Build Log: Enigma Machine from MadLab

A while back I decided to pick up practising soldering again, and figured I’d post some build logs (just photos, etc) of the kits I assemble.

For ones with good documentation, it will just be an image dump and maybe a video of function-testing them, but for others (eg: Chinese kits with no real documentation), I’ll make some effort to actually document them.

Anyway, this first one is the “Enigma Machine” from MadLab. I’m particularly fond of the MadLab kits, as when I was a kid they had a stand at the local annual science festival where I would go build something every time.

You can find the kit here: http://www.madlab.org/kits/enigma.html. They provide full source code and documentation for the kits, which is a nice touch. In my opinion, the documentation provided for the MadLab kits is unparalleled in the “electronics kits” space, and other kit manufacturers should really take a lesson from them.

A gallery of the assembly is below. Incredibly straightforward build, just start with the resistors, then the caps and transistor, followed by the display and IC socket. Add power leads, PS/2 keyboard adaptor, insert the IC, and away you go.

I always start with the resistors when building these things, out of habit. They are usually the lowest profile component, are tolerant of a bit of extra heat (unlike IC’s), etc. I probably picked up this habit from the MadLab people 20 years or so ago!

Testing this kit is on the back burner for now, as it turns out I don’t currently have a PS/2 keyboard or adaptors to turn a USB keyboard into a PS/2 keyboard.

Given I’ve not really covered any crypto or cipher stuff on this blog, I guess in a future post I’ll probably go over the source code for this thing, show a video of it working, and maybe write yet another explanation of how the Engima cipher works, and how to attack it.

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