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Hardware Hacking The Military Build Hardware Science

Hardware Hackers Create a Cheaper Bedazzler 282

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

    by kuzb ( 724081 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @11:00AM (#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."

  • by KingSkippus ( 799657 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @11:04AM (#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.

  • Re:Except that... (Score:2, Informative)

    by ladyada ( 850297 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @11:06AM (#29580733)
    It works great for the flashblindness, nausea, dizziness, disorientation. The occasional vomiting? Maybe not ;)
  • Rhinestones? (Score:4, Informative)

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

  • Re:Patents? (Score:4, Informative)

    by reebmmm ( 939463 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @11:13AM (#29580821)

    Yes. Unlike copyrights, the government can (and does) own patent rights. When the government funds the work giving rise to the patents, the contractor (or university) will own the patent, but the government actually get a non-exclusive right to the patent. See Bayh-Dole, 35 U.S.C. Sec. 200 et. seq.

    When Bayh-Dole applies, the owning entity then has an obligation to actually exploit the invention. If they don't the government has "march-in" rights that would let the government take ownership. Not that that's ever happened.

  • Re:Even if it worked (Score:5, Informative)

    by ladyada ( 850297 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @11:29AM (#29581047)
    Theres no schematics in the patent. The flashblinding effect was documented over 100 years ago by scientists like Bruke and Broca. There's really nothing very complex going on, its a green flashing light at about 8-10 Hz...which makes it a great intro-to-Arduino project! :)
  • Re:Rhinestones? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @11:31AM (#29581081)

    No shit -- same here. Google confirms it.'m+Feeling+Lucky []

  • Re:Patents? (Score:2, Informative)

    by ladyada ( 850297 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @11:34AM (#29581107)
    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.
  • Re:That's ... (Score:2, Informative)

    by ladyada ( 850297 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @11:36AM (#29581157)
    It works great for the flashblindness, nausea, dizziness, disorientation. The occasional vomiting? Maybe not ;)
  • Re:That's ... (Score:3, Informative)

    by noundi ( 1044080 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @11:46AM (#29581287)

    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.

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

    by goodmanj ( 234846 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @12:00PM (#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:
    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.

  • The patent (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @12:17PM (#29581683)

    Is available here:

  • by ladyada ( 850297 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @12:37PM (#29582039)
    Don't worry, its plenty bright! Its bigger only because it has more LEDs, and nice 6 degree lenses. If you RTFA you'll see we suggest going with green LEDs for best effectiveness but this has an RGB rave mode for going to parties. That way we can take it out to raves! Also, please note that LEDs are not driven "continuous current" not sure where you got that from
  • Re:Nice! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Molochi ( 555357 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @12:39PM (#29582069)

    They did that on Top Gear already, well sorta. It was pretty awesome though. []

  • Mod parent up. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Shandalar ( 1152907 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @03:25PM (#29584349)
    So they looked at the patent and created a version of the invention. Big deal. This is a sort of abuse of the term "open source", isn't it? It's burdened by the patent. Anyone marketing these things would be sueable - and for treble damages because they infringed on the patent willfully.
  • by eh2o ( 471262 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @05:54PM (#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:Except that... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @11:03PM (#29588717)

    In the two wars that we've fought in Asia there were tactics that indeed made this possible.

    The Japanese would tie off their pressure points (to prevent bleeding out and to numb themselves) and rush the lines with several live grenades or other suitable explosives strapped to them. When they got to the line they were usually very dead or close to dying, but they delivered their devastating payload. As a side note this is why large caliber weapons were preferred on the line, small caliber high power rifles (30-06, etc) with mandated Full Metal Jacket ammunition would punch right thru the kamakaze attacker whilst large caliber lower velocity weapons (12ga shotguns or the venerable 45cal) would knock the kamakaze down, slowing the rush.

    other enemy combatants have achieved the same results with drugs. Police officers routinely run into people souped up on PCP that don't respond to normal force. The FBI decided to change weapons when a disgruntled perp shot up an office and took a full clip of 9mm and still kept going. They decided the kinetic energy of a 10mm round was better suited to the suppression of threats. The army is currently thinking about a change from 9mm pistols back to 45's for the same reasons, most spec ops forces have already made the switch.

    so the parents assessment is true, there are varying degrees of effectiveness for lethal and less-than-lethal force. However i believe that the only intended effect is crowd control, i.e. incapacitation a percentage of the crowd and hoping that it deters the rest, and physically retrain the outliers.

When a fellow says, "It ain't the money but the principle of the thing," it's the money. -- Kim Hubbard