Dutch Open Lockpicking Championship, and this championship is now incorporated in LockCon, together with an impressioning competition and a leverlock competition.

With over 100 attendees last weekend, it was bigger than ever, but it still retained that cosy family get-together feeling. Information sharing, meeting up with old friend, meeting new friends, swapping locks and participating in championships in a relaxed environment, where everybody participates in making it a success is what it’s all about.

It was nice to see delegations from all parts of the world, from nearby to far away (even including Canada, US, Australia, New Zealand).

The Italian delegation brought in a fine selection of Parma products, including wine, ham and cheese.

I would like to thank our sponsors, beginning with Abus, long-time sponsor of the many locks and blank keys for the impressioning competition. Datagram sponsored the badges and trophys. All the prizes were sponsored by Sparrows, Multipick, TOKOZ, PACLOCK, Parmakey, M2 serrurerie and Oli.

Prizes

(Post by Walter)

Impromptu lockpicking village at Bornhack IV

Monday, August 19th, 2019

Jos and I (Jan-Willem) where at Bornhack.dk a small hacker conference in Denmark. Not only where the talks interesting also the quietness was welcome. Bornhack does not have multiple tracks so plenty of time to relax and pick locks.

We brought a lockpicking village in a box. A decently sized tool case with everything you’d need for a unplanned lockpicking village.

I’m attempting to learning manipulation of safe locks and brought a S&G lock and a bunch of manipulation sheets to Bornhack. It took me the better part of three days to crack it. (For a upcoming conference I’ve got an hour.)

Manipulating safes and safecracking sparked the interest of multiple people and I’ve did my best to explain the basics. What I was doing and how to exploit the lock.

Jos did his talk on post-its and invited people to join us at theFEEST village. aka Dutch village with free beer and stroopwafels. Many Danish hackers joined us at the village. It’s always fun to teach people a new skills.

Internet of lockpicks.

Note to self: Create a http://www.istodayfriday.com/ like website for lockpicking.