The Medecoder … tomorrow in NDE #4

I am writing, but not for blackbag. Currently finishing an article for the NDE magazine (number 4 already!).

The Medecoder

One other thing that will be covered in NDE #4 is the Medecoder tool by Jon King. I had the pleasure to experiment with it over the weekend, and so far picked a 5 pin Medeco lock with it twice. It is a nice feeling to set the pins and open the lock, but picking the pins to the normal height takes me some effort. No doubt this will improve over time …

Tomorrow NDE #4 will be released, so I will continue typing …

18 Responses to “The Medecoder … tomorrow in NDE #4”

  1. Gordon says:

    I’ve had the best luck using groove-grabbing to set the rotation first, then picking to shear. Use anticlockwise tension. I’m not sure why clockwise tension doesn’t work as well. Maybe I’m just imagining it.

    Doing it this way avoids problems with low-high pin settings that make it difficult to hook the groove in the high pin.

  2. Jon King says:

    I’ve also experimented with counterclockwise tension and setting rotations first. I’ve found that I prefer doing clockwise/shearline-first though. It provides a bit more room in the keyway to maneuver the wire into place. Great job on the openings, Barry!

  3. raimundo says:

    Since I like to make tools that are both small and light weight,(aids me in sensitivity of touch when there is less weight, I think I will try to make one using the tube from a zebra ballpoint refill, and I also may use a piece of stainless microtubing that comes from a dumpster at a company where they make specialized electronic wire with nonconductive coatings, the tubes are where the wire leads are fed into the plastic coatings. come in a variety of sizes and would be able to stiffen the wire as Jon was doing when he coiled his wire around a thicker stiffer wire in a previously publish photo. Hope this dosent bother you Jon.

  4. Jon King says:

    Oh not at all, rai. I can’t wait to see what you come up with 🙂

  5. MBI says:

    Well, issue #4 is finally ready. Thanks for your article Barry.

  6. Schuyler says:


    Thank you very much for your article, Barry, look forward to seeing you again soon.

    – Schuyler

  7. Eliot says:

    Barry, the magnetic key based locks always seem to be mentioned when there’s talk of bumping or preventing picking. Who’s the manufacturer and does anybody have a cutaway/paper on them?

  8. Barry says:

    Eliot: The lock you are talking about is the MCS (Magnetic Code System) made by EVVA. More information on that lock can be found on

    It is considered one of the most secure mechanical locks ever made.

  9. Squelchtone says:

    Another magnetic lock is made by MIWA from Japan. Their EC product line uses magnets. Here is a photo of a MIWA key, hanging out with other high security keys:

  10. cbc says:

    That Medeco opening tool is old hat. Will not work with pins where the grove is closed off at the bottom.

  11. Barry says:

    cbc: are you a lock-pick troll, or are you serious? Did you bother to read the NDE magazine at all? I suggest you do 😉

  12. Lockpicker says:

    cbc have some point, though he has not read the NDE. Why make a great stir on the medecoder? In NDE you can read that this trick is very old, 1974 or earlier. However, it’s a neat and simple tool.

    Why not publish something about the special pickgun made for Medeco? (dead link) sold this item, as I remember, where are they now?

  13. Schuyler says:

    If you want to pitch us a story, send an abstract to

    However? I’m kind of sick of covering Medeco at the moment 😛

  14. Squelchtone says:

    Lockpicker and cbc:

    Not all of us here are 60 year old grumpy locksmiths like you guys sound like, who know of these things. To us, in the context of locksport, it is new and I believe that unless you know of the Falle decoder tool, the security through obscurity, and secret guild mentality so many locksmiths have, without the internet, this has pretty much been an obscure secret/forgotten idea/tool/etc since 1974.

    Anyone can say “oh, well that’s easy, I could build that” AFTER THE FACT, but I didn’t see you coming up with ideas and posting a tool that you built, so I give Jon King tons of credit for coming up with this at his age of 22, and the fact that he’s not even a locksmith. Kudos to him for creativity, and for asking how and why things work the way the do, and shame on you for being so acidic with the “been there, done that, seen that” attitude.

    I think complacency in the lock manufacturing world is a dangerous position to take. Medeco learned of the exploit in 1973/1974 and for years after included milled or micro milled pins to invalidate the attack. I estimate that sometime during the induction of Biaxial, and perhaps some management shift or accounting report, it was determined to be faster and less expensive to broach the pins from top to bottom instead of milling the sidebar grooves into them. So then from 1985-2007, unless you happen to have had ARX pins installed or somehow had your lock pinned up with an old pinning kit which contained the milled pins, your locks were fully exploitable to the open sidebar groove attack developed in the early 1970’s but forgotten to time. Medeco probably forgot about it too and didnt count on this Internet thing to spawn a new group of hackers who hack locks and figure out exploits that should have been fixed permanently a long time ago.

    Medeco simply grew complacent, and now they have to pay up front for years of saving pennies on each lock by not installing parts that should have always been there since 1974. This payment can be seen as a tarnished reputation as well as having to fix up the machine tools for the ARX line and the release of new pins kits which contain closed groove pins.

    TOOOL Boston

  15. Jean-Claude says:

    Can’t we all just get along?

    And for those who care, patents 3985010 and 3987654. There’s a true blackbag version floating around somewhere as well.

    And in deference to squelchtone, blackbag is by its nature a seasoned man’s (or woman’s, sorry ladies) sport.

    Unless Barry says different, that’s what I thought this blog was about.

    Perhaps cbc didn’t read Barry’s earlier post about the release of NDE?

    And thanks to Lockpicker for reminding me of these short-lived, yet clever, tools. Perhaps something new from Szhuang or New Trading?

    And a final thanks to Jon King, who started this furor over a simple home-brew tool from what seems to be an enjoyable hobby.

  16. Squelchtone says:

    Well said Jean-Claude. I very much respect many of the people in this community and I know many of you are also long time locksmiths, so my commentary was not intended to blanket all locksmiths as being of a certain nature. There are very intelligent and open minded people visiting here, and not just from the locksport groups. I welcome discussion with all of them.

  17. Jean-Claude says:

    Heh, check out Japanese patent Kokai No. 52-51298 for some more Medeco fun. Sort of similar to Falle’s magnetic system? I’ve never seen one in the flesh, so I don’t know.

  18. jimmie says:

    about the electric pick gun for Medeco …

    about 8 or 10 years ago I saw a Medeco pickgun abroad … if I remember well it was named the Tri axial pickgun … two 5 mountain pick blades worked in a for/inward saw movement and at the same time these blades were jiggled in up/down motion as far as I remember

    the construction was really cheap … an outside battery with a wire, a poor powered motor … I believe with some options on the tool it was possible to use it one regular pin locks or on Medeco locks … the tool looked like a basic electric soldering tool

    I tested it and I never opened a Medeco lock with it … in some months this “gadget” was discontinued