WWII Collectors, Now You Can Create Your Own Enigma Machine


CNet.com shares information on how you can create your own Enigma Crypto-machine written by ST-Geotronics.

If you are a WWII buff, you know what an Enigma machine is. This device was used by Nazi Germany before and during WWII. This cipher was used to encrypt top secret messages. Now, you can create you’re very own with some tech skills and knowledge of computer coding.

The Enigma was first used in the 1920’s by business men who wanted to keep their messages in the commercials a secret from their competitors. In 1923 the German navy began using their own Enigma and by the 30s, it became a standard took used by German Intelligence.

A 1944 German Enigma machine was put up on the auction block at Bonhams with an estimated value of up to $82,000. There was another Enigma machine dated from 1939 that got a whopping $110,900. In all, there were over 100,000 Enigma machines made; however, very few actually had the Enigma mark.

Like most people, you may not have tens of thousands of dollars just laying around your home to purchase one of these historic relics. ST-Geotronics has created a tutorial on how to create your own.

“This step-by-step guide will show you how to build a fully functional electronic replica of the world famous German Enigma Machine,” ST-Geotronics wrote on Instructables. “This Arduino-based open-source project is able to encrypt and decrypt any Enigma M4 encoded message. Using multiplexing for the LEDs, this circuit with 115 light-emitting diodes uses only 38 pins, and the 36 push buttons use only 4 pins total, thanks to properly placed resistors (and the P-Channel MOSFETs) in the keyboard loop.”

The machines that the Nazi military used were of great interest to legendary code breakers of Bletchley Park. These code breakers were able to crack the codes created by the Enigma and wound up shortening WWII by two years.

Bonhams auction house stated: “Proudly named ‘The Enigma Machine,’ one might think that there was only one type of machine that was used to send encoded German messages during World War II. But that’s not the case. There were many members in the Enigma family, and as the war went on, more and more complex methods and additions were made to the machines to make cracking their codes even more difficult for the crafty code breakers at Bletchley Park.”

A basic model of the Enigma machine included a keyboard, rotating disks called rotors which included letters of the alphabet, a plug board, and a lamp board.


“Nova” created a guide on the Enigma and in that guide it states:

In choosing a basic setup for the machine, there was a choice from the 60 possible wheel orders, the 17,576 ring settings for each wheel order, and over 150 million stecker-pairings (allowing for six self-steckered letters). So the total number of daily possible keys was about 159 million. In each of these configurations, the machine had a period of 16,900 (26x25x26) keyings before the mechanism returned to its original position. But there were weak points. The Enigma is simply a swapping machine of an advanced type. All Enigmas of the same model, set up in the same way, will produce identical swaps. In any position where keying B gives T, keying T will give B. And keying B can never give B.

The tutorial is very detailed and it requires special pieces and a particularly special software code by Circuit Schematics. For those Enigma collectors who lack the patience to create their replica from scratch, ST-Geotronics has created a custom made Enigma machine Replicas and kits that are available for purchase on their website.

Evette Champion

Evette Champion is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE