USB Geiger counter hack


[Vic] bought a Kvarts DRSB-01 Geiger counter a few years ago, and recently dug it out of his electronics stash. The counter is a run of the mil no-frills unit. It lacks any kind of LCD display and it cannot be calibrated, so Sievert exposure ratings are out of the question. The unit essentially monitors background radiation and alerts the user to the presence of gamma and high-energy beta rays via audible clicks.

[Vic] wanted to make it a bit more useful, so he decided to interface it with his computer in order to take long-term radiation measurements. He dug up a schematic online and deadbugged a small circuit using an ATtiny44. The circuit allows him to enumerate the electrical pulses generated by ionizing particles striking the Geiger tube, passing them along to his PC over USB.

The counter seems to interface with the PC just fine, but [Vic] does say that he’s getting some odd readings. He thinks that he might have damaged the tube while messing around, but he’s all ears if you have any insight on the matter.

Radiation sensor shield for the Arduino

The [Libelium] team wanted to help people in Japan measure radiation in their surroundings following the nuclear accident in Fukushima. Because of the affordability and seeming ubiquity of the Arduino platform, they have been hard at work this last month trying to get their Geiger counter sensor board for an Arduino out the door. We think they’ve done a remarkable job.

A Geiger tube is a remarkably simple device, but getting the part can be a fairly expensive proposition. Thankfully, [Libelium] has already tested and verified a number of tubes from different manufacturers – very helpful if you don’t want to be tied down to one specific component.

This looks like this is just the sort of thing that the folks at [Seed Studio] wanted for an open hardware radiation detector, and [Libelium] has already shipped their first batch to the Tokyo Hackerspace. It’s good to know that help is going where it’s needed.

Video of the sensor board being tested after the break.

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Geiger counter built in an Ohmmeter enclosure

Here’s a Geiger Counter that makes itself at home inside of an old Ohmmeter (translated). [Anilandro] set out to built this radiation detector in order to learn how they work. Like other diy Geiger Counter builds we’ve seen, this project assembles a circuit to interface with a gas-filled tube which serves as the detector. [Anilandro] takes a few paragraphs to discuss how this works; the Geiger tube is basically a capacitor whose electrical characteristics change as an ionizing particle passes through it.

Once he had the theory worked out he scavenged some parts to use. A broken emergency light donated its transformer to provide the high voltage needed. The rest of the circuit was built on some protoboard, and a speaker was added to output the clicking noises that have become a familiar part of the detector hardware. The tube itself is housed in a wand that attaches to the base unit through a cable. Check out some test footage of the finished unit after the break.

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More radiation test gear

This is a multifunction too for measuring radiation (translated). The measurements center around gas discharge tubes that react when ionizing particles pass through them. After reading about the counting circuit for the pair of tubes used in this handheld it’s easy to understand why these are tricky to calibrate. The handheld features a real-time clock as well as a GPS module. This way, it can not only give a readout of the radiation currently measured, but can record how much radiation exposure has accumulated over time (making this a dosimeter). An accompanying dataset records the location of the exposure. An ATmega128 drives the device, which is composed of two separate boards, a series of five navigation buttons, and a salvaged cellphone LCD for the readout. The translated page can be a bit hard to read at times, but there’s plenty of information including an abundance of schematic breakdowns with accompanying explanations of each.

This is certainly feature-rich and we think it goes way beyond the type of device that Seeed is trying to develop.

[Thanks Andrew]

HOPE badge proximity sensor

The HOPE conference was last weekend and [Nathan] spent some time with fellow members of Makers Local 256 developing this badge proximity sensor. They took one of the HOPE badges, which have a radio on board for the tracking network, and wrote code for its MSP430 to detect other badges nearby. It uses a Geiger counter they brought with them as an enclosure, re-purposing the analog gauge to reflect the level of active radio signals in the area. You’ll find their demo clip embedded after the break.

If you managed to get your hands on one of these badges, don’t be shy about sharing your hacks. We want to see them.

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Hackable Geiger Counter


[Aaron] A.K.A. [A1ronzo] at SparkFun has put together a hackable USB Geiger Counter. In his tutorial, he gets the Geiger counter to work as a random number generator. Later, he analyzes and discusses how well it works as a random number generator.  In the past, we have seen a number of radiation detectors hacks such as the Mr. Fission digital Geiger counter, a count accumulator, and a Polonium detecting pen,  Besides our inital thoughts of speeding up the number generation, and using it as a special character device, what else can you come up with to do with this device?

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]