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Turning encryption On with Light Cryptalk

Zoe RomanoNovember 20th, 2013


Light Crytpalk is an Enigma machine implemented by Michele Lizzit with Arduino Due. Enigma machines have an historical meaning as they were  used in 20th century to enciphering and deciphering secret messages and were adopted by military and government services of several countries.

We met Michele during Maker Faire Rome and he received a Maker of Merit badge directly from Massimo Banzi:

The idea of the Maker Faire project came to me when Google dedicated a doodle to Alan Turing. Reading on Wikipedia his story I’ve learned about the Enigma machine. This project was initially realized to be presented as final project of Middle School (junior high – seventh grade). In the first version I used Xbee to transmit and cryptography was just a table substitution.

He chose to use the Arduino DUE because it allows hosting a USB keyboard in order to write the messages to be sent.

Michele Lizzit

Michele did a great job and also shared documentation on his website, it’s pretty cool for his age and we asked him a couple of questions to know more about his experience as a young maker:

How do your friends see your projects? Do you share them with people of your age or is it more a family activity?  

Until now, I have not had the possibility to share this passion with other people of my age: even when I went to my regional hacklab or to the linux day, I did not find anybody of my age. Soon after returning from Maker Faire Rome, my English teacher asked me to tell to my class mates (in English) how my experience have been; after a general description of the faire, I started to explain my project. But at a certain point, my teacher interrupted me saying: “ Explain it to poor mortals”: and yet I thought I had been clear enough!
Probably, if I had have the possibility of bringing the Light Cryptalk in my class and let my friends try it, it would have been better.

You did a lot of work to share documentation of Enigma hardware and software on the website and translating it also in english. Do you think it’s important to share? Do you think you are contributing to the open source community?

I use Linux for everything I do with my computer and I am very grateful to the open source community and to Arduino for making available online for free a huge amount of documentation. I believe that it is important to share your ideas freely and for free so that others like me can learn and so that the opportunities to know, learn and make do not remain available only to those who can spend more. I know that so far I have contributed only in minimal part to the open source community but I am just at the beginning.

Have you got any plan yet for your  next project?

Now I’ve in mind the idea of building a 3d printer and I’m finishing up my quadcopter which I made using as a controller a joystick connected to Arduino and Xbee and for which I wrote the whole code by myself.