LED stickers: turn your notebook into a lightshow


Can’t wait to see the news story about what happens when someone tries to take their notebook through Logan airport security. That will be a real lightshow!

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Cute, but:

  1. It’s hardly unheard-of for people to have laptops with glowing and flashing lights on them already.
  2. The person who was arrested at Logan was wearing, apparently:
    some kind of computer circuit board with Play-Doh and wires attached, strapped over her black hoodie.
    She shouldn’t have been arrested, and I’d hardly be shocked if the cops mistreated her; the later developments (being taken to the station, court appearances, the plea deal, etcetera) were just unjustified. Nonetheless, she waltzed into the airport openly wearing something that looked like every fake bomb portrayed on every dumb cop show on TV. Being questioned about her attire and her intent - and possibly being briefly detained for the purpose - was hardly an unforeseeable or a ridiculous result. Yes: a real mad bomber would presumably conceal their device. But, seriously, look at the picture and tell me you haven’t seen a similar bomb on the television cop show of your choice.

Can’t say I’ve ever seen a TV bomb that’s just a breadboard with a 9-volt battery. Usually TV bombs at least have some sort of attached cylinders and a countdown clock.

From what I read of later reports, the Play-Doh wasn’t attached - it was more like a fidget toy, unrelated to the LED circuit. There was a lot of conflicting information out there, though, which wasn’t helped by the authorities who wanted to justify their overreactions.

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In a later BB post, Xeni interviews the young woman who was arrested, and she talks about a clay flower she was carrying - but in the picture I linked (admittedly not a great picture) it looks like a battery, some circuits, and some wires are connected to a thin gray brick of clay; this is not unlike the depictions of plastic explosive on the TV (mind you, it’s a lousy picture, plus I have no idea what real plastic explosive looks like).

Basically: her situation should have been cleared up with about 45 seconds of questions and inspection; at worst, shouting “Is there an electrical engineer in the house?” should have settled any questions toute suite. All she went through is a travesty: arrest, court appearances, court-ordered community service, the simple worrying and uncertainty as she’s supposed to be concentrating on her studies and her life - all of it unjustified. But from what I’ve seen, that she attracted the curiosity and the attention of security personnel seems unremarkable; it’s just what happened afterwards that’s problematic.

Look closer: that’s a battery and some LEDs plugged into a white breadboard (looks a lot like this one, as an example). There’s no clay. Even in silly TV bombs, they don’t stick components directly into the plastic explosives, and the explosive isn’t made of solid plastic with a grid of holes.

Sadly, it is quite easy to imagine a “creative” circuit made with these circuit stickers, with exposed copper tape and little circuit boards with LEDs hooked up to it, also being mistaken for a bomb in the same way if they were stuck to anything Mr Magoo would mistake for plastic explosive.

Not that that’s going to stop me from jumping on these things, mind you. These could make some awesome arts and crafts supplies for kids, and help push another generation into not being afraid of exposed wires.

1/31/07 Never forget!

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