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May 17, 2004 11:11 AM   Subscribe

Reach Out and Zap Someone. Bruce Schneier points out a link on how to turn a normal everyday disposable camera into a stun gun in his most recent Crypto-Gram. Honestly Mr. DHS it's to take pictures of the kids...
posted by togdon (21 comments total)

One Christmas eve about 20 years ago I tried to fix my mom's 35mm camera flash. I will attest that these little beasties can knock one on one's ass. Probably similar for the disposables.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 11:29 AM on May 17, 2004

And here's a link to the Slashdot thread where a bunch of people more intelligent than I am tell you how dangerous this can be.

So seriously, don't try this at home. In fact, don't try it.
posted by armoured-ant at 11:34 AM on May 17, 2004

I've been the accidental self-inflicted victim of the capacitor which stores charge for a flash. It hurts. A lot. Your muscles will do things that you may wish they didn't do.

Much of my childhood consisted of taking things apart and putting them together. One of those things was a Kodak camera (don't remember what they were called they were rectangular and had an included flash. They weren't instant cameras) who's flash stopped working. I was in grade school at the time. I didn't know anything about camera flashes, I was intrigued by the whining sound as the it "powered up" though. So I took this camera apart. The flash didn't work but the charging system did. Since the flash didn't work the capacitor was fully charged.

Well, it was fully charged until I discharged it with through my body. My arm contracted sending the camera flying against a wall where it shattered into a billion or so pieces. That camera had been through Hell and back and never broken (except for the non-functioning flash) so there was way more force involved that I could usually muster to throw something.
posted by substrate at 12:05 PM on May 17, 2004

how clearly i remember attempting to build a homemade tape recorder at the age of 9. i carefully wound several hundred turns of uninsulated wire around a nail. one lead connected serially to a carbon microphone element taken from a telephone handset and thence to the 110VAC wall outlet. the other lead connected directly to the 110VAC outlet. the tape was threaded past this "record head" and advanced by hand. never shall i forget the thrill resulting from my first attempt to capture my voice on tape (thus paving the way for a career as a recording artist, like, you know, the beatles).
posted by quonsar at 12:14 PM on May 17, 2004

you did the twist and shout?
posted by dabitch at 12:19 PM on May 17, 2004

That explains a lot quonsar.
posted by Ynoxas at 12:20 PM on May 17, 2004

What I want to know is :

How do I turn a microwave oven or a laptop into a mountain meadow ?
posted by troutfishing at 12:35 PM on May 17, 2004

How do I turn a microwave oven or a laptop into a mountain meadow?

katamari damacy?
posted by togdon at 1:06 PM on May 17, 2004

substrate, if your childhood was in the 80s the camera was probably a disk camera.
posted by Grod at 1:08 PM on May 17, 2004

(I'm thinking about this specifically...)
posted by togdon at 1:08 PM on May 17, 2004

As a part-time photo lab tech, I can testify to the power of those disposable cameras to shock like a mofo.
posted by neckro23 at 1:29 PM on May 17, 2004

neckro23: been there. When I was working in a photo lab, our preferred method of opening disposable cameras to retrieve the film was to jam a screwdriver into the side. Once side contains film... the other, a battery and (usually charged) cap.

I have about 200 of them in a box somewhere, in case I ever get the urge to build a gauss gun.
posted by Eamon at 1:43 PM on May 17, 2004

Thanks for the link, togdon. That stuff's pretty neat looking. wish it didnt have the corporate logos, though.

My brother and I tried to make peanut butter once. We tried to create it based on the ingredients on our label of Superman peanut butter, working backwards (what's that called reverse engineering or whatever). We gave up once we got to the chemicals, none of which were in the pantry. I lost the coin toss to taste our invention.

Other memory: I blew up my parents microwave right after they got it. Made popcorn, but this was early in the day of microwaves and microwave popcorn — and it was really important to put the right side down, since I think it was real metal back then as a conductor on the bottom. Door of the microwave popped open, broke the latch. Bag of popcorn was on fire.

My solution? I threw in my neighbors backyard, starting a grass fire.

Would've gotten off scott free if not for the smell of burnt popcorn leading from their backyard to our kitchen like a damn bunch of breadcrumbs. Oh, and the smoke, too.

Ah, science.
posted by Peter H at 1:45 PM on May 17, 2004

Grod, it was in the 80's but it wasn't a disc camera. I had one before that. This thing was actually a rather decent point and shoot. It was very sturdy. It'd been introduced to the ground on more than one occasion. It was bothering me a bit and I think it was an instamatic, albeit a different model.
posted by substrate at 1:49 PM on May 17, 2004

substrate, that would've been my second guess. I remember those, but I don't remember them being decent.
posted by Grod at 1:51 PM on May 17, 2004

Great, now it's only a matter of time before we won't be able to have cameras in our carry-on luggage.

Damn you, McGuyver!
posted by ilsa at 3:41 PM on May 17, 2004

Having had a couple of 240v shocks and countless less potentially fatal ones during my younger and more stupid years, I don't think I have the heart to inflict this on anyone. Or do I? Perhaps I should build one and find out.
posted by dg at 4:31 PM on May 17, 2004

I was monkeying around with one a disposable like this once... I grabbed the capacitor and had to throw myself on the ground to get it out of my hand.

Stupid cameras.
posted by esch at 4:43 PM on May 17, 2004

I was thinking of just getting a regular stun gun. Are they legal in NYC?
posted by bingo at 5:22 PM on May 17, 2004

Quite a few years ago, there was an article in an electronics hobbyist magazine about how to build your own continuity tester. (For the uninitiated, this tester is used to make sure that connections in a circuit have been done correctly.) The recipe involved a battery, some wire, and -- per the article -- a flashbulb.

The next issue of the magazine contained a correction instructing the user to replace the flashbulb with a flashlight bulb. I still remember the last sentence: "Because a flashbulb will go from room temperature to a few hundred degrees fahrenheit much faster than you can let go of the bulb."
posted by joaquim at 9:10 PM on May 17, 2004

Anyone else know any more MacGuyver-style ways to turn ordinary things into cool gadgets/ weapons?

Gimme links. Please? I like to read about such stuff.
posted by madman at 1:33 AM on May 18, 2004

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