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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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  • by Yaos ( 804128 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @11:03AM (#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 Jaysyn ( 203771 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @11:04AM (#29580713) Homepage Journal
    And don't forget kickbacks from the military-industrial complex.
  • Re:Patents? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by notgm ( 1069012 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @11:04AM (#29580717)

    if homeland security (ostensibly a government entity) spent the money to develop it, is it patentable?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @11:05AM (#29580723)

    Tell the pigs to stop being dicks and letting the power go to their heads and we'll have reason to show respect.

    Until then, they're dirty, dirty, corrupted pigs.

  • by Yaos ( 804128 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @11:07AM (#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 kuzb ( 724081 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @11:07AM (#29580747)
    What would you call police who abuse their power? Nice men who beat me to death?
  • Re:Except that... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @11:08AM (#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.

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

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) * on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @11:10AM (#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 KingSkippus ( 799657 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @11:13AM (#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.

  • by Dishevel ( 1105119 ) * on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @11:28AM (#29581029)
    There are some dirty cops. The problem is not really how many dirty cops there are. The problem is the cops that aren't really dirty but will back up the dirty cops. If the "Honest Cops" would get real honest and bust the dirty bastards then things would be much better. Till that happens ALL FUCKING COPS SUCK ASS! If you aren't turning in bad cops you are one. PERIOD!
  • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @11:36AM (#29581149) Homepage Journal

    To a cop there are three kinds of people: Cops, cops' families, and suspects.

  • by TheSeventh ( 824276 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @12:05PM (#29581541)
    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.
  • by Artifakt ( 700173 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @12:12PM (#29581617)

    If engineers and scientists really were like 'Big Corporations", patents would last for 150 years plus the life of the longest lived member of the originating team. That patents have a nice, reasonable 20 year limit is a great refutation of all your sarcasm.

    Let's see. Your second paragraph is an invalid assertion. Your first paragraph makes another one by implication - patents aren't a means of seeing researchers get paid, only possibly for compensating a percentage of successful ones. I don't think anyone has actually proposed that people doing research shouldn't draw salaries.

    Then you create a straw-man, and descend to personal attacks.

    My conclusion: You need to do more than just temporarily censor your Sig.

  • Re:Except that... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @12:20PM (#29581739)

    It's not such a tall order. For example the Mosquito device deters teenagers, but Grandma (and indeed most adults) aren't even aware of it. []

    Yes, it too varies in effect on person to person. But not enough that it detracts much from the devices fitness for purpose.

  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @12:29PM (#29581861) Homepage Journal

    I'd call them "dirty cops". Sadly there are far too many, but not all cops are.

    "Dirty" cops are a subset of the problem. They are the corrupt ones who misuse their position as law enforcement for their own gains or play along when officials above them do the same. It is a problem. I agree that not all cops are dirty.

    There are also cops who are not corrupt but still fail to "protect and serve". Some are un-necessarily brutal. This ranges from beating up suspects who offer no resistance (until it became clear they would be beaten up), perhaps for a minor technical infraction. In some cases, people who have done nothing wrong at all (however minor) end up on the wrong side of a beat down.

    Others don't cross that line but have obviously forgotten that their job is to "protect and serve" not to be treated with the sort of deference that used to be reserved for Chinese emperors. They are the ones who seem to take personal offense if they can't find something you did wrong so they can write you a ticket. They "thought they saw a beer" and when proven wrong, keep looking for something else. They ooze the attitude that you serve them and they will GET you one way or another. If there's actually nothing at all, even a technicality, they can write you up on, they will "let you off with a verbal warning" rather than just apologize for the inconvenience. Yes, I know it's awkward to accuse someone and then find that your wrong. That's WHY an apology is in order. Your best hope is that the other person will accept it graciously. It would be a lot less awkward for them if they hadn't subvocally appended "you dirty little sack of shit" to everything they said to you before being proven wrong.

    Next on the list we have those who somehow enable the above categories. They treat what would otherwise be considered a brutal assault worth not less than a year in prison as "some kind of mis-understanding" (yeah, the mother of two didn't understand that she might get yanked out of the car by her hair and kicked in the ribs if she pulled over like the law says she must for a minor traffic stop) and do nothing significant about it. They missed the part of kindergarten where we learned about saying you're sorry. They might reluctantly admit that some officer's actions were out of line but you can actually tell from the attitude they project that in their minds they're sure the victim was guilty of something and somehow managed to put one over on the bleeding hearts.

    While only one category above is "dirty cops", all are unambiguously "pigs". They are the ones that make cops unwelcome in a neighborhood. They are NOT by any means 100% of the police force, but the odds that any particular cop approaching you is one of those are high enough to tempt even the most law abiding citizen attempt to avoid the encounter. They make parents think twice before advising their children to go to a cop if there's a problem. Some of them are decent enough when they're NOT on duty (to the point that friends and family would be shocked to see their on duty behaviour).

    The remainder are "police officers". They are what 100% of the police force needs to be made up of. They are, of course, imperfect human beings like the rest of us but they acknowledge that and try to get it right anyway (just like most of us). Because they can acknowledge that they are imperfect human beings, they are able to understand that the rest of us are as well and act accordingly. They can even understand the concept of "no harm, no foul" in spite of laws written in black and white (by imperfect human beings).

    The big problem they face is that it doesn't take many "pigs" amongst the "police officers" to make it in an honest citizen's best interest to assume the worst. It takes even fewer to be a problem for honest citizens legally doing things that are politically inconvenient (like protesting). When the problems are higher up the chain of command there may be little or nothing a proper "police officer" can do about it.

    It is because of all of that that cops as a whole come to be regarded as "the pigs".

  • Re:That's ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GoodNicksAreTaken ( 1140859 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @12:54PM (#29582245)
    $250 doesn't leave you much money left over to siphon to the NSA or conflicts in Central America.
  • by Mr. Slippery ( 47854 ) <{tms} {at} {}> on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @01:02PM (#29582375) Homepage

    Are you implying, ideas can have value like some kind of property (spit)? That anybody doing research should be paid on top of the altruistic joy they ought to be having from a discovery?

    You are conflating three very different ideas:

    1. Ideas have value. Agreed.
    2. Ideas are like property, and the state should use force to prevent unauthorized access to them. Wrong.
    3. Research is productive labor that should be paid. Agreed.
  • Re:Except that... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kimvette ( 919543 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @01:20PM (#29582639) Homepage Journal

    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 want to take pleasure in hurting jackasses who deserve it.

  • by Mister Whirly ( 964219 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @01:36PM (#29582893) Homepage
    If people are dead, they can't complain about being blind.
  • Re:Except that... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by izomiac ( 815208 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @03:35PM (#29584463) Homepage
    Sorry for writing an essay, but you basically are demonstratively wrong in 3 of the 4 assertions you just made. Mobile phones are essentially innocuous and to liken the two raises questions about your understanding unless you can clarify. You're right that the mosquito isn't as loud as a rock concert (assuming you're very close to the speaker), although you're wrong about the jumbo jet part. I won't bother with the "repetitive" bit beyond stating that it's more just a loud noise.

    It's 108 decibels, so it's actually over six times louder than a jet taking off 305 meters away (100 decibels). 100 decibels causes "serious hearing damage" after 8 hours, so, if damage is a linear function of power (it's not, this underestimates damage) then it causes that same "serious hearing damage" after only 75 minutes.

    The reason this isn't obvious is because teenagers can hear it and get away. Infants can't, but the parents probably won't associate their child's hearing impairment to something they didn't even know was there. Most adults have lost most of the pili which would receive the highest level of damage, but it wouldn't surprise me if there's some damage to other pili with such an intense sound.

    But hey, I'm just a random person on the internet with easily verifiable conversions of decibles to watts and simplified explainations of noise related hearing loss. You'd be wise to not take what I say at face value. So, take note that neither the UK nor Germany (check Wikipedia for links) were willing to define the safe exposure limits to these devices. It's known that it affects quite a bit more than high frequency hearing (e.g. vestibular system). Part of the problem likely lies in the fact that hearing damage is generally assessed in the lower frequencies that human voices use, so other types of damage are less conventional to assess.

    Non-ionizing EM radiation and loud sound waves are quite different. It's unlikely (albeit possible given that there are biologically organized magnetite crystals in our brains) that we can even detect the former, and diamagnetic levitation of frogs and spiders seems to have no ill effects (not to mention MRI). The latter causes people to naturally want to escape it. If that weren't the case the device wouldn't be effective. How can you possibly compare the two as far as safety is concerned???

    You may be right in that the mosquito isn't deadly but is still effective. OTOH, it's not a weapon and it can be ignored, thus making it useless for dazzler-type purposes. If you increase the volume it's no longer "safe" nor specific for younger folk (anyone can hear high frequency sound, just not at the same volume levels). And I'd argue that the device has too many false positives (i.e. older people that hear it or just get headaches) for it to even be effective at its intended purpose.
  • by maillemaker ( 924053 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @06:54PM (#29586507)

    >No, the proper way to deal with abusive police is for the citizens to put legal
    >political pressure on the local and state politicians who control the police.

    Good luck with that.

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