Buster Density Meters

Buster Density Meter and Contraband Detector KitBuster K910B Density Meter with “Rad-Aware” Technology

Introduction to Density Meter Technology

Before you can understand density meter technology, it is important to know what density is. The definition of density for this use includes:

  • The state or quality of being dense or compact, or
  • The measure of the compactness of an item expressed as its mass per unit volume.

All objects have density and this is related to the mass of the object and the amount of space it takes up (or its volume). Density is determined by the atoms in the object, the size of the atoms, and how they are arranged. Even though objects take up the same amount of space, it is important to note that they do not necessarily have the same density. All items that have density can be measured.

Since items have density, scientists and law enforcement officials can learn the expected density of an object. Liquids, gases, and solid objects all have density although the means of measuring them are different. If an item is measured or scanned, and found to have a different density than was expected or the density unexpectedly changes, they can deduce that there has been a change made to that object which has affected its density. For police interdiction officers and other law enforcement agents, the change in density may indicate that something was hidden, and in many cases, the hidden item may be illegal.

Here’s an example: a police officer has stopped a vehicle for a routine traffic stop. During the conversation, the driver seems unusually agitated. The officer notices and asks if they may inspect the vehicle. By visually inspecting the vehicle, they may not notice anything; however, because they have a tool called a density meter, a Campbell/Harris Security Equipment Company Buster K910B Density Meter; they are able to scan the entire vehicle more thoroughly in just a matter of minutes.

During the inspection, they notice a change in the density of the seat. They know that a car seat normally has springs in it to make seating comfortable and they would expect the seat to have an empty space under the cushion. The density meter can scan an object – whether a car seat, tire, doors, bumpers, fuel tank, or other objects not related to vehicles – to look for items that may have been hidden within it. In this instance the car seat density changed as the officer ran the Buster over it. The density meter alerted the officer of the change so the officer knows there is a possibility that something is hidden. They are then able to use another tool – Perfect Vision V20 Videoscope Inspection System or a fiberscope – to look inside the seat and locate the hidden item.


History of the Density Meter

Density was discovered around 250 BCE by the Greek mathematician Archimedes. He was asked to determine if the King of Syracuse had been defrauded by a craftsman. The thought was that the craftsman had replaced part of the gold from the king’s crown with silver. The story goes that during a bath Archimedes realized that water will spill out of a filled bowl or tub based on the volume that is put into it. He was able to test both the crown that the craftsman had made along with a solid gold crown and found that the craftsman had indeed defrauded the king.

Modern scientists are not sure the entire story about how Archimedes discovered density is true. This is partly because the story was first written down nearly 200 years after the event. They also say that the precise measurements needed to perform his experiment were not available at the time.

Scientists have used a variety of density meters over the years to measure the density of objects and have even created a list of the normal density of various materials. The type of machine to test the density of an object depends on the object being tested. What science hadn’t designed, however, was a means detect hidden items within another object using the current density meters available. This changed in the early 1980s

For contraband detection, density meter technology began in 1984 when Campbell/Harris Security Equipment Company (CSECO) founder Patrick J. Campbell was approached by the United States government to develop a tool they could use that would make detecting contraband not only quick but also accurate and safe for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents to use. Campbell had been working with designing and manufacturing tools that used radioactive elements. He was known for designing equipment and tools that ‘non-technical’ users could master with very little training. Since he was known in the industry, it made sense to ask him.

Campbell agreed to design and manufacture the new product, but said he wanted to work with the agents who would regularly use the product. Several CBP agents were introduced to Campbell and they began to work with him to design a product that they could easily use and that would meet their need to locate and seize illegal contraband – their initial desire was to find primarily narcotics and cash but the tool was designed to locate other contraband, as well. The first Buster K910B Density Meter was produced in 1984.

Since its development, over 7,500 “Busters” have been manufactured and delivered to various law enforcement agencies not only in the United States, but also in a number of foreign countries. The Buster is considered to be the “gold standard” of all density meters used for contraband detection because of its durability, dependability, reliability, and accuracy.


Density Meter Technology

The Buster uses low-intensity gamma radiation emitter and Cesium Iodide Scintillation Crystal detector. This allows the unit to quickly scan an object – whether a box, crate, car, or truck. Within minutes, around five minutes for the average sized car, the density meter will be able to tell if there are hidden compartments holding contraband.

The density meter is small – 5.5 x 2.5 x 2.5 inches – and can be easily held within one hand. It weighs around 2.5 pounds.

The unit has a 3.5 inch display (liquid-crystal or LCD) to allow users to see the density of the object being scanned. The display can be used in any lighting conditions because it has a push-button electroluminescent panel that is back lit. The display refreshes very 0.5 second. The unit also has a remote reading display to make inspections easier, as well as the needed connecting cable. The unit scan rate is 0.25 seconds per reading.

Along with the visual display indicating density of the scanned object, it also has a audible alarm to alert users of the density meter to recognize the possibility of hidden contraband. The alarm, which is driven by an internal microprocessor, produces 59 decibel pulses for 0.50 seconds in duration. There is an optional headset which can be used; when it is in use, no one can hear the alarm except the one wearing the headphones.

The density meter has a variety of modes:

  • Raw Data Mode which does not produce an alarm or display reading
  • Data Scan Mode which produces both the alarm and the density value reading
  • Zero Scan Mode which produces an alarm but shows a zero-based value reading
  • Calibration Mode which is used to calibrate the unit
  • Self-Diagnosis Mode which allows the unit to complete self-diagnosis
  • Lock Mode which locks the operating display temporarily while the unit is being used in places that are inaccessible

The unit is easy to calibrate using the Universal Calibration Standard. This allows other Buster K910B Density Meters to be calibrated using the same base. The units will show a reading that is a ±2% of each other once they have been calibrated. Calibration is quick, within 30 seconds, and can be completed at any time. The density meter uses standard 9-volt (9V) alkaline transistor batteries. They can be easily replaced in the field and are readily available. One 9V battery will keep the unit in operation daily for up to three months. The Buster also comes with a lockable, high-impact carrying case. The inside of the carrying case is padded to protect the density meter and it also has a pocket to store unit documentation and accessories.


Use of the Density Meter in Public Safety

A density meter, like the CSECO Buster K910B Density Meter, can be used to scan items quickly and efficiently. This type of density meter would be used in the following industries:

  • Law enforcement – to scan and detect possible contraband including narcotics and other illegal drugs, undeclared currency, weapons, as well as dirty bombs or radioactive materials. The scans can be done on vehicles such as cars, pickup trucks, vans, cargo trucks as well as in rooms. The average sized car requires about five minutes scanning time where a larger vehicle would require more time. An average sized room can usually be scanned in about ten minutes.
  • Travel – scanning luggage and packages being loaded onto modes of transportation for possible contraband as well as scanning outgoing crates and containers, although larger density meter products are designed for use with large containers and crates.
  • Shipping – to ensure the same types of materials are loaded in a crate as well as to detect possible concealed drugs, explosives, or hazardous materials. Very large density meters can scan an entire vehicle and detect hidden objects.


Other Density Meter Uses

Of course, there are is a different type of density meter that is used only for scientific measuring. This type of density meter would ensure quality control during research and development. Some of the industries that use these density meters include:

  • Pharmaceutical
  • Petroleum
  • Chemical
  • Food and beverage

Now that you know more about density meter technology, if you would like to learn more about the CSECO density meter, the Buster K910B, or any of the other contraband detection equipment manufactured by CSECO, you can go to Contact Us for contact information.

History of the Density Meter Density Meter Technology

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