Mission Statement - De-Spinning the Pro-Taser Propaganda

Yeah right, 'Excited Delirium' my ass...


The primary purpose of this blog is to provide an outlet for my observations and analysis about tasers, taser "associated" deaths, and the behaviour exhibited by the management, employees and minions of Taser International. In general, everything is linked back to external sources, often via previous posts on the same topic, so that readers can fact-check to their heart's content. This blog was started in late-2007 when Canadians were enraged by the taser death of Robert Dziekanski and four others in a short three month period. The cocky attitude exhibited by the Taser International spokespuppet, and his preposterous proposal that Mr. Dziekanski coincidentally died of "excited delirium" at the time of his taser-death, led me to choose the blog name I did and provides my motivation. I have zero financial ties to this issue.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

How to design a reliable spark-gap

There has been a lot of talk lately about the spark-gaps in tasers being a bit 'fussy'.

Disclaimer: I've not examined an X26 taser. What follows is based on speculation about what they might not have done. If an internal spark-gap is required in the design of the taser, then it needs to be done correctly if it is to be reliable. These are just my opinions, and I'm not an expert in this field.

A reliable spark-gap should be enclosed within a sealed tube, and protected from atmospheric contaminants. A spark-gap that is exposed to the atmosphere will obviously deteriorate over time (this should be considered to be basic and common knowledge for designers of such high voltage systems).

The spark-gap tube obviously needs to be manufactured from ceramic (or perhaps glass) in order to be highly insulating.

The electrodes within the spark-gap assembly need to be sharp, and the exact shape and spacing of the tips can be tuned to achieve the effect desired. The material coating the metal electrodes can be critical - often exotic and expensive metals are used.

The tube needs to be filled with an inert gas (not damp air).

The gas in the tube can also contain traces of a slightly radioactive material to help ionize the gas (very small amounts like those used in smoke detectors). Trace amounts of tritium is commonly used for this sort of purpose. If so, then it might have a half-life such that the device would require periodic maintenance to replace the life-timed spark-gap. This would be addressed in the logistics planning.

If the spark-gap is designed properly and is used within its design limits, then it should be reliable. That's what the words 'designed properly' mean.

The reported unreliability of the spark-gap within tasers (this information straight from Taser International) indicates that there might be a design-oversight with that component.

Perhaps they just used an air-gap. Maybe that's where the characteristic clacking noise originates. {rolls-eyes}

In the industry, electronics that is unreliable is given a highly-technical name: 'Crap'

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