[Ben Krasnow] built his own version of the TSA’s body scanner. The device works by firing a beam of x-rays at at target. Some of the beam will go through the target, some will be absorbed by the target, and some will reflect back. These reflected x-rays are called ‘backscatter‘, and they are captured to create an image.
In [Ben]’s setup a rotating disk focuses x-rays into beams that travel in arcs across the X-axis. The disk is moved along the Y-axis to fill in the scan. On the disk assembly, there is a potentometer to measure the y-axis position of the beam, and an optical sensor to trigger an oscilloscope, aligning the left and right sides of the image. Using these two sensors, the scope can reconstruct an X-Y plot of the scan.
To detect the x-rays, a phosphorous screen turns the backscattered x-rays into visible light, and a photo-multiplier amplifies the light source. A simple amplifier circuit connects the photo-multiplier to a scope, controlling the brightness at each point.
The result is very similar to the TSA version, and [Ben] managed to learn a lot about the system from a patent. This isn’t the first body scanner we’ve seen though: [Jeri Ellsworth] built a microwave version a couple years ago.
The impressive build does a great job of teaching the fundamentals of backscatter imaging. [Ben] will be talking about the project at EHSM, which you should check out if you’re in Berlin from December 28th to the 30th. After the break, watch [Ben]’s machine scan a turkey in a Christmas sweater.
Continue reading “DIY TSA Backscatter Body Scanner” →
Some electronics professionals have to fly relatively frequently. One such person, [Steve Hoefer] shares with us how to properly fly with your exposed wires and bits without getting nabbed by the TSA for suspicion of being a terrorist. The article is fairly in depth with tips on how to handle most situations including being pulled aside and put in a tiny room for questioning. Most of it boils down to the fact that you can’t expect the TSA agents to be experts in everything. They see stuff that is slightly out of the norm, they have to follow up. We’re not talking about pat-downs and body scanners here, we’re talking about circuit boards, duct tape, and battery packs.
One story [Steve] shares is especially humorous. He noted that the servos had been disconnected from one of his robots. He wonders, why disconnect them? If they were suspected of being an explosive, they shouldn’t have messed with them. If they weren’t… why did they un-plug them?
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, long-time defenders of the common man’s rights in the electronic realm, has published a guide to keeping your digital devices private when entering the United States. It seems the defenders of freedom and liberty (ICE, DHS, TSA, and CBP) are able to take a few freedoms with your liberty at a border crossing by seizing your devices and copies of the data they store for up to five days. This requires no suspicion of wrongdoing, and copies of this data may be shared with other agencies thereby negating the five day limit.
Do you have a reason to protect your digital property? This is discussed in the paper. It may be confidential information, by way of a business contract or professional relationship (Doctors, Lawyers, Journalists, etc.). Or you may just want to keep your privacy on principle. No matter what your stance, the EFF has covered all the bases in this intriguing read. We think the best advice they give is to make an encrypted backup of your data on the internet, blank your computer before the border crossing, and restore it when you get to your destination. If you don’t have the data with you, it can’t be compromised. It that’s not an option, they have plenty of guidelines on cryptographic techniques.
Continue reading “EFF On Securing Digital Information When Crossing The Border” →
Have you ever wanted to ability to see through objects? Perhaps you have been looking for something special for your own personal TSA role playing adventures? Well, [Jeri Ellsworth] has your back. She has managed to cobble together her own
millimeter centimeter wave scanner using a hacked set of Feed Horns (like from a satellite dish) to create the image. By reversing the power transistor on one of the Feed Horns, one of the horns is made into a transmitter, while one of the other horns stays as a receiver. This data is then fed into a FPGA by way of an A2D converter, where an image is assembled when the scanner is moved over a surface. X and Y axis tracking is handled by an optical mouse also controlled by the FPGA, and the whole setup is output to a monitor.
Right now there is no text write up, or any specific details as the hack will vary by whatever Feed Horn is available. However, the video does a great job of explaining some of the electrical concepts, as well as some very useful schematics. Be sure to watch the whole video after the break, and don’t blame us for any health complications, whether the radiation is ionizing or not.
Continue reading “Make Your Own TSA “Naked” Scanner” →
Notacon has just announced their first round of talk selections. The Cleveland, OH area hacker conference will be celebrating its sixth year April 16th-19th. When we attended this year we saw talks that ranged from circuit bending to the infamous TSA bagcam. Self-taught silicon designer [Jeri Ellsworth] presented on FPGA demoing. [Trixter] covered his demo archiving process. You can find a video archive of this year’s talks here.
We’re really looking forward to the conference. [SigFLUP] is already on the schedule to cover Sega Genesis development. Get your talk in soon though; they’re already handing out space to the knitters.
[Andrew] sent in something we’ve been considering for our 17 inch Dell. He squeezed a 100GB PATA notebook drive into the spare space in his Compaq laptop. He used a USB interface to provide the connection and added a toggle switch to conserve power when he doesn’t need the drive spun up. The mod would be even nicer if you added a keyboard activation switch like [sprite_tm]’s keyboard light.
[algormor] gave one of the more controversial talks at Notacon. After receiving a few too many inspection slips and destroyed baggage he decided to find out what was going on behind the scenes. First, he purchased a cheap bag from Walmart with a zipable liner. To record the video, he purchased a SwannGUARD MicroDVR. It’s a palm-sized device that records 128×128 15fps video. It comes with a plastic cover that he mounted to the inside of the bag. A hole was cut for the video camera right above the badge holder. Since the camera is motion triggered, he could slide the badge up, covering the hole, to deactivate the camera. He’s taken the bag on at least four trips. So… what did the footage show?
Continue reading “Notacon 2008: The TSA Bagcam” →