Today 11 July 2019 is great day. Finally our game called worldwide decoding challenge is over. Polish Combination Lock has been decoded by Swynndla. I would like to congratulate Swynndla again for his creativity and passion which lead him to discover the way to decode this mechanism.
Saying that I would like to point out that I knew this
possible method since beginning of creation of my unique Polish Combination
This decoding possibility based on pure geometry and law of physics and is not possible to avoid because it is applicable in any mechanism despite of design.
This method is based on magnification small imperfections in
the mechanism to enormous visible size.
What happened and
How it is possible to use this method of magnification in
this particular mechanism?
This is due to the fact of attaching laser pointer to the open close knob and observe the laser point movement on the wall from few meters (6 meters in this case) in order to distinguish the different movement for each gate
This decoding method is working only in “laboratory”
You need to have very stable and not changing environment. The lock is placed firmly in the vice, the pointer is attached firmly to the open close knob and the whole setup is in place for entire process of decoding.
You need even in such a setup long time and effort to decode it.
The way of decoding is based on finding the difference how the actuator interact with the gates on the wheels. The wheels itself have tolerances that allow them to be shifted quite a bit up and down against actuator bar. This means that there is unequal touch between the actuator bar and the bottom of each gate. This imperfection is not possible to feel by naked eye or touch of any most skilled lock picker. However it is possible by this method with laser magnification to see this imperfection from a distance (this case 6m). Now by checking all gates on each wheel pack it is possible to discover which one is true gate and which one are false.
Now you need to close your eyes and imagine how difficult is to decode this mechanism even with this methods. You need a lot of time and stable environment for long time at least few hours.
In practice we know that it will not be a case in real life because nobody would be able to use this method let’s say outdoor or in dynamic environment not “laboratory conditions”.
In real life there are plenty of locks that could be crack open within minutes even most secure safe doors not mention simple padlocks. I still consider my lock as crack proof because this decoding option with laser attached is exceptional and needs special arrangements. It would be much easier to destroy the mechanism than to try to open it this way in real life.
Conclusions (please read to the end)
Is it possible to avoid this decoding option?
Well in my opinion it is not possible to avoid this. Increasing tolerances will only change the magnification needed to decode it. Let’s say in metal version the tolerances would be twice better it means we will need not 6 but 12 meters distance for magnification etc.
The first improvements I can imagine to improve security
against this laser decoding method are:
Smaller tolerances between the internal shafts so the area of touch between the actuator bar and the bottom of the gates will be as flat as possible.
Less movement on the open close knob, this is depending on the gear ratio and size inside and the connection between the actuator gear and open central shaft gear. Less angle to turn to open. Now is 120 degree it could be 40 or less means less laser movement on wall.
Smaller touch area between the Actuator and the new thinner wheels with gates
The shape of the open close knob could be as in my picture not just rounded but more spherical shape to minimize the possibility to attach the laser. (BTW I do not consider this method as true problem for this lock) Could you imagine in real life how to use it? Now way it is only possible in lab with vice and stable environment)
The gates of different deep (I think it will be not necessary) however it is worth to test it. The key is to make nice tolerances between the internal wheels and the cooperation with actuator. Maybe next metal version will be part of the next worldwide decoding challenge with those gates on different levels.
The current plastic model has all parts thick due to 3D print limits and tolerances. So we can say everything here in this model is enlarged already making it easier for this laser method to works.
So now you know the truth.
What do you think it is still secure lock? Is there anyone who could decode it just with hands and skills as Jeff Sitar did with most of the locks or how sport lockpickers do with all those combination padlocks?
I still consider this lock as pick proof. Despite the fact Swynndla opened it by using special conditions like laser pointer, mirror, 6m space, 6 hours’ time and all in very stable and secure place.
I am sure you can imagine this
padlock hanging, not in the vice and you need to open it outside or in dynamic environment
this “laboratory” method with laser magnification will not work at all.
The strong point here is to stress again that this lock cannot be open in my opinion just by manipulation by hands and feeling the mechanism like in most other constructions.To crack it you need vice and long time. In the final word at the end you can read the real truth.
I hope you can have your own point of view for this. Those are mine lessons learned from worldwide decoding challenge game.
What next? Well now I am working to produce first full metal prototype of my padlock with Polish Combination Lock mechanism. It will have better tolerances that this first plastic model and most probably could be decoded by laser method. However it would be much more difficult to attach laser to it as well as there would be some additional protection minimizing this possibility of decoding. It will be pick proof lock considering normal day to day usage.
Finally I need your support to be able for next steps to happen. I need financial support and you can contribute to make this happen by your donations. The links are on my page and any amount you can donate will help me to bring metal version to life.
Without your donation it could be even impossible or will take long time.
PS> Technical explanation.
Here in Pic1. you can see the gates marked green and the red actuator. To minimize possibility of the laser decoding option the mechanism should be perfectly fit together. This is impossible due to the tolerances. Here in plastic model those green areas could be significantly moved up and down against actuator bar. Perfect mechanism must have those green areas as flat as possible and the actuator bar should touch all wheel equally which is not the case in this plastic model.
Here in Pic2. you can see that the tolerances between the shafts are quite huge 0.1mm per side of each wheel (0.2mm if the wheel is moved up or down). This is due to possible printing 3D accuracy. This tolerances enable the whole wheel pack to move not only as desire rotation but also vertical and horizontal. This move allow laser method to be possible in this mechanism.
Here in Pic3. you can see that after pushing all wheels vertically the total level difference sum up to 0.8mm under the actuator bar. This difference enable laser pointer attached to the open close knob to indicate where is the true and false gate. The magnification is huge and depends on the distance to the wall.
In real metal model we can significantly reduce this movement of wheel pack, only rotation is allowed. If the movement of the wheel pack will be precise and the pipes concentric would be fit to minimum tolerances possible than laser methods would be most probably eliminated or reduced significantly.
Here in Pic4. you can see what happen with all wheels when they have not so tide tolerances as in plastic model. The gap due to their movement is huge (0.8mm) between first and last wheel. When the actuator is pressing down the non concentric wheels are moving vertically. This is the weakness of this plastic model 3D printed.
Here in Pic5. you can observe the stairs imperfection under actuator bar allow to decode this mechanism. This is because of those huge gaps between the shafts of the wheels visible in Pic 2 and Pic4. The actuator bar pushing down move the wheels down and those stairs has been created by force. Eliminating the loose gaps around the pipes would minimize or eliminate those stairs. This will protect this lock even against laser method.
Nevertheless this weakness unable to decode this lock without this laser method.
The final metal version would be much more precise and the wheel pack would be much more concentric and the gap between the shafts would be minimal. You can imagine the car or radio antenna which is build from concentric pipes, you can rotate those pipes but there is almost zero movement horizontal or vertical. Then the laser decoding option would be very limited. Here in this black and white plastic model those imperfections allow to use this laser method.
So the final conclusion is:
If the wheel pack would be perfectly fit, concentric and allow only rotation move than this lock would be perfectly uncrackable even with this laser method. This is the goal for metal version, the rest of the mechanism could have imperfections and much less accuracy between parts. Critical is to eliminate gaps between the wheel shafts and therefore eliminate stairs effect under actuator bar.
I still believe that the metal version would be much more precise and will eliminate this horizontal and vertical movement of the internal wheels. Will see in real prototype after final testing.
Please keep in mind that I sent for the challenge the only prototype I had just without any testing or checking if this tolerance could be limited or not. It was too expensive for me to produce more prototypes. Moreover I do not have an experience with 3D printing at all so I knew only that the tolerances must be not so tight in order to move plastic model. Now I will pay attention to details and will reduce this thread to minimum.
Wait a minute , is my lock so bad? What I should think of it? Is it crap? You need to answer those questions by yourself I can just admit that it is possible to crack it but in special laboratory type conditions using vice.
Do you imagine someone using vice in any normal day to day application you will use my lock? This is nonsens, Please stop this nonsens and do not think that way. It is not truth.
The truth is that this lock has been designed as uncrackable and pick proof for typical daily applications like securing anything you attach it to. This is rather situation when this padlock is attached to something hanging in the air not freeze in the vice.
Is it possible to decode it by just holding in hands and manipulating as most other locks either pintumbler or combo locks? In my opinion it is not possible. The only way up to now as presented by Swynndla is to hold it and freeze it in the vice and than use different approaches like laser to decode it. Please check now on internet how people decoding most combo locks. They did this just holding them in hands for just few minutes, manipulate and it is done.
There are planty of video on YouTube showing people decoding locks, all or most of them are just so easy to do. They do not use vice and this is ok because it mimic normal application.
Polish Combination Lock is uncrackable and pick proof until someone explain and open it by hands as in normal life without the vice. We need to compare apples to apples in the methods we use to judge the security level. I saw so many combinations locks cracked by hand and naked eye just holding it in less than few minutes.
Therefore I said that my lock is 100% uncrackable and pick proof and I will not change my opinion until someone will open it just as other locks without vice as in normal daily application. I hope you agree that if the lock could be crack only with the help of the vice this means is perfect and crackproof in normal life.
I could add point to the worldwide decoding challenge that the usage of any vice is not allowed but I didn’t think about this 🙂
We will have now more tests and Swynndla will still tests different approaches without the vice. I hope those further tests will confirm if this lock is pick proof or not however with final judge we need to wait until full metal version will be available for tests.
Stay in touch. I am now very close to produce first steel wheel pack. If everything will go well soon I will be able to present you first worldwide picture of full metal wheel pack which will be critical part for new padlock.