Schlage NDE80 errors, flaky firmware or flaky bluetooth drivers?

Most locksmiths don’t care for adding technology to locks because with increased complexity comes increased number of vulnerabilities. Making a lock that works with your phone could be really cool if it works well and the security features prevent other android apps from stealing your password. The featureset for this lock is incredible and it is attractive.

Schlage’s NDE80 promises to revolutionize electronic access control. They look slick, they’re built well, they use the same hole pattern as a non electronic lever with no extra holes, etc. Trying to install one in the real world though, you come up against the brick wall of reality.

The device is not responding. If you continue to experience problems, please toggle your bluetooth on and off and try again.

Using my patched and updated vanilla android phone, I figured out last night (late last night, it took hours) that the only way to get this lock to work correctly is to constantly reboot your phone’s bluetooth app or driver or whatever.

Whenever you see the error to the left, you have to turn off bluetooth and turn it back on. Maybe multiple times. My success was intermittent. I could never add more than one credential without rebooting bluetooth at least twice. Sometimes it took as many as five times. You may also have luck by pushing the inside lever down every once in awhile. I could not figure out a sweet spot to hold my phone at. Took off all phone covers, disconnected other bluetooth devices and turned them off, did a little dance and spilled the blood of a frog on the face of the lock but nothing worked. Occasionally the lock would blink red over and over for a minute or two. Rebooting? BSOD? I don’t know. What I do know is I’m charging a lot more to install one of these next time. It takes five minutes for me to enroll fifty prox cards for an Alarm Lock DL3500. It takes roughly two hours to enroll fifteen prox cards for a Schlage NDE80.

I am adding this post here because I found no information on how to resolve this error on the internet. Schlage’s tech support number is 888-805-9837. I called them and followed the prompts for an electronic lock and waited on hold for probably 45 minutes until I finally got through and the lady told me that this was for residential locks, not commercial and she couldn’t help me. I couldn’t find the error message from the Engage app anywhere. The error message would be much more helpful if it added that you have to toggle bluetooth on and off multiple times and also wait an indeterminate amount of time before trying again.

Schlage, if you are reading this you need to fix your phone menu so poor locksmiths don’t waste their time waiting for residential electronic lock tech support to answer. Fix your firmware so that regular old android bluetooth phones can connect to your locks the first time. Fix your error message so that it accurately explains that you have to toggle your bluetooth off and on multiple times. Also take back this stupid NDE80 that I never want to see again.

Unlocking an old Scandinavian steamer trunk with a warded lock

This is an antique Scandinavian steamer trunk whose key was lost decades ago.

Today I unlocked this old steamer trunk. It had a warded lock with a spring latch. Once I got it open I removed the lock so that the owner could shut the lid without it locking again.

The trunk is an old Scandinavian one dated 1925. The design reminds me of family heirlooms from my Danish grandparents.

This is an antique Scandinavian steamer trunk lock I picked open today. It was full of dead spiders and other bugs.

Electronic Locks for AirBNB and Similar Applications

If you are trying to run some kind of an AirBNB, you need a lock that

  • You can unlock remotely in case of a problem
  • You can be sure people can’t come back once their rental time is up
  • You can tell remotely when the door is shut and locked
  • You can be certain that your property is secure

There is a product family for you. It is called The Internet of Things and using wireless protocols like Zigbee and Z-wave you can accomplish everything in the list above, all without any monthly fees except your internet connection.

To make this happen the first thing you need is a hub. It can be a Z-wave hub or an Apple TV hub but there are compatibility issues because the technology is not yet mature and Apple is not known for being into hardware interoperability but is also a large force in the market. If you like open protocols so that your hardware will be supported by the community longer you should go for Z-wave compatibility. Now you have to connect your hub to your internet connection, probably through a router.

The next step is to get a lock that is compatible. I don’t remember where I read it but I remember reading that the best consumer grade electronic lock for Z-wave compatibility is the Yale Real Living line of locks. They come with really weak strike plates so you’ll want to get a better strike plate if you choose this. Then you have to program the lock to work with your Z-wave hub. I am a bigger fan of the Schlage BE469NX line, though you’d be well advised to get a set of rechargeable batteries because if wirelessly connected this lock goes through batteries fast. There is also the Kwikset Kevo but any security professional will tell you that it is trivial to force these over, even the newer version. I can usually unlock this deadbolt in under one minute with nothing more than my lockpicks and a screwdriver.

To make sure the lock only locks when the door is shut, you need a Remote Sensor to let the lock know when the door is open and shut. This sensor will allow you to know that your property is secure instead of knowing only whether the lock is engaged without knowing whether the door is open or shut. This sensor also prevents the lock from throwing the bolt when the door is open and then some fool shutting the door with the bolt thrown which might cause the bolt to bend or break. Then you’d have to go out and fix it or pay me to do it for  you.

Once you have the sensor and the lock configured with the hub and an optional wireless camera you can see who comes to the door and open it remotely for them, change the code remotely, and also rest easy knowing that your place is secure. You can do this anywhere with a reasonable internet connection.

I have only set up one lock for a customer to work with Z-wave but never for myself because I have certain apprehensions about putting my security on a network connected to the internet. I like good old-fashioned locks for my security needs. Therefore I won’t be able to help you connect your consumer grade electronic locks to the internet. Most people who are interested in this sort of thing are comfortable installing and configuring the locks themselves.

As of this writing you can get a Z-wave lock for less than $200 and a sensor for $50. A Z-wave hub will probably be over $100.

 

The Story of a Locksmith in Seattle and an Abused Lock

This knob was destroyed and then some criminals gained entry. A knob guard protects your doorknob and prevents this.

There is a parking garage somewhere in Seattle where criminals want to go really badly. It all started with this old Schlage D series knob getting destroyed. This was the most robust of Schlage’s product line and a very expensive lock, it is too bad this got ruined by some lowlife.

 

 

 

 

 

This is a lock with a knob guard that stopped criminals in their tracks.

I installed a replacement knob and a shroud over it called a knob guard so that the knob is not directly accessible and can’t be hammered or wrenched.

Despite the lock being destroyed, the knob guard did its job: the criminals were denied entry. Imagine how long they must have been prying and pounding on this poor doorknob before giving up!

 

 

 

The nice thing about knob guards: inexpensive doorknobs can be used in them with relatively high security.

For high crime areas this is an inexpensive way to guard your building. Bolt this knob guard on over your doorknob and even if the knob is destroyed it can be replaced with another inexpensive doorknob. The knobs I’m using here are about 1/5 the price of the one that after being destroyed allowed the thieves access to the building so the knob guard pays for itself after the first break-in attempt. Of course destruction of your property is not ideal but if you can’t afford a late night security detail and can’t get the police to patrol the area more frequently this is an inexpensive option for you.