Archive for the ‘Impressioning’ Category

UKLS January challenge

Monday, January 1st, 2024

The January challenge is a lockpicking game ran on the UKlocksport forum. In short, the challenge is to picks/impressions/opens one lock a day for the days of January. The rules say to post pictures daily and not to play catch up. As in, to pick a lock every day, not just 31 in the month of January.

You can extend your lockpicking streak, if you so wish. Some people extend the streak by a few days, others do a full year. One exemplary lockpicker, Toni, picked a lock a day for 1093 days straight, which is three days short of three years! Furthermore, Toni started a new streak of several hundred lock in 2022, as well.

The last two locks of the lockpicking streak by Toni are both sides of the same DOM Plura.
Lockpicking collage of the special picks from Toni from the first 365 locks.

I’ve used the January challenge as a good excuse to learn a new skill. For example, in 2018 I’ve impressioned a lock a day in January. In 2019, I’ve impressioned a dozen, and picked locks for the remaining days.

It’s very easy to start the challenge, and then let it drop when that one lock doesn’t open. So to help you along, here are a few tips and tricks.

  • Don’t set the bar too high, as the difficulty isn’t as important for your daily lock.
  • Try to incorporate lockpicking in your daily schedule, for example to pick your lock while waiting for public transit, or during a coffee break.
  • Plan out your month so you have enough easier locks for the busy days of the month.
  • If you challenge yourself with an F3D, have a contingency when it doesn’t open that quick, as someone on YT.
  • Skipping posting is better than skipping a pick.
  • Lastly, share your picked locks, no matter if it’s a steak or not. Celebrate the victories will help you stay motivated.
The two rings are easier locks than the box on the right, but at 25g each, you can’t beat the cores of Master Loto for weight. Toni took a box of these to keep his streak alive during holidays abroad. (Do check the country’s stance on lockpicking, though.)

With picking a lock a day, you built the lockpicking muscle memory. We as Toool advocate for using the three O of out name, oefenen, oefenen, and oefenen. Which is the Dutch word for practice. In English, you could say to pick locks over, over, and over again.

If you are inspired, please join the UKLS forum, and start sharing your picked locks. I would like to extend the invitation to any lockpicking streak, also if your streak starts on another date. Next to practice, share your achievements with the community.

This Kibb is my 1st pick of the year.

Pictures from Toni have his copyright. The rest are CCBY4.0, as per usual Toool Blackbag license.

Dutch Open 2023 Pentathlon competition results

Monday, October 23rd, 2023

The Pentathlon competition is a series of five lock challenges sponsored and hosted by Parmakey. The competitors had to pick a pin tumbler, pick a dimple, impression a key, pick a safe lock, and pick a car lock. Twenty competitors joined the challenge.

Torsten won the competition with 52 points and won a Sparrows Vorax lockpickset, a book on historic keys. Decoder, with 50 points, won the second price and received a Sparrows Tuxedo Royale and a book on safe lock history. Robert won the third price with 42 points and received a Sparrows Tuxedo set, as well as a book on locksmithing history. All three also received a bottle of Nabucco wine.

Dutch Open 2023 Impressioning results

Monday, October 23rd, 2023

The Dutch Open impressioning championship is a competition in making a key for a C83 cylinder in the least amount of time. For the qualifying round, 34 competitors joined, of which, 27 (~80%) opened the qualifier lock within 60 minutes. The quickest twelve continued to the A and B finals, where they attempted six more locks in 15-minutes per round.

Jos won the competition and received the new Multipick ERAS dimple and disc detainer set. Manfred won the second price and received a Sparrows Tuxedo royale lockpickset and a Multipick cutaway lock. Oli received the Sparrows Vorax lockpickset as well as a Sparrows pinning mat as a third price. Alex, Walter, and Jord received the Multipick Elite LockNoob 10-piece duo peak set, Sparrows Tuxedo Royale, and Sparrows Tuxedo, respectively.

RubberBanned won the B-finals and received a Sparrows Vorax lockpick set. Jan-Willem with the second place won a Sparrows Tuxedo royale. Cocolitos with the third place won a Sparrows Darkshift lockpick set. Morris, Clefmentine, and Relocker received the Sparrows Darkshift, and Sparrows Tuxedo set.

LockCon 2023

Monday, October 23rd, 2023

From 12 to 15 October 2023, Toool organized LockCon, a Locksport conference with attendees from Europe and the USA. Here is a recap of this year’s event at the beautiful Westcord Hotel Veluwe in Garderen.

On a warm late summer day, we started LockCon. After check-in and setup at the venue, the first of guests already arrived. It was great to meet so many friends again. On Thursday evening, we dined at a restaurant at walking distance from the venue, after which we set up the conference hall for the talks and competitions. We protected the tables with stucco runner, as locks and vices can otherwise easily damage furniture. The rest of the evening was used to meet new people, catch up with friends and discuss lock topics at the hotel bar.

After a first night of not enough sleep, we had breakfast at the venue’s restaurant. The food selection was nice, from the usual bread to fruit salad, yogurt, scrambled egg, and poffertjes! Jos opened the conference by highlighting achievements of the community, including the LPU belt explorer picture archive and Locksport. Jos thanked the sponsors, Abus, Multipick, Sparrows, and Dulimex, as well as the LockCon team, who make LockCon possible.

The first talk was by Walter, who introduced the Evva Elus electromechanical temporary access function lock, and updated the attendees on the Anker 3800 research. It’s incredible what we can do with a bit of dedication and a 3d printer. There was an active debate if Anker 3800 magnets can be overlifted.

In another talk, Zeefeene shared his insights in manufacturing locks in China. From the lesson in using chopsticks to a deep dive in lock diplomacy. The highlight of the talk were the videos of lock manufacturing equipment, which showed keyway broaches to full automatic lock assembly machines. It was eye-opening as these insights are rarely shared.

After lunch and socializing, it was time to set up for the impressioning championship. Thirty-four competitors tried their skill against the Abus C83. It was nice to compete again, and it’s amazing to see how much different it was compared to the competition last year. In both finals, the majority locks opened, with several competitors opening all the locks.

After dinner, with again a good selection of food, we had an evening of disc detainers. Idanhurja gave a talk on his Abloy disc detainer picking adventures. From figuring out Abloy classic from first principles to advanced techniques to defeat other Disc locks from the same brand. The rest of the evening was filled with workshops on the Abloy classic by Idanhurja and the DaMage Fichet F3D (Not a DD) workshop by Nitiflor. We also made a start with the disc detainer competition. I’ve selected five locks, from ‘relatively easy’ to ‘unlikely to be opened’ and Sparrows sponsored the disc detainer picks.

Saturday we started with my talk about electronic safe locks. I’ve shared my insights in how you can attack embedded systems and specifically electronic safes. The target is the Kaba-Mas X0 series locks. Starting from the X07 from ’92 and building to analyzing the electronics of the X09. I’ve shared about hardware reverse engineering, but also high-end techniques like laser fault injection used to extract the memory content of the lock. While still a lot of work has to be done, progress is made.

Lubos Cech shared stories about the early European lock industry. For example, the euro profile cylinder hasn’t been the standard forever. One manufacturer designed and patented the hole through the two lock bodies to fit a mounting screw. While this is regarded as a mistake from a security perspective, the competitors worked around the patent and came up with many innovative solutions. Including clamping the lock from the side in various ways. The stories fit quite well with the lessons learned in manufacturing shared by Zeefeene.

For the lockpicking championship, fifty-one competitors joined. We started in groups of nine and worked towards a bracketed system after the first round. Many people opened locks, and some were unlucky on the table placement. A lot of pin tumblers have been picked from the following selection: Kibb, Nemef, Mastermate, Dom Plura, Destil, Era, Basi, M&C, S^2, Zi-Ikon, and Winkhaus.

In the evening, Matt Smith (Huxleypick) ran his presentation on Physical Vulnerability Research. In which he shared the things he researched over the years and how others can get involved as well. After that, we ran had the price ceremony for the Lockpicking, Impressioning, and Toool NL competition.

We ended the night with a panel on the new book Locksport. Walter, Jos, Matt, and Nigel shared their stories on what it’s like to write a book on the subject. Where the key point is: it’s a lot of work. A nice summer project, which ends up being several years of small improvements until there is something really called a book. This book is a great introduction to the hobby and will make Locksport more popular than ever.

On Sunday morning, a presentation and panel discussion on RFID hacking was organized by Torsten, Christian Holler and mh. It was well worth the time and certainly interesting to see how hotel cards function. Mh shared a list of the current RFID devices, for those willing to get started.

BugBlue shared how the badge works and how you can start working with shop price tag e-paper displays. It’s a great idea, and hopefully we will see more like it for other events. https://openepaperlink.de/

The final event at LockCon was the Pentathlon competition, hosted by the Italians from ParmaKey. Within about an hour, the competitors had to complete five lockpicking challenges. Pin tumbler picking, dimple picking, creating a key with impressioning, lever lock picking, and car lockpicking. For each challenge, a time limit is given and if you didn’t finish the challenge in the limit, you have to wait a couple of minutes before starting the next one. Participants shared that waiting four minutes after failing the impressioning challenge indeed felt punishing. Mostly, because everyone who passed the gate in time got to continue with the next challenges. In the closing ceremony, the prices for the disc detainer competition and Pentathlon competition were handed out. After which we cleaned up and said our goodbyes.

I would like to thank the people who made LockCon possible. Thanks to Sparrows, who sponsored their disc detainer lockpicks for the dd competition and a large box of goodies including various lockpicking sets. Thank you, Multipick, for sponsoring the prices for the competition, including various community lockpicking sets from Christina, Decoder, and LockNoob. As well as a ERAS disc detainer lockpick for Toool to practice with.

For as long as we work with Abus C83 in the Impressioning championships, Abus sponsors the locks and blanks for the competition. The majority of locks and blanks are used up, and the remaining will be used to teach the skill and help people new to the hobby getting started.

Thanks to Dulimex for sponsoring five Pro-Line padlocks with a Tokoz core to challenge the lockpickers with a unique challenge. The group from Italy, with ParmaKey ran the Pentathlon competition for us, and we thank them for all their effort.

Thanks to the LockCon team who made LockCon possible. Without them, it wouldn’t be possible: Jos, Holly, Chantal, Jan-Willem, and Hugo. While organizing this event was a lot of work, it was well worth it. Finally, thanks to all presenters, other organizers, and participants for joining LockCon as you made it a great event again. We hope to see you all again next year!

All the pictures are by Toool NL. Feel free to use the photos of locks under CCBY4.0, and for pictures with people, please ask for permission first.

Dutch Open Competition 2023

Sunday, September 17th, 2023

In an effort to bring people up to speed on the Dutch Open Competitions at LockCon, we are publishing the competition rules. The PDF below are rules for the Lockpicking, Impressioning and Lever lockpicking competition, exported from the ‘How to run LockCon’ document written by Walter in 2016.

We have a lockpicking, impressioning, disk detainer, and Lockpicking Pentathlon. The Pentathlon has five opening techniques which includes picking, lever lockpicking, car locks and much more.

The organizers will put up flip overs, on which you can register yourself for the competition.
Please be on time when the competition starts. We aim to have Impressioning on Friday afternoon, Lockpicking on Saturday afternoon, and the Pentathlon on Sunday.

Lockpicking

For LockCon 2023 we will run the lockpicking competition with locks commonly found in the Netherlands, in addition to locks kindly sponsored by Zeefeene and Nigel from Toool UK.

  • The locks are pickable with normal lockpicks, of which we do not have a restriction for custom or commercial.
  • We aim to have locks without a secondary locking system, I.e. sidebar.
  • Applying torque on the tailpiece instead of using a tension wrench is allowed.

The time per round is adjusted for the difficulty of the lock, usually 5/10/15 minutes per round.

Impressioning

The Impressioning competition will be on Abus C83 locks, kindly sponsored by Abus. The first round will be an hour, and the A and B finals are planned to be six rounds of 15 minutes each.

In addition to the rules below, we added several small nuances to the rules:

  • The tailpiece of the lock needs to be unobstructed. As in, no torque can be applied from the tailpiece. Please take care to mount the lock properly, and not pinch the tailpiece.
  • Any newly invented tool or technique can only be used in the competition after explicit permission of the Judges.

Please see the Dutch Open Impressioning Championship 2022 report for more information on the competition. https://blackbag.toool.nl/?p=4222

Disk detainer competition

We will have a disk detainer lockpicking competition for the first time. For which, Sparrows kindly sponsored five of their disk detainer lockpicks. The competition will run throughout the event as a self timed competition.

  • There will be three to five locks, from easy to fairly difficult.
  • The supplied Sparrows DD tools are augmented with a 3D printed spacer designed by Thice. https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:5246593/files
  • Locks are not guaranteed to be front tensioning, but can all be opened with the tools provided.
  • Please keep the combinations a secret for others competing.
  • The tools are not fragile, but shouldn’t be abused either. We have some spares, and come to the organizers if the tools are defective.

For people that are either new to disk detainers or don’t like competing, there will be tools and locks available to learn the technique, as well as workshops in picking high security disk detainers. We will also bring locks with much higher difficulty, starting at Abus plus with butterfly disks, to Tokoz Pro. Picking these high-end locks is left as an exercise to the attendees. (Maybe bring your own tools for these.)

Pentathlon

Our friends from Parmakey in Italy will host a pentathlon competition this year. It will include five lock opening techniques of the following list:

  • Lockpicking pin tumbler: Bring your own tools
  • Lockpicking dimple: Bring your own tools
  • Impressioning: Bring your own tools
  • Lockpicking lever locks: Tools are supplied
  • Lockpicking car locks: Tools are supplied

The competition can only host a small group of participants, and will be fun to watch for everyone else.

Appendix from ‘How to run LockCon’ by Walter, 2016

Report: Dutch Open Impressioning Championship 2022

Sunday, September 17th, 2023

Jan-Willem wrote a report in the Dutch Open championship in Impressioning, held at LockCon 2022.
The report talks about the parts of the competition which are rarely discussed, like the bitting of the locks and the opening count of each lock. Hopefully this report is of use for anyone into competitive impressioning.

Our appreciation go to Abus for their generosity of sponsoring the competition locks and blanks.
Abus has sent us the locks for LockCon 2023, as well. Which is on Friday 13th of October.

Quantifying the Brinell hardness of keys

Saturday, April 8th, 2023

In an effort to quantify the locksport world, I’m taking my measuring tools to locksport in an attempt to learn the details. For example, how much torque is required to pick a lock. With this knowledge, we can build better lockpicks, and teach proper technique. In this blog, I’ve set out to compare the hardness of key blanks for impressioning.

As I’m not a machinist, nor do I have access to fancy hardness measuring equipment, I’ve found the cheapest method I could use at home. There are many methods, and many systems, to measure the hardness of metal. One difficulty was to get familiar with the lingo and to find a measurement tool that works for key like metals, thin, soft, etc.

The most common method of cheap hardness testing is to use Rockwell hardness testing files from measuring hardness of knifes. Usually in the range of C40 to C65 in increments of five. I’ve found similar methods online for testing the hardness of lead with pencils. Where HB hardness pencil will be equivalent to a certain percentage lead in tin. To my knowledge, none such system exists for brass.

More expensive methods press a hardened piece of metal with a known force into the sample, and measuring the indentation. While most of these measuring jigs are too expensive, I’ve found one for cheap. That is the Poldihammer test, which is sold on eBay for around €100. The tool uses a captive ball bearing which presses both on a bar of known hardness and the sample. You just simply place it on the object and hit it with a hammer. The ball bearing presses with equal force into both metals object. Comparing the dents gives you the Brinell hardness.

My Poldihammer came with a small magnifier and scale. It’s not so easy to use, and the resolution is minimal. The kit also comes with convention tables, but they feel very approximate. My solution is to measure the indentation with a digital microscope and calculate the BHN from this formula from Wikipedia:

\operatorname{BHN}=\frac{2P}{\pi D \left(D-\sqrt{D^2-d^2}\right)}

BHN = Brinell Hardness Number (kgf/mm2).
P = applied load in kilogram-force (kgf)
D = diameter of indenter (mm)
d = diameter of indentation (mm)

It doesn’t take much to use the dent on the reference bar to calculate the force. As the force is equal on the key, we can use the force to calculate the hardness of the keys. Let’s take a look at a real world example. The next two images are the dents under high magnification.

Key for measurement B1: 214.581 by 209.048 pixels. This is 2.00 mm on average.
Reference bar with hardness 187. Measurement B1: 163.809 by 162.959 pixels. 1.55 mm average width.

For completeness, I’ve added the calculations as to make the method repeatable, and accessible to more hobbyists. The force is calculated as follows: P = BHN(reference) * PI * D * (D – SQRT(D^2 – X^2)). Where X is the dent on the reference bar. In LibreOffice Calc, this is =187*PI()*10*(10-SQRT(10^X^2)).

The hardness of the key is calculated BHN(Key) = P /(PI * D *(D^2-Y^2)). Where Y is the dent on the key. In LibreOffice Calc, this is =P/(PI()10(10-SQRT((10^2)-(Y^2))))

For the numbers above, I’ve found the force as 706.25, and the BHN of the key as 110.8. I’ve repeated the test for four more keys and measured them as 114.5, 103.9, 97.0, and 118.2 with an average of 108.9. In similar measurements, I would drop the minimum and maximum and take the average of the remaining samples, which is 109.7.

The following table is the result of my measurements. The results are surprising.

BrandAverageAquired dateCommentMeasurement [BHN]
SilcaThree keys2018CS206 Brass. 147.1
SilcaThree keys2022LD5R Steel. 222.8
JMA Three keys2018Keys from Nigel Tolley. 135.4
BauelementeThree keys2019SSDeV Impressioning. 123.5
AbusThree keys2019LockCon133.4
AbusThree keys2020Toool Inventory135.8
AbusFive keys2022LockCon Box A127.4
AbusFive keys2022LockCon Box B108.9
AbusFive keys2022LockCon Box C131.5
Table of key measurements. Keys for Abus C83 with keyway similar to Y1.

The data revealed something interesting and confirmed a hunch. The hardness of steel keys is the highest, obviously. We see the brass alloy (nickel silver) have a range of values. There are also outliers, for example Box B, these keys are softer than keys acquired on the same day.

I’ve since played with both harnesses and can tell one hardness from another in impressioning. But only after I’ve switched from one hardness to another after a dozen opens, with the same hardness. After switching backwards and forwards, I can’t tell the difference in a blind test.

One final note, the kit comes with one reference bar that is consumable. We have about a hundred measurements in them. I have not found replacement bars, yet. But I believe we can use a similar shaped bar of steel, which is then calibrated with the reference bar before use. This will reduce accuracy, but can be accounted for if the measurements are comparative.

Thanks for taking your time to read about measuring hardness of keys. If you have a professional (Brinell) hardness measurement tool, and want to help out, let’s swap keys and compare notes. I’m always open to learn.

-3 seconds, Impressioning tool

Thursday, February 2nd, 2023

Impressioning competition are all about opening the most locks in the least amount of time. Quite often, every second counts. As we have been playing the game for a couple of decades, it wouldn’t surprise you that the locks become harder, the times have been getting faster, and the openings more consistent.

Most of the players have reinvented their setup multiple times. I’ve seen 3D printed attributes for key marking, and often see the newest inventions. To keep it fair, however, you require sharing the idea before the competition, as to prevent an unfair advantage.

My first improvements have been to watch the masters work, and to copy what they do. Whereas my last improvements are much more subtle. I’ve, for example, reduced the distance between the lock, lamp, and table. And improved my handling process to save seconds here and there. I don’t believe we are done, either, as I’m trying to find a better way of placing my file when I’m not using it.

The tool idea of this blog isn’t a new one. It has, in fact, existed over a decade in use. We have blogged about it back then: When every second counts: formula 1 impressioning tool. It’s however, still relevant.

What is it? It’s a modified cylinder where the pins are replaced by sharp carbide rods. By pressing a key into the pins, the pin positions are marked on the key. Which, in turn, allows a key of all depths one to be made. The process takes a second, instead of preparing a blank with sand paper, a filling jig, or marking the positions one by one with a scribe. To be completely honest, it might not save me too much time, I just like it as a convenience tool.

I’ve built my first version after I impressioned my first lock, early 2018. It’s not the prettiest, but it worked for over a thousand keys. At that time, I impressioned a lock a day for every day in January. At UKlocksport forum, this is known as the January challenge. I’ve got some good stories about it, including a friend that just never stopped and has a streak in the thousands. (Please, Toni, remind me to write a blog about it.)

The key below shows the principle of operation. The scribe replacement tips scratch the surface of the key. For this one, the scratches are deeper than I like, but it shows the idea. You want a mark, but not too deep.

The current version, as shown in the pictures below, are from a small series production I’ve made for LockCon 2022. It was well received, and I’ve helped many of my friends with one of them. Making them commercially is very much not worth it. But if you want one, or the bits to make one, I might have some.

Please remember, even with all the impressioning gadgets, it’s not going to make a difference if you didn’t put in the hours. Consistency is key.

Pictures are copyright CCBY4.0 Jan-Willem Markus @ Blackbag.

LockCon 2022 – Impressioning Competition

Saturday, September 3rd, 2022

At LockCon we ran the Impressioning competition on the usual C83 locks. (Abus, Thanks for sponsoring!) For the first round everyone has 1h to attempt the keyed a like locks. 12 people opened the locks in 20 minutes, this time. The best six went to the A Final, the subsequent six to the B Final.

In due time, we expect to publish a report on the key bittings, pins, and the times for each lock.

First place in the competition won a custom engraved Abloy Classic lockpick by Jaakko, and a Sparrows voucher of €100. Second place won a Multipick Artimis electropick. The third place won a set of Multipick Elite 27 lockpickset. All winners got a trophy, and a custom engraved PACLOCK, and an M&C pinning mat.

Congrats to the winners!

Jos opened 4 locks and got 1st place
Torsten opened 3 locks and got 2nd place
Lasse opened one lock and got 3rd place
Results A Final
Results B Final

The one-pin lock

Friday, September 2nd, 2022

Eurocylinders have a standard form factor, but they come in different sizes. In the middle is the cam and the screw to attach the cylinder to the door. Measuring the lengths from the center of the cam to both ends gives you the length, for instance, 30/30 is a popular size. This means both ends are 30mm or 3cm for a total length of 6cm.

Although sizes of 30mm and 35mm (or combinations with 10mm for half cylinders) are pretty normal, there’s quite a variation in lengths, especially if you go to Belgium for instance.

A 45/55 cylinder

Very long ones such as the 45/55 above, are quite rare. Ones shorter than 30 are also rare. I had come across a 25/25 once, but a while ago, my favourite locksmith from Oostende (Birger) gave me a 20/20 cylinder.

A 20/20 cylinder

It did not come with a key. The cylinder only has one pin! This means that any key that fits the keyway can be used to open it: just insert the slope of the key just far enough to push the pin to the shear line.

By not inserting the key fully, we can pick the one pin

The cylinder did not come with a key, so I used impressioning to make one.

The impressioned key

Photos CCBY4.0 Walter @ Toool Blackbag