Okay, I got the BeCode lock installed on my locker door at work, and… it works! Not only that, it works surprisingly well too. Check it out:
Here’s a photo of our lockers at work: can you guess which is mine?
Closeup of the lock:
So, for a quick review of the device:
The lock I bought is the BeCode AIR+ Fixed. There are two versions: fixed mode and free mode. The former allows you to assign one or more cards to a lock permanently, while the latter lets any card “take ownership” of a lock temporarily until it’s unlocked - and then the lock is free again to use with some other card.
My lock came with no less than 3, nicely pre-printed but otherwise vanilla Mifare Classic 1k cards:
I have fewer keys to get into my safe at the bank Incidentally, I misunderstood BeCode’s quotation and failed to pay for my 3 cards. But BeCode offered them to me anyway. Classy! Thanks Jörg!
To be honest, only two cards are used (aside from your implant that is): the Main Admin card and the Admin card. The Main Admin card is used to program one or more regular Admin cards into the lock. The regular Admin card(s) are then used to program user cards into the lock. Only the user cards lock/unlock the device. If you come from the Unix world, think of the Main Admin card as root, and the regular Admin cards as the wheel group.
Now here’s what’s not so hot: the first time you power up the device, it has no Main Admin card programmed in. The first card you present it becomes the Main Admin and YOU CAN’T CHANGE IT AFTERWARD! So don’t be hasty and don’t scan your implant first thing after getting the lock, because it’ll become the Main Admin card, and the Main Admin card can’t actuate the lock. Also, don’t lose your Main Admin card, else you won’t be able to add or remove regular Admin cards.
If you mess up the initial Main Admin card registration at power up or you lose your Main Admin card, you’re hosed: you have to return the device to BeCode to have them reset it. Frankly, that’s really stupid: there should be a reset button on the backside, that the user could access by unmounting the lock from the door, to reset the device themselves. But… there ya go. That’s what it is.
The whole Main Admin Card > Admin Cards > User cards hierarchy is overkill for a single user like me. But clearly it’s made for large facility managers with staff to manage a large number of lockers, like in swimming pools or gyms. I wish I hadn’t had to go through the whole programming rigmarole - which is useless to me - but it’s a one-time job and it’s quick enough to do anyway.
Now then, for the installation: all you need is a 24mm wrench, a T30 Torx wrench and a Phillips screwdriver. It’s a 10 minute affair. Clean and easy. You can order 3 different cams for the lock, with 3 different offsets: no offset, 4mm and 7mm. Since you can install the cam in reverse, you have 6 possible length combinations available to fit any locker door / frame.
You can take measurements on your locker and order what you think is the right cam, but I suggest you order all of them: not only will you be able to reuse the lock somewhere else, but if you measure the locker wrong, you’ll save yourself a lot of frustration. Me, that’s exactly what I did: I thought I needed the 7mm offset cam, but it turned out I needed the one with no offset. I don’t know how I managed to get it so wrong, but I’m sure glad I ordered all the cams.
Once the lock is installed, it just works. It’s that simple. It’s solid (for a locker lock at least - I suspect a good sledgehammer wack would bust it easily enough), it’s well made, it looks smart, and most importantly for us, it works extremely well with implants. Seriously, it reads an NFC implant even more easily than an ACR122. For a battery-powered device, that’s really quite remarkable.
The BeCode AIR+ only identifies the cards with the UID. This means it won’t overwrite data into your implant without telling you, or set its own keys in your Mifare Classic - if that’s what you have implanted. It also makes it compatible with a wide range of NFC chips. Of course, it’s less secure than a challenge-response authentication but… hey, it’s a locker lock
Finally, I should mention that BeCode is a very responsive and very helpful company, and they answered my technical questions straight without giving me clueless salesman replies. It was a pleasure to do business with them and I would not hesitate to buy from them again.
That’s my review of the BeCode AIR+. If you’re serious about going keyless and you have a locker at work or elsewhere that you can fit one onto - and you have disposable income - get yourself one: you won’t be disappointed. It’s not cheap, but I reckon it’s worth it.