One of my friends at MIT is very involved in the hacker culture there. He described a tool hackers there use to open doors that slides under a door and pulls on the handle on the other side. This makes loads of sense as most doors are only locked from one side; you want to keep people out, not in. He didn't give any details at all other than that the tool slides under the door. I was interested, and left this project on the back burner for a few months.
Fast forward. I'm at Carnege Mellon now, and all the noob freshman are locking themselves out. They have to wait for about an hour for the Campus Police to come open their door. Now, at MSSM I had a special secret keycard that allowed me to open room doors for the nubcake first years who locked themselves out. here, I don't have that luxury. I was reminded of the MIT hackers' solution.
I originally posted this on my blog. I love it when people read my stuff.
Step 1: Choosing material: It's harder than it looks
6 gauge copper wire is perfect for this problem for two reasons. Number 1, it is stiff enough to maintain a shape once bent despite a reasonable amount of pressure applied to it. Number 2, it is bendy enough that you don't ruin your soft typing fingers on it. 4 gauge: too hard. 8 gauge: too soft. 6 gauge: just right.