Open source deadbolt lock

On an outside door I would never install any cylinder from an unknown supplier.

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I would be equally careful about installing any unknown locking mechanism on an internal door too. Not just because you don’t know how secure (or not) it is, but you don’t know how likely it is to fail. You also don’t know how it might fail.

Would the inability to ever open that door again cause an issue? I have seen locks fail in such a way that the door was effectively bolted shut and the key no longer turned that “bolt”. Needless to say those locks were removed until a solid replacement was installed.


In this case it was an internal door, when the door was locked with the key the bolt had popped out of the groove it was supposed to slide in, a spring had slipped off and the bolt remained sticking out of the door into the door jamb, but unattached from the rest of the lock mechanism. Working the bolt back into the lock took about thirty minutes with a traveler hook.

This is really interesting, going for an open-source system. Unfortunately I have partial amnesia, but I’m pretty sure I saw a video a while ago from a prominent tech-tuber (might have been over 50k subscribers, or 200k subscribers) who spent a lot of time going over how it worked, how it was installed. I could have sworn it was Linus from LTT, but I can’t seem to find any video from him doing it so it must be the amnesia messing things up in my brain. Same goes for the power source because the battery was definitely located inside the deadbolt itself, and again I could have sworn it was a D-cell but after looking at one physically it must have been a AA.

Anyway, that was one interesting part of the design, that the battery was located inside the bolt itself. The whole mechanism was reasonably easy for the guy to install it himself in an existing deadbolt cutout in the door, and he also went over the safety rating system certification of locks. Apparently that was one of the reasons he chose this particular smart lock, and he demonstrated trying to cut through his old lock and compared it with the new one, showing how tough the newer one was in resisting physical damage to the bolt, even with an angle grinder.

  • Ian

Edit: I found the video.
It was Jon Rettinger talking about the Level Lock.
We have multiple personalities so sometimes our memory can get a bit mixed up, but I think it must have been Jamie who watched the video because I got most of it right. It’s not a D-cell battery used, and not AA, but something in between, and it is hidden inside the bolt itself. It’s an interesting design, and Jon does talk about the materials used and why, and about the security rating of locks in the lock industry. I think he said the Level lock is 304 hardened stainless steel, and has a AAA rating which is the highest possible for security, durability and finish.

  • Ian

It is a CR2 battery.

The level lock got a 1 star rating from @tac0s.

The level lock gets an Ansi grade 1 which is a high use commercial grade, but I am dubious about that given @tac0s review.

The ANSI grades do not include any tests of pick resistance and as they use an SC1 keyway, unless they are using security pins the lock is not particularly secure. I have a standard 5 pin SC1 lock here which can be raked open in just a few seconds.

Personally I am more interested in retrofitting existing cylinders. Although my first attempt is going to be cylinder free as the coupling between the cylinder and the motor needs to be examined closely. (The coupling between the cylinder and the internal thumbturn deliberately has a lot of slop in it. But using the key to turn the heavily geared motor is likely to be an issue.)


I know nothing about locks, really, and wasn’t trying to suggest the Level as an alternative product. I just thought some of the elements of the design seemed really nice as QoL stuff like the battery being inside the bolt and the whole assembly being super easy to put together (unlike other locks). Sounds like you know most of this already anyway.
We look forward to the open-source project bearing fruit!

  • Ian
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Nice to have you here @TheCyberSystem

I forget where we left off on this. I’m working on a separate secure access controller based off the PN7642 for Vivokey, but @Devilclarke has a board design that we originally collaborated on that he wanted to make a few changes to and then open source. His was pretty big and more targeted at prototyping with all the pins broken out. It won’t fit into an existing enclosure, but at least we can get people tinkering with it and ideating some designs until we work out some company to machine the lock bodies for us.

He’s been dealing with life stuff lately. I’ll poke him again and see if we can get the board files out here for anybody who is interested to try out.

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No problem at all. I am curious as to how strong the bolt is given that it has been hollowed out for the battery, but I promised I would be non destructive in looking at the security of the cylinder.

When I have tested it it can be passed on to whoever is going to look at it next.

I do like the way they are just replacing the bolt mechanism for their level bolt. The touch however replaces everything else as well.

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From the video the bolt really doesn’t look all that thick, but Jon also explained (while cutting through his old analogue deadbolt) that most bolts are typically hollow anyway, made out of sometimes 2 hollow cylinders of sheet metal, with a thin rod in the middle. He showed the cross-section of his old bolt in the video from 2:33

It depends on the bolt. Some have a hardened steel rod in the centre so that it spins once you cut through the outer. But this doesn’t have a long centre rod as the battery is only so tall. I am concerned that you could cut through the outer shell and then basically ignore the battery. Depending on how deep the strike box is. It’s probably also time for me to build a test door too. :laughing:

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That’s a reasonable concern. I did wonder what the function of the centre rod was for.
A test door would be good step. Just gotta make sure its squared up properly unlike our mum’s front door which has the deadbolt get stuck all the time. It takes at least 2 hands and a lot of force to lock or unlock the door. She calls it a feature but I call it a pain in the ass.
I rewatched Jons video again and I think I got the material wrong in the first comment. I think Jon says “440 C stainless steel.” I have no idea what materials make the best locks and I’m sure you all have several ideas for prototypes, but I just wanted to correct my mistake

  • Ian

This is easily fixable. Open the door and look at the hinges. It’s a good idea to measure them and count the number of screws. You only care about the long measurement.

Next you go to your local hardware store and you are looking for a packet of hinge shims (or door shims) they will be fairly thin things with slots for the screws. Once you have those you will need to determine whether you need to shim the upper or lower hinge. The package should give you examples, but depending on whether you need to raise or lower the far end you will need to adjust one. Lower raises the far end, while upper lowers it.

(You don’t need to buy those shims. You can use any thin material but they make it easy.)

Basically you loosen the screws on one hinge, slide the shim in behind the screws and tighten it. If you need to adjust it some more then you repeat.

From the sounds of it you should only need to add one or two shims to one hinge.

Once the door is properly aligned in the frame you shouldn’t have any issues with the bolt.

An electronic bolt would have a hard time with a badly aligned door, no matter how well made it is (unless you also have an oversized strike box).

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That is excellent information. Thank you. We will take a look at the door hinges tomorrow. I think Ian thought it might have been in fact a horizontal alignment issue rather than vertical alignment, like mum did the renovation without including measurements for weatherproofing material, and then added weatherproofing afterwards which makes it way too hard to close fully? I’ll write a note for Ian to check the strike box and bolt alignment in the morning.

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Amazon just suggested this lock to me…

No RFID, just a motor and a keypad and… This is pretty much what I had in mind, but without the keypad.

I guess I am going to be spending $32.99 so I can see how easy it is to repurpose the parts.

Their MSRP for that lock is $79… why are they selling it so low on Amazon? So odd.

No idea. But that price is lower than a non electronic amazon basics deadbolt.

I am going to guess loss leader, or it has some really nasty faults. My guess is that maybe a couple of seconds of prying will pull the face plate off enough for you to unlock the bolt with a screwdriver.

I’ll just beat my dead horse, I highly suggest an add on module over a fully standalone lock

Opens up use cases where you do not have permission to change the physical hardware

exactly… that horse is more alive than this concept… but really they are the same horse… @Devilclarke has my Gimdow “retrofit” thumbturn add-on lock body for “evaluation” … and we can build an NFC external panel wirelessly linked over BLE 5 or something… its the way forward because it supports such a wide range of lock types and domicile situations.

There are several options like that, like the original lockitron version 1.

They were sold through adafruit as closeout items, but the interior module appears to be a good design for attaching over an interior thumbturn.

The one concern I have about such a device is whether the linkage allows for the thumbturn to turn easily if a key is turning the lock. The heavily geared motor I have provides serious resistance due to the gearing even when unpowered.

In my case I can do whatever I want with the locks on my house, so I am interested in most options. My ideal solution would be something similar to the level bolt solution where the motor is entirely contained within the door itself and the external parts are regular door lock parts.

Having said that the level touch gets a pretty poor review on here.

The hugolog lock arrived today and first thoughts are surprisingly positive. There are basically four parts, a keypad, a deadbolt, a metal backing plate and a thumbturn.

The bolt goes in the door, the keypad mounts to the metal plate through the door and then the thumbturn mounts on the metal plate on the inside.

The bolt has a slight taper on both sides which is to allow for the door to not close quite as tightly. When the bolt slides in to the strike box it can lever the door slightly to ensure it closes properly. This is a feature only ever seen on electronic deadbolts.

The thumbturn side contains a motor which can drive a geared ring to turn the thumbturn, two sensors for the lock position and the battery compartment. The connector for the keypad is very nicely labelled.

The thumbturn includes the tail piece while that is normally on the lock side. The controller portion is entirely on the keypad side.

I don’t know how well this would take to replacing the keypad with an alternate controller yet, but it looks interesting.

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