Making Images And Videos Using A Diy Fluoroscopic X-ray

[Jozef] has been playing around with X-rays. Specifically, he’s been using his own setup to make fluoroscopic images, a type of x-ray photography that allows for video images to be made. If you’ve ever seen those x-ray movies of someone swallowing, that’s fluoroscopy (we’re fans of the other oddities like this video of a skeleton playing the trumpet).

The image above is [Jozef’s] own hand. He exposed it for about one second, filming the event from the opposite side of a Curix Ortho Regular Screen. The screen fluoresces when hit by the particles from an x-ray tube he picked up on eBay. This particular event dosed his hand with about 10 rads. We have no clue as to what levels are safe (and a quick search didn’t enlighten us) so talk amongst yourselves in the comments section.

Of course [Jozef] didn’t stop with still images, he put a turntable between the tube and the screen and took a bunch of x-ray videos of revolving electronics. You’ll find the video embedded after the break.

84 thoughts on “Making Images And Videos Using A Diy Fluoroscopic X-ray

  1. People used to use rem for dosage. To convert from rad to rem, you multiplied by a factor that took into account the ionizing potential of the radiation (gamma, beta, alpha, neutron all have their own factors). Nowadays, sieverts (sp?) is used.

    That said, 10 rad is an EXTREMELY LARGE DOSE. 25 will cause blood chemistry changes. I would NOT do something like this. And if you do want to play with this, get yourself a dosimeter and some shielding.

    Seriously. There are people who’ve spent their entire lives working the nuclear field who have a total lifetime cumulative dose that’s a fraction of 10 rads.

    1. I was really hoping “10 rad” was a typo. It is not. YIKES.

      His first sentence is, appropriately: “This might be the craziest documented experiment/project on my page…”

      Well, yes. Yes it is.

      “Despite the short irradiation time, the risk of future cancer increased just very negligibly and no blood changes or any visible symptoms followed in the next 2 months, I’m not doing this again in my lifetime, ever, that’s for sure.
      A fact is, that the 10 rad maximum had been localized to my hand only, i.e. other parts were not affected in any way. There is no safe dose of x-rays, but it can be safely assumed that it did not do any acute or long-term harm to the body.”

      You are almost right. Thing about radiation, cancer, and statistics is that you won’t know whether you increased your odds of developing tumors or not. You will just either get one eventually, or not.

      A 1 second experiment, followed by a lifetime of waiting to see if you get cancer. No thanks.

  2. About ten years ago I had to get an upper GI, which turned out to be cooler than I thought it would be. Well, the procedure itself wasn’t too fun, but I got to watch the screen as they had me drink and swallow barium several times and I could see it moving through my system. I was surprised at how quickly the drink made it to my stomach… I’m not sure why ( I was surprised ) as gravity has an affect inside of us as well.

    It was really interesting to see my insides in motion – live on a screen. I certainly see the interest in this project.

  3. On the video, it would have been nice to record it through a mirror so the X-Rays don’t cause so much noise in the image.

    Also, It would be nice to increase the “brightness” (I don’t know what the appropriate word is here) to see through the IC and potentiometer a little better.

  4. I’d like to see this type of stuff used for 3d capture data. I imagine it wouldn’t be very healthy to get a real time 3d capture of your liver but putting your toaster in the firing line would be an easy way to see whats inside without voiding the warranty. this video is a bit low quality (I’m sure because capturing video doesn’t sync up with the frequency of the tube but in the right resolution and conditions it could be useful for diving into the deep world of circuitry to see how stuff works by analyzing it in a form that is a bit easier to maneuver around (you can zoom in on something in CAD but in the real world you’d need a 30x microscope)

    1. When I was watching these videos I was thinking how easy it would be to use the Autodesk 123D software to turn the xray images into 3d models. Only need about 30-60 images around an object to get a decent model. That being said this setup is HIGHLY dangerous. Both having an unshielded radiation source and a few thousand volts in exposed transmitters/coils/electrodes. And yes, if ya’ll calculated that right, 10 rads is an obscene amount of radiation exposure in such a short amount of time.

  5. The 10 rad guesstimate (came from the RadPro calculator found online, computed for 1 second) is the absolute maximum I have counted with. I have a ionisation chamber based meter (not a Geiger counter), calibrated a few years ago, which did show 1500 R/h (15 Sv/h) from 10-15cm away the tube, which would correspond to a dose of circa 416 mR.

    No worries – I did this only once, and for a single second. After 3 days I went to a blood check and the result showed no abnormalities in leukocyte/platelet count, so it must have been safely below 10 rad.

    BTW the blood test itself had nothing to do with the experiment, it was a pre-scheduled one :)


    1. The leukocyte count don’t drop immediately after radiation exposure. Will drop after some weeks.

      Irradiating the hand even with a scaring dose like these 10 rads just to take a photo I think that won’t affect the blood counts anyway, which is not the same than to say that won’t have any long term effect.

      10 rad = 0.1 gray

      Some cancer patients are treated with a total dose of 20 gray in a limited but much large body volume spread over several days during various weeks. These 20 Gy are 200 times your 10 rads but needed to treat a serious illness.

      And 10 rads are roughly 8% of the daily dose of a cancer treatment.

      Fortunately even with these radiation levels the excess solid tumors found in the treated patients compared to the control group are only increased a few percent over several decades.

      IMHO not smart anyway.

    2. Have you consulted with your doctor about this? They might want to take further tests, and certainly put it on your chart as any medical XRAYs would be recorded. I don’t know, maybe it’s more lax in your country than here in the US.

    3. I think 1500R/h, or like in the Video 150R/h is more realistic. The rad-count calculator seems to overestimate a little bit.
      I wouldn’t be worried by al those “omg its much more than the annual dose”-guys here, its a nice experiment doing this ONCE and if the rest of the body is sufficiently shielded.
      Thanks for sharing your experiments in the internet, Josef!

  6. To use SI units, 10 rads is 0.1 Grays, which for x-rays gives 0.1 Sieverts equivalent dose. Although when delivered just to the hand, this is not enough to cause symptoms with a single acute dose (2 Sieverts to the skin will cause erythema and hair loss) the effect is cumulative and damaging. 0.1 Sv whole body dose will cause measurable biological effects. Without proper shielding and interlocks, he will be irradiating himself and anyone nearby either directly by the beam or from scattering. His site seems to be down so don’t know where he is based, but perhaps someone should notify the relevant radiological protection authorities.

  7. 10rad? If that all really got absorbed buy that guy it is 100mSv. In Finland in nuclear plants 50mSv is maximum allowed dose in year and maximum allowed yearly average dose is 20mSv. So that 100mSv dose is quite high.

  8. Zee, mah boi, you say:

    ”Fluoroscopy is extremely dangerous and they actively avoid using it even in hospitals.”

    Avoid using it, huh. I\’ve had 13 X-rays in a couple of months. I\’m still alive. Had the last fluoroscopy 4 months ago. No clinic avoids using it.

    Учи матчасть, сынок.

    73 de Trojanski.

  9. anyway, a chest x-ray is something about 10 millirads, and it doesn’t seem you’re properly managing (i.e.: shielding) the emitters you’re experimenting with… I do agree with Russ and I’m sincerely worried about your health

  10. Can’t underscore what others are saying about accumulating exposures. Sure, a single event doesn’t cause much in the way of detectable damage. But over time, we all accumulate radiation damage from natural and artificial exposures to ionizing radiation. The record of this exposure is stored in your genetic material. While your DNA is pretty good at repairing some damage, there is a limit. Once DNA is damaged beyond a certain point, it becomes dangerous to its owner. If the radiation is able to cause spontaneous electron emission in a camera pickup, its capable of knocking electrons loose from your atoms.

    The prudent approach is to limit exposure to ionizing radiation and avoid altogether the unnecessary ones. There are plenty of things to x-ray with an E-bay-acquired x-ray tube without adding to your collection of unnecessary exposures. Your geek cred is not worth it.

  11. As said, 10 rads is a lot, it gives 100 mGy, weighted for skin (0.01) 1mSv equivalent.
    A typical chest x-ray is only 0.02 mSv.
    The recommmended maximal cumulative yearly dose for general public is 1 mSv. For radiation workers 20 mSv…
    It’s rather unlikely that the blood parameters would change after a short and unique exposure. Only a few cells were passing in the blodstream during exposure.
    So if limited to a one time exposure, the risk is negligible, but the experiment shouldn’t be repeated.


    This is the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) on radiation exposure. Subpart C—Occupational Dose Limits states what the limits are.

    I personally have a lifetime dose of 21R from working in the nuclear industry for 13 years. I started when you could get 12R a year. Funny how after a few years it dropped to 5R. How you do you go from saying it is safe to get 12R one year and then say we goofed it is now 5R!

    25 years later I have not experienced any issues from my years of exposure. (lots of alpha, beta and gamma exposure) I work in the OR as a nurse and I am still exposed to fluoroscopy almost daily and yes I wear a lead apron.

  13. We can get some really cool stuff on ebay, but jackholes like this are going to ruin it for all of us. The un-government regulated used parts industry has allowed for an entirely new area of education and discovery. We now live in a society where we can only get chemistry kits that contain baking soda and vinegar.

    It’s all fun and games until some jack$$$ goes and irradiates his hand. Then the government shuts it down for the rest of us. This is NOT responsible science, and we should all call this guy an idiot for what he has done. I love to support people on their technological adventures with kind words, but this is a classic case of stupid is as stupid does. Hey Hackaday moderator, why are we giving this guy press?

  14. I am just dumb enough to think that an antique fluoroscope circuit would be fun–IF, IF– you set up remote controls to operate this poison piece of history from another part of the house, and if you were X-raying something that wasn’t a living animal (no, dangit, put that cat DOWN)and if you were using a dosimeter to monitor your exposure at the remote control end of your otherwise unoccupied house…but just hitting yourself with a dose of radiation for the fun of it? Wow. Just wow.

  15. Yes, we all know that this is the stuff that you shouldn’t do at home. I would only do this in a shed or when I am absolutely sure that no significant amount of x-rays will reach other people.

    Still, it is interesting technology that enables you to see inside things and reverse engineer them. A machine that could make tomographs of stuff would be highly useful to hardware hackers.

    If we, like certain commenters here, would only care about safety then there wouldn’t be much interesting hacks to talk about.
    No more spot welding with capacitors, arcing tesla coils and components losing their magic smoke…

  16. Ok dangerous, got it !!! ENOUGH !!

    Set up a remote and I’d like to know what items fail during exposure. Do eproms erase? Do micro controllers …fail? Clocks speed up or stop?
    Can we send someone to the moon through the van-allen belt or not???
    Instead of ragging on him, TEACH him HOW to be safe !!

  17. How about using a dead pig’s foot next time? Also, those 70KV setups all sitting on his drapes and carpet are a fire waiting to happen. Still a very neat thing to see someone working on, but I’d hate to think my apartment neighbor had such a setup. Good luck to you!

  18. Dangerous, Very dangerous…

    Now that that’s out of the way, I had no idea the cartridge for the film would fluoresce. Figured the x-rays could do it directly. I’ll have to keep an eye out for one. Wounder how it would glow with my radium sample.

  19. and then people played with fire…some were burnt those that watched didn’t do what the others did and didn’t get burnt. so on and so on and so on. then some said hey lets re discover a gaseous chemical reaction that that emits light and heat and leaves ash behind, forsaking what was observed and learned before them. can you guess what will happen? someones getting burnt.

    that being said like shooting a gun the target is your first consideration your greatest fear should be…just what is beyond the target.

    sooo let me guess he called the whole family down to watch what he was doing and to witness the glory of a future darwin award winner, and thus burning them too.

    1. You’ll notice that it is mostly US people that talk abour Roentgens, rads and rems. There are still GM counters being sold in the US that use R units.
      The proper SI units are gray (Joule of radiation per kg of any absorbing matter) and Sievert (absorbed radiation in living tissue, dependent on type of radiation, gamma, beta or alpha).

  20. my daughter had to do the eating and drinking xray test. she was having a hrd time swalloing and choking alot. She had a chip scrape her throught and she was scared ever since.

    Anyways, they let us watch from another room and i recorded with my phone. For some reason it was the funniest thing i ever saw. I could help but laugh out loud. They must have thought i was a bad parent. anyways. eating video enjoy. maybe you will laugh too.

    1. I’d hate to be this guys next door neighbour. He’s free to xray his balls for all I care but whoevers in the line of fire of that thing is gna get more than a tan.

  21. Maybe he’s been taking potassium iodide.
    Please people enough with the “that’s dangerous” go here instead:
    Yes, hopefully he’s taking precautions, and this is not a new experiment, BUT science is often propelled but risk taking. “This atom bomb might ignite the atmosphere” “this particle accelerator might make a black hole”… we do not progress on the work of sane men (or women) who always play it safe.

  22. Folks you should also check out this dude, who made his own X-ray setup just like me. Should your infantile comments about “removing ourselves from the gene pool” apply also to him, too?

    Both our machines are controlled remotely, as stated in his – and in my – articles. I have proper radiometric equipment to determine where it’s safe, and where it isn’t.

    Just take a peek :-)

  23. I think there’s a big difference between PIONEERING NEW discoveries, and simply doing STUPID things (that have been ALREADY proven to be dangerous).

    So all the folks saying we should not be harping on this Darwin Award nominee, you need to ask yourself one question. Do I feel lucky today ? lol – Is dropping a solid brick on top of your head from a height of a 30 story building going to prove anything new ?

    Now if he was discovering some new form of radiation, like the yet to be discovered Vertol Rays that rendered an entire planet un-inhabitable, then maybe I’ll admire him. Until that time, all he’s doing is recreating prior work that has been proven to be dangerous in the manner he’s demonstrating.

    Zero value add (aside from perhaps a footnote in a radiation safety manual “kids, now don’t do what this idiot did”).

  24. Ignorance does not equal safety!

    I do not see the outrage over all the LASER hacks, home casting hacks, hacks that use 110VAC ect. ect.
    All can kill, maim, blind, induce cardiac arrest, on and on but no outrage there.

    I see more Darwinism at work in the OR (Operating Room) than I see here on HAD.

    We have to believe Jozef at his word that he is taking the necessary precautions and has done his due diligence in researching his project.

  25. “The Scientific American Book of Projects for The Amateur Scientist” – C.L.Stong, c 1960
    Section IX. Optics, Heat, and Electronics;
    Chapter 3. An Inexpensive X-ray Machine

    “WARNING! You must take these precautions

    resist the temptation to make X-ray examinations of the bones in your hands or other body parts.”

    @HalfNormal – “do not see”? – you must be new here!

  26. Things like this are kind of useless to the “hacker” because it’s already been done before. You’re just repeating the work of people from 100 years ago that are all dead from radiation exposure. How many black-box potted components do you come across to need x-rays to see into them with? I have access to a full-on CT scanner and it’s really not that usefull for reverse engineering and it can see down to the sub-mm range. It will tell you where things are located in black potting so when you dig, you don’t damage a wire or something, but you still have to dig! Nothing to see here but another geek getting mutated just for bragging rights!


    now – just to put things into perspective – I have a friend who is an orthopedist, and based his career on special surgeries on people’s feet, to correct bone deformities, spurs, and other problems. Unfortunately (for him), some of these procedures require live occupational exposure to xrays, as he needs to do animation imaging DURING procedures.

    He won’t say that his lifetime exposure to xrays is what caused his cancer. But he admits that what he does is very risky, and that even though he follows safe procedures (working behind shielding, etc.), that does not mean that he hasn’t possibly screwed-up and let himself be exposed more often than he should, (leaving hands outside of the shield, trying to reach certain areas, or hold or grip tools more firmly, or retrieve dropped bits – etc). He says he tries to be very careful. Or maybe the shielding in his surgical room is not as good as it’s rated. He can only guess.

    But what he ended up with was a rare form of leukemia, a mutation in his bone-marrow. He had to have a bone marrow transplant (and luckily, he knows the best doctors in the world for this kind of procedure). He did pull through, but he suffered for 2 years through treatments – ironically, powerful radiation to kill the “diseased” bone marrow, chemo, etc. And he will very likely experience relapses, and probably will not live past 60.

    He said he has helped so many people – if he had to do it all over again, he would do it the same way. Maybe be more careful with measuring and metering in his office, and not trusting that equipment manufacturers telling him everything was safe. His doseages were supposed to be very very small.

    1. That is one of the best, informative, helpful statements I have heard on the Internet!
      I don’t know why any facility, that uses radiation, isn’t required to have yearly radiation exposure checks? (and yes, the provider(Doctor, etc.) should pay for these examinations–they charge us enough?

      I would like to see a ban on all second hand sales of any device that uses radiation(the obvious dangerous radiation we are talking about here). There are cheap doctors who buy used equipment on Ebay? I just don’t get it? I see medical resellers selling used radiation equipment, and even setting up the equipment without any oversight.

      Yes, there are doctors/resellers scouring EBay right now looking for good deals on medical equipment; equipment that haven’t been certified, or on most cases even tested. Medical equipment ranging from used laproscopes to equipment that Radiates? I understand why third world countries use used equipment, but not developed nations? I guess it’s ignorance? If you don’t understand the technology; don’t use it! This includes all technology, including emails/servers/politicians–etc. Rant–Yes. Sorry, I initially just wanted to thank a person who passed on a good story.

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