Access to xray equipment for making gun images


Oleg Volk
May 5, 2006, 03:57 PM
I see a lot of real x-ray images (along with quasi-x-ray illustrations) like these;

How do people get access to x-ray equipment, especially devices capable of high-resolution output?

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May 5, 2006, 04:38 PM
I'm not sure, but that could even be a gamma-ray image, except that the resolution is so good. Steel normally looks more opaque than that on most X-rays I've seen.

Anybody who knows X-ray equipment--if that's an Xray, what energy levels are they using?

May 5, 2006, 04:40 PM
Our clinic may be getting a digital processor in the next 6 months. If so, I will be able to make pretty pics like that.

Right now we have the old fashioned film. I could get some good pics, but the challenge is getting the picture from the film into a computer. We used to have a special scanner for that, but it's too old to work with modern software. :o The other option is just taking a digital picture of the radiograph while it's on the viewbox. That would not look as cool as the nice photos you've seen.

That is not a standard X-RAY/Radiograph

May 5, 2006, 04:46 PM
Not all x-ray equipment is medical or security related.

Check your nearest foundry. The metalurgical industry uses X-Ray gear for QC purposes.

May 5, 2006, 05:10 PM
geekWithA.45 took the words out of my mouth...

Even at the school here we have access to X-Ray equipment to check work - Pratt & Whitney donated it. :D

We don't X-Ray firearms, but it'd be neat... we just check for cracks, inclusions, etc. It's pretty neat to do.

Stiletto Null
May 5, 2006, 05:18 PM
That looks suspiciously like a Solidworks render.

May 5, 2006, 08:15 PM
I'm certain that it's not any type of radiographic image. The density is too uniform throughout the image. You couldn't obtain that without some compensating filters and there are no signs of filter overlays.

Mr. Ouchie
May 5, 2006, 08:23 PM
It looks like a 3D render to me.

May 5, 2006, 08:39 PM
along with quasi-x-ray illustrations


May 5, 2006, 09:14 PM
If you want to produce a radiograph of a firearm you will need more than a standard medical X-ray machine. Normal kVp (Think penatration power) is from 30-150 kVp. At those voltages I do not believe the metal is going to be adequetly penetrated.

Even if you were to get access industrial radiographic unit, as several people have pointed out it will not look like the very nice illustration of the AK ( I do not know what type of image that is, computered rendered or neutron imaging would be my best guess ).


May 5, 2006, 09:27 PM
I have access to digital x-ray equipment, and it will penatrate the metal. I work on the systems, and I commonly x-ray through two layers of lead aprons and get a good image on the other side. The systems I work on can go up to 125 kVp and 15ma.

I do not think that image is a standard x-ray of that rifle. Look at the spring for the bolt carrier. It is perfectly straight, not touching the walls of the bolt carrier at all. Anytime I take my spring out, it is captive on the rod and looks like a snake straightened out somewhat.

Notice how the butstock and front sight are taken from an angle, and the trigger guard and magazine release are taken straight-on.

I should take an x-ray of my glock and post the results. I can save the image directly from the machine to a bitmap.

May 6, 2006, 02:20 AM
"If you want to produce a radiograph of a firearm you will need more than a standard medical X-ray machine. Normal kVp (Think penatration power) is from 30-150 kVp. At those voltages I do not believe the metal is going to be adequetly penetrated."

I think that not penetrating is what gives the image definition.

I think Mondocomputerman is more right, when he talks about the strength of the medical Xray equipment. The manual I just read for the new Xray machine I get to use now said that Dental Xray is around 10 rads, while the xray from this machine is a tenth or less than that. And since it's new, I've been playing with it, of course:)

The image posted does not look quite real, a little too clear, in every way, for a security machine to have done that, imo.

For how wood looks, I don't know. But an inch thick book hardly is visible, and a few inch thick books is sort of visible. Plastic shows up better, but not much. So the grips are kind of suspect in that image.

May 6, 2006, 10:16 AM
It's not a standard radiograph if it's a radiograph at all. I've seen computed tomographs of industrial parts that look like that, but they take many images to produce.

May 6, 2006, 12:14 PM
The machines I work on can go up to 20 rads continous. In digital film mode they can also go up to 150ma. That is quite a lot of penetrating power. It is easily 100 times that of a dental x-ray machine.
Too much kV (penetrating power) can wash out the image. The ma is what gives a good image and contrast.

May 6, 2006, 02:29 PM
OK, I took a standard radiograph (X-Ray) of my P7M13 last night.
I took 3 until I got a decent pic. The best picture was at 95 kVp and 7.5 mAs.

Now I have to figure out the best way to post it. I don't have a scanner. :o

May 6, 2006, 04:04 PM
It looks like a CAD rendering to me also, although with some sort of fish-eye camera effect.

May 6, 2006, 11:13 PM
Something I'd like to see is slow motion x-ray video of guns in action. Don't know how practical that is though.

Stiletto Null
May 6, 2006, 11:14 PM

How quickly can digital X-ray sensors image?

May 6, 2006, 11:22 PM
I've seen my wife do some amazing things with photoshop on much more complex images. It's not my field, but I think you can "sample" sections of an image and then enhance the contrast of the sample. Bottomline - I wouldn't rule out digital shenanigans.

Stiletto Null
May 6, 2006, 11:40 PM
Sure, except that this would require pixel-by-pixel edits to get the clarity of gradients necessary.

It looks like a Solidworks render. It has the right colors for someone using default material properties. And there's no scatter artifacting around the stippling of the grip (tight patterns + X-ray film = ***).

May 7, 2006, 12:03 AM
My guess is that this was an artist's rendering based on the engineering blueprint. CAD or freehand is what I'm wondering. I just don't think any current radiographic, sonic or magenetic imaging device could produce so even an image through varied material compositions.

May 7, 2006, 01:40 AM
The machines I work on (GE OEC 9800 C-Arm) will take 30 frames per second digital cine video. The files are big, and are stored in a proprietary format. I don't think the hospitals will take kindly to firing a round in the OR. It would be cool to cycle the action and record the output to my laptop.

The process is totally digital on the c-arms now, but they used to actually record cine runs (live video) on 35mm film. I think they could get up to 60 fps or more, but they would always jam so I've heard (before my time). Those were used mainly in the cath lab for later review.

In my experience, the live video from cine runs can get a little blurry with motion at first. I think it is due to the persistance of the phosphorus on the image intensifier. I don't think it would capture the fast cycling of a gun very well.

To get around film, the x-ray machine uses an image intensifier to intensify the green image from x-rays hitting phosphorus. The image intensifier is similar to a night vision scope, only the input does not amplify light from outside the tube, but from light on the inside after x-rays activate the phosphorus. The size is usually 9 or 12 inches on a portable, and 12, 14, or 16 inches on a stationary table. The output is then captured by a black and white CCD camera with a resolution of 1000 by 1000 pixels. Images are stored on the main hard drive, and video is stored on two fiber channel 15K hard drives running in raid 0. The video can be played back and recorded on a composite output.

May 7, 2006, 05:15 PM
I am an X-ray tech, working with AMX, Shimatsu, and OEC 9800 (and, as God as my witness, much OLDER C-arms - ugh) systems. I don't know if I can get a gun in to the hospital to X-ray, but I may try.

Problem is we are not digital yet. Would have to take the x-ray and then take a digital photo. Neat idea, though.

Don't get me started on x-raying 830 pound women portably - ACK! :what:

May 7, 2006, 05:26 PM
30 fps isn't nearly fast enough. You'd get about 2 images per cycle. It would take a lot o film, and a lot of frame by frame editing to get a decent framerate in the final film. When I was doing a lot of of highspeed video, we'd generally run around 2000fps. If we wanted to watch a bullet exiting the barrel, we would have to be up past 20k fps, just to get more than one frame with a bullet in it.

May 7, 2006, 07:38 PM
I work as an RN in the Interventional Radiology department of a large hospital. We do have equipment that could take the pictures you are asking about, and we are digital, but, unfortunately, pictures are not worth losing my job over.


May 7, 2006, 07:51 PM
that pic at the top of the page, in your first post...

I believe that is a "wireframe" cad drawing, with shading added... not an actual picture image... just my thoughts as a master draftsman, design engineer...

May 7, 2006, 07:52 PM
Sure, except that this would require pixel-by-pixel edits to get the clarity of gradients necessary.

It looks like a Solidworks render. It has the right colors for someone using default material properties. And there's no scatter artifacting around the stippling of the grip (tight patterns + X-ray film = ***).

The techniques to generate composite images (as atomchaser and rwc mentioned) really aren't that difficult. Here are some examples:

I took a series of pictures of a light bulb with a dark background. Here is a really fast shutter speed:

And here is a slow speed:

There aren't any computer screens, either LCD or CRT, that can properly display the range of intensities of even these single-capture pictures, but take my word for it that the both the dark and respective blown-out white regions are pure, flat ranges. There is no hidden detail there.

But by taking enough pictures and mathematically compositing them, you can create a new one that does have the details present, even if they aren't visible. It looks exactly like the first picture above, but by performing some levels work (via histogram equalization), it looks like this:

The end result is a picture that you just can't get with any single frame, even if it's carefully exposed directly between too bright and too dark. It's not quite perfect because I didn't take the time required, but it's definitely not too tough.

This is what is required to make an xray image look like the render originally posted. You keep all the relative bright/dark trends the same, but stretch or compress the values so that everything fits well within a range that visually looks good.

Chipperman: You can get the best results from your films by taking a high-resolution digital (SLR) camera picture of them while they are placed on the lightbox. Put the camera on a tripod, and use a remote shutter release if possible. Once the camera is set up, don't move it. Bracket the pictures of the film with several more stops than you think you might need, for each xray film you have. Also take pictures of the lightbox without the film on it, using the same exposure settings as used with the film. As a final note, change exposure with shutter speed, not aperture.

I know it sounds like a lot of work, but it's what is required for this kind of thing, and it goes quickly with some experience. You might be able to find a photo shop capable of generating HDR scans, but I would be surprised: it's a very specialized technique.

May 7, 2006, 08:17 PM
Hrm. at work, we have a couple of C-arms, a couple of generic film x-ray machines, and a new computed radiography machine. The technologist is also a gun nut, I'll see if we can get some images off of the CR.


May 7, 2006, 08:53 PM
It's an image made with backscatter X-ray imaging technology.

Do some google searches. You'll find similar images associated with backscatter X-raying.


May 7, 2006, 10:40 PM
I'm tellin y'all... that is a wire frame cad drawing with shading added... that is NOT an x-ray...

May 7, 2006, 11:43 PM
Everything is too uniform.
The lead bullets are the sane density as everything else.
Not a real X-ray.
Unfortunately I would be in the 6 o'clock news if I tried to take a gun to work and try it.
Hospitals are one of the most anti gun environments to work in.
Just trying to explain that Doctors kill more people than guns and see what happens.

May 8, 2006, 09:44 AM
Hey guys,

When I'm wrong, I'll freely admit it. I thought for sure it was a real radiograph because there was so much excellent detail.


I tracked down the photographer from the Getty Images website. His name is Ian McKinnell, and he works out of the UK.

I emailed him this morning using the contact information given online. Amazingly, he answered me within the half hour.

Here is the text of his email:

"Hi - I don't know which side you're on but it's an illustration created using a 3D programme (LIghtWave) on a computer. There isn't one single pixel of photographic/x-ray origin & there's a great deal of artistic licence in there!

I hope you won!

Here's proof - the image in an early stage of construction?
It was very difficult to get all the information I needed to create it - you can't buy these things here in London. They have one in the Imperial War Museum - but they wouldn't let me take it to bits!

The illustration took me two weeks. Real x-ray images don't really work as there's so much metal of such different densities that much of the detail disappears.

I've just finished an RPG launcher for the next book which was even more difficult to find information about. In fact I had to make a lot of it up.


Ian McKinnell"

So, there you have it.


May 8, 2006, 10:00 AM
Greywolf- any 9800 is able to save one image at a time to the floppy drive. Set the output to .bmp and 1Kx1K. It is totally digital that way.

May 12, 2006, 07:48 PM
Images are stored on the main hard drive, and video is stored on two fiber channel 15K hard drives running in raid 0. The video can be played back and recorded on a composite output.Video on 30K!?:what:

May 12, 2006, 09:11 PM
It looks a lot more like a netron image than an x-ray image. Neutrons can easily penetrate the thick sections while not over-exposing the thin sections.
X-rays of dense materials tend to have problems with the range of exposure, even when using digital methods.
Protons can be used also, but typically result in a required cooling off period since they activate the material.

May 12, 2006, 11:50 PM
Video on 30K!?

Heh, I think he means 2 15,000 rpm drives ... as in really fast ones.

May 13, 2006, 05:47 PM
Look at this site for the netron radigraphy picture of a 35 mm camera, and right beside it an x-ray.
While this picture appears to be drawn, neutron radigraphy provides detail of a very similar nature.
At IUCF they had a neutron image of a loaded 40 mm shell, and an x-ray for comparison. In the neutron image you could make out the individual grains of powder through the brass of the shell. The x-ray image showed a uniform gray area with no real detail.
Neutrons penetrate and are slowed by density, but not stopped. This allows imaging even through very dense items while still providing resolution and gray scaling.

Odd Job
July 16, 2006, 01:16 PM
Whenever you see an image that may be a radiograph of something, try to imagine the densities of the materials from which the item is constructed. In the original picture that Oleg posted, the forend of the rifle has a density almost the same as the barrel. This cannot be, because the forend will be plastic or wood and the barrel will be steel. Another thing is this: if you can see the 'lumen' of the barrel (the 'wall' of the barrel) then the X-ray penetration is very high and that means you lose the ability to resolve low density structures such as plastic/wood grips and forends. You cannot have it both ways in plain radiography. There are digital filters available today that can for instance display the low density lung markings together with the vertebral outlines on a PA chest X-ray, but the difference between those densities is much smaller than the difference between a plastic grip and a barrel.
I have X-rayed various live cartridges but only two guns: a Vektor CP1 and a Baby Browning. I will see if I can find those and post them here.

As for fluoroscopy: I tried out various C-arms for theatre use as part of a tender process and I can tell you that it would be very difficult to resolve the mechanical workings of a gun in action even on the fastest system. The best I have seen so far is the Philips Pulsera (in fact that is the unit I recommended). But even with a standard wire hanger moved quickly across the intensifier face, you see 'lag' at the highest framerates. Of course that is not an application that the unit is designed to satisfy, and in ordinary medical use it performs well. I just don't think we can do any useful fluoroscopy with those systems as relates to guns.

One thing that will make you smile: when I X-rayed the cartridges several radiographers made a fast getaway because they were fearful of the X-rays setting off the ammunition. That is of course not possible. Another test I did was to see whether a prolonged exposure to X-rays could damage the data on a floppy disk. I put the disk in the Bucky tray of a barium study fluoroscopy unit and screened it for 5 minutes. I tested the disk on the computer afterwards and all the files were okay. The same applies to bare motherboards when X-rayed. I suppose this should all be obvious otherwise various problems would be caused when X-raying these items as part of a customs check...

Odd Job
September 21, 2006, 03:10 PM
Okay, I finally found the radiographs.

Some explanation:

The Baby Browning is all metal and therefore shows up as a radiologically dense structure throughout. On radiographs, the whiter something is, the denser the material that it represents. The magazine is made from thinner metal than the frame, and the X-ray beam was able to pass through that. That's why it appears grey. Of course the subject of radiological densities is quite complex, because you have to take into account composite densities (by this I mean the addition of several low densities to create the impression of a high density). For example if you X-rayed the magazine spring by itself it may appear less dense than it does when in the magazine. It can be difficult to determine the individual densities of structures that overlay one another. Many plastics are radio-lucent, which means you don't get to see those on medical diagnostic radiographs.

The Vektor is a different matter. It is half metal, half 'plastic.' Note that for the X-ray, the standard long mag was inserted in the gun and the short mag was X-rayed alongside. The first round in the spare mag is an NGA Sentry, that's why it looks strange (has a plastic cap). There is another Sentry cartridge on its own in the corner, standing up.

So there you have it, you don't get nearly as much lattitude in the range of densities that can be simultaneously resolved on radiographs. Much depends on exposure factors, but as soon as you try to penetrate steel, you are sure to exclude low densities such as plastic and wood furniture from the final image.

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