Thanks to Heat, Ocean’s 11, and countless other caper flicks, the heist has become romanticized in our culture. George Clooney (because he’s inevitably involved), the danger, the excitement, the team of roguish specialists: the brain, the brawn, the driver, the inside man, and the loose cannon; it’s a combination that triggers some sort of chemical reaction in our brain that says “wouldn’t it be amazing if.”
Well, thanks to one brainy group of engineering students at Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering (Needham, MA) all of your safe-cracking dreams can potentially come true… sort of. Just think small. Really small. Introducing the LockCracker.
Designed specifically to tackle Masterlock brand dial locks – most commonly used by students to secure their lockers – the LockCracker can, as advertised, crack a lock regardless of how many (or few) of the required numbers in the combination are known and record the correct combination for later use. With a vice-like clamp used to hold the lock in place while a solenoid pull-arm tugs with each new number rotated to on the dial by a small stepper motor, one of the key considerations of the design “was to minimize the amount of material used in the assembly without sacrificing performance.” Starting up the LockCracker software is simple, using the specifically designed GUI, all users have to do is input known pieces of the combination and the software – communicating with the machine – does the rest. You’re even prompted with links and videos to occupy yourself with while you wait as, depending on how many digits of the combination are already known, the whole process can take a little while. It is a lock after all.
While I doubt that the students that make up Team JARJ had any nefarious use in mind for this, their “Principles of Engineering” project, one can’t help but think of the “what ifs.” That said, the whole thing is just a little too cumbersome to work on a practical *cough* super evil *cough* level, so don’t go replacing your dial locks anytime soon for this reason alone.