Specter Wallet

Written By
Deniz Saat
Reviewed By
Ari Ramdial

Are you interested in having a multi-signature set up? Use Specter with any combination of hardware wallets you desire.

Overview

Connect to your own node for more privacy.

Open-source firmware, hardware, and software.

Multi-signature support for more security.

Overall Rating
  • Features
  • Ease of Use
  • Security

Jump to Section

Who are they?FeaturesCurrencies SupportedHow does it work?Is it Safe?ProsConsFAQ

Who are they?

Specter Solutions is supported, developed and maintained by Crypto Advance GmbH. Crypto Advance was founded in 2019 by Stepan Snigirev and Moritz Weitersheim in Munich, Bayern, Germany. Snigirev is the Technical Development and Open Source Community lead at Specter. He is a quantum physicist with over 10 years of experience in experimental physics, software and hardware development. Cofounder Weitersheim is the Head of Product Development and Market Research. He helps Specter improve all related products for Bitcoin storage. The two are working towards a future where Bitcoin will be the internet payment layer where all transactions will occur. Specter aims for its products to profoundly reshape business, financial markets and the internet the same way Bitcoin does.

All hardware for the Specter Shield hardware wallet may be bought off the shelf from any electronic store (brick and mortar and online). The main difference between the Specter device and other hardware wallets is that it must be assembled once all parts are gathered. This process may take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. 

Please note that using the Specter Desktop wallet does not require the Specter Shield hardware wallet. You may skip to the “How Does It Work?” section if you already have a hardware device from another manufacturer. 

Required Components for the Specter Shield device:

  • STM32F469 discovery board
  • QR code scanner from Waveshare
  • Power bank
  • Pin connectors
  • miniUSB and microUSD cables
  • Case (optional)

Assembling the device: https://youtu.be/1H7FqG_FmCw

Installing the firmware on the device: https://youtu.be/eF4cgK_L6T4

Customers may also buy directly from the Specter website, but they are currently unavailable with no updates on when more devices will be available for shipment.

Features

  • Large display screen. 
  • QR code scanner for faster transactions with PSBT (air-gap method). This allows for the Specter Shield wallet to never be connected to an online device while signing transactions. This is the most secure method for a hardware wallet.
  • Open-source software, firmware, and hardware that can be assembled without the manufacturer.
  • Supports Bitcoin only. 
  • miniUSB port is used for firmware updates.
  • Multi-signature support. This method allows a user to require 2 out of 3 signatures (devices) for verifying a transaction. A signature is a verification from the user to allow funds to be sent from the wallet in the device to another wallet.
  • Easy to navigate interface.

Supported Currencies

Specter only supports one currency: 

  • Bitcoin (BTC)

How does it work?

The Specter Desktop wallet may be used with any hardware wallet. With multisig, multiple combinations may be achieved as well. Multisig allows for multiple hardware wallets to execute a Bitcoin transaction. For example, if one were to send funds to a friend, the sender must use 2 out of 3 devices to confirm that they wish to send these funds. If one device out of the three is lost, the user is still able to execute transactions with just two of the devices.


Required:

  • Assembly and configuration of the Specter Shield wallet or another hardware wallet (Cobo, Trezor, Coldcard, etc.). With the hardware wallet you choose, the seed phrase must be copied and the device must already be set before connecting to Specter Desktop. If you are using the Specter Shield device, refer to this tutorial for set up.
  • Computer
  • A 1-2 Terabyte hard drive for the entire Bitcoin blockchain. As of this writing, the Bitcoin blockchain is over 300 gigabytes and will continue to increase as time goes on.
  • Bitcoin Core download
  • Specter Desktop wallet download


Setting up your Specter Desktop Wallet:

Keep in mind that the steps provided below will work with any hardware device of your choice.

  • Download Bitcoin Core onto a hard drive with enough space (300+ gigabytes). The download process may take hours depending on your internet speeds and hardware.
  • Go to Settings > Custom > Open Configuration File > Open in a text editor like Notepad (Windows) or TextEdit (MAC) > Type in “server=1” > below that, type in “blockfilterindex=1” > Save > Restart the Bitcoin Core application.
  • Download the Specter Desktop wallet and launch the wallet. Specter Desktop will automatically detect Bitcoin Core if it is configured properly.
  • Make sure that your hardware wallet is up to date with the latest firmware and that the private key is backed up prior to connecting it with the Specter Desktop wallet.
  • The next few steps may vary depending on which hardware wallet you choose to use but the general steps require you to select “+ Add new device” in the Specter desktop app.
  • You will be prompted with a window to name the device and to select the device manufacturer. This list includes: Trezor, Ledger, Specter-DIY, ColdCard, KeepKey, Cobo Vault, Electrum, Bitcoin Core (hot wallet), Other.
  • You will then need to import your XPubs from the device. XPubs are extended public addresses, which mean that none of the private key information is stored in this data. Only public addresses, transactions, and the fund balance of wallets within a “main” wallet. Think of this as a read-only file for the Specter Desktop wallet to display.
  • To import your XPubs, you may select to copy and paste, scan a QR code, choose a file on the computer, or connect the hardware wallet via USB connection. Each hardware wallet will have various options to do so. Choose the option that is the most convenient or secure with your device.
  • Once the XPub is imported, select to continue. If you decide to have a multisig set up, you will need to import the XPubs of two more devices before creating a new wallet with Specter Desktop.
  • If you are only connecting one device to the Specter Desktop app, you may select to add a new wallet. If you wish to use multisig, you may select the “+ Add new device” button on the left-hand menu bar and repeat the steps for adding a device.
  • Select “Single key wallet” for a single wallet or “Multisignature wallet” for a multi-signature setup. Multi-signature will only be available if more than one hardware wallet’s XPubs have been imported.
  • Select Segwit > select the device > hit continue > and select “Create Wallet” 
  • If you are using Bitcoin Core as your node, make sure that the full blockchain is downloaded and up to date on your computer. In order to view previous transactions (if any) from your hardware wallet, your node must be synced. Once Bitcoin Core is synced, all transactions should be seen in Bitcoin Core and on the Specter Desktop wallet.

FOR RECEIVING:

  • Once in the Specter Desktop wallet, select the device on the left sidebar and then select the “Receive” tab at the top of the interface.
  • You may select to generate a new address or use the one currently displayed. Copy the address or QR code and send the address to the person who wants to send you funds.
  • You will see if funds were received under the transactions tab at the top.

FOR SENDING:

Single Signature (one device):  

  • Select the “Send” tab.
  • You may enter or scan in the recipient address.
  • Enter a label and amount of funds you wish to send.
  • Some more advanced options offer: to subtract fees from the amount, manual fee submission, select which bitcoin from which transaction you wish to send (this feature lets you select specifically which UTXO)
  • Once all transaction settings are complete, you may select “Create unsigned transaction”.
  • You will then be given the option to select which hardware wallet you wish to sign the transaction with. If you only have one hardware wallet to choose from, select that one.
  • Depending on which hardware wallet you are using, you may plug the device directly into the computer, insert an SD card to transfer the signed file, or scan a QR code from the device.
  • Sign the transaction by confirming on the hardware wallet device.
  • A popup will appear on the Specter Desktop wallet. You may select “Send transaction”.

Multi-signature (multiple devices):

The steps with multi-signature are similar to using a single device. The main difference is that a transaction must be signed (confirmed) with 2 out of the 3 devices a user has set up.

  • Select the “Send” tab.
  • You may enter or scan in the recipient address.
  • Enter a label and amount of funds you wish to send.
  • Once all transaction settings are complete, you may select “Create unsigned transaction”.
  • You will then be given the option to select which hardware wallet you wish to sign the transaction with. To complete the transaction with multisig, we will need to sign with at least two devices.
  • Depending on which of the two hardware wallets you are using, you may plug the first device directly into the computer, insert an SD card to transfer the signed file, or scan a QR code from the device.
  • You will be prompted to sign the transaction on the first device. 
  • On the Specter desktop wallet, it will confirm that the first device was signed with a checkmark on it.
  • Select the second device you wish to sign with.
  • Select the method to sign.
  • Sign the transaction by confirming on the second device.
  • A popup will appear on the Specter Desktop wallet. You may select “Send transaction”

Is 

Specter Wallet

 safe? 

  1. The user has multiple options to configure their Specter Desktop setup. Each decision comes with various tradeoffs and should be taken into account before completing. Specter offers the most cutting edge protocols for their users to keep their funds safe.
  2. Specter’s open-source products allow for users around the world to use, verify, and contribute to making them more secure. Any flaw within the software may be easily updated and audited.
  3. By providing users the ability to connect their wallets to their own Bitcoin node, the user’s privacy is ensured. A node also enables the user to verify, without a doubt, that their funds are being transacted properly. Relying on websites or other centralized tools to verify transactions allow for the slim chance that the data being broadcast on their websites are not accurate.
  4. With the ability to use any hardware wallet on the market, Specter gives the user a lot of choice for what type of security practices work best for their unique situation. 
  5. With Specter’s multisig option, multiple combinations may be achieved as well. Multisig allows for multiple hardware wallets to execute a Bitcoin transaction. For example, if one were to send funds to a friend, the sender must use 2 out of 3 devices to confirm that they wish to send these funds. If one device out of the three is lost, the user is still able to execute transactions with just two of the devices.
  6. All single and multisig device set ups within the Specter Desktop app are required to be backed up in the event that the devices or computer are lost.

Pros of 

Specter Wallet

The Pros of using the Specter setup are:

  • Open-source hardware, firmware and software.
  • Hardware to build a Specter Shield device is available in most electronic stores (online or brick and mortar).
  • Only supports Bitcoin in order to reduce attack vectors for the user. The more coins that are supported, the more likely there are bugs within the firmware and software.
  • Multi-signature support.
  • Increased privacy when connected to a Bitcoin node.
  • Verified transactions when connected to a node. Less reliance on third party services.

Cons of 

Specter Wallet

The cons of using Specter setup are:

  • Not beginner friendly.

FAQ

What is a recovery seed (seed phrase)?

The recovery seed is a set of 24 words that need to be written down in sequential order. Recovery seeds are a method for saving your private key in a readable format rather than using a very long series of numbers and letters. Whoever has access to your recovery seed can gain control of your wallet. It is imperative to keep it safe and private. With Specter, all devices connected to the desktop wallet must be backed up before configuring a single or multisig setup.

Which cryptocurrencies and tokens does Specter Wallet support?

Specter Wallet (the hardware device and desktop wallet) only supports Bitcoin (BTC).

What happens to my bitcoin if I lose my Specter Shield device or desktop wallet?

As long as you have the seed phrase written down on a non-digital material, you may import that seed phrase onto a new device. By doing so, you will gain back access to all your funds. The Multisig video guide may be found here: https://youtu.be/xjBzAAiVKk8. The backup for the Specter multisig setup must also be stored on a separate hard drive or printed on paper. You will be prompted to save it once set up. The multisig setup does not store your private keys. It stores only the XPubs.

What are the benefits of using a Specter Shield or other hardware wallets with the Specter desktop wallet?

Using the Specter desktop wallet allows for users to be connected directly to their Bitcoin nodes while taking advantage of multisig. By running a Bitcoin node, the user is supporting the network by verifying all transactions on their end. With this self-supported transaction history, the user does not need to rely on third party services to verify the network. Using Specter with a Bitcoin node also increases a user’s privacy in the event that a Bitcoin wallet address is tied to the user’s IP address.

Can I import a recovery phrase generated by another wallet into a Specter Shield device?

Specter Shield supports importing 12/18/24-word recovery phrases generated by any BIP39 wallet.

What is PSBT?

PSBT is an emerging standard for "Partially Signed Bitcoin Transactions" or BIP 174. The Specter Shield device (and other devices like Colcard and Cobo) uses PSBT with the attached QR code scanner to scan addresses while never connecting to an online device. This added security layer ensures that the seed phrase on the Specter Shield device is much less likely to be compromised from an infected computer.

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WRITTEN BY
Deniz Saat
Deniz Saat is an IT services specialist and technical writer.
REVIEWED BY
Ari Ramdial
CEO of Rhodium Labs

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