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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
  • 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.

Update: As John notes, BBC Show Top Gear was able to beat the speed camera but it took 2 miles of track and 170+mph * Top Gear Part 1 * Top Gear Part 2 * Top Gear Part 3

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.

busted

Plate blockers

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

all busted

Changing Lanes

(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

busted

Birds

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.

confirmed

Plate flipper

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.

Explosive-quality nitroglycerine

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.

busted

Comments

Actually you CAN go fast enough to beat a speed camera - as proven by BBCs Top Gear:

Parts 1-3:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOx8A-TzHoQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnkp2sT8zkg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ph-qv4gYAE8

You need to go over 170mph to beat the sensors, though - not something you can do on a regular strip of road =P

@John: Great links (I love Top Gear). They aren't using the exact same speed camera, but they also went much faster than the MythBusters were able to do at Infineon.

When they trained us on the defibrillator, they didn't tell us to remove any patches -- but they did teach us how to identify someone with a pacemaker, as running current through that can go poorly.

Also, to make sure you're not on a big metal plate or in a puddle with your patient. :)

try a infra-red remote it works on a video camera

Hey u guys should check out a video on you tube called "beat red light and speed camera tickets using photo blocker"