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back to article Is it a phone? Is it a Taser? No, it's a cattle prod!

A Queensland man yesterday pleaded guilty to possession of a Taser disguised as a mobile phone. In his defence, Carl Townroe claimed the device was a cattle prod and not in disguise. Mind you, he also pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana, so the weed may have got to him. Tasers are nasty things and we can think of no …

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Grenade

Were these Tasers or Stun Guns

Tasers work from a distance using electrified projectiles. Stun Guns (and Cattle Prods) require the victim to be touched by the device to receive a shock. So which was it? Stun Guns aren't all that scary to me.

And as for why a regular Joe would need one, have you read this? http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/bella/2010/08/ouch_todays_hard_lesson_on_yel.php

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Silver badge

Why? What's the point?

"No-brand electric stun guns, such as those contained in Van Hout's parcel can be much more powerful, and that means much more dangerous, than official Tasers."

Next they will outlaw automobile ignition coils, 9 volt batteries, and NAND gates ... Followed shortly by pointy sticks and fist-sized lumps of stone.

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Hm

Never heard of anyone dying of 9v battery...

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Badgers

Aaaactually

There's possibly one case, not confirmed and some debate on it, but nonetheless.

http://darwinawards.com/darwin/darwin1999-50.html

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Anonymous Coward

Happens

The classic (apocryphal?) story is of the guy who's just measured the resistance between one hand and t'other and then decides to measure his internal resistance...

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WTF?

I could ask you the same question

Death by NAND gate isn't all that popular either.

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Add the other ingredients maybe?

Try adding in an ignition coil (mentioned in the original post) and an oscillator (can you oscillate from NANDs?) and maybe some capacitors for storage.

You can quite easily boost the 9V to a few hundred and possibly enough energy to adjust someone's heart rhythms.

You'd probably be better of with a pack of hi capacity rechargeables like maybe a laptop battery. Much more energy than a standard pp9.

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Silver badge

Re: max allen et alia

"(can you oscillate from NANDs?)"

You have GOT to be kidding me ... Does nobody reading this forum actually understand basic electronic theory? Look up "multivibrator", and get yourself a tiny chunk of an education ... if your country's firewall doesn't "protect" you from such information, that is.

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@jake

"You have GOT to be kidding me ... Does nobody reading this forum actually understand basic electronic theory? Look up "multivibrator", and get yourself a tiny chunk of an education ... if your country's firewall doesn't "protect" you from such information, that is."

Hur hur hur. You said "vibrator."

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Thumb Up

"no legitimate reason why a civilian should have one"

And when has THAT ever been an issue - they are over the counter sales in LA.

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Headmaster

Really? Cali penal code forbade even brass knuckles last I looked ...

... so I would be surprised if stun guns were allowed to be sold over the counter unless the voltage is so low as to be ineffective as a deterrent (but possibly worthwhile for sale in kink shops). Granted, last I checked CA's code was ~ 2001- 2002, so it might have been amended since then.

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@skeptical i

Horse crap. Brass knuckles have been available over the counter for as long as I can remember ... Most department stores don't carry them, mind, but many hardware/sporting goods stores do ("Big 5", "K-Mart" & "Wall-Mart" used to, not that I've looked recently). I know for a fact that you can get them at any big flea market.

Trench knives, too. Big, narsty, spiky ones.

Oooh ... we're all doomed ... DOOMED, I tells ya!

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Gold badge

And the police?

I can't think of a legitimate reason why the police should have them, let alone use then either...

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FAIL

Get with the program please

CA = California

LA = Louisiana

L.A. = Los Angeles

Don't get me started on LA vs L.A. - you REALLY don't want to know...

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Silver badge

Re: Version 1.0

I'm in California, Sonoma specifically.

Your point?

Pardon me while I spill some pepper spray on my morning omelet ...

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difference between a taser and a stun gun

The taser shots little darts with wires that electrocutes someone from a distance. A stun gun has two metal poles that electrocutes someone within arms reach.

The difference is like the difference between a gun and a knife. Both leave a hole but one of them requires close quarters.

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J 3
Coat

Dangers of fast reading...

For more than a second there, when I saw "Novel explanation for mobile stun gun", I thought: Novell is making stun guns that look like cell phones!? COOL! :-)

Then I read the article and found there ARE stun guns that look like cell phones, although the Penguin peddler has nothing to do with it, alas. That could be amusing to watch. Wrong button and a call will be dropped, but for a more, ahem, shocking reason...

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Paris Hilton

Reasons

It's funny that the author can't think of a reason for regular folk to have tasers / stun guns, but the Ads by Google apparently can.

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Alert

Cattle-prod...

"Tasers are nasty things and we can think of no legitimate reason why a civilian should have one".

Yeah, riiiight. Like we didn´t know where this guy got such an idea...

I hereby request a BOFH Icon. Where is our beloved Red Horned Phone(tm) when we need it?

Cattle prods charged... KZZZZERRTTT....

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Pint

Phone and Taser and Cattle Prod

Sounds like a good combo - does it work on children? Won't somebody please think of the parents?

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Joke

BOFH

It seems like you found the Gold Coast BOFH. Those cattle prods definitely look like they would be in the "BOFH's Best Choice" list...

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Thumb Down

that means much more dangerous, than official Tasers

Tasers, made by the American company, have been held to be responsible for many deaths.

In Vancouver, Canada, the RCMP killed an immigrant who did not understand English, see: < http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2007/11/14/bc-taservideo.html >.

A US report claims at least an additional 70 deaths, see: < http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/10/12/earlyshow/main648859.shtml >. A BBC report expands the detail, claiming 300 dead in the US, see: < http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/7784665.stm >.

Not to be outdone, the Irish Plods also killed at least one person: see < http://www.amnesty.org.uk/news_details.asp?NewsID=17140 >.

The Chinese versions of these weapons are on sale in Cambodia for USD$15. When I checked a couple of versions out the devices had not ability to fire barbs so they were, in effect, more like cattle prods. This means the intended victim is within arms reach of the person applying the shock whereas Plod is way off their victims.

Perhaps the Oz defendant should have said he was experimenting with spark transmissions used way back when Titanic hit that frozen water.

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Anonymous Coward

Qld Police also have a checkered history with Tasers

Man died after being tasered by Qld police; officers say they only zapped him 3 times, but the taser says it was fired 28 times:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/06/18/2601290.htm

Ok so this one they didn't actually use the taser, but still managed to kill a 16 yr old boy:

http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/news/queensland/probe-into-road-over-taser-death-to-take-weeks/2009/02/11/1234028095802.html

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Coat

Is that a phone in your pocket?

Or are you just shocked to see me?

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Cattle prod?

It would certainly cow me.

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FAIL

So, it's just a repackaged cattle prod...

...and except for the electricity, it's not much like a projectile-firing taser at all. Hog farmers and stockyard workers in Australia routinely use a legally-available cheap compact prod about the same size as a N1200, which should serve the same purpose as this "cellphone" shocker.

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Thumb Down

Ahh but the difference is...

The difference is that when you see someone walking down the street carrying a cattle prod, its obvious theyre carrying a cattle prod, and your going to pay attention to what they do with it.

If you see someone carrying a phone, your not going to pay any real attention and so you put yourself in a lot of danger of being shocked when your backs turned.

Oh and i hope he didnt claim they were just for him - he ordered 20 of them! Tell me he didnt have something nefarious planned with that!

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Taser

Tasers work from a distance using electrified projectiles. Stun Guns (and Cattle Prods) require the victim to be touched by the device to receive a shock. So which was it? Stun Guns aren't all that scary to me.

You do know that tasers can be used as a stun gun.

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Bronze badge

Meh.

Worked for the QLD police for a few years (in IT), but perused the various "info bulletins" from time to time. Was most impressed with a confiscated mobile-phone-to-handgun conversion. Three cartridges in all, each fired from a different key-pad button.

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Anonymous Coward

Stun guns in Asia

They sell these tings on the streets in Asia and most of them are crap badly made cheap nasty Chinese copies.

They generally give out a much reduced shock compared to the proper ones, more of an annoyance than anything.

The guys down the pub were trying one out on each other a few years back and they were utter shit, the voltage certainly wasn't enough to overwhelm your nervous system like it's meant to be.

It's amazing what some people will do for a free pint !

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Joke

iProd?

Guaranteed to be mishandled only ONCE!

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Terminator

Nasty Things

I suppose they are, but that doesn't mean there's no reason for a civilian to have one. Nasty things are very handy when nasty people try to hurt you.

In the US, at least in most states, even famously pro-gun control California, you can easily buy a (non-projectile) stungun. Recently I've seen (projectile) Tasers in stores to, but these are fairly tightly controlled. Arguably even more than guns, not only do you have to register it and pass a background check, it fires serial number confetti when used.

In my opinion they have a bad reputation just because police are trigger happy with them. If anything they're probably safer in the hands of a civilian who knows they can't get away with that kind of behavior.

Admittedly, I'm not sure there's a really good reason for them to be disguised as phones.

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Coat

You've got it all wrong

They are not stun guns that look like mobile phones. They are just mobile phones with pre-release copies of Window Phone 7 on them and people are shocked when they see it. There is a difference.

/mines the one with the cattle prod shaped like a cane sticking out the pocket.

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Thumb Up

Huh?

I really would really would like to hear his reason for disguising his cattleprod as a phone!

Are his cows smart enough to know one when they see it? And if so was he hoping to they would be currious enough to let him get close enough to use it if it was disguised as a phone?

"Moo - oh hey, is that the new iPhone?" ZAP!

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Something for the iPhone 4.1?

Now if the mechanism for the 'stun gun' could be incorporated into an iPhone 4 with the contacts either side of that little gap on the lower left hand side....

Well let's just say 'grip of death' could take on a whole new meaning....

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Thumb Down

Disarm the peasants.

"Tasers are nasty things and we can think of no legitimate reason why a civilian should have one..."

Weapons? Only for the king and the king's men.

"Civilians" should have access to these weapons because they are useful for non-lethal self-defense (or defence, pick your English). The right to preserve your own life and safety is the most fundamental right of a sentient being.

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Anonymous Coward

Arm the loonies

"'Civilians' should have access to these weapons because they are useful for non-lethal self-defense (or defence, pick your English)."

Kenneth Noye is a civilian. So's Stuart Sutcliffe, and pretty much any other bats-in-the-belfry mad-about-town lunatic that's ever made the front-page. Surely you're not suggesting we should allow nutters like this to arm themselves legally? Why the hell would you want to make it any easier for them than it already is?

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and also

"Tasers are nasty things and we can think of no legitimate reason why a civilian should have one..."

You do realise that the police are civilians?

Unless you were being ironic...

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Badgers

Cat gun?

Any idea if these are illegal in England?

And also a site where they could be ordered?

...There's a cat that keeps getting into my garden and eating my koy fish out the pond.

Badgers, because there's not a cat sign

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Tasers illegal in your area ?

Try making one out of a camera instead - http://www.ehow.com/how_2049857_taser-from-disposable-camera.html

No idea if it works - but it sounds reasonable.

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Grenade

Not surprising...

Allegedly the stun gun was originally invented by a camera repairman. As the story goes, he knocked himself out when try to fix a flashgun and thought he could make that into a weapon....

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Thumb Up

re: Tasers illegal in your area ?

I can confirm that disposable cameras make excellent tasers. I have zapped myself with them many times when I used to develop photos for a living, its extremely powerful for its size.

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FAIL

Taser International - "a highly reputable company"

Taser International - "...a highly reputable company..." That's a matter for debate...

The basic issue is that, in their marketing of tasers, they claim essentially perfect safety. The only risks that they highlight are secondary issues such as falling down or drowning in puddles. Their medical director writes articles about how the taser cannot possible affect the heart, how it has a "15-to-1" electrical safety margin, and how the risk of cardiac effect is "essentially zero". They claim the output is only "2mA average", and imply that this average measurement is somehow relevant.

In reality, tasers are not as safe as claimed, the X26 taser has a much lower cardiac safety margin than claimed, and the risk of death from direct effects (while low) is actually many orders of magnitude higher than they imply. They also claim legal victories that were actually settlements. The actual output from the X26 taser is about 150mA RMS, or about 30 to 50 mA 'Effective'. Taser International also promotes "excited delirium" as an explanation for the many taser associated deaths (their lawyer even registers websites).

For reference, I direct your attention to the following search topics:

1) The Braindwood Inquiry

2) Excited-Delirium blog

3) The taser's "Curious Temporal Asymmetry"

4) How many amps in a police taser?

There are MAJOR issues with the marketing of tasers.

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Anonymous Coward

Correction: It's the BRAIDWOOD Inquiry

It the BRAIDWOOD Inquiry. Sorry for typo.

PS: The Braidwood Inquiry was a two phase multi-million dollar public inquiry held in British Columbia into taser safety and into the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski in late-2007. The inquiry concluded that tasers can cause or contribute to death, even with healthy adults. And that the most probably cause of death of Mr. Dziekanski was the 31-second duration tasering that he received in the final minute of his life.

It's worth noting that Taser International initially tried (unsuccessfully) to pin the blame for Mr. Dziekanski's death on "excited delirium"; they even wheeled-out UoM's Dr. Mash to make the same claim. These and similar claims were rejected by the inquiry. Also rejected was the testimony of Taser International's own Dr. Jeffrey Ho. His testimony was described as "insulting to the intelligence" by Justice Braidwood.

Taser International is definitely 'on their back foot'. Sales are down. They've launched an appeal of Braidwood's finding to the BC Supreme Court. It's funny that as part of this appeal, they complained that Braidwood was raised "at every meeting with customers and potential customers", and was affecting sales. But they failed to disclose anything at all about the Braidwood Inquiry in their March 2010 annual report. Taser use in British Coulmbia is reportedly down about 90%.

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