Picture of Pocketex: the miniscule cryptex
This Instructable takes Da Vinci's cryptex to a miniature level.

The basic premise of the cryptex is that it allows the creator to hide a secret within the capsule and lock it using a simple slotted key mechanism. A password aligned perfectly with the arrow is the only way to unlock the cryptex. Or you could smash it to pieces. The password is entered using a series of dials that spin around the canister and allow the key to be released.

The fundamental components of a cryptex are its key, dials and canister. You could make one from scratch and there are instructions to do so, but if you want to fit this thing in your pocket, I have just the solution: a lip balm tube; specifically Nivea.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
List of Materials:

> Foam board 5mm [20x20cm board is sufficient]
> Thin cardboard
> Pencil
> Ruler
> Xacto knife
> Glue gun
> Cutting board

> Nivea lip care
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sueman21 year ago
is the third letter needed to be solved? the inner tube when layed next to the outer tube in one of the images does not look long enough to have a knob added to it to fit up in the very last spacer just behind the third letter wheel. does that the last one does not work? or was it just a badly framed image?
1000%3 years ago
Great design its really cool but since its foam and card board don't you think its a little weak some one could just tear it open I'm not saying its terrible but maybe some stronger ingredients needed to make this awesome little project
-really nice work
partyfoul4 years ago
I made mine out of a lipstick tube, a mouse pad, and some card board :)
Ward_Nox6 years ago
you know that gives me an idea what if you made a cryptex that would only open in a certain location (via a bolted down "key") so that even if you knew the combination it still wouldn't open
It's called a reverse geocache box
someone did that using an arduino, gps sheild, and alot of electronics.  it had a clue and told you how far you are from the location but not the direction.  it had a fail safe that can only be opened when the batteries where dead, which was unlikely since it was run on a solar cell and a backup battery.
by clue that told you how far you are from the location, i meant a clue that tells you where it would open and an lcd screen that told you how far you are from the location but not the direction.  and the failsafe was only to replace the batteries.
it opened in the louvre because the owner was moving closer to a freind to work at the louvre
couldn't you just use a lock box then? or a slightly modified lockbox that also uses a combination lock?
was just an idea
your idea could have some advantages tho, for instance, I am headed off to college next month and if i had one that only opened with a bolted down key the only place you could open it would be my dorm, and if I'm in my dorm it would be hard to open without my knowledge and anytime i left my dorm i would carry it with me. Even if i lost the cryptex all i would have to do to ensure that it remains locked is make sure no one has access to the key
well if not that maybe make a key chain charm thats the key esp hand if its not obvious
How about a GPS locking mechanism?
finfan7 Rimwulf5 years ago
If you did that you'd run into the battery problem quite quickly.
Rimwulf finfan75 years ago
Not if you used solar power or a twist nob or just an on off switch it only has to be on when your at the spot you need to be and that would make it hard for the unauthorized personal to get in..

finfan7 Rimwulf5 years ago
Solar power would be a bit impractical.  Any cell used to provide the minimum necessary power would be bigger than the codex.  For that matter, a gps unit and electronics would necessitate a massive codex.  It would probably end up almost the size of a summer sausage.
Rimwulf finfan75 years ago
Your assuming it would be a small box I have seen solar panels about the size of post card that put about 2 AA's worth and There are gps that run on just that, so assuming it is a briefcase for the sake of the argument you have either lets say 2 batts for the gps and 4  for the locking mechanism there you gps lock. We already have time lock briefcases with internal power why not GPS?

Hey its an idea. At least a start. :)
check my comment about it already being done the thing is that the box is a large one about 5 feet by 3 feet by 3 feet an has a cell that puts out 9 volts on it
finfan7 Rimwulf5 years ago
My sincere apologies, I thought we were talking about a cryptex.  Once you leave the classical  shape and function behind you are really designing a portable safe. 
If you remove the limits of the cryptex size and shape then the possibilities and problems expand manyfold.  For a briefcase you lose the issue of size but then lose certain characteristics that have their own advantages.  With the cryptex you are trying to store a small and usually singular piece of paper and can play with ideas of tamperproofing it or hiding it.  When the object becomes larger it opens more area for problems. 
Now the addition of electronics to the equation is very much the next step but one that can destroy the original concept.  As for my own ideas I'd say that the best way to use electronics would be in the form of an electronic key but keeping everything else the same.  A nicely small chip and electronics  could operate a tiny solenoid from power provided by the external key.  That way it would require the knowledge of the few character user password and the many character electronic key without taking overly much room.  The whole thing could be managed by a miniusb plug.
Rimwulf finfan75 years ago
now there's an idea, would that be a battery powered keypad with with a USB cord? If so you may need some serious encryption software to prevent someone from using a computer to crack it open. Maybe a "no mistake" pass word where it will lock up for a time. THat would be kind of cool
finfan7 Rimwulf5 years ago
I was thinking more of a device that output a long string of  characters (a fifty character passcode) at the press of a button that had an easily replaceable battery.  It could look like a large flash drive but be a key.  You'd solve the cryptex and then insert the key and push the button.  Voila, your message.
This would be good security for transport of small amounts of information,  send the cryptex by one way, the key by another and the cryptex password by another.  It would be pretty hard to intercept all three.
a flexable and portable cell that gives out 12 volts is sold at bass pro
Fashim5 years ago
Whats a Cryptex?

basically a lock with a compartment inside for stuff. they aren't very practical, but it was a plot device in the da vinci movie, so it has regained popularity
can you make an instructable of the larger one? cuz i really like the small one!
Holcan5 years ago
Ill try to make one myself D:
ptba95 years ago

I think I'll try using my dad's old shoe inserts- they're foamy, right?

NicOmbra5 years ago
 could you do more than 3, if they're smaller?

fireruler126 years ago
it is really hard to cut the notch
I put masking tape on all parts but the 5mm part, then cut it with a dremel, still hard, but not as hard as doing it freehand.
Buzzsushi5 years ago
after trying with 3 differant lip balm canisters, a regular one with a small marker case hot glued to the cap, and then the canister dremeled out works.
dombeef5 years ago
 For the foam can you use a mouse pad?
It is like foam and it can be cut easly
Revalize5 years ago
can i use a jumbo glue stick instead?

thanks you just gave me an idea for a cryptex with viniger
Where did you get the foam and what is it for kind of foam? Thanks x
mitsovich5 years ago
really now, it's extremely hard to cut it with these tools. The whole thing just breaks!( not sure if it's because i use liposan thought)
fireruler126 years ago
how high do the little peices have to be
The 'little pieces' need to be large enough that they keep it from opening when the incorrect code is entered, but small enough that they don't cause interference, otherwise.
lol thats awesome! how did u cut the gap out? i wanna make one! oh and could u use anything else besides foam board?
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