Our first open source Homeland Security non-lethal weapon – The Do-it-yourself handheld LED-based Incapacitator: THE BEDAZZLER

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Our first open source Homeland Security non-lethal weapon project – The “Do-it-yourself Handheld LED-Based Incapacitator: THE BEDAZZLER”. After attending a conference where the $1million “sea-sick flashlight” (THE DAZZLER) was demoed by Homeland Security, we decided to create an under $250 version and here are the source code, schematics and PCB files! This is not a kit – but it is an Arduino project! – the M4V is here for the podcast folks…

Check it out!

Update: We’ve included a transcript of the video for the hearing impaired and well, we think all videos should have transcripts. For transcripts we used 3Play Media. We uploaded the video, they transcribed it, we paid via paypal, all under a week and under $30 for two videos total.

LADY ADA: Hi. I’m Lady Ada from Adafruit Industries, and I’m going to share with you some information about my latest project. But before I get into the technical details, I’d like you to watch this video. It’s from a conference I attended two years ago.

MALE SPEAKER: And I’m from Washington, and I’m here to help. You probably saw on YouTube, there’s a video going around, and it says don’t tase me, bro. Well, and non-lethal weapons are really pretty critically important. And so, what I have with me is a dazzler. So, the dazzler is a seasickness machine. And what it does, it uses LEDs, and it’s a random generator and it affects your equilibrium.

I’m not going to point it at you, I was with a group of GE executives yesterday and I held it up like this, and just the reflection made them nauseous. We’re trying to change from don’t tase me, bro, to daz me, bro. And that’s it. Let me know when you’re feeling bad. Anyway, thank you so much.

LADY ADA: So we decided to look online to find out more information. And we ended up finding some news stories.

REPORTER: And tonight Homeland Security has spent close to a million dollars on a flashlight that can stop you in your tracks. Even law enforcement says it is going to be controversial. We wanted to see just how effective the light is.

OK, that’s a lot brighter. Those blotches in my vision stayed with me for about a half hour after the test. And then a strong headache kicked in. It’s still a little blinding.

LADY ADA: Like most government projects, the Dazzler was actually invented and developed by an outside consulting firm. So we looked up some information about this firm. Found the patent, and looked up exactly what it is that they did. The portable flashlight flashes green LEDs about ten hertz. This causes flash blindness, startling, disorientation, vertigo, and occasional vomiting. We thought, we could probably do that for under a million dollars. So we put together this project for about $250 and are publishing all the information. So that you can build one of these at home.

SECOND FEMALE: Here is the project enclosure. So I re-used a flashlight that I got from Sears. So this is the head, which holds the LEDs, the electronics inside. This push-button is how we activate it. It’s not turned on right now. And here is a lead-acid battery that provides power. Up here, we have 36 LEDs. Each one has a lens that focuses the optics. So I’m going to remove just the lens, and you can see that there’s a basic heat sink with the fan on the back, to help with a little heat sinking.

Here we have the circuit board. We have six driver frets, two for each color, red, green and blue. We have a Arduino clone here, which I use to basically do the pulse with modulation, the randomization and mode selection. And there’s a wire that travels down the body to the battery. Then behind here, you can remove this plate. There’s a 9-volt battery that powers just the Arduino, it’s a separate power supply to avoid noise that comes from the pulse with modulation. Reprogramming header for updating the firmware, and a mode button which lets me change what kind of display it is.

FEMALE SPEAKER: Want to make one yourself? Well, we’ve got the schematics, source code and circuit board layouts all available online at ladyada.net/make/bedazzler. You may be wondering, does it really work?

SECOND FEMALE: Bedazzler human subject test. Ready in 3, 2, 1.

MALE:: My eyes. The goggles.They do nothing.

LADY ADA: Well, turns out it doesn’t work that well. But it is great for raves.

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  1. I’d like to suggest that you add a fuse in the circuit, just in case something shorts in there. The lead-acid battery can easily supply enough current to get the wires red-hot if a short occurs. That will lead to all sorts of trouble, not just melted plastic but also the risk of bursting the battery casing and spilling the acid.

  2. So the hol(e)y department of homeland security spends a million bucks for finding an efficient way of making people puke, nice. The taxpayer will be amused. I guess they should’ve consulted a chemist first. Butyric acid works for that purpose nicely (I’ve heard) 😉 Much cheaper than a dazzler and definitely cheaper than introducing the government controlled “Personal Skunk (TM)” surveillance and reprimand companion on a 1 per citizen basis.

  3. And so all the pieces fall in to place. Very nice!

    p.s. great Radioactive Man impression, pt.

  4. dang video stalls at same place every time.

  5. Very nice! Is there a reason you didn’t use a constant current driver? Is it possible to turn off vomit mode and run on full power? meaning will it overheat/melt?

  6. Just like Color Spray, but with different material components!


    “A vivid cone of clashing colors springs forth from your hand, causing creatures to become stunned, perhaps also blinded, and possibly knocking them unconscious.”

  7. You should also take into account that this device could cause epileptic seizures, just an FYI you should put a warning on this video just in case.


  8. DIY “non-lethal” weaponry… You’ve been hanging around GBPPR? 😉

    Very nice. I like it!

  9. Is the patent on this expired, or is it public domain because the state bought it?

  10. patent is still active, although it covers a more specific device

  11. the Ladyada audio is left-right reversed.

    DHS could have spent far less money to develop the knowledge that bright flashing lights have to overcome a basic defense: eyelids. 😛

  12. Humm maybe incorporate the TV-B-Gone too or a mode for it. OOH add in Mac B Gone for Mac remote control and crash the rave. ummm maybe not.

  13. This will be a fantastic new tool for our local police force to use to suppress dissent. Thank you!

  14. some of these comments remind me of youtube…

  15. This has got to be the most retarded thing since rubber bullets… you’ll just pi$$ off the guy with a gun…

  16. yaaay! criminals with sunglasses! 🙂

  17. If someone tried to make me sea sick or incapacitate me with an electronic device because they disagreed that Americans have the right to free speech, or actually, for any reason at all, I would put 15 rounds through their face right then and there. Why should a person live to make you sick? The easiest way to stop someone from making you intentionally sick is to just fucking waste the scum, let their pals puke over their dead friends guts.

    People aren’t cattle, people that treat you like cattle deserve nothing less than to be rotting away in some ditch like the pieces of shit they are, as do the people that profit from treating people like cattle. It’s cowards that are hyperobsessed with creating security devices and methods of control, people who are literally afraid of the dark.

    Put them out of their misery and have some fun to boot.

  18. Out of curiosity, does the effect require the randomness in its timing to work? If not, a 555 timer could operate the flashing instead of a micro-controller. Might still be able to add in some randomness using an analog control circuit.

  19. jeff, good question. we wanted to go with a 555 but decided to try out this randomization. we found the studies that show why 8-10 hz and 50-100ms flashes are effective. green light is suggested because our eyes are very susceptible to it. however the precise reason for ‘randomizing’ the light flashes is not completely clear

  20. To be fair, the first of almost anything costs a lot more to make than the second. The million dollar price tag includes research into what colors, wavelengths and patterns (or lack of patterns) are the most effective, studies into the way that light interacts with the eye and brain, a few development models as the product is refined, some cash to pay the guinea people as you test it, money spent ensuring that the product meets whatever guidelines the government set forth (weight/portability, sourcing and type of materials, waterproofing, durability, etc) and a host of other costs associated with developing a brand new product. All that’s assuming they started with the idea of “a flash light that makes people puke;” If their mandate was “make us a new kind of less-lethal weapon” then there are even more costs incurred as they research, weigh and evaluate competing ideas. To make fun of the company for spending $1m on the device is a little naive; to praise this group for being so much more clever than the contractors in making it cheaply is likewise.

  21. While it is true that developing a new product costs a lot in terms of work hours and financial investment, spending $1m on the development of an advanced light strobe is still steep.


  22. I knew when non-lethal modern weapons (Tazer, etc …) were introduced that it was a bad idea.
    Those weapons could fall into the wrong hands.

    Now you’re helping them build a cheap one.

    And so now when the average citizen walks around town, he can be assaulted using your cheap “puking machine”, ripped of his money, nike shoes, etc…

    What a wonderful world!

  23. I laffo’d so hard, excellent… so many jokes!

  24. Awesome!!!

    I like the idea of using the bedazzle for the raves lighting effects. Too sweet. This looks like my next project.

    I love it when people either reverse engineer or do what you did, it’s the best way to learn. It’s people sharing that makes for new and more innovative products.

    Thanks for sharing.

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