Skip to content

Instantly share code, notes, and snippets.

What would you like to do?
This script demonstrates how a bitcoin transaction is created and signed. Just pass in your own address and private key and it will prepare a transaction for you. You can then copy & paste that transaction into a webservice like Blockchain to send it. I wrote this mostly to understand better how it works. I sometimes had to "cheat" and look at t…
#!/usr/bin/env ruby
require 'open-uri'
require 'JSON'
require 'digest/sha2'
require 'pry'
require 'bigdecimal'
require 'bitcoin' # Because I need to cheat every now and then
# Usage:
# gem install pry json ffi ruby-bitcoin
# ruby bitoin-pay.rb YOUR_ADDRESS YOUR_PRIVATE_KEY
# The private key should be in wallet import format, i.e. start with 5. That's
# usually the case for a paper wallet. If you have a Blockchain wallet, open and
# select "paper wallet" to find your private key.
@recipient = "1KHxSzFpdm337XtBeyfbvbS9LZC1BfDu8K" # Purple Dunes (replace with an address you own)
@amount ="0.01") # Bitcoins. Never use floats when dealing with money.
# Caveats:
# * Don't use this with an address that has a lot of bitcoins on it and clear
# your bash history afterwards: history -c
# * this will not work if you recently received bitcoins in a non-standard way
# (e.g.
# * this code is just for education, for your own projects you should use
# something like
SATOSHI_PER_BITCOIN ="100000000") # (1 BTC = 100,000,000 Satoshi)
@sender = ARGV[0]
@secret_wif = ARGV[1]
@transaction_fee = @amount >="0.01") ?"0") :"0.0005")
puts "About to send #{ @amount.to_f } bitcoins from #{ @sender[0..5] }... to #{ @recipient[0..5] }... " + (@transaction_fee > 0 ? "plus a #{ @transaction_fee.to_f } transaction fee." : "")
# Obtain the current balance and most recent transactions for sender:
puts "Fetching the current balance for #{@sender[1..5]} from"
url = "{ @sender }?format=json"
res = JSON.parse(open(url).read)
@balance =["final_balance"]) / SATOSHI_PER_BITCOIN
puts "Current balance of sender: #{ @balance.to_f } BTC"
raise "Insuffient funds" if @balance < @amount + @transaction_fee
# Just knowing that the balance is sufficient is not enough. Just like with real
# money your balance is the result of one or more incoming payments. But unlike
# real money, you need specify exactly which of these payments you wish to spend.
# In addition you need spend that entire payment and send yourself the change.
# For example if I earned 0.5 BTC two days ago, bought dinner for 0.1 BTC
# yesterday and then received another 0.3 BTC today, my balance is 0.7 BTC.
# When I bought dinner, I paid 0.5 BTC of which 0.1 went to the restaurant
# and 0.4 went back as change. If I now want to spend 0.39 BTC I would
# need the last transaction and send myself 0.01 change. Alternatively I could
# take the last two transactions (0.4 + 0.3) and send myself 0.31 change.
# If I need to spend 0.41 bitcoins, I have no choice but to combine both
# previous transactions.
# Normally you would download the entire blockchain for this, but in stead we
# used a webservice to fetch just the information we need.
url = "{ @sender }&format=json"
res = JSON.parse(open(url).read)
@unspent_outputs = res["unspent_outputs"]
# We'll continue adding previous payments until we have enough:
@inputs = []
input_total ="0")
@unspent_outputs.each do |output|
@inputs << {
previousTx: [output["tx_hash"]].pack("H*").reverse.unpack("H*")[0], # Reverse
index: output["tx_output_n"],
scriptSig: nil # We'll sign it later
amount =["value"]) / SATOSHI_PER_BITCOIN
puts "Using #{amount.to_f} from output #{output["tx_output_n"]} of transaction #{output["tx_hash"][0..5]}..."
input_total += amount
break if input_total >= @amount + @transaction_fee
@change = input_total - @transaction_fee - @amount
puts "Spend #{@amount.to_f} and return #{ @change.to_f } as change."
raise "Unable to process inputs for transaction" if input_total < @amount + @transaction_fee || @change < 0
# The address is written in Base58. This consist of all letters and numbers,
# but without certain ambigious ones (1l, 0Oo, etc). That leaves these 58:
# "123456789ABCDEFGHJKLMNPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijkmnopqrstuvwxyz"
# Don't just use any library that claims to do Base58 conversion, because
# Bitcoin uses a custom form of Base58:
# In particular a gem like base58_gmp gem seems to
# ignore leading zero's, which is dangerous with Bitcoin.
# I'm going to cheat here and use ruby-bitcoin built in conversion method:
sender_hex = Bitcoin.decode_base58(@sender)
recipient_hex = Bitcoin.decode_base58(@recipient)
# All bitcoins on the sender address must be used as the input for the transaction.
# After substracting the amount to transfer and transaction fee, the change
# is returned to the sender, through a second output.
@outputs = [
{ # Amount to transfer (leave out the leading zeros and 4 byte checksum)
value: @amount,
scriptPubKey: "OP_DUP OP_HASH160 " + (recipient_hex[2..-9].size / 2).to_s(16) + " " + recipient_hex[2..-9] + " OP_EQUALVERIFY OP_CHECKSIG "
# OP_DUP, etc is the default payment script:
if @change > 0
@outputs << {
value: @change,
scriptPubKey: "OP_DUP OP_HASH160 " + (sender_hex[2..-9].size / 2).to_s(16) + " " + sender_hex[2..-9] + " OP_EQUALVERIFY OP_CHECKSIG "
# The difference between inputs and outputs is the transaction fee, which goes to the miners.
# We still need to sign the inputs (for which we need the outputs):
# The input script is described as <sig> <pubKey>
# <pubKey> is such that OP_HASH(pubKey) == sender_hex
# OP_HASH according to the wiki is SHA256 followed by RIPEMD-160.
# In reality however, it involves steps 2-8 in the address generation
# process, which do few extra things.
# @sender is step 9 in the bitcoin address generation process
# sender_hex is step 8
# Example:
# incoming script has public key: "04f4023d13d2fc50a1f9e0d81bcd2d2f6eabc582df580c54bc2a998395a95e5107dea6f93d878eb7453dd93f0c6b4f2fa285321596152a5b2144681e57182f1186"
# for the receiving address (14DCzMesaa1xUCb87Dp3qC1oF7nwmS7LA5)
# We can verify this:
# step_2 = ( << [pubKey].pack("H*")).to_s -> bb905b336...
# step_3 = ( << [step_2].pack("H*")).to_s -> 23376070c...
# step_4 = "00" + step_3
# step_5 = ( << [step_4].pack("H*")).to_s
# step_6 = ( << [step_5].pack("H*")).to_s
# step_7 = step_7 = step_6[0..7] -> b18a9aba
# step_8 = step_4 + step_7 -> 00233760...b18a9aba
# step_9 = Bitcoin.encode_base58(step_8) -> 14DCzMe... which is the bitcoin address
# Starting from the bitcoin address, we can't reverse step 9 to step 2 to get
# the public key. Also we can only get the <pubKey> out of the blockchain
# like in the example above if it's been used before to send money.
# This is why we need the private key, so we can perform step 1.
# The @secret provided as input is in Wallet Format:
# We need to convert it (basically just removing the checksum):
w2 = Bitcoin.decode_base58(@secret_wif)
w3 = w2[0..-9]
@secret = w3[2..-1]
# Unfortunately it's quite easy to generate a new secp256k1 keypair in ruby,
# but not to just get a public key given a private key. We need to cheat here
# and use the Bitcoin gem to create an OpenSSL_EC keypair object from our
# public and private key strings. OpenSSL_EC itself is not part of that gem,
# it's part of ruby-openssl
@keypair = Bitcoin.open_key(@secret)
raise "Invalid keypair" unless @keypair.check_key
# Now that we know the public key, we can figure out the corresponding address.
# We then check that address with the input to this script (which was redundant).
step_2 = ( << [@keypair.public_key_hex].pack("H*")).to_s
step_3 = ( << [step_2].pack("H*")).to_s
step_4 = "00" + step_3
step_5 = ( << [step_4].pack("H*")).to_s
step_6 = ( << [step_5].pack("H*")).to_s
step_7 = step_7 = step_6[0..7]
step_8 = step_4 + step_7
step_9 = Bitcoin.encode_base58(step_8)
raise "Public key does not match private key" if @sender != step_9
puts "Public key matches private key, so we can sign the transaction..."
# It wouldn't be very safe if all you needed for payment was the public key,
# since that becomes public knowledge as soon as you make 1 transaction. In
# addition, someone might mess with the destination of the transaction.
# That's why we sign the outputs using the private key.
# In order for others to verify that signature, they need to know our public key.
# They then know for sure that we wanted this transaction to take place. And
# because a public key can also be converted to an address, they can check
# if we are actually allowed to spend those bitcoins (our address is written
# in the outputs of the earlier transactions that we are now using as inputs).
# Temporary value for signing purposes. Normally you
# should obtain the actual scriptSig from each of the outputs,
# but Blockchain (json) doesn't give us that. We're just guessing
# that it's the default. This is why this script won't
# work for non-standard transactions.
# The scriptsig uses the address in hex, but without the leading 00 and 4
# byte checksum at the end.
scriptSig = "OP_DUP OP_HASH160 " + (sender_hex[2..-9].size / 2).to_s(16) + " " + sender_hex[2..-9] + " OP_EQUALVERIFY OP_CHECKSIG "
previousTx: input[:previousTx],
index: input[:index],
# Add 1 byte for each script opcode:
scriptLength: sender_hex[2..-9].length / 2 + 5,
scriptSig: scriptSig,
sequence_no: "ffffffff" # Ignored
@transaction = {
version: 1,
in_counter: @inputs.count,
inputs: @inputs,
out_counter: @outputs.count,
outputs: @outputs,
lock_time: 0,
# Step 13, but don't use this when signing with BitcoinQT
hash_code_type: "01000000" # Temporary value used during the signing process
# Now let's serialize and create the input signatures. We then add these signatures
# back into the transaction and serialize it again.
puts "Readable version of the transaction (numbers in strings are hex, otherwise decimal)\n\n"
pp @transaction
def little_endian_hex_of_n_bytes(i, n)
i.to_s(16).rjust(n * 2,"0").scan(/(..)/).reverse.join()
def parse_script(script)
script.gsub("OP_DUP", "76").gsub("OP_HASH160", "a9").gsub("OP_EQUALVERIFY", "88").gsub("OP_CHECKSIG", "ac")
def serialize_transaction(transaction)
tx = ""
# Little endian 4 byte version number: 1 -> 01 00 00 00
tx << little_endian_hex_of_n_bytes(transaction[:version],4) + "\n"
# You can also use: transaction[:version].pack("V")
# Number of inputs
tx << little_endian_hex_of_n_bytes(transaction[:in_counter],1) + "\n"
transaction[:inputs].each do |input|
tx << little_endian_hex_of_n_bytes(input[:previousTx].hex, input[:previousTx].length / 2) + " "
tx << little_endian_hex_of_n_bytes(input[:index],4) + "\n"
tx << little_endian_hex_of_n_bytes(input[:scriptLength],1) + "\n"
tx << parse_script(input[:scriptSig]) + " "
tx << input[:sequence_no] + "\n"
# Number of outputs
tx << little_endian_hex_of_n_bytes(transaction[:out_counter],1) + "\n"
transaction[:outputs].each do |output|
tx << little_endian_hex_of_n_bytes((output[:value] * SATOSHI_PER_BITCOIN).to_i,8) + "\n"
unparsed_script = output[:scriptPubKey]
# Parse the script commands into hex opcodes (yes this is lame):
tx << little_endian_hex_of_n_bytes(parse_script(unparsed_script).gsub(" ", "").length / 2, 1) + "\n"
tx << parse_script(unparsed_script) + "\n"
tx << little_endian_hex_of_n_bytes(transaction[:lock_time],4) + "\n"
tx << transaction[:hash_code_type] # This is empty after signing
@utx = serialize_transaction(@transaction)
puts "\nHex unsigned transaction:"
puts @utx
# Remove line breaks and spaces
@utx.gsub!("\n", "")
@utx.gsub!(" ", "")
# Sha256 has it twice and then sign
sha_first = ( << [@utx].pack("H*")).to_s
sha_second = ( << [sha_first].pack("H*")).to_s
# # The BitcoinQT stores the hash as a uint256, which is then casted to a char.
# # So we need to convert our hash from big to little endian:
# sha_little_endian = little_endian_hex_of_n_bytes(sha_second.hex, 32)
# signature_binary = @keypair.dsa_sign_asn1([sha_little_endian].pack("H*"))
puts "\nHash that we're going to sign: #{sha_second}"
signature_binary = @keypair.dsa_sign_asn1([sha_second].pack("H*"))
signature = signature_binary.unpack("H*").first
hash_code_type = "01"
signature_plus_hash_code_type_length = little_endian_hex_of_n_bytes((signature + hash_code_type).length / 2, 1)
pub_key_length = little_endian_hex_of_n_bytes(@keypair.public_key_hex.length / 2, 1)
scriptSig = signature_plus_hash_code_type_length + " " + signature + " " + hash_code_type + " " + pub_key_length + " " + @keypair.public_key_hex
# Replace scriptSig and scriptLength for each of the inputs:
previousTx: input[:previousTx],
index: input[:index],
scriptLength: scriptSig.gsub(" ","").length / 2,
scriptSig: scriptSig,
sequence_no: input[:sequence_no]
@transaction[:hash_code_type] = ""
@tx = serialize_transaction(@transaction)
# Debug:
# puts "\nHex signed transaction with line-breaks:\n\n"
# puts @tx
# Remove line breaks and spaces
@tx.gsub!("\n", "")
@tx.gsub!(" ", "")
puts "\nHex signed transaction: (#{ @tx.size / 2 } bytes)\n\n"
puts @tx
puts "\nCopy paste the transaction and transmit it at\n"

This comment has been minimized.

Copy link

@bewithjitendrapatel bewithjitendrapatel commented Jan 16, 2016

Awesome Explanation and code Writeup :)


This comment has been minimized.

Copy link

@diegolearnstocode diegolearnstocode commented Oct 17, 2017

Hi Sjors, I'm sorry for the very noob question, I'm new to this. Was wondering if it is possible to use something like this to make something like WeTransfer for Bitcoin


This comment has been minimized.

Copy link

@liushooter liushooter commented Oct 26, 2017

Cool. How to make Coinbase rawTransaction?


This comment has been minimized.

Copy link

@clergyman clergyman commented Nov 8, 2017

For me it always raises exception in line 192
For instance take testnet wallet address and pub key

@sender = 'myYCqqef4naiAbK8JsxJPkirQ81CCi9BiE'
@secret_wif = '91vWTG7Xg7DNoyPUqcKmg1r6UK3qQSKYHpJT7dUruripeRVNi8C'

And run lines 167-184

I thought it's because of magic bytes in step 3, which are 'ef' for testnet, but no, this didn't do the trick
What could go wrong?


This comment has been minimized.

Copy link

@joshbodily joshbodily commented Oct 3, 2018

@clergyman I had the same problem too. I think its b/c the keypair created by open_key uses "uncompressed" public key (print it and you'll see that it startw w/ 04). Hence, the digest from step_2 will be wrong as it's expecting compressed public key. To get the "compressed" public key hex, try the following instead: = :testnet
@bitcoin_key = Bitcoin::Key.from_base58(@secret_wif)
@public_key_hex = @bitcoin_key.pub_compressed

You can verify that it's compressed by printing it and verifying that it starts w/ 02 or 03.

Then, change all instances of @keypair.public_key_hex to @public_key_hex.

Also, if you are using testnet, you also need to change the prefix in step_4 to "6F."


In Bitcoin, public keys are either compressed or uncompressed. Compressed public keys are 33 bytes, consisting of a prefix either 0x02 or 0x03, and a 256-bit integer called x. The older uncompressed keys are 65 bytes, consisting of constant prefix (0x04), followed by two 256-bit integers called x and y (2 * 32 bytes). The prefix of a compressed key allows for the y value to be derived from the x value.


This comment has been minimized.

Copy link

@yegor256 yegor256 commented Apr 9, 2019

Would be much better if you turn this into a Ruby gem. How much help will this long script provide to developers? It's barely reusable.

Sign up for free to join this conversation on GitHub. Already have an account? Sign in to comment
You can’t perform that action at this time.