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Hardware Hacking The Military Build Hardware Science

Hardware Hackers Create a Cheaper Bedazzler 282

Posted by timothy
from the just-in-time-for-trick-or-treaters dept.
ptorrone writes "Hardware hacker extraordinaires Ladyada (Adafruit Industries) and Phil Torrone (of MAKE magazine) have just published an open source 'Homeland Security' project, a non-lethal LED-Based Incapacitator: THE BEDAZZLER. After attending a conference where the $1 million 'sea-sick flashlight' (THE DAZZLER) was demoed by Homeland Security, the duo decided to created an under-$250 version, and just released the source code, schematics and PCB files. The team also released a 5 minute video describing the 'official version' as well as how they created the 'open source hardware' version."
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Hardware Hackers Create a Cheaper Bedazzler

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  • That's ... (Score:3, Funny)

    by ei4anb (625481) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @09:51AM (#29580565)
    brilliant !
    • Odd name (Score:5, Funny)

      by Shrike82 (1471633) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:09AM (#29580773)

      When I hear BEDAZZLER, in my head I hear a Infotainment show host voice. He continues by telling me how easy it is to attach colourful rhinestones to my own clothes and fabrics at home, for only $19.99 plus postage and packing.

      • Re:Odd name (Score:5, Funny)

        by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:14AM (#29580843) Journal
        When I hear BEDAZZLER, I think of superheroes.

        But my problem with the name of this device is that it doesn't bedazzle at all. It causes motion sickness.

        They should call it BENAUSEATOR or BEPUKINGTHEIRGUTSOUT or something along those lines, more accurate.
        • Re:Odd name (Score:5, Funny)

          by cgenman (325138) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:38AM (#29581179) Homepage

          But my problem with the name of this device is that it doesn't bedazzle at all. It causes motion sickness.

          They should call it BENAUSEATOR or BEPUKINGTHEIRGUTSOUT or something along those lines, more accurate.

          Are you talking about the military device, or the $19.99 infotainment device?

        • by Chris Burke (6130)

          When I hear BEDAZZLER, I think of superheroes.

          Haha. Just to be clear though -- "Dazzler" is the lame-ass mutant with the amazing ability to make shiny sparkles, while the "Bedazzler" is what her she used to make her disco ass even more lame.

        • by Gilmoure (18428)

          BEDAZZLER is easier to say than BECALLINGRALPHONTHEBIGWHITEPHONE.

          (caps filter appeasement text) Le Lorem Ipsum est simplement du faux texte employé dans la composition et la mise en page avant impression. Le Lorem Ipsum est le faux texte standard de l'imprimerie depuis les années 1500, quand un peintre anonyme assembla ensemble des morceaux de texte pour réaliser un livre spécimen de polices de texte. Il n'a pas fait que survivre cinq siÃcles, mais s'est auss

      • by dpilot (134227)

        No, no...

        Think of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. And certainly not Brendan Fraser and what's-her-name that Hugh Grant was attached to when he got caught. (in Vegas? in a taxi cab?)

      • by scorp1us (235526)

        Oddly enough the attached rhinestones have the same affect as the LEDs.

      • That was my first though too. I hadn't considered clothing modification "hardware hacking" so I had to read a bit further.
      • Reading the title and a quick scan of the summary lead me to believe that someone had developed BEDAZZLER stones with LEDs in them. You could make some cool stuff with LED Bedazzler stones: patterns that flashed, little animated scenes, etc. Alas! All they did was make a weapon.
    • by hughk (248126)
      Yes but it needs to be +1 Redundant.
    • by noundi (1044080)

      brilliant !

      Watch the movie. It didn't really work, to my disappointment as well.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by ladyada (850297)
        It works great for the flashblindness, nausea, dizziness, disorientation. The occasional vomiting? Maybe not ;)
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by noundi (1044080)

          It works great for the flashblindness, nausea, dizziness, disorientation. The occasional vomiting? Maybe not ;)

          Really? Cool! You should cut out that last comment though because it sounded like the whole project didn't work.

        • How far away do you think this would be useful? Would it work if someone had sunglasses on or closed their eyes?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      $250 doesn't leave you much money left over to siphon to the NSA or conflicts in Central America.
  • Nice! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Stratoukos (1446161) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @09:53AM (#29580585)

    Next project: under-$250 LHC.

  • by junglee_iitk (651040) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @09:55AM (#29580609)

    ... this it for the First Contact with women :)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @09:57AM (#29580629)

    $250, huh? This:

    https://www.mybedazzler.com/

    certainly nauseates me for a lot less!

    • by eln (21727)
      Yeah, I was kind of wondering why we would be interested in a cheaper device to cover our clothing with cheap plastic "jewels", but to each their own I guess.
  • Except that... (Score:5, Informative)

    by kuzb (724081) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:00AM (#29580661)

    At the end of the video, the creator uses it on a test subject and it doesn't work - which she even admits.

    "Ok, so it turns out it doesn't work so well. But it's great for raves."

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by ladyada (850297)
      It works great for the flashblindness, nausea, dizziness, disorientation. The occasional vomiting? Maybe not ;)
    • Re:Except that... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MozeeToby (1163751) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:08AM (#29580757)

      I'm confused what the purpose of this article is. Is it 'Gee Whiz' look what you can build at home? Or is it look how much money was wasted creating the original? Or what?

      Yes, the original version costs $1 Million to create, this was created for $250. Except, you know, she didn't have to come up with the idea, and she didn't have to do any of the original research, and there's no garauntee that hers won't cause permanent blindness, and hers doesn't work. But other than that it is a total bargain.

      • by KingSkippus (799657) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:13AM (#29580833) Homepage Journal

        I think the idea was, "It doesn't work, but it's still pretty neat."

        Keep in mind that she never said, "This is as effective as the DAZZLER." That was the nominal goal, and at the end, she clearly states that they didn't get there. But I really don't think they expected to replicate a million-dollar device.

        Sometimes, the cool stuff that comes out of making something like this isn't whether or not in the end it actually works or is as effective as you want it to be, but what you learn along the way and what you do end up with. (In this case, a device that is cool at raves.)

        The submitted did submit it under a somewhat misleading title, though, in implying that the thing actually works.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ladyada (850297)
          Actually, it does precisely the same thing as any other 'flashing weapon', gives you a headache and makes your eyes hurt
          • by Rogerborg (306625) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:28AM (#29581037) Homepage
            So? Getting married gives you a permanent headache. Ask my wife.
          • But what are the possible long term effects to your version? How many human subjects did you test? How fast does the subject feel the effects? How long do the effects last? Is it safe to use on the same subject multiple times in a period of time? Stuff like this is why the other group spent $1 million. (Plus I would bet the farm theirs works more effectively.) I don't buy that "one flashing light weapon is the same as all other flashing light weapons" for a second.

            And doesn't the Geneva Convention speci
            • by Knara (9377)

              And doesn't the Geneva Convention specifically ban weapons where the primary purpose is blinding people?

              Permanent, not temporary. Otherwise flash-bangs could be considered banned weapons, for example... or, really bright spotlights.

              • I would imagine just about any light based blinding weapon could cause permanent damage if not used properly (or if purposefully used improperly). Kind of like how people have died from getting tazered by a "non-lethal" device...
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              And doesn't the Geneva Convention specifically ban weapons where the primary purpose is blinding people?

              Laser weapons. It specifically bans laser weapons where the primary purpose is permanently blinding people.

              Oddly, it doesn't ban laser weapons where the primary purpose is killing people.

            • by eh2o (471262) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @04:54PM (#29585953)

              The maximum safe exposure levels of light (as a function of wavelength) is well known and documented, e.g. by OSHA or other occupational standards bodies. Incurring temporary blindness isn't necessarily dangerous and is sometimes used in vision science studies. The procedure is called "bleaching" as it relates to a temporary chemical depletion of the rhodopsin pigment. Its not permanent blindness so I don't think the Geneva ban would apply.

              The choice of green light in the original dazzler is smart because it saves power (green being close to the peak wavelength sensitivity for the human retina), and its also a relatively safe color to look at. Blue is an order of magnitude or so more dangerous. Red is safer but not as visible so the power requirements would be much greater.

              The people who cooked up this $250 hack don't seem to be aware of that fact that light damage is wavelength dependent and have made theirs with full RGB color... so yeah, this is why we give money to the pros.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Theaetetus (590071)

        I'm confused what the purpose of this article is.

        I believe the purpose was "see this patent - here's a picture of it in the video - we just built a device that infringes".

        • by Rogerborg (306625)
          Infringes and doesn't work. That's a fail cake with an extra thick layer of fail frosting on top.
        • I'm confused what the purpose of this article is.

          I believe the purpose was "see this patent - here's a picture of it in the video - we just built a device that infringes".

          Never mind... The patent requires a spatial scanning element that directs the beam around. They don't have one.

      • there's no garauntee that hers won't cause permanent blindness

        And there's a guarantee that the original one won't cause permanent blindness? Ever? To just one person?

      • Re:Except that... (Score:5, Informative)

        by goodmanj (234846) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @11:00AM (#29581471)

        From what Ladyada has posted here and elsewhere, I'm convinced that it's as effective as the Homeland Security version. Which is, not very.

        The basic problem with nonlethal weapons is that they assume there's a range in which a weapon is more than annoying, but less than dangerous:
        |====annoying===| sweet spot |====dangerous====|

        But because people vary in their responses, it looks more like this:
        |====annoying===|
                          |====dangerous===|
        In short, until you deal with the fact that a weapon that will kill Grandma will only make an enraged 250-pound meth addict even angrier, you're wasting your time.

        • Re:Except that... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by goodmanj (234846) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @11:09AM (#29581581)

          Replying to my own post ... actually, the problem is not just that what's dangerous to one person in a crowd is merely annoying to another. The overlap occurs in individuals too.

          If a person is sufficiently motivated, especially if they're well-trained or on drugs, even *lethal* force can be inadequate to stop them.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by evilviper (135110)

            If a person is sufficiently motivated, especially if they're well-trained or on drugs, even *lethal* force can be inadequate to stop them.

            Where are these training programs, and what are in these drugs, which allow a dead person to keep going? I'll take two!

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by kimvette (919543)

          A weapon like that which can induce migraines will only piss some people off enough to beat the asshole wielding the thing into a bloody pulp - and the great thing is a weapon like that is assault so a physical response inducing pain or even maiming the asshole shining that thing in your eyes would only be self defense - and it would help the victim's migraine go away thanks to the adrenaline and endorphine rush. :) Violent responses shouldn't be limited to meth addicts because normal people occasionally w

      • by StikyPad (445176)

        Um, yeah.. I'm pretty sure it wasn't the *parts* that cost $1M, but the salaries of a small R&D team that actually bothered to test and modify their concept until they had a working model, then a small-run production to demo the working prototypes, which probably had to meet little standards like environmental, shock, and anti-corrosive metrics.

        The first of anything always costs a lot -- it's the economies of scale that bring the cost down in the long run, the same way these clowns could buy LEDs for $.

    • Re:Except that... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hatta (162192) * on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:10AM (#29580795) Journal

      How well does the million dollar dazzler work? For all we know the dazzler is a useless pork barrel project that's only hyped by Homeland Security to makes us think they are doing something useful.

  • by Yaos (804128) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:03AM (#29580695)
    When you look up how to make something you can always make it cheaper and easier than if you had to figure it out on your own. A large part of the cost was paying the people that make and test the device without knowing how it should be made.
    • by Comboman (895500)
      ...and since I'm fairly sure the hackers making this had absolutely no access to the original device or it's schematics and documentation, your point is what exactly?
  • Sounds like Lady Gaga's nerdy sister.

    • let's have some fun, this makes me sick
      I wanna take a ride on your throw up stick
      (2x)

      (2x)
      I wanna kiss you
      but if I do then I might hurl on you, babe
      it's complicated and stupid
      got my ass queazey and spewing
      guess he wants to play, wants to play
      Throw up game, Throw up game

      hold me and love me
      just wanna spew lunch for a minute
      maybe three seconds is enough
      for my stomach to quit it

      let's have some fun, this makes me sick
      I wanna take a ride on your throw up stick
      don't think too much, just bust that kick
      I wanna take a

  • by KingSkippus (799657) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:04AM (#29580707) Homepage Journal

    Watching the video, at the end of their demonstration, she says, "Well, turns out it doesn't work that well, but it is great for raves." I'm not accusing them of shenanigans, because they're not misrepresenting that it actually works. However, I am accusing the submitter of exaggerating the effectiveness of this thing by calling it a "cheaper Bedazzler."

    It's not like they have recreated for $250 what the DHS did for a million. I don't doubt that what they've created is irritating to look at, but the thing is five times the size of what the DHS had created for them, and would be totally ineffective in an actual situation in which it would be needed.

    But she's right, it probably would be kind of fun at a party, and it does look like a neat project to play around with.

    • by Yaos (804128) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:07AM (#29580743)
      The project cost $1 million, not each device. That includes paying the people that put their time into figuring out how to make it work which was probably greater than 50% of the project cost.
      • by Artifakt (700173)

        And the most significant questions for the real thing are probably all unit cost related. How much will individual devices cost? Will this get cheap enough that small town police forces will all have one? Will we see 3 dozen of them used simultaneously at the next G-20 protest? Will DHS provide grants so that every county sheriff's office in the nation has one, and what will that cost the taxpayers? We live in strange times that we know the financial situation for the cheap dance party knock off, but have l

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TheSeventh (824276)
      It's not a "Cheaper Bedazzler", it's a cheaper "Dazzler", nicknamed Bedazzler. This is just another misleading headline. The hardware hackers were modding the "Dazzler", but almost nobody knows what that is, and a misleading headline that references '80s annoying tech is sure to draw more attention.

      Look for future headlines that include the terms Lite-Brite and Flowbee.
  • The "Sea Sick Flashlight"? That's the best they could come up with?

    What's wrong with its proper name, the Chunder-Gat [theregister.co.uk]? I'd settle for Chunderbuss if Rankin/Bass objected.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      What's wrong with its proper name, the Chunder-Gat?

      Because that prompts every nerd to shout "Chunder! Chunder! CHUNDER! Chunder-Gats, HOOOOOO!"

      • by Minwee (522556)
        And isn't that what it's supposed to do? Or did I misread the spec somehow?
      • by 3vi1 (544505)

        My kingdom for a mod point. That's the funniest thing I've read on here in a month.

  • HOLY CRAP!! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Zaphod Beeblibrox (1641369) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:09AM (#29580779)
    IT REALLY WORKS!!! I actually felt nausea when I realized that they spent a million of our tax dollars designing a fucking party favor!
    • by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:35AM (#29581131) Homepage

      So I guess that's the future of crowd control? The riot police will just read lists of ways in which our tax money is being spent. The real clincher is when they read off the cost of creating and providing copies to all law enforcement of a list of ways in which our tax money is being spent...

      • by bberens (965711)
        I believe that would create an infinite recursion which would cause all of humanity to vanish into a singularity.
  • I noticed on the adafruit site that the original Dazzler used a low Hz pulse like 9Hz - 15Hz or somewhere around there. It reminded me of back in high school in our electronics class when we hooked up a speaker to a frequency generator. One of us had read somewhere that a loud pulse at 9Hz - 11Hz or so would produce sickness in people so we set the freq at 11Hz and cranked it up. After a few seconds people started complaining about headaches and not feeling well so we turned it off.

    Now if you consider th

    • I wonder if there's a frequency for gullibility, aggression, fear, etc...

      I don't know about that, but I bet there's a frequency for the placebo effect. Your anecdote reminds me of the people that are 'alergic' to WiFi, but only when they know it's around. I'm not necissarily saying that there's nothing to it, but I'd require some pretty significant double blind tests before I buy into the idea of a nauseating sound. If nothing else I would think there would be plenty of times when such a frequency would be prodeced in industry, leading to everyone that works there beign const

    • by Yvan256 (722131)

      Screw your tinfoil hat, where are my tinfoil glasses?

  • Rhinestones? (Score:4, Informative)

    by zztong (36596) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:11AM (#29580805)

    I thought a Bedazzler was one of those things sold on TV that lets girls add rhinestones to clothing, so when I read the summary I was really curious what the Dept of Homeland Security was doing with them.

  • Will it be:

    a. The company that makes the Dazzler
    b. The company that makes the BeDazzler (that rhinestone pressing gadget)

  • Patents? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Comatose51 (687974) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:21AM (#29580951) Homepage
    I've watched that video and I remember they mentioned referencing the original patent for their project. Aren't they pretty much violating a patent by doing this? The idea seems pretty novel and original to me but I'm not a neuroscientist nor a lawyer. Anyone want to clarify?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by ladyada (850297)
      Strobe/flashing weapons arent new. The patent is actually for a more specific device that scans while it strobes. There actually isnt a patent for just a strobing weapon, which may be because there was prior art.
    • That's an interesting question for all the /. armchair lawyers. Is something a patent violation if it doesn't actually work the way the patent says?

  • I get a huge kick out of the fact that the name is a likely play on the X-Men hero "Dazzler", who used light to disorient people.
  • by maillemaker (924053) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:56AM (#29581421)

    I think these devices would be great to use against riot police by protesters.

    I wonder how long before they will be illegal?

  • by Junior Samples (550792) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @11:04AM (#29581529)

    Back in the late 60's I worked on a program at General Electric, Utica, NY called LAMPS. The technology consisted of very bright strobe lights flashing in the 8 Hz - 10 Hz region. These lights were flown in aircraft and used in the Vietnam war to disorient the enemy. The strobe frequency is unique in that it disrupts brain wave activity that caused the enemy target to loose control of bodily functions (not just vomiting).

    We did our testing at night and the lights could be seen from a nearby highway. This resulted in multiple auto accidents.

  • So instead of chasing taillights, we're chasing nausea and vomit inducing blinky lights? Nice.

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