Monday, January 29, 2024

Cipher Machines 3D-CT Digitalisation

The Deutsches Museum in Munich made available a large collection of  Cipher Machines 3D CT scans. The 3D-CT digitization project for historical cipher machines uses computed tomography, based on X-ray technology. This enabled the researchers to examine objects in detail, without disassembling their components and risking damage.

Hagelin CX-52 3D Scan
© Deutsches Museum

Visit the CT-Viewer to explore the collection of 63 different cipher machines in high resolution. Select one of the cipher machines and click the Slice View button to explore any slice of the machines. Choose a YX orientation and move the slice control to travel through the machine. Scroll the mouse to zoom in.

Select the Volume View button to explore the scans in full 3D. Hold the mouse button and move the mouse to turn the cipher machines in any direction. With the mouse wheel you zoom in and see the machines in great detail. Once you have the desired view, you can select the High Resolutions option to see the tiniest details.

Slice view of the Kriegsmarine Enigma M4 © Deutsches Museum

The slice view is particularly interesting to examine the inside of components that are too fragile to disassemble. In the above scan you can explore the rotors with the scan slices coming towards you. Choose the Enigma M4 (opens in new window), select menu Slice View,  orientation YZ and high resolution. Scroll the mouse to zoom in.

Use the slice text field (more accurate than the slider). Enter 345 to adjust the slice and see a rotor notch ring that carries the letters (press the enter key to validate). Enter 360 to see the internal wiring of the rotor core, 380 for the locking arcs to adjust notch ring setting, 395 for the thumb wheel and 405 for the rotor ratchet and the stepping pawl that moves the rotor. You can zoom in by scrolling the mouse. You just disassembled an Enigma rotor without touching! 

Visit the Deutsches Museum 3D-Cipher page to explore all machines and learn all about the 3D scanner, the technology and how they visualized the machines and the animations. You can also visit their excellent cipher machines collection.

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