Arduino muon detector


[Sebastian Tomczak] was borrowing a homeade muon detector from his friend, and managed to hook it up to his computer through an Arduino. The detector itself uses 3 fluorescent tubes to detect radiation. Three separate tubes are used in order to filter out terrestrial radiation; cosmic radiation will fall in-line with the tubes and pass through at least two of them, whereas terrestrial radiation will only hit one. There is some basic circuitry to amplify the signal and then perform the OR operation.

[Tomczak]  used an Arduino to take the raw data and feed it into his computer. He then used Max/MSP to analyze the data and filter out background noise, leaving only the cosmic ray data. He didn’t mention what he was going to use the data for, though. Maybe he’ll hook it up to a synthesizer.

Related: Digital Geiger counter

[via @littlebirdceo]


  1. arcnemisis says:

    maybe hack a day is worth reading again after all..
    not because there is a arduino but because there is a quality project after all.

  2. medix says:

    looks pretty good, though at first glance I thought it said “moron detector”

  3. tz says:

    it takes a (greek letter mu)-controller to detect muons?

    I’ll have to see how they avoid congestion in the microcontroller operating system or Mucos.

  4. napalm says:

    A good, non hateable ardunio based project! hooray!

  5. sean says:

    so it’s basically the humbucker equivalent of a geiger counter?

  6. andrew says:

    @sean: while it does detect cosmic radiation in the same manner as a geiger counter, geiger counters don’t discriminate terrestrial from celestial radiation. with this, you know that the radiation is coming from space rather than, say, stray radon leaking through the cracks in your basement ;)

  7. andrew says:

    i just noticed, the description says he used fluorescent tubes, but that is a different project, the one linked and pictured uses actual geiger-mueller tubes.

  8. reboots says:

    Related link with synthesizer implementation:

  9. Skitchin says:

    A neat addition would be a multi-toggle switch to control the number of lights on in the circuit.

  10. anon says:

    this would be a good source of randomness

  11. Skitchin says:

    erm sorry posted comment in wrong article >_<

  12. Oren Beck says:

    Hmn ccckc meets in a cave. 85 or so feet of rock might shield some radiations. And provide a differential for one detector at surface and one in cave.

  13. Awesome and great idea. I like it

  14. strider_mt2k says:

    That’s extremely cool.

    (I read moron at first too)

  15. macegr says:

    Moron detector? An Arduino uses a servo to open a door, revealing itself. Then it uses frequency analysis to determine if someone says “Cool!” Just kidding, I use Arduinos a lot for testing ideas, then C and assembly for final projects.

  16. lekernel says:

    Why do you have to stress that much that it’s using an Arduino? Detecting muons with fluorescent tubes is cool by itself, and you should rather focus on this part and explain how it works instead of speaking of Arduino and MaxMSP that everyone knows.

  17. Tachikoma says:

    I’m fairly impressed with this. I wonder if this is method extensible to a 3D detector with a 3D array of neon bulbs.

  18. Wwhat says:

    “cosmic radiation will fall in-line with the tubes and pass through at least two of the”
    As if comsic radiation ONLY travels straight down, you know the horizon also extends into the cosmos, and depending on the angle some might be absorbed by the larger volume of air between the detector but certainly not all of it, that’s why the author says “meaning a stronger likelihood of a cosmic source”, whereas hackaday suggest otherwise.

  19. Robert Hart says:

    The detector loaned to Seb is built using Geiger Müller tubes but I have been working on a low-cost version using Fluorescent Tubes. I expect that is where the confusion may come from.

    Very pleased people think this is a worthwhile project.

  20. Zombie says:

    What to do with this:

    The University of Washington has (or at least used to have) a project where they’d install muon detectors with data loggers at schools all over Washington state. They collected all the data and looked for coincident events to detect, count, and estimate the size of large (high energy) cosmic ray air showers, which gives information about the highest energy (and least understood) part of the cosmic ray spectrum. This was part of their particle astrophysics group, which was also involved in the Superkamiokande neutrino oscillation experiment, which needed good baseline data on high-energy cosmic ray events.

    If I recall correctly, their detectors consisted of a photomultiplier tube inside a metal garbage can, which would have a much higher volume than a couple of flourescent tubes, and thus be more likely to see a muon from a given event.

    But in any case, if you can get enough people to build and install them, log data from them, and collect that data, you can do Real Science[tm].

  21. Robert Hart says:

    The method using scintillators and photomultiplier is well documented and has the added advantage of measuring the energy of each muon detected. However they are quite expensive to build and not really the realm of most want to be Amateur Cosmonuclitian :-)

    My aim is to develop a very low cost system for detecting Muons, that anyone can build. That being said there isn’t any real intention to do “Real Science” although I like the idea of many detectors linked over the internet in an array.

    This project is more about interest, fun and the mystery that Cosmic Rays.

    Sebs’ idea of producing music from the detections has real artistic merit which in its own way may inspire some young people to explore a career in real science.

  22. Robert says:

    I’ve now build a more elaborate unit with its own midi sound

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