Pen size Polonium detector


[cartufer] sent in this sweet little Polonium detector. It’s fundamentally similar to the Geiger counter the other day, but the circuit is simpler by several orders of magnitude. No exotic parts for this one, just some basic metal working skills. (This might be handy when I visit my in-laws.) The page is loaded with several ion detection designs, from simple to very complex.

Comments

  1. jose lope says:

    hmmm.. I wonder if you could get this through airport security…

  2. andrew says:

    haha, well, probably. as long as it doesn’t contain organic material, it won’t appear on the x-ray machine as being hazardous. if you keep it in a carry-on bag they probably won’t notice.

  3. Wolf says:

    To #2

    maybe, but judging by that guy that was almost arrested for having a minty boost in his carry on, I don’t even want to know what security would do if they found one of these

  4. srilyk says:

    Me:”Honest! It’s just a Polonium detector!”
    TSA Official: “TURN AROUND NOW!”
    Me: I don’t understand!
    TSA Official:
    Me: “AUUUUUGGGGGGRRRH!”
    TSA Official:

    Okay, well maybe the taser thing is a bit far.

    Actually TSA searched me because I had wires and CDs near eachother. Oh noes! They might copy themselves, causing the RIAA to send a tactical nuke to destroy the nearest 50′ to “neutralize the threat” of copyright infringement!

  5. jimmys says:

    I can’t think of any TSA or taser questions so I’ll ask one about the detector project.

    The article specifies using a brass tube with a copper nail probe and copper mesh screen as the ion chamber.

    The author ‘suggests’ the screen be copper but how critical is the probe/canister material?

  6. cartufer says:

    jimmys, the purpose of the copper screen is to block rf, the purpose of the tube is to be a conductive ground, so just keep it metal and fairly conductive

  7. Crash says:

    What the hell is polonium and why does it matter?

  8. bgugi says:

    okay, so i will say it now… i become randomly obsessed with one thing or another as time progresses: now it is the “true” random number generator, and this seems wonderful.

    Here is my hodgepodge of an idea:
    first you build one of the ones higher on the page, then you connect the voltage meter to a transistor (to turn it into a button-like signal) which is then connected to the circuit from an old joystick (in place of a button) (the joystick is used as a computer interface without all kinds of fancy circuits and ic’s to program and etc. (this also seems to add a bit of f’up proof (i.e. wont fry your computer)

    you then hook it up to a computer, write a simple program to interpret the clicks of the joystick button as events, and basically do it like hotbits http://www.fourmilab.ch/hotbits/

    or am i just a raving fool?

  9. larry sanchez says:

    Another (radioactive), and probably easier random number generator uses a webcam and a Alpha Radiation source(such as that out of a household smoke alarm). The source needs to be infront of the camera, in a completely dark environment, e.g. a lead box. As Alpha particles hit the CCD they create small pulses of what the camera thinks is light. These fall in a completely random fashion- all you need is software to count where these pulses happen – and there’s your random number generator! I remember seeing this on the web ages ago..dono where though

    As for #7 Try googling Alexander Litvinenko….

  10. jimmys says:

    #6: thanks. I’ve got some copper and alum tubing but no brass right now.

    #8,9: here’s one from last year http://www.hackaday.com/2006/06/25/alpha-radiation-visualizer/

  11. bgugi says:

    to 9 and 10

    that was what i was thinking about originally, however i thought that the software would end up being too complex, as i think it would be easier to program something to read button events than to interpret video, i don’t know, i do not program. the other thing is that this will probably require much less compensation for bias, making the numbers more truly random

  12. Corey says:

    This is very obvious, but you may too do it.

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