back to article US teen cuffed for disposable camera 'Taser'

A 14-year-old Connecticut student was on Wednesday charged with "possession of a weapon at school, breach of peace and attempted assault" after turning up at his Clinton classroom with a "homemade weapon" fashioned from a disposable camera. According to Connecticut's WFSB, the Morgan High School student had opened up said …


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  1. Michael


    The school officials should snap out of it .... before it develops into something more.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Jeremiah Dunn is clearly an idiot.

    You cannot be "demobilized" by an electric shock this weak.

    My younger brother helpfully introduced me to the delights of opening up a disposable camera many years ago by shocking me in the exact same way, and unlike a police taser device, I did not collapse to ground, convulse, risk a heart failure and piss my pants.

    But it's ok for the police to use tasers, that's just fine.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    In other news..

    "Bricklayer charged with posession of an offensive weapon after he was seen holding a brick. A local police officer explained 'you could quite easily hit someone over the head with a brick' "

  4. Steve
    Thumb Up


    demobilizing - isn't that what happens when you're discharged from the forces?

  5. Mark


    Just as well he wasn't carrying a piece of paper too: the cuts you can deliver will cause extreme pain..!

    I mean, WTF, really. If it's dangerous to have a SERIOUSLY underpowered "taser" then why is the much more damaging version the plod get to play with considered safer than any other means of assault?

  6. Alec Harkness

    2nd ammendment

    So, let's see if I understand this? Carrying a broken snappy-snaps camera is an imprisonable offence, but the right to carry around fully-automatic machine guns is protected by the constitution?

    Stooopid Americans.

  7. Tim Russell

    "an electronic demobilizing device" I think not...

    Quote "an electronic demobilizing device"

    FFS it's not an electronic demobilizing device, it is an unmodified disposable camera!

    If there was a sticker on the back saying danger of electrocution do not open, I'd understand.

    Are the police willing to ruin this kids life when all he was doing was showing an active scientific interest in a readily available camera... oh and being a normal teenage plonker like we all once were! (Or at least most of us)

  8. G4Z


    I suppose you would be on dodgy ground bringing in 'Operation' on the last day of term as well...

  9. michael

    sounds like a april fool

    kid arested for making a shocking camra I rember hand buzzers and things for april fool

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Oh FFS ! Anyone with a 6rd grade or higher science education should realize that that's how camera flashes work... Take a condensator, charge it, release stored electricity in a burst to achieve flash. But noooo... Cameras are now considered dangerous weapons ! How long before they're banned inflight ? (it may already be the case, it's been a while since I flew to the biggest prison in the world)

    Next step : "a man who's been hit by lightning is suing the US meteorological office for not having been given sufficient advance warning, and also for the fact that 'dat lighting think hurt, dangit ! it should of been outlawed by the guvmint !'. US congress is considering banning low pressure areas and threatening-looking clouds in the interests of national security."

    B. Franklin is probably rolling in his grave (quick, strap a generator to him and use it to shock some sense into the bloody US of A !)

  11. Owen Sweeney

    Digital camera?

    Remember, fingers can take your eyes out too!

  12. Ishkandar


    Have you finally realised that Americans cannot speak English !! They speak some kind of gibberish called "American" !!

  13. Andrew

    Unnamed Minor.......

    Err but they gave the name of the father...... pretty sure it could be worked out from that by anyone near by.

    Ive pulled disposable cameras apart and accidentally discharged it into my arm .. it hurts a bit, but mostly feels a bit fuzzy and tingly for a while afterwards.

    Worst one Ive managed was an electric shock from a plasma lamp through a motherboard (don't ask), up one arm, across chest and down the other arm. And that was quite painful, and I felt iffy for about an hour afterwards.

  14. Matt Bradley
    Thumb Down

    The rewards for an inquisitive mind

    In the land of the free.

  15. James

    The real crime is

    that the boy adapted the camera himself. It wasn't produced by a commercial organisation which charges huge sums of money and pays taxes to Good Ole George.

    If he'd been "United Shockers, Inc." under contract to the military or police it wouldn't have mattered how many people he'd rendered unable to be mobile !!

    Mines the cynical jacket with the upturned collars

  16. Paul

    I wonder if they should arrest all A-Level Physics students..

    because I (very painfully) remeber the lesson where we built our own capacitors. Two 1'x1' metal plates, and about 3000V across them. Now that COULD give a real shock.

  17. 4a$$Monkey
    Thumb Up

    It’s a good job law enforcement wasn’t so stupid when I was young

    ... because my friends and I would have been shipped off for a long holiday in Cuba for some of the stuff we made in our extra-circular science and technology studies!

    Thumbs up for making a Taser from a disposable camera. Well done kid.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They do give a shock

    "My younger brother helpfully introduced me to the delights of opening up a disposable camera many years ago by shocking me in the exact same way, and unlike a police taser device, I did not collapse to ground, convulse, risk a heart failure and piss my pants."

    Try charging the flash first ;o)

    Disposable cameras have a capacitor to power the flash and believe me, it outputs one hell of a poke. I'd be surprised if you didn't fall over after getting shocked by this.

    "Someone" i know was given a disposable camera without the front panel on when "they" were younger by a "friend" and "they" got a bit of a buzz from the terminals. So "they" charged up the flash and put it on "their" mates arm and he dropped to the floor!

  19. Alex

    That's it...

    .. penalise an inquisitive pupil for finding out for himself how things work..

    Good job Sir Isaac Newton didn't go to that school...

    Copper Dunn - you are a considerable cretin! Leave teaching to the professionals..

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    You must be joking...

    What about all the commercially available toys and games that do just that...!?

    Hey, 20 years ago when I was at school I even made one myself using a Maplin DIY electronics kit!

  21. Stratman

    Here you go.....

    All the instructions you need to build three different versions:-

    Projects 82-84.

  22. Jon


    Actually most disposable cameras do have a little warning printed onto the plastic about electric shock risk. but it is far too low to damage anyone.

    Our physics teacher actively encouraged it, taking apart a camera and let us feel the shock (volunteered of course). We also made a back emf cattleprod for my Alevel physics project, unfortunately the only voltmeter the school had was too slow to register so we didn't believe it was working. kzzrrrt it was.

    Nowadays a teacher like this would probably be fired for making science too much fun.

  23. Danyer

    He should be charged under DMCA

    He should be charged under DMCA. He used a device in a way the manufacturer did not intended. He *openend* the disposable camera and he had a look inside. It is disposable, you are supposed to dispose of it, not to reuse. Make more garbage, the planet needs it.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Please remember

    a) That this incident involves the school authorities and the police. Neither of these groups user common sense, they use the rules. And if the rule state that 'an electronic device, capable of giving a shock' is a weapon, then he's just broken the law. "Step inside the cell Kid, and say hello to Bubba"

    b) This happened within the USA. Land of the constrained, and policed.

    Paris, cos she knows all about flashes and flashing.

  25. Adair
    Thumb Up

    Let the blood run free.

    I wonder what they would have done to my mate and I sitting in class; me holding a strip of paper by finger and thumb at each end, he hacking it in half with a stanley knife until, inevitably, the paper got so short that he hacked into a finger instead. We were far more worried about trying to hide the ensuing torrent of blood than the 'knifing'. Happy days.

  26. Dennis

    Re: In other news..

    A large number of men have been charged with Indecent Exposure. As the policewoman explained: "They all have the equipment. Sooner or later they would have exposed them. We stopped them before this happened. It's really disgusting how men are allowed to go around and don't have to wear proper restraints."

    I'm still wearing my flasher mac. Here, take a look.

  27. Anonymous Coward

    not so silly

    your average disposable camera containing a 330uf 330v photo flash capacitor packs just under 18 joules of energy, thats sufficient to cause temporary paralysis of the extremities (definatly an arm - speaking from experience here) and sufficient to trigger cardiac arrest or seizures in sensitive individuals (and possibily non sensitive individuals depending where on the body the shock is delivered)

    for comparison the average BOFH cattle prod packs only 2-3 joules (though id guess THE BOFH's cattle prod packs a lot more...)

    finally it is generally accepted that 50 joules is a lethal shock energy to humans so youd only have to bodge 2 more capacitors into the camera to have a lethal weapon


  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'd take away those sharpened pencils too, officer.

    It's ironic that even as the internet allows us to get news from around the world, many major news stories are ignored, but "look at the 'stoopid' American" stories sometimes manage to get major coverage

  29. Paulcutts
    Thumb Up

    well done lad, sign him up

    Although there is a seriousness about this. I have myself made a tazer from a disposable camera with a flash after reading about it. I think that this lad has shown great intelligence and although misguided, it still a brilliant use of science to help his situation.

    I accidentally zapped myself with my home made tazer and they are quite harmless, painful but harmless (actually 2 friends hurt themselves laughing when I stunned myself but this doesnt count)

    IT Angle


    Certainly gives a bit of a poke, but nothing I would consider dangerous (even when fully charged). That said, as a child I once put 240v mains through my arse.

    I now work in IT...go figure.

  31. Adam

    Didn't cause me any harm *twitch*

    At an old job we had a disposable camera come apart. Thinking the capacitor was discharged, I poked it with my finger... Bang!

    It was definitely unpleasant, I leapt two feet in the air and my heart was racing for a few minutes, but I really doubt it could have done much damage. Was probably surprise as much as the electric shock. Getting nipped on the ankle by a puppy when you don't expect it has a similar effect.

    Anyway, doesn't this school teach electronics, ever? What do they do when the inevitable happens, i.e. a kid wires an electrolytic capacitor backwards across a power supply then calmly retires to a safe distance to see what happens? ;-)

  32. Anonymous Coward


    Haughwout? Electrickery? It's all a bit Harry Potter isn't it?

  33. PaddyR


    "shock from a plasma lamp through a motherboard", no, really, we do have to ask

  34. James Bray
    Thumb Down


    I remember doing this at school all the time with my camera. It's just that the flash charges up in a buffer and if you touch a certain bit inside it discharges into your hand.

    Doesn't "immobilize" in any way, and is probably much weaker than an electric fence that you are legally allowed to have around any property you own.

    Another overreaction by the left wingers in the country.

  35. Steve

    @AC and @ Jon

    Do you know anything about electricity and electronics?

    Far from being "weak" ~300Vdc across a 200-400uF flash cap CAN be really nasty stuff - easily as bad as a 230Vac mains shock - it's more or less the same voltage. The effective resistance of the cap is easily low enough to hold its voltage when under 100mA load (10x safe limit); in fact they're good for many amps (that's how you get the powerful flash). Sure there's not enough energy to turn a victim into toast but an elderly person may well remain permanently 'demobilised'.

    PS: I've designed many a switching power supply and have numerous patents in electronic design.

  36. Alan Parsons

    I had one of these...

    ...back at school. A friend and I made it, but we didn't use a disposable battery, we had one of those old flashes that mounts on the top of a proper camera. It took 6 AA batteries and had a 'test' button so you could set the flash off without the camera attached. We had two long nails stuck out of the plastic case and just took the leads off the bulb holder and wired them to the nails instead. It did _seriously_ hurt, but was more useful for opening other people's lockers as if you hit the test button with the nails held against a metal plate it would make a bit of a hole.. One quick lap of the lock and then a bit of brute force and ignorance and a locker could be pwned pretty fast :)

  37. Spleen

    Re: 11:00

    "It's ironic that even as the internet allows us to get news from around the world, many major news stories are ignored, but "look at the 'stoopid' American" stories sometimes manage to get major coverage"

    You've got to remember that these are the guys who consider themselves willing, able and entitled to police the world. Therefore their ability to police themselves is of immense interest to everyone.

  38. Pete Silver badge

    Ban wooly jumpers and nylon knickers

    If we're talking electric shocks, what about static electricity?

    Presumably if you accidentally give someone - or yourself a shock that's OK. But if you do it deliberately that classes your clothes as a dangerous weapon.

  39. Mike


    This is about the stupidest thing I have ever heard, no wonder the science scores in the US are dropping faster than the housing market. I wonder how much Jail time I should get for the little boxes I used to make in school?? They were powered by 5 9V batteries that charged about 6 5000mf caps at about 3kv. I would switch them on leave them sitting (and humming) and just wait for someone to try to pick it up. Heck, we used to have contests to see who could hold on to them the longest. Fun stuff. Sure, we used to get into trouble for that kind of stuff, a stern lecture from the dean, but jail time for weapons, gimme a break.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    common sense?

    is it my imagination but are majority of educational institutions are set up to kill common sense?

    next thing they will tell kids that 9v battery can kill them if they lick them....

    or if you stop breathing for more than a second you will sufficate?

    or if you spin in place ten times the earth will stop?

    or if you make ugly faces your face will stay that way?

    and my personal favorate: evolution does not exist!

  41. Joe K

    Arrest all the geeks

    What about that kid from the 60's who tried to build a small nuclear reactor from his own fission pile in his garden shed.

    I'm sure he'd be hung, drawn and quartered by Bush's minions these days.

  42. Niall Campbell

    Piezo Electric Lighters..

    In my day's at school, we'd take these apart, come up close to the unsuspecting and give them a jolt.

    Mines the one with the arrows on it. I'm expecting the boys in blue round any time!

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How'd the teacher get shocked?

    I'm sure kid Macgyver will be popular in reform school.....Bottom line is the kid shocked the teacher by modifying a household item....

  44. E

    Officer Barney Fife in search of a crime

    I know the kid. Take a look at the video of the Dad "shocking" himself. He isn't mimicking "THE SHOCK", he is actually doing this. Every media outlet did not choose to show this demonstration. He opens the camera, pushes the button to activate the flash and shockingly touches the camera. He didn't fall or become immobilized. Sad thing that the offense (now being charged as a felony) races across the internet and news channels "in a flash", but his exoneration will not. Why don't you all here who know something about basic high school science email the High School that choose to bring in an officer to trouble shoot this issue instead of a science teacher. Presumably they had a science teacher in the building ... well considering what happened maybe not! Morgan High School, Clinton Connecticut USA. Help this Honor student regain his honor.

  45. this


    Ah nostalgia!

    We used to fill the chem lab sinks with gas through the tap drip-hole in the cover (a heavy wooden thing) with the bunsen burner hose and light the drip-hole just as the lesson ended. Nice little pilot flame until we were away down the corridor, and hopefully the next class filing in. Eventually an explosive mixture achieved in the sink and a really nice explosion, flash etc.

    Then there was the caustic soda of course...

    Now that's what I call a proper education.

  46. Dave

    Loud Bangs

    I guess it's a good job I'm no longer at school then. I have fond memories of taking a large electrolytic capacitor (ex-TV) charged to about 300V into school one day and discharging it by shorting the terminals on a metal table leg with accompanying loud bang. Fortunately, when the French teacher came to examine evidence, it was obviously harmless and not capable of doing anything. I wouldn't have tried it in the physics lesson...

    As for chemistry, ammonia solution and conc hydrochloric acid were our staple joke, producing clouds of ammonium chloride out of thin air. Especially as the first year class had a lesson right after ours. The teacher got wise to the "Sir! Sir! There's smoke coming out of the sink".

  47. P.Nutt

    Fire in the hole!

    If that officer was anywhere near my school back in the day he would be diving for cover and calling in special forces assistance and most of the school sent to Gitmo as we had an operational Scud missile years before Iraq ever did.

  48. stuart Thompson


    De-mobilizing my ass!i discovered exactly the same thing when i was a kid, the capacitor for the flash will give you a nice little jolt and maybe a numb arm at best.

    The only chance of demobilization is for the person with the "Taser" when the get a quick slap for shocking the wrong person.

  49. kain preacher Silver badge

    @By Alec Harkness

    "So, let's see if I understand this? Carrying a broken snappy-snaps camera is an imprisonable offence, but the right to carry around fully-automatic machine guns is protected by the constitution?

    Stooopid Americans.


    You know if you are going to bash a country on its laws at least no the laws.

    You can only have a fully automatic weapon i 13 states. A you must ask permission from the state and federal government.

    Oh yeah the permit application for the federal gov is around $1200 . Then you have the Fees from the state which is around $600 to $1200 depending on the sate.

  50. Anonymous Coward


    God I remember pulling apart an old crank-handle phone on my grandparents farm and taking the bell generator to school. I had a length of twisted pair wire and a trailing two-prong plug attached to the terminals with the specific intent of fun and mayhem zapping other students with a 50VAC jolt (I forget the actual current output, but it sure kicked like a horse!). It took a team of 2 to operate - one to sneak up unsuspecting victims and press the prongs of the plug on bare flesh - the other to hold the generator (which was small enough to hold in one hand) and crank the handle like mad at the right moment.

    Harmless fun, but imagine doing that these days ...

    Actually now I think about it - once we were done with that fun, the powerful magnets were put to amusing (at least to a schoolboy) use erasing 5 1/4 inch floppy disks, which were a quite new thing at the time :-)


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