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Build Your Own Bletchley Park With This Kickstarted Enigma Clone

If you invest in an open-source, crowd-funded Enigma machine today, make it this one. Created by S&T Geotronics of Columbus, Georgia, this device first appeared as an Instructable and is now available as a full DIY for $250, which is quite a bit less than the Allies spent at Bletchley Park while trying to crack Germany’s feared encryption system. Three hundred dollars gets you a fully assembled model.

What can you do with your Enigma machine? Well, you can break codes… and make codes… and learn how Arduino works? The makers claim that you can actually get some pretty good encryption out of these things if you and your friends, say, want to communicate by wireless between your undersea lairs. They write:

Even in today’s world of fast computers that can encrypt at exceptional levels like 68 bits, 128 bits, 256 bits, etc used for WEP, WPA, or even AES, the Enigma still offers decent & capable encryption capabilities: Any three of the 8 numbered rotors can be placed in any of the three positions on the shaft. There are therefore 8x7x6 = 336 possible sequences of 3 rotors. There are 26 possible internal settings on each of the three rotors. This gives 26 to the third power = (17,576) possible settings. There are 26 possible external settings for each of the three rotors. This gives 26 to the third power = (17,576) possible settings. There are anywhere from 0 to 10 plug wires which can be inserted into any of the 26 sockets.

This gives roughly 532,985,208,200,576 possible settings. Combining these possibilities give us a total of 26,672,901,348,424,004,787,290,112 or about 10 to the 26 power possible starting settings. It’s not AES but…


S&T will build only a few of these puppies so you’d best get cracking. You can obviously build one of these yourself using the instructions provided, but it sure would feel special to pull a machine out of a box that brought so many men to ruin and created the foundations for modern computing.

John Biggs

Mar 10, 2014

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