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After trying to make one of those super-rad IR camera blockers as seen here and here, I can only say that I am left disappointed.

A couple of weeks ago I took an over-sized thug hoodie, decked out the outer rim of the hood with 8 ultra-bright IR LEDs and pointed a camera at it. If someone were to be observing me on a security camera I would have looked like a walking Christmas tree. The lights did not do a darned thing other than make me look mildly-silly. Although, thanks to the fact I was wearing an over-sized hood, part of my face was obscured from the camera (but I didn’t need IR LEDs for that). Anyhow, from this initial experiment I got the impression that there is no way this could work under any circumstances, but I decided to give this theory the benefit of the doubt.

There are two models online. The first model was made by URA / FILOART and has a ring of 12 super-bright IR LEDs centered on the forehead and being powered by 12vdc. The other model posted online on Instructables had 8 LEDs staggered across the front of a baseball cap. These LEDs are being powered by a 9vdc battery with no resistor. This, from the get-go, seemed kinda fishy.

Being that the baseball cap was bound to fail for the same reason my hoodie had failed (the LEDs being to far spaced out and at different viewing angles), I resolved to centralize all of the LEDs on the center of my forehead like URA / FILOART had done with their headband.

Next, to alleviate doubt and the obvious playa-hating that is gonna arise from my claims here, I purchased from the Electronic Goldmine at least 9 of just about every IR LED they sold. I ended up with 5 different promising IR LEDs (those being Part# G14670, G2318, G13661, G2158 and G14587).

I placed eight of each LED on a breadboard and powered them first with 5v and then with 12v (with a 220 ohm resistor). I took photographs (using a camera modified to view near IR light) of each test. In addition, for the 12v trial, I placed the breadboard on the center of my head and took a video from an arm’s length. I took the video dead on for a few moments and then would move the camera to view my side profile.

I could have just given up there since, but I wanted to thoroughly test this before I called “FAKE!!!!” So, I took the brightest LEDs in my arsenal, added another 4 to the breadboard to match URA / FILOART and powering them at 12v, tried it again at an arm’s length. It was slightly better from the front, but as soon as I moved the camera to my side-profile, there I was clear as day.

What I found was that I could see myself in every single attempt at every angle. It then dawned upon me that perhaps the results at 3 feet were not the same results I would get at 10. So, I moved the camera back 10 feet and using the most promising of the LEDs (G2318), I tested it again. From that distance I found the results to be more or less disappointing. My head was not a halo of light. It just looked like I was wearing a headlamp.

The other thing I had to take into consideration was that perhaps the security cameras they were using were of a lower resolution than my 3 megapixel camera (even in 640 x 480 video mode). This point is almost not worth exploring since as soon as you turn your head, you become clearly visible, but, even so, I have tested it using the security cam in the hallway at work at about 20 paces and still no noticeable difference.

Lastly, I remembered a prior discussion with Dan and he was of the impression that if you pointed the LEDs at your face, you may be able to illuminate it out of existence. I felt pointing that many high-intensity IR LEDs directly at my face was a bad idea, but I closed my eyes and gave it a shot. No noticeable difference.

The results from my tests have led me to conclude the following:
1) Even if you can hypothetically block cameras with IR LEDs you could only do it so long as the LEDs are pointed directly in the direction of the camera. LEDs (and IR LEDs in particular) have a limited viewing angle that does not correspond the 360 degree aspect ratio of the average person.
2) The existing results on the internet may either be digitally altered to make it seem to work better than it does or were photographed in a very opportunistic manner in the brief instance in which it may have been working (aKaMaKaVeLy on Instructables never shows actual video of their hat in use. There is just two quick and highly suspect snapshots).
3) Probably with around 20 high-powered LEDs located in about 5 positions around the front of your head, you might be able to pull this off. At that point, you will be so conspicuous, why bother?
4) New media artists and metacafe panderers cannot be trusted with your privacy.
5) You cannot sufficiently block cameras with 12 high-powered IR LEDs. End of story.

(If anyone feels like proving me wrong with replicable results, be my guest.)

More explanation and pictures on Instructables.

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Posted on August 26, 2008

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Posted on August 25, 2008

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I received word from James via an email forwarded from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. They visited him on Friday and report that he is in good health and eager to get back home. He was arrested 5 days ago in Beijing for “upsetting public order” and is now serving 10 days for suspicion of activities in regards to his affiliation with the organization Students for a Free Tibet. He has not been formally charged through the judicial system and should not be subject to further judicial proceedings. According to the authorities he will be released Aug. 30th and allowed to depart China. The Embassy stated that it continues to advocate on his behalf at the highest levels and monitors his case around the clock.

UPDATE
James Powderly and 7 other US citizens detained in China have been released and are on their way to the US. They should arrive in Los Angeles around 6 PM Pacific time. Thanks to Senator Clinton, Representative Velazquez, Senator Lautenberg, and Ambassador Randt for advocating for James and his early release. Also big ups to all of our friends that have sent supportive messages and helped in contacting elected officials. Stay tuned for more info from James about his stay at Chong Wen Detention House.

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Posted on August 24, 2008

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James Powderly
No big news to report, but James has been visited by the US Embassy and it sounds like he is safe and doing okay. This was the first time anyone from the US had seen or heard from James in 4 days so it is a relief.

UPDATE 8/23:
Apparently James was detained while asleep in his hotel. (Oops maybe we should let James tell the story. The embassy has told us that he was at his hotel.) I have to imagine that was a pretty scary experience. The consul, by treaty, can only visit US citizens once per month, so they cannot go and visit James again. I hope that China decides to release all of the US citizens before 10 days.

Students for a Free Tibet are planning some events this weekend in NY:

This weekend in New York City, Students for a Free Tibet in conjunction with other Tibet Support Groups and local Tibetan communities are hosting a weekend of events to mark the end of the Beijing Olympics and continue the call for Tibetan freedom and human rights. This weekend’s events will be an opportunity to show solidarity with Tibetans in Tibet, to support the ten brave SFT activists that remain in “administrative custody” in Beijing, and to project the message declared by Alice Speller (former National Coordinator of SFT UK) during a press conference in Beijing on August 22nd, that “This is not the end of our campaign, this is only the beginning.”

Address of the Chinese Consulate: 520 12th Ave, New York, NY 10036
Address of the United Nations: 42nd St and 1st Ave

August 23, 2008
At the Chinese Consulate:

10:00AM – Tibetan National Anthem
10:05AM – Tibetan Uprising Song
10:10AM – Word of truth
10:20AM – Speeches (TWA, TA)
10:20AM – Protest
12:30PM – lunch
1:30PM – Human chain formation starts
2:30PM – 3:00PM – HUMAN CHAIN

At Times Square:
3:30PM – Wangchuk Shakabpa
3:40PM – Zurkhang Karma Gyatso
4:00PM – Sean Su
4:100PM – RTYC Rep

Aug 24, 2008
At the United Nations:
11:00AM – gathering
11:30AM – Tibetan National Anthem, uprising song, words of truth
12:00PM – 1:00PM – lunch
1:00PM – Reception for protestors deported from Beijing
1:30PM – Introduction Speech by Tsering Palden
1:40PM – Wie Jiangsheng
2:00PM – Uyghur Rabiya Kadeer
4:00PM – March Starts from UN

At the Chinese consulate:
5:00PM – Slogans at the Chinese Consulate
5:05PM – Rajiv Malhotra
5:15PM – Bob Thurman
5:30PM – Rangzen Song
5:35PM – Thank You Speech
5:40PM – Rangzen Flame Lightning Ceremony

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Posted on August 22, 2008

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