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Backpack X-Ray Machine (2016) (adammunich.com)
48 points by aphrax 5 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 28 comments

Is it an actual x-ray? Do we want people to be firing these off in public?

Judging for v1 [1] -- yes it is. And no we don't. That would be double-plus ungood.

[1] https://adammunich.com/x-ray-machine/

Yeah, at least his previous x-ray source looks like it could very well be real. Roughly matches designs of real machines I'm vaguely familiar with.

I do wonder how they cool the tube head. If they don't do it at all, I don't think device lifetime will be that long.

Luckily x-rays have pretty limited range. I think 5m/yd should be minimal safe distance. The further the better, of course.

Operation is actually rate limited by the anode's ability to store heat, not dissipate it. The electron beam heats up the anode far too fast to reasonably dissipate the energy continuously.

Ok, my knowledge about tube heads is rather superficial. I do know the devices I'm familiar with eventually require increasingly long cooldown periods.

Yes, and in the US, interestingly enough those cool-down charts are actually required to be posted visibly on the machine by law.

Which is why big medical x-ray machines have active liquid nitrogen cooling or solid co2, and also huge heatsinks.

> Do we want people to be firing these off in public?

Once all 7 billion people have access to professionals then maybe we can ask this question?

X-Rays were used for years to find peoples shoes size at shoes stores and no one was harmed.

We have a lot more info on correct use now, so don't see the problem....

Other than amateurs need to do professionals job in this current world and the professional are commonly fighting back to stop the greater good to keep their wages high.

> no one was harmed

Citation needed.

They are commercial handheld x-rays, probably a lot weaker than this but still useful:

Handheld backscatter x-ray scanner HBI-120:



How can it get an image without a detector or something on the other side of the object? Is it just capturing reflected back x-rays?

Yes, that's what backscatter means. (Incl. Reemitted) Usually this is more accurate but requires higher doses (not necessarily received) for good quality images, advanced processing and sensors. Used sometimes as backscatter CT or in scintigraphy (looking at people who have been given radioactive contrast).

As someone totally unfamiliar with the space but interested in procuring a very cheap X-Ray or similar product to help identify illicit products at borders such as smuggled cigarettes, does anyone have recommendations on where to look? Needs to be cheap, portable, and ideally with a long battery life as power outages can be frequent

I built this device, and can answer any questions you might have about radio-imaging.

I'm afraid I'm totally new to this and don't even know what I don't know yet, I'm coming into this from the taxation angle and illicit trade is a major concern across Africa but also very hard to identify given some of the issues I mentioned above (plus porous borders, corruption, etc.). I guess my general question is how much does one of these cost to build and maintain? If you could point me to any reading for a total beginner to get up to speed on the capabilities of the technology I'd really appreciate that too.

So it really depends on what you are looking for. If you are looking for say, stowaways in a truck, backscatter x-ray is sufficient to help you find them. But if you are looking for smuggled goods you might need some sort of tranmissive x-ray system the truck passes through like a flatbed scanner of sorts.

Alibaba? They have a bunch of X-ray machines, the smallest one:


What is your situation that you want to identify smugglers but aren't part of a government organization that can already source xray machines?

While this might be the most powerful handheld one(don't know, didn't verify the authors claims), there certainly are already portable commercial scanners available.

And one final thought - anywhere that has 1) smuggling problems, and 2) very intermittent power will also almost certainly have high levels of corruption. Getting scanners into the hands of backwater security personnel means nothing if they only need a few packs of the smuggled cigarettes to not even turn them on.

I love when people simultaneity have ignorant bias and reveal their biases come from complete fiction.

1 not at all people that live in poor countries (have smuggling and intermittent power) are amoral - some of them actually believe in the project of nation building! therefore these cheap handheld detection devices would in fact not "mean nothing".

2 no one accepts cigarettes (or blue jeans or sony walkmen or whatever else your imagine) as payment anywhere outside of out movies. they take local currency or dollar or euro. many smugglers are just as poor as the border patrol they hope to evade so in fact they would be "turned in" for lack of bribe money if caught by one of these devices.

1) I never argued bribery was amoral - that is your stance apparently, not mine.

2) I've literally bribed people with cigarettes(and dollars, and booze, and clothing). So your categorical statement is incorrect. I was mostly just going along with the analogy though.

Or perhaps you are part of a government with significant budgetary limitations.

Not everyone is in the West.

Exactly this, I have a grant that is quite open ended and am interested in any and all interventions that can do good, even those as unconventional as buying police forces portable xrays to detect illicit goods

I disagree with your last two statements for the reasons talked about below, not everywhere with smuggling problems means that scanners will have no use, some police officers want to do their jobs.

As to my situation, many countries have underfunded enforcement agencies, I'm mainly looking into tobacco taxation as a nonprofit intervention but illicit trade with smuggling being a part of that erodes the efficacy of such interventions, and if there was a cheap way to equip law enforcement with the means to identify illicit products being smuggled, then there may be a financial case to purchase them on their behalf

What areas of the world satisy the constraints: (low funding, very intermittent power, high levels of cigarette smuggling, low corruption)?

I know of a lot of smuggling that will generally be unbribeable if caught, like human, ivory, or drug smuggling.

What's the chance of having a cancer after using it?

Very interesting invention though.

100%. Even if you do not use it. You chance of getting cancer is 100%, if you live long enough. It is the "default:" case in the "switch()" statement on "what kills you".

The Aperture logo is a nice touch

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