IR LED speed camera license plate blocker

Posted on Monday, June 6th, 2011 in hacks, infrared, LEDs by the machinegeek

Siliconfish used to build IR cameras for a living, so he knows something about the effects light of various IR wavelengths can have on a camera. When his town installed photo cameras on the traffic lights, he decided to experiment with an array of IR LEDs mounted on a license plate frame to see what effect this would have on traffic light cameras. He presents his project details here for educational and research purposes only.

This entry was posted on Monday, June 6th, 2011 at 2:41 pm and is filed under hacks, infrared, LEDs. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

38 Responses to “IR LED speed camera license plate blocker”

  1. Drone says:

    This is illegal. It may even be illegal to blog about. Soon the Government will be tattooing ID numbers on our foreheads. Then it will be illegal to wear a hat.

  2. lola says:

    hmmmm. is it trueee???

  3. Stephen K. says:

    what using a IR filter over the license plate?

  4. Nicky says:

    Built one awhile ago in fact. Used 18 drilled bores on a plastic “Go Bucks” frame and wired 18 high intensity IR LED’s through the bores and connecting via accessory power. It has a toggle switch that hinges on the side of the handbrake. I turn it on when I’m going through known speed traps on when traveling through zones I don’t know about. I love driving fast. Not dangerously or recklessness fast, just fast enough to enjoy the HP of the sports car from time to time and to this day I have not gotten a speed cam ticket. The light is not visible what so ever either day or night but i’m paranoid enough to leave it off for the most part just in case. I’ve experimented with a couple different cameras and camcorders and even with IR filters this thing absolutely blinds the lense. 18 was overkill but you could probably get away with just 4 if you want to do less soldering. For $20 and a couple hours you don’t have to fear the camera ever again

    • john says:

      Wonder if you could give me a little more info on wiring these, and the components involved sorry i am not so mechanically inclined …

      • Sleepwalker3 says:

        Giving your number out online for all the world to see, isn’t the best idea.

      • Zeta says:

        I wonder how many texts along the lines of: “connect the + and – totheger and turn it ON. I’m Nicky for Realz” this guy got

    • john says:

      Oh I thought it went diectly to Nicky…yikes !

      • Sleepwalker3 says:

        Nope, if you want that, you’ll need to send hi a PM through the Forum (assuming he / she is on the forum). I’m sorry I can’t take your post down as yet, you’ll have to wait for one of the others, or go to the ‘Contact’ link above and ask them to remove your comment.

      • Sleepwalker3 says:

        OK John, I’ve taken your number off the blog now, hopefully you haven’t got any problems because of it!

  5. What about an infrared filter over the plate?

    We have many years experience fabricating optoelectronic devices for the military and PhDs in the technology coming out of our backsides. This is the way to go. It WORKS. And it’s patented. You want to foil infrared traffic observation cameras? Get one of these…

    • Driver says:

      You actually have exactly the opposite of what this discussion is about. This hack is against regular spectrum cameras, by flooding them with IR light, rendering them useless. Apparently in the UK, they use IR cameras to take tickets. In the states, it’s regular cameras. An IR filter (what you’re selling) would do nothing against a “regular” camera.

      So no, don’t buy this instead of the hack above – unless you live in a jurisdiction where IR cameras dole out the tickets.

      If you want a quick example of what the original post does, turn on your smartphones camera. Point a remote at it and push a button on the remote. Watch the IR light up on your smartphone’s screen.

    • gordon says:

      How can “a closely guarded secret” ( be patented?

      • Sleepwalker3 says:

        …Very secretively ;)

      • Ash says:

        Ha ha, yeah – good question, Gordon. Keeping a manufacturing process secret while getting a patent for the resulting device is exactly why you pay a Patent Attorney a very large amount of money….

        Don’t believe anyone who tells you that you can reproduce a manufactured product by simply reading it’s patent, buying the kit to make it.and following the A B C.

  6. Online says:

    IR Leds will blind a regular camera. I tried it with my remote and it works. My question is do traffic light and tracking cameras have IR filters? if that’s the case then I think you’d have to use a bright white Led to blind the camera, maybe in addition to the IR light. What I want to know is not what kind of cameras they use in the UK, but WHAT do they use in the US? Do they use IR camera, regular cameras, or regular cameras with IR filters?

    It’s not so much tickets that bother me, I don’t get them now. I just don’t want to be tracked by tracking cameras wherever I drive. I like my privacy.

  7. FredR says:

    Interesting product at sunflex :-) Doesn’t cover the plate, doesn’t obscure visibility. It probably could be legal until they pass more legislation, but will it work? Does anyone have experience with this?

    • Don’t know the product well enough to comment about it’s efficicay, but the idea is sound. However, if these LEDS are bright enough to blind a camera they are also bright enough to do damage to your eye. What’s more, you can’t see in the IR. So you don’t know you’re looking at an extremely bright source of radiation. It’s like driving around with a floodlight on your car that you can’t see. It can still damage your eyes though. I’ll bet you a dime to dollar the manufacturer hasn’t thought of that and the day he’s sued for damaging a car mechanic’s eyes will not be long in coming if he starts to sell a lot of these

  8. Sleepwalker3 says:

    Ashley makes a good point about the potentially damaging effects of the very bright IR light. If you’ve ever accidentally connected up a bright visible LED whilst looking at it, you will know it can even be painful. I was testing a 6 pin SMD White about 0.5W and even a half second blast was really bad. I have found it impossible to see on some days when driving in the rain and you get a fancy Euro car with super-bright LED brake lights and they totally blind you. I would argue they actually increase the time required to pull-up, as it dazes you for a few dozen milliseconds. It makes me wonder whether the IR could affect the response of the driver behind, even though they are not aware of the blinding light in front of them, as it’s not in their visible spectrum.
    You can get similar effects with Ultra-sound, where the noise is so loud it can actually cause you to pass out, yet you can’t hear it!

  9. Ashley says:

    There’s also a technical issue with the IR LED ‘blinding’ concept that limits its usefulness.

    There are many different kinds of ALPR cameras out there. Most operate in the IR somewhere in the region of 750-1100nm. Many have bandpass filters in front of them to specifically view the wavelength region of the light generated by their IR LED floodlights. If you use an 820nm LED blinding flood on your plate surround and you drive through an ALPR camera with bandpass filtering and a 920nm floodlight, your 820nm LEDs aren’t going to blind diddly squat because they don’t emit a fraction of the radiation at 920 that they do at 820.

    I might be biased, but the patented product here is the best solution for foiling ALPR cameras:

    • Rich says:

      I love how this Stealth Plate “spammer” keeps changing usernames to sell a poroduct that is WORTHLESS in the US.

      Get clued to the discussion at hand “Ashley”, or just keep your “Phds” to yourself.

  10. SunflexZone says:

    Hello, I am the manufacturer of the Sunflex IR frames. I did a search via google of my domain and found this discussion. I hope I am not violating any policies by posting here. Spamming is certainly not my intention. Ashley’s concern is a valid one, and it is one I considered. In fact I have recently changed the frame design so that the IR lights are actually aimed downwards and not directly at the car behind you. I have also attached a warning label so any mechanic will be warned. Surprisingly during retesting the effectiveness was actually improved.

    I have been working extensively with an engineer to get the best balance of brightness and safety, he is confident my current design is safe. It is certainly not my intention to harm anyone. In fact my original design did use lights that were potentially dangerously bright, luckily I only sold three before the error was caught. I apologized and sent replacements, I also asked my customers to destroy the frames.

  11. SunflexZone says:

    Also, the product from stealthplate does look awesome. My frame operates using lights of multiple wavelengths between 820-950nm. The only problem I see with the SP design is it looks like it may need to be applied to a flat surface. While UK plates are smooth, most other countries, including most of Europe, use raised numbers and letters so it may be a problem for these customers. One option may be to use a clear smooth plastic plate cover and apply the SP product to it if your location allows it. I offer support to anyone who helps put a dent in government citizen surveillance.

  12. Ashley says:

    Sounds like Sunflexzone has thought things out properly. Hope I don’t sound patronising here, but, well done!

    CCD ALPR cameras operate to around 1100nm, but I don’t know of any systems on the market that use IR illumination beyond 940nm. Camera sensitivity starts to fall off beyond about there. Some use 780nm LEDs but those glow red enough to be noticed by the naked eye and, to the best of my knowledge, in the UK at least, they’re not allowed to be used. Too distracting for drivers.

    Yes, Stealthplate does have some issues with fitting to the pressed metal plates used in many countries, but our customers in those jurisdictions have found that sticking them to commonly available plate covers does the trick. Still, in many places round the world, the use of Stealthplate is against the law. Whereas I don’t think the IR LED blinding idea will be illegal.

    And, oh how I agree with your comment about supporting anyone who puts a dent in citizen surveillance! And it’s not just surveillance: the over-reliance on clever pieces of technology to chase minor transgressions of the law is a can of worms nobody will be able to put the lid back on. Here in the UK, the Police were recently forced to reveal (by Freedom of Information legislation) that there are currently 8 thousand million individual ALPR logs on databases kept by the authorities. That is 8 billion observations of people and their driving habits, a tiny fraction of which are transgressions of the law. I’m not impressed. Not impressed at all.

  13. Zee says:

    Using a 980nm 250mw laser with phase just above and below the plate would do the trick. Box phasing the beam above and below would give a static blinding effect. If you put in a flash diode to quickly alternate, no floodlight in the world would help a digital camera with that.

  14. B says:

    I am based in the UK, and one of the issues is that most(more and more) Police cars use ANPR Camera’s which spy your number plate / license plates then immediately running them against their database.

    By using ‘stealth plate’ or anything like that, it just guarantees that the ANPR Camera in the Police vehicle produces an error alert. Which means……they stop you.

    Once they see that you are using a stealth plate of any kind / from any manufacturer, you get a fine and points on your license as you are obscuring your number plate / license plate.

    Our issue now is, these b*st*rds:
    “Siemens SafeZone solution is Home Office type approved and optimized for urban speed
    enforcement, 24 hours a day and in all weather conditions. Its ease of deployment also
    makes it a particularly cost effective solution. SafeZone is capable of successfully identif
    y-ing the Vehicle Registration Mark (VRM) and make, model and colour of vehicles in all
    light conditions from all lanes on a carriageway and calculating average speed over a
    measured distance within the speed enforcement zone”

    So 24hrs a day in all conditions = arrrrgggghhhh !

    Not being able to use a number plate / license plate obscuring on UK roads, and most European roads either – as you will just get stopped, and then done. And I understand (from CSI !), that ANPR is coming to all US Police cars too!

    For me the best solution is:

    ButAnd my question to the SunFlex team is……..
    – would it not be good / safer to have above and below the number plate / license plate, thus giving more protection. Or even a frame / more lights to go on the side? As your videos don’t seem to fully obscure…….?
    – clearly the use of a switch is the way forward for safety, and also if stopped, the lights would clearly not be on! ;o)
    – taking into account Ashley and Zee’s comments can you not increase the wavelength of the lights from 700nm-1200nm?

    Look forward to any responses…..


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