S8 E10: SeedSigner on DIY Hardware Wallets

Mr. SeedSigner, a pseudonymous bitcoiner who insists to be known by the name of the project he actively develops, is a grateful enthusiast who wants to give back to the community. His SeedSigner device is an open-source hardware wallet which uses the common and general-purpose Raspberry Pi Zero architecture in order to eliminate supply chain attacks and boost the plausible deniability of users.

In many parts around the world, ordering a hardware wallet is impossible. Sometimes you can’t get shipping, and other times the government arbitrarily bans Bitcoin. So if you want to secure your coins, then it’s a good idea to still use a hardware wallet. But instead of ordering one, you build it from parts.

The SeedSigner is similar in philosophy and design with Ben Arc’s Bowser Wallet. As a matter of fact, both of these devices use libraries that were built by Specter Wallet creator Stepan Snigirev (whom you will hear in the next episode of the podcast). The difference is in the hardware: while the Bowser wallet uses the M5 stack (also popularized by Blockstream’s Jade), SeedSigner requires a Raspberry Pi.

Ideally, DIY enthusiasts should look for version 1.3 of the Pi Zero because it’s the one that has no WiFi connectivity. A more basic circuit layout, with fewer types of connectivity, result in a lower attack surface and an overall better security. And this is the design to which the SeedSigner aspires.

The DIY hardware wallet does however require a tiny 240×240 pixels screen and a camera module which is compatible with the Raspberry Pi Zero stack. But this is more than enough for the ambitions of the SeedSigner, which aims to be an affordable DIY project which should cost less than $50 and offers seed phrase generation with external entropy such as dice rolls.

Everything about the SeedSigner is minimalistic and efficiency-oriented. It takes only a dozen command line instructions to set up your own Bitcoin transaction signing device, and your DIY project is going to have enough plausible deniability to not look suspicious to anyone. There are hundreds of projects that you can do with a Raspberry Pi! For more information, check out the project’s GitHub repository.

The SeedSigner is completely open source, so anyone can copy the code, modify it, and even build hardware wallets that get sold commercially. Yet Mr. SeedSigner pointed out to the “don’t be a d*ck” licensing, which entails that getting rich off of someone’s work is fine as long as you also give something back and help improve the project. It’s part of the ethos of free open source software and once again is very similar with Ben Arc’s Bowser wallet.

However, the SeedSigner still isn’t perfect and isn’t for everyone. Newbies might not like the basic interface and the fact that it’s a cold-storage device which scans QR codes. Also, the software wallets that are optimized to work with the SeedSigner are Specter Desktop, Sparrow, and BlueWallet Vault. And needless to say, the project is still in a beta phase and is bound to receive many more refinements in the future.

Yet it’s still a fun weekend DIY projects that you can do at an affordable price. Unlike a Trezor or a BitBox02 (the two devices that you can build yourself from parts), there is no soldering involved and you deal directly with an out-of-the-box board. Just don’t move any bitcoins on the SeedSigner wallet until you understand how it works and feel comfortable using it. Yes, it’s air-gapped – but there are still plenty of mistakes that you can make along the process. So if you build it, then be careful.

This episode was first aired during the Bitcoin Takeover Radio livestream. If you would like to listen to the next one before I post it here, then check out the stream on YouTube, Twitch, and Twitter.

Listen to SeedSigner on Apple Podcasts and Spotify!

If you don’t have an account on any of these platforms or you’re very cautious about your privacy, then you can use the player in my RSS feed. It’s free, it allows you to download the episode for offline listening, and it also gives you a lot more privacy than any data-hungry corporation.

As a matter of fact, if you want to listen to the episode without me being able to know where you’re from, you can use the Tor browser or some kind of VPN. I’m fortunate enough to have sponsors who don’t care about precise location data or other metrics. And I honestly don’t want to know either, privacy is a fundamental human right and I want to treat it as such.

However, if you do choose to listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts or Spotify, then please leave a feedback. 30 seconds of your time can make a whole lot of difference with the algorithms, as more bitcoiners will be able to discover the episode.

This Episode is Sponsored by Vaultoro and Wasabi Wallet!

Want to learn more about the values of the two companies? I have recorded episodes with both Joshua Scigala (Vaultoro CEO) and Nopara73 (Wasabi Wallet creator).

If you would like to support the show and you’re into trading hard money like bitcoin, gold, and silver, then sign up to Vaultoro using my referral link. Vaultoro will help you forget about shitcoins and focus on sound money. They also allow you topick up your gold bars or have them shipped to your address, so you don’t have to trust any custodian with your money. Keep in mind that you are responsible for your own decisions and I am not providing you financial advice.

And if you would like to increase your network and transaction privacy, you should download Wasabi Wallet on your computer. It routes your connection through the Tor network to hide your IP, it downloads block filters so you validate your own transactions locally without appealing to a trusted third party, and it also connects to your own full node to boost your financial sovereignty. Wasabi is best known for its link-breaking CoinJoins, which are giving a hard time even to the EuroPol. Use the wallet to increase your financial sovereignty, but don’t do any illegal stuff – use your financial sovereignty with responsibility (also read the Wasabi terms of service).

Vlad Costea

I'm here for the freedom, censorship-resistance, and unconfiscatability. What about you?

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