Episode 73: Beating the Speed Camera, Exploding Nitroglycerine Patches (with Defibrillators)
- Speed camera myths: You can beat a speed camera by..
- ... driving too fast for the camera
- Dodge Neon: busted
- Lamborghini Murcielago: busted
- ... placing over your license plate
- Glitter license plate: busted
- Lenticular plastic cover: busted
- Plastic wrap: busted
- Commercial plate blocker spray: busted
- Hair spray: busted
- ... changing lanes rapidly: busted
- ... driving too fast for the camera
- A bird can set off a speed camera: confirmed
- A defibrillator can explode a medical nitroglycerine patch: busted
Adam and Jamie went through a stockpile of speed camera myths to try and fool an ATS Axsis SC-300 speed camera. Two things did fool the camera: a falcon was able to set off the camera and Jamie installed a plate flipper that rotated the plate out of view, but neither is a way of actually getting out of a ticket. In fact, many of the devices they tested would easily get you pulled over by a cop with or without speed camera.
The defibrillator myth was clearly busted once the paddles were unable to explode even concentrated nitroglycerine. All that was left to do was replicate the myth with exploding ballistics gel bits.
Speed Camera Myths
The speed camera myths were a follow-on to their "Beat the Radar Detector" myths. This time they were trying to fool the combined radar/photo systems that photograph your license plate.
Beat with Speed
Myth: You can beat a speed camera by driving too fast for it to take your picture
Speed cameras send out radar pulses to register the speed of passing vehicles. The theory behind the myth is that if you drive faster than the pulses, it won't take your picture.
Adam and Jamie took a slightly modified Dodge Neon out to Alameda where they tried to evade an ATS Axsis SC-300 speed camera (the speed-camera appeared to be SLR-based). Jamie and Adam did three runs by the speed camera and failed to evade it. Each run maxed the Neon out at 100mph.
To really settle this one -- or for fun -- they went out to Infineon Raceway to race with a Lamborghini Murcielago. Adam's top speed of 123mph wasn't fast enough and neither was the professional's top speed of 136mph.
Myth: You can put something over your license plate that only obscures it to speed cameras
Adam took photos of it with his Canon SLR
- Glitter license plate: contains 'microcrystals' to deflect the speed camera's flash.busted
- Lenticular plastic cover: distorts the plate when viewed at from an angle. The plate remained legible, though partially distorted, for both Adam's camera and the speed camera busted
- Plastic wrap: very legible busted
- Commercial spray: very legible busted
- Hair spray: very legible busted
(online clip from http://dsc.discovery.com/fansites/mythbusters/mythbusters.html)
Myth: If you change lanes really rapidly, you can trick the speed camera
They tried different swerve points to confuse the radar or camera, but they were able to read the speed and plate every time
Myth: A bird can set off a speed camera
They brought two trained falcons out to try and set off the speed camera. According to the falconer, peregrine falcons have been clocked at 240mph, 18Gs. The speed camera was set to shoot anything going over 10mph and they had the falcon fly across its path.
Camera went off on the first run and registered 29mph. It was unclear if it was the bird or the falconer swinging bait that setoff the camera as both were caught in the photo. In order to figure out if it was the bird or the bait, they had the falconer swing bait alone in front of the camera. The camera didn't go off, so they figured it was the falcon.
They did one more run with the falcon and registered 41mph.
For fun, Jamie 'fooled' the speed camera with a device of his own: a rotary actuator flipped the license plate to a different plate.
Exploding Nitroglycerine Patches
Myth: If you're wearing a nitroglycerine patch and you're defibrillated, the patch can explode
Nitroglycerine patches are placed on the chest to relieve heart pain. They can dilate arteries/increase blood flow. Defibrillators come with warning messages to remove such patches before use.
Grant's homemade defibrillator
Instead of wrecking a real, expensive defibrillator for the myth, they had Grant build a homemade equivalent. Grant's defibrillator featured 4000V neon transformer and spatula paddles.
Grant: "It's going to be, potentially, the most lethal thing I have ever built"
Tory: "This just doesn't look dangerous enough, should we get some buckets of water to stand in or maybe set off the sprinkler system"
They compared Grant's homemade contraption using measurements off a ballistics gel torso rigged up to an oscilloscope. The real defibrillator delivered a 4mV peak and lasted 2ms. They said that Grant's was similar enough for the future tests.
First nitroglycerine test
They setup their equipment in a shipping container 'bunker' outdoors. Unfortunately, it was raining and the bunker wasn't waterproof. They rigged up some plastic above the equipment and toweled it off before "safely" starting with the test.
- 200 joules: no explosion
- 360 joules: no explosion
- paddles directly on patch: no explosion
Older aluminum-backed nitroglycerine patch
Nitroglycerine patches used to have an aluminum backing. Those are no longer available so Kari set out to make her own. Tory stopped by during the manufacturing process to play with a stun gun and the aluminum foil. Naturally, he managed to shock himself while writing his name on the aluminum.
Kari: "Oh Tory, are we ever going to have an episode where you don't hurt yourself?"
Tory: "I didn't think it was going to hurt me. I thought I had that one under control"
With it still raining outside, they setup for another test after they blow-dried Grant's equipment. There was no explosion regardless of the patch being aluminum side up or down.
It was time to bring in Frank Doyle to give them real explosives to set off. Frank and his cohort brewed up some nitroglycerine from other explosives. Nitroglycerine is impact-sensitive, so they used Grant's autohammer to test the batch.
- Small dollop of concentrated nitroglycerine on the ballistics gel chest: spark from the paddles, but no explosion. There was still wet nitroglycerine on the chest. At this point they were certain that the myth was busted
- Large amount of nitroglycerine with "assistance": they dug out a cavity in the chest and poured their remaining nitroglycerine into the chest. The ballistics gel torso was blown into gooey pieces.