Key-Switch Flaws

From The Mind of Gabriel Shear

Tuesday, July 1 2014


Why You Shouldn’t Use Key-Switches

KeyswitchI come across this type of setup quite often.

You’ve got an electronic access control system installed.Worried that one day your system might not work you decide you need key overrides (This defeats some main points of using electronic access control) While usually on doors that use electric latches, or in handle solenoid release mechanisms a normal keyed door handle to unlock the handle in an emergency is the norm. On the other hand, doors that use magnetic locks or other means not related to the normal method of opening a door require a different approach. Enter the key switch.

Like its name implies, this device contains a key cylinder and an electrical switch. When a key is inserted into the lock and rotated, a cam on the rear of the cylinder depresses a switch which is normally used to break power to magnetic locks or signal the access control system to release the lock. Regardless of the way in which it controls the door it still boils down to the fact that A KEY IS USED TO RELEASE THE LOCK!

Looking at the photo above you will probably notice to very immediate things. First the key-switch is easily accessible and second, it is attached using the very insecure security screws. If someone were to remove those two screws. This is what they would see on the other side of the key switch.Keyswitch backA switch mechanism which can easily be bypassed with one finger… One little finger!


Seriously, this is all that is required to bypass this high-end access control system. While not a fault in the system itself, this situation has none the less been created. Granted not all key-switches have this exact design. Some have the switch built into the cylinder. Still the purpose of the switch is to make or break an electrical circuit, and whether or not it has an exposed switch is beside the point. As long as the wires are exposed you can either open the circuit (cut the wire) or close it (short the wires together).

There are a few ways in which you can increase the security of key-switches.

Possible solutions:

Move the key overrides to a more central and secure location.

Install a local siren with a sensor (plunger or magnetic reed type) installed on the key-switch so as to draw attention if the device is removed. (Alarm must latch to on state once set off to be affective)

If using security guards. Monitoring of the access control system for alarms is an option.

Email notifications from the access control system are possible if available and responded to in a timely manner.

Generally in this setup the switch just disengages the locking mechanism but doesn’t inform the access control system that it has done so. Once the door is opened the system will set an alarm condition. Depending on the system and the response programmed, it may only log that information or set off a linked burglar alarm or local siren. It is usually the case that, do to the high number of alarm conditions triggered by normal everyday use, that not much is done to alert anyone of the alarms do to the nuisance factor. People generally are not very security conscious and convenience usually triumphs.

If you use, or are planning to install such a system, you have been warned! Criminals have this information and know the flaws!

– Gabriel Shear





Fume Extractor

From The Mind of Gabriel Shear

Thursday, June 26 2014


Fume Extractor

Disclaimer: Information presented here is for educational purposes only. The author and website are not liable for any damages caused by the misuse of this information by others.

This is a design for a fume extractor for removing the fumes while soldering electronics and other parts. It is simple, and yet effective at its job while being cheap and easy to construct. If you’ve ever done any soldering, you know that the fumes can be very noxious. Rosin flux smells fucking awful and isn’t to healthy to breath.

Below are the parts you will need:

Qty.               Part Description

1                   4x4x2 Plastic Electrical Junction Box

1                   12vdc Electric Fan (scavenged from old PC)

1                   12vdc Power Supply

1                   Power Switch

1                   Power Connector (optional)

2ft.                18 AWG Wire

1                    Pack of Carbon Air Filters ( one pack should last a lifetime!)

1                    4 Inch Strip of Self Adhesive Velcro


After you have gathered all the parts you will need, you can begin construction. The box was purchased for 6$ at a local hardware store along with the pack of carbon air filters for 9$. The rest was scavenged from old electronics.

All Parts

Start by cutting a hole in the back of the box as close to the size of the electric fan as possible. A 2 1/2 in. hole-saw was used on this one. Holes were also drilled to match the mounting holes of the fan.

Back hole

After mocking up all the parts to make sure everything would fit. It was found that the fan would have to be off-center to fit the other parts inside. A hole was drilled in the bottom right corner and a small file was used to square it up to fit the power connector which was then  glued in place. The Fan was then screwed to the box and the power switch installed on the top.

power connectorpower switch

After everything was mounted in the box polarity of the power connector was checked by plugging the power supply into it and checking with a voltmeter which pin was positive and which was negative. Everything was then wired together. The negative terminal on the power connector gets wired directly to the negative power leg of the fan. While the positive leg goes to one leg of the switch and from the other leg of the switch to the positive leg of the fan. This way the switch is breaking the power to the fan on the positive power leg.

power diagram

Once everything is connected, power it up to ensure that everything is functioning correctly and that the power switch is operational. A power cube from and old network switch was used. It was rated 12 vdc @ 1 amp of available current draw. The fan only uses .25 amps so this was plenty.

Next taking the front cover, a series of holes were drilled in to it. Four larger holes and one smaller center hole was found to fit nicely.  Four pieces of the Velcro were attached to the backside of the cover using the hook side of the Velcro and not the loop side. Next a piece of the carbon filter was cut to fit shape of the lid and stuck to the Velcro to hold it in place. Finally the plastic wings on the box were removed and the front cover was screwed back to the box and everything was tested once again.

front coverCarbon Filter

You now have a fume extractor to remove fumes while soldering. A useful tool to have.

finished unit


The power connector is optional, the power cable could be ran through a small hole and wired directly to the circuit. Tying a knot on both sides of the cable where it goes through the box would prevent it from pulling out or getting pushed to far in to the box, possibly getting caught in the fan.

-Gabriel Shear


Not So “Secure” Screws

From The Mind of Gabriel Shear

Thursday, April 24 2014


Not So Secure Screws



I’ve been working in the security industry for many years.

I have clients that to this day; still require, or call out for in specifications. The use of tamper-proof hardware on any equipment that’s publicly accessible.

I have, and will continue to argue. That this practice is at best a waste of resources, and at its worst gives a false sense of security.

What Is Tamper-Proof Hardware?

In the world of physical security, It’s common to use what is referred to as “tamper-proof” hardware. Normally these are used on locks, and other equipment as a deterrent to theft, vandalism, and/or tampering. There are a few different designs used to meet this aim. (torx, star, spanner, etc) Most designs are of common hardware with a modification so that a normal tool would not work with, or fit in to the tamper proof hardware. There are also designs that prevent the use of common objects, or makeshift tools from being used. (common in prisons).

The main premise of using such a design. Is that the availability of the special tools required to remove the hardware would be limited, so that only authorized users would have access to them.

In reality, this may have been the case many years ago, but that is not the case today. A quick search of the internet. Will provide you with plenty of online stores to purchase the required tools, and they can easily be purchased at a local electrical distributor. Recently I was not surprised to see that they are now, even being sold at Home Depot.


security driver

With these tools so widely available. The original purpose of tamper proof hardware is all but destroyed, and now does nothing, but present a false sense of security. Their only affects now, are possibly to slow down an attacker, or there use in correctional facilities. were access to tools would be non-existent.

Next time your out an about. Look to see if you can find any of these, and then think about how easy you could bypass these with a quick trip to the hardware store.

– Gabriel Shear

Ugly Little Book

From The Mind of Gabriel Shear

Saturday, February 1 , 2014


uglys electricalUgly’s Electrical  References

I’ve been using this little book for over 10 years now. It’s served me well as a supplement to my more formal education. While I know most of what’s in it by heart now, I still keep it with me just in case.

Ugly’s Electrical Reference is an excellent reference for those looking to do more of their own electrical work. It contains many, many excellent charts, and instructions, etc.

So basically, they took all the knowledge that an old experienced master electrician would have, and compressed it down into this little gem. I use this book all the time and it saves me from having to search through the internet for vague charts and information I need, and since it’s a book its “End of the world, no internet proof” It’s that much more valuable.

I picked mine up at the local Home Depot for a little over five bucks many years ago. An excellent price for such an awesome information filled book.

A brief overview of the contents include:

Ohm’s Law

Information on electric motors and their wiring

Use of electrical transformers and calculations for loads

Wire charts and properties of various cabling types

Charts and information for all kinds of electrical tubing and conduit

Pretty much everything related to electricity and its uses

So as I hope you can see. This is a book you need to own. So go get one, and have the confidence of knowing you can have the knowledge of a master electrician in your back pocket.

– Gabriel Shear

Standard Situation

From the mind of Gabriel Shear

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Stick shift

Standard Situation

Lots of people will go through their lives. Never knowing how to drive a standard “stick-shift” vehicle. Some never had the chance to learn. While others simply don’t care.

Less than ten percent of all vehicles produced last year had manual (standard) transmissions. So why should you care to learn to operate one. If all you ever drive an automatic?

Because I suspect (Since your reading this website) that you’re the kinda person who loves to learn. More importantly. You’re they type who knows; that knowledge… Really is power, and that in any given situation. You may be called upon to operate a vehicle that has a manual transmission.


There are millions of vehicles with manual transmissions in the U.S. and even more in the rest of the world. Not being able to use one. Is a serious liability to your survival during an emergency.

When I first met my wife. She didn’t know how to use a manual transmission. Like the kind that was in my truck. I began to do a lot of the driving whenever we would go somewhere, and it became clear that if something happened to me. My wife wouldn’t be able to operate the truck. We decided she needed to learn, and now it is no longer an issue.

Driving a manual transmission is easy once you learn the initial moves and timing. Find a family member, or friend with a manual transmission vehicle that can teach you the basics. If that’s not an option. A quick search on Google. Will bring up a good number of driving schools that can.

This same logic goes for motorcycles too. Although less common; there are still millions on the road. Learn to ride a motorcycle and you will pretty much be able to operate any vehicle on the road. A skill set that will always come in handy.

– Gabriel Shear

Ninja Rocks

From the mind of Gabriel shear

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


broken glass

Disclaimer: Information presented here is for educational purposes only. The author and website are not liable for any damages caused by the misuse of this information .


Ninja Rocks

I learned about “Ninja Rocks” many years ago. I’ve always felt that it was a great idea. So I’m sharing it with you. Perhaps someday it might just help you out of a jam.

Just a little information first.

Breaking plate-glass, like the kind used in older windows, and in picture frames. Is a fairly easy thing to do. Other then the obvious risk of cutting yourself. You could punch through plate-glass with relative ease. Tempered Glass on the other hand is a different story, and you could easily break bones in your hand trying to break a tempered glass car window or sliding glass door.

Tempered glass is still just glass, but it’s received a treatment called “tempering”. Glass is tempered by cooling the outside of the glass quickly. While the inside is allowed to cool more slowly. This causes a compressive stress on the outside. While the inside is under tension. Which is why it seems to explode into tiny bits when it is broken. It is also why its called safety glass. This balance of compression and tension allows it to take shocks both physical and thermal far better the non-tempered glass.

Tempered glass can take quite a blow before breaking. Concentrated sharp impacts are the best way to break it and the harder the object the better. This is why emergency hammers for escaping a vehicle have a pointed metal end to break the glass.

A ninja rock can also break tempered glass, but with incredible ease.

“What are ninja rocks?” Your probably asking. Well, basically they’re just small pieces of the white insulator from spark plugs. (Simple huh.) You can break the insulator with a hammer or something similar. A piece of it the size of pea. Will shatter a car window into a thousand pieces. Simply by flicking it at the window.

How is this possible?

Well, let me tell you. The surface of the glass is hard, but the ceramic insulator is even harder! Made of sintered aluminum oxide. It is just under diamonds on the Mohs hardness scale. This is very hard stuff. Due to the internal stresses of tempered glass. A small scratch or cut to the outer shell of the glass. Can allow the high internal stresses to escape. Causing the glass to fracture rapidly. The ninja rock is a lot harder than glass and so will “scratch” the glass with ease.

You can easily carry a small ninja rock. In your wallet or purse, so that you will have the ability to quickly, and easily break tempered glass. If the situation  ever arises.


– Gabriel Shear



Meditations On Violence (Review)

From the mind of Gabriel  Shear

Sunday, December 8, 2013


Meditations On Violence

Meditations on Violence Cover

It’s been a few years since I had regularly practiced any kind of martial art. I was considering reapplying myself in that direction, and wanted to look into some of the various disciplines. To see what art I should move forward with. Looking around at the local book store I came across; Meditations On Violence.

I opened up the book,and began reading the foreword written by the author. Sgt. Rory Miller.

After reading through the forward. I came to the end. Where the author gave this warning about his message within the book.

I present this as a warning. You are what you are, not what you think you are. Violence is what it is, not necessarily what you have been told. This book is about violence, especially about the difference between violence as it exits “in the wild” and violence as it is taught in martial arts classes and absorbed through our culture.

Now, I quickly dropped down my cash and left. After finishing the book. I can tell you it was worth every penny and more. You could spend thousands to train with, and receive this kind of knowledge from someone with so much experience and intelligence in this subject.

Miller’s book starts out discussing how we make assumptions about violence. How we think, and how we should think. Our sources for these assumptions; when we have never experienced a violent encounter, and how these “beliefs” can get us killed. He then moves on to the heart of the matter. Violence itself. Types of violent encounters; truths about violent assaults; how our bodies respond to these situations. and common situations and places that can lead to violent encounters.

Next the book deals with those that would use violent actions against others. Predators. How they think, and what they look for in their prey. Laying out the various types of predators that exist in our world.

The second half of the book deals with training yourself. How to respond to a violent encounter. How our training does and doesn’t prepare a person for the realities of a real situation. Conditioning your body and mind to work together instead of fighting against each other. Making physical defense work. Knowing when to “Go” and what is worth fighting and possibly dying for. These are real and serious questions. That need to be asked for you to effectively defend yourself.

The last part of the book deals with something that is usually overlooked. How violent encounters affect our mental health once we have physically survived. The costs that are paid. People replay these moments over and over in their mind and different people will react differently to such a traumatic experience.

My favorite quote from Miller…

It’s better to avoid than to run; better to run than to De-escalate; better to De-escalate than to fight; better to fight than to die. The very essence of self-defense is a thin list of things that might get you out alive when you are already screwed.

This is in line with my personal beliefs. That avoiding conflict is to outsmart it. Not being a target in the first place. Is better than trying to defend yourself once you have been attacked. Meditations On Violence is one of those rare books that just by reading might actually save you, and your family someday.

I highly suggest you get a copy, and start learning how to save your life.

– Gabriel Shear


5 Reasons To Always Have A Full Tank Of Gas

From the mind of Gabriel Shear

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


people waiting for gas

Here are 5 reasons, why you should keep your gas tanks full…


It’s easy to think that doing something so common, and simple, as keeping your gas tank filled isn’t really a survival skill. Well, You would be wrong.

Below are 5 reasons, you should do this one simple thing.


1) You never know when gas may become unavailable

The supply of fuel at any given time, is only a couple of days away from exhaustion. During natural disasters, and other interruptions, the supply of fuel from refineries will be cut off. Having a full tank of gas, is an added security, that you will come out of the situation safely. When the hordes start mobbing the gas pumps, you will be safely clear of that nightmare.

2) You may become lost

Wait…  Now before you think. “Hey I don’t get lost!” “I can track my location, better than a GPS unit, using just the sun and the stars!”.  Lemme tell you a story…

Once, while in the back woods of the Ozarks in NW Arkansas. I made the decision to go on a beer run, and being as I was in a dry county. I had to go to the next county over for some refreshments. Long story short… 4 hours, a lot of narrow unmarked dirt roads, and no beer. I ended up in Missouri. Thankfully I had a full tank of gas, and didn’t end up stranded on a dirt road. Listening for banjos.

Now, if you keep your tank full. Neither will you.

3) You can damage your engine

Over time, crud from debris, and varnishes from gasoline build up in your fuel tank. It all settle to the bottom. If you’re constantly running on fumes. You’re gonna be sucking up all that crud. Right into the fuel pump and engine. Modern fuel pumps use the gas in the tank; to cool the electric motor in the pump. Running low on gas causes the motor to heat up reducing its lifespan. Murphy’s Law dictates it will do so; AT THE WORST POSSIBLE TIME.

4) During a crisis, gas is as good as gold

Watch the news during any kinda crisis, and you will see people lining up at the pumps. Simple supply and demand economics take over. During times like this. Siphoning a gallon or two of gas to trade. May mean (Depending on your circumstances) the difference between; life and death.

5) During an evacuation you wont need to fuel up before leaving.

Large groups of people are evacuated during natural disasters, and other dangerous events such as: flooding, or large forest fires. In the event that you need to evacuate the area. You won’t need to stop, and get fuel. Like all the other non-prepared people. Fighting the hordes to get gas at the pumps, and running out of gas on the freeway are great ways to get yourself in a world of hurt.



There are many more reasons I’m sure, as to why keeping your gas tank topped off as much as possible is a great idea. I hope these five. Help you see the importance of how doing this one simple thing. Could make the difference between whether you survive or not.


– Gabriel Shear



Black Out Kit

From the mind of Gabriel Shear

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


SnapSprayBlack Out Kit

 Creating a black out kit is a simple, and inexpensive way to effectively help you survive. By doing that one thing, during a “SHTF” scenario that matters most.


Whats that one thing you might ask?




Keeping a LOW PROFILE!

Like my mother always says “It Don’t Pay To Advertise!”

Well… Maybe in business, but when everybody is after you and your stuff it sure don’t.

So what is a black out kit?

Well, basically it’s just a way to keep everyone, from seeing through the windows of your home/bug out location.

During World War II, people in England would black out their windows, with what ever they had. Usually this was just a bunch of large curtains. The reason for this was so German bombers (who did their bombing at night) could not make out the cities very well, due to the fact no light was coming from the buildings. This made it hard to hit their targets.

Now, today this would be pointless, due to GPS, Satellite Imagery, and a host of other technologies.

Still, when everyone is looking for food or supplies, and unless you plan on just going to bed as soon as it gets too dark to see. Your gonna want a way to use lights inside at night, without being a huge target to everyone looking to do you wrong.

I found, that the cheapest and most effective way to achieve this, is good old black spray paint. It can be quickly applied to a large area, so getting it done fast is a given. One can will cover 18-25 Sq. Ft.  So an average home would only require around six cans. At $4 dollars a can, that’s only $20 dollars. Spray cans take up a lot less room to store than thick curtains or a tarp would. Curtains and tarps could also accidentally get moved, allowing light to escape. During the day if you wanted, you could simply open the window to get some day light. Along with the paint, I would also recommend getting a spray can gun to speed up the process, and save you your finger tips.

Keeping a low profile, and not attracting attention, either to you or your property is a surefire way to survive. A little bit of paint can go a long way, in helping you achieve that goal.

– Gabriel Shear