Personal Black Box?

jim bell jdb10987 at
Thu Jun 11 13:43:12 PDT 2020

 "I am interesting in participating in designing and building one.  It helps me to set a norm of speaking concisely and to the point, as reading can be hard for me when working.  I am sorry if I have skimmed over something already said.  Have you started any projects?"

I've done a substantial amount of electronics in the 1970's and to the early 1990's, but I haven't done an electronics project since then.  Not that I couldn't pick it up quickly:  The major thing I'm missing is knowledge of the current set of devices available and construction techniques.
I designed and built a constant-temperature bath in the ealry 1970's, also a 4-digit audio frequency counter, also a 4.5 digit digital voltmeter.  In 1977 I built a "Dyna-Micro" microprocessor trainer, from the design in Radio-Electronics magazine.   
 I added to that with a custom-PC board with 8K by 8 memory, which actually seemed like a lot of memory at that time!
Starting in 1978, I designed and built my custom-bus Z-80 microprocessor computer which at one point had about 600 IC's, mostly wire-wrapped.  My father and I set up the ability to make 2-sided PC boards around 1972, but since we couldn't plate-through the holes, actually assembling such a board was a bit tedious.  I built two 32K by 8 DRAM cards using Motorola 4k x 1 6605 DRAM chips, later replacing them with static RAM.    In hindsight, I decided that I should have used one of the 16k x 1 DRAMs that had become available.   

In 1980, I invented the solid-state disk, I called it a "SemiDisk", and in late 1981 I started a company which built them for 10 years, for the S-100 bus, the TRS-80 Model II, the IBM PC, and the Epson QX-10.  The first three started as 512k byte cards, with software that implemented a virtual disk.   
In 1990, I designed and built a device which used 76 IRLEDS to flash, activating the Opticom traffic control system to turn red traffic lights into green traffic lights.   Had I gone into major production, I would have used as its motto:   "It's the most fun you can have in a moving car !!!".

I see a central box, about the size and shape of a common smartphone, but with no user interface.  It will include connectors to:
1.   USB, to a standard, commercial smartphone.2.   To the camera stack, 4-6 HD cameras.   (About 3 gigabytes per hour per camera.)3.   To a battery pack.4.   To a SSD.      At 3 gigabytes/camera/hour x 6 cameras, about 18 gigabytes per hour.  So, a 1 terabyte SSD should be sufficient, if its data transfer rate is enough.  
The central box will probably include 2-3 multi-core microprocessors, and its main task will be taking the data outputs of the cameras, compressing them, and sending the result to the SSD.  
It will probably not be possible to send more than a tiny fraction of this data directly to the Internet, so I anticipate sending maybe 1 frame/second for each camera, to be stored remotely.  I've read that eventually, 5G technology will be able to transfer 10 gigabits/second, but I doubt that this will be kept up in a crowd of thousands of people, many of whom will be using their own cell phones.
The smartphone might also be linked to a nearby confederate (is that word too anti-PC these days?) by WiFi, whose system might mirror as best as possible the video material being collected.  One goal is to ensure that complete destruction of the system will not lose all the data collected.  If the location of the event was anticipated, perhaps a remote data-collection box could be installed, which would act as a safe data backup.  
The actual control of the camera system might be done remotely:  The person wearing the system shouldn't be expected to do anything other than being a camera platform.  
This kind of system would probably have an even bigger market to journalists and news crews.  I don't expect it to substitute for traditional video cameras, but its presence would tend to guarantee that most information gets collected.  It would tend to protect the news crews, because it would store a record of any attacks on them.  
Jim Bell

    On Wednesday, June 10, 2020, 12:26:08 AM PDT, Karl <gmkarl at> wrote:  
 It's obvious that people who are oppressed by local authorities need a personal black box.
I am interesting in participating in designing and building one.  It helps me to set a norm of speaking concisely and to the point, as reading can be hard for me when working.  I am sorry if I have skimmed over something already said.
Have you started any projects?
I have started (nodejs, messy) and (c++ livestreams data to sia skynet with hash identifiers).  openrealrecord has an open bounty of I think a little over $1000 that a contributor never claimed, left over from back when I had money.
I also started developing videorecording in guardianproject's haven app towards this goal .
I'd like to build this in a way that quickly gets it usable by average people.  Once it is easy to use and stable the people who can make the most use of it can share it among each other and more developers may contribute exponentially.
Am I on the same page as you?
On Mon, Oct 1, 2018, 2:16 AM jim bell <jdb10987 at> wrote:

A few weeks ago, I got done binge-watching every episode of NCIS, and am now up to Season 4 of Criminal Minds.  Naturally, this induces a bit of what I'll call cinematic paranoia.   In what seems to be a majority of episodes, a victim gets attacked, usually ends up dead, and the plucky investigators are stuck trying to figure out what happened.  Naturally, they usually do, but only after about 45 minutes of high-tension showtime.  It occurs to me that what people may need, for physical security, would be what might be called a "personal black box", analogous to an airplane flight recorder.  Or, a civilian version of a cop's body-cam.
  Any modern smartphone would have the basics of such a device:  A high-resolution camera, microphone, and a huge amount of storage.  And a quick 911-call if necessary.  The mere possession and use of such a device would probably deter the large majority of potential attackers.  And even if it does not completely protect a given user, it would allow far more easy identification of the perpetrator.    Parts of this, of course, are not a new idea.

However, storage is not enough:  In use, in some instances, an attacker would presumably be aware enough to take or break the device, so some sort of continuous or discontinuous upload of the data could be done, to be available no matter what else happens.  Say, a frame per second when nothing seems to be happening, and a greater rate when triggered somehow.  Could a heart-rate monitor be employed, sensed one axis of the phone's accelerometers?  Or if the wearer falls down?  Or if a sufficiently-loud noise is heard, etc.  Or if a trigger-word is spoken a la Siri?  

Can the data transfer be made economical?  Even an average of 1 megabit/second would be over one gigabyte during a 3 hour usage per day.  That's substantially greater than most people currently use.  One possibility is that the phone could upload the data to the cell phone company, where it could be "parked" for a few seconds or minutes.  If nothing happens to the phone to cause a trigger (some sort of attack) the phone could instruct the cell phone company to abandon the data.  Conversely, if a trigger occurs, the cell phone company would move 100% of the data to a backup system for later retrieval.  Presumably, the cell phone company would offer discounted rates for such transfers, and only offer that service if the local service is sufficiently unloaded at that moment.
            Jim Bell

-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: not available
Type: text/html
Size: 14519 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: <>

More information about the cypherpunks mailing list