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Trust-minimized, airgapped Bitcoin management


This is experimental software. Wait for a formal release before use with real funds.

A trust-minimized Bitcoin wallet interface that relies only on Bitcoin Core.

  • Zero install process for most platforms
  • Designed for simplicity and auditability
  • No GUI, terminal only (curses and command-line)
  • Works in terms of script descriptors and PSBTs
  • Minimal dependencies: Bitcoin Core, Python 3 interpreter, nothing else
  • Supports only airgapped, opensource hardware wallets
  • Integrates with GPG and pass for secure xpub storage

In short, this is the easiest way to do air-gapped wallet management with Bitcoin Core, Coldcard, and not much else.


  • Linux or MacOS
    • Support for Windows is planned, but I'll need someone with a Windows computer to help
  • Bitcoin Core 0.19+
  • Python 3.7+ (your system probably already has this)
  • Coldcard


macOS newbie-friendly install process

Not super familiar with the commandline? On macOS? Check out the easy setup tutorial here.

Install process

  1. Buy a Coldcard
  2. Download, install, and sync Bitcoin Core
  3. Ensure Python 3.7+ is on your system: $ python3 --version and if not, install it.
  4. Clone this repo: git clone
  5. Optionally, install coldcore to your path
    • cp coldcore ~/.local/bin/coldcore # or somewhere on your PATH
  6. Boot 'er up
    • coldcore
  1. Receive my keys in GPG:
    • gpg --keyserver --recv-keys 0x25F27A38A47AD566
    • You can verify this fingerprint on my Twitter:
  2. Get the sigs for the release:
    • Get the signature
      • curl -O$(./coldcore --version | cut -d' ' -f2).asc
    • Verify the signature
      • gpg coldcore-[version].asc
    • Ensure it matches
      • sha256sum coldcore

Experimenting with testnet

If you're going to use this wallet, probably best to familiarize yourself with it by doing a few test transactions in testnet.

  1. Run Bitcoin Core locally with -testnet.
  2. Set your Coldcard to work on testnet: Settings > Blockchain > Testnet: BTC
  3. Run through the Coldcore setup flow: coldcore setup
    • Coldcore will autodetect your testnet RPC connection, however you can manually set coldcard --rpc <url> if desired.


Run tests and linting locally with make test and make lint. It's advisable to do this before filing a PR, otherwise CI will likely fail due to black formatting requirements.


Zero install process

As long as you have Bitcoin Core and a Python 3.7+ installation, you're ready to go. No dealing with package managers, no worrying about dependencies, no setting up an indexing server. This is just stdlib Python that likely shipped with your OS. We let Core and Coldcard do the heavy lifting.


This project is designed to be auditable. It is a single executable script ~2000 LOC written in straightforward, stdlib Python 3. Most programmers should be able to read through in an hour.

Minimal dependencies

Other wallets require indexing services that can take hours to provision (after Core's initial block download), consume gigabytes of space, and are confusing to configure even for software engineers.

This is a single script that most people with basic programming knowledge can at least skim.

Other wallets require graphical runtimes (GUI toolkits, browsers) that not only entail much more code, but are more prone to exploits. Handling wallet operations through Chrome isn't appropriate beyond a certain point; browser authors could conceivably collect or manipulate data, and browsers are often loaded with third-party plugins. Who wants to audit Qt? Not me.


This script uses only terminal interfaces, and one of the design goals is to make them approachable for people who haven't previously interacted with the command line much. So if you've been wanting to learn about the shell, this is a pretty good opportunity.

Air-gapped hardware wallet support

This library will only support air-gapped interaction with hardware wallets that are opensource. Right now, that means that Coldcard is the only key storage mechanism supported, but I'm happy to add others that fit the criteria of

  • being opensource, and
  • supporting air-gapped interaction.


All source is contained in coldcore.


While this script is relatively simple, and I'm fairly sure there aren't any ways to lose funds using it (knock wood), it is young and in alpha. Some bugs are only shallow under time, so unless you're a highly technical user who can scrutinize the code pretty closely, hold off on using this for a few months.

I am using this code to manage my mainnet coins, but I don't recommend you do the same until a stable release.



You can use newaddr to generate addresses to receive to:

 % ./coldcore newaddr --help
usage: coldcore newaddr [-h] [--num NUM]

optional arguments:
  -h, --help  show this help message and exit
  --num NUM   default: 1

or just generate addresses and copy/paste from the dashboard view.


To send, use a combination of prepare-send and broadcast:

% SEND_TO_ADDR=tb1qj2sjxuhxqyfgxkf6kqnthskqtum8hr2zr0l95j

% ./coldcore prepare-send $SEND_TO_ADDR 0.00001
 -- 1 inputs, 2 outputs
 -- fee: 0.00000141 BTC (14.10% of amount)
 ✔  wrote PSBT to unsigned-20201222-0920.psbt - sign with coldcard

% # I transfer the .psbt file to a microSD, sign with the coldcard, and plug
% # the microSD back in...

% ./coldcore broadcast /media/james/3264-6339/unsigned-20201222-0920-signed.psbt
 !  About to send a transaction:

     <- tb1qumfrma8gy08wcfq0ugwknh8cy0cdds5df8lfya  (0.00009859 BTC)

     -> tb1qj2sjxuhxqyfgxkf6kqnthskqtum8hr2zr0l95j  (0.00001000 BTC)  (your address)
     -> tb1qfs2yd54mmdzvrsnzdqk852crzclkn8cfx8cgzf  (0.00008718 BTC)  (your address)

 ?  look okay? [y/N]: y
 ✔  tx sent: d859cfe7a05e70e5d1e734244fb731c988bb29b236bd108529145cf987b8467f

Comparison to other wallets

Coldcore is very minimal in its feature set - it's basically just meant for sending and receiving to singlesig keys on airgapped hardware wallets. There are plans to add multisig support.

Other wallets do much more than coldcore, but they are orders of magnitude greater in terms of source code and therefore much harder to audit.

Coldcore weighs in at about 2100 lines of fairly readable code. And that's including at least a few lines of stupid ASCII art and airy presentation logic. v 1.86  T=0.04 s (27.3 files/s, 84781.1 lines/s)
Language                     files          blank        comment           code
Python                           1            673            313           2123

Electrum is about 54,000 lines of Python, and requires numerous dependencies and an indexing server.

% cloc electrum --exclude-dir=tests
     259 text files.
     258 unique files.
      27 files ignored. v 1.86  T=0.65 s (358.5 files/s, 124875.6 lines/s)
Language                     files          blank        comment           code
Python                         210           9305           8436          54293
JSON                             6              0              0           6178
SVG                             11              2              6           2730
Java                             1             14              2             73
Markdown                         2             21              0             49
Protocol Buffers                 1              2              8             37
F#                               2              2              0             12
SUM:                           233           9346           8452          63372

Specter-desktop requires 5x the Python this library does as well as a bunch of JavaScript.

% cloc src/cryptoadvance/specter
     192 text files.
     191 unique files.
      76 files ignored. v 1.86  T=0.23 s (525.5 files/s, 229720.5 lines/s)
Language                     files          blank        comment           code
JavaScript                      10           2296           5683          29037
Python                          53           1359           1236           9588
CSS                              2             24             33           1074
HTML                             7             42             28            878
SVG                             47              2             27            715
SUM:                           119           3723           7007          41292

These are both good products and I don't mean to disparage them, but personally I think they are overkill for the kind of simple wallet operations I need to do.

Security assumptions

  • Your xpub data is stored in a watch-only wallet in Bitcoin Core.
  • This script doesn't touch your private keys.
  • This script doesn't do any cryptography aside from optionally generating and checking xpub fingerprints.
  • The configuration file for this script holds your xpub data. Your xpub data allows its holder to see all of your addresses. You can optionally encrypt this config file with GPG or pass.


Environment variables

  • COLDCORE_CONFIG: a path to your configuration. If this is of the form pass:Some/Path, it will run pass show Some/Path to retrieve your config. If the path ends in .gpg, we will use GPG to decrypt the configuration.

  • COLDCORE_GPG_KEY: if you want to use GPG to encrypt your config file (without using pass), set this environment variable to the key to use for encryption. We will also read ~/.gnupg/gpg.conf for the default-key setting.

Global flags

coldcore --rpc <url>

Specify the Bitcoin Core RPC server. Useful if you're running Bitcoin Core on a separate host.

Note that RPC settings will be saved per wallet when running coldcore setup.

coldcore -w <wallet-name>

Denote the particular wallet to load if multiple exist in the config.

coldcore --debug

This generates a granular logfile of everything that happens, including stacktraces and RPC communication. Useful if something goes wrong.

Be sure to delete the logfile after use of this flag, as it contains xpub data. The tool will remind you to do so.


Why is there no GUI?

The terminal is the simplest display layer with the least cumulative code underlying it. Browsers and GUI libraries are very complex.

For basic wallet operations, a terminal interface should be more than sufficient, especially when including curses.

Why do you only support Coldcard? Will you add others?

Coldcard is the only wallet supported at the moment because it is

  • opensource, and
  • supports air-gapped use via PSBT.

If there are other hardware wallets that meet these criteria, create an issue. Pull requests are certainly accepted.

Why did you use Python and not {Rust,Haskell,C++}?

Python is already installed on most modern systems. It is a high-level, expressive language which many people know. This means that there are more potential auditors or contributors for this project.

The same code written in another language might be twice as long, and would require end users installing specialized compilers or dependencies.

There are advantages to shipping binaries to end-users, but because the emphasis here is on trust minimization, I have opted to deliver human readable code. You can bring your own Python implementation in whatever manner you like.

Why do you encrypt the config file by default with GPG?

[This may change; I will probably repurpose the Coldcard AES code to do config file encryption natively.]

I didn't want to have any serious crypto code in this library, and so I delegate encryption to GPG rather than requiring a Python dependency that the end user might have to install.


If you'd like to donate to this project, send Bitcoin to the address signed below (bc1qgyq7lxmk359c3vyxzz674pr8a9gnguxkgdw55p), or sponsor me on Github.

Hash: SHA512




In rough order of priority:

  • guide for CLI newbies
  • allow manual coin selection when sending
  • address labeling
  • multisig workflow
  • timelock scripts
  • add wallet name to config
  • add version birthday to new config
  • implement scrolling in the curses balance panel

Code from other projects