Duck And Cover With This WiFi “Geiger Counter”

There’s perhaps no sound more recognizable than the frantic clicking of a Geiger counter. Not because this is some post-apocalyptic world in which everyone is personally acquainted with the operation of said devices, but because it’s such a common effect used in many movies, TV shows, and video games. If somebody hears that noise, even if it doesn’t really make sense in context, they know things are about to get serious.

Capitalizing on this phenomena, [Anton Haidai] has put together a quick hack which turns the ESP8266 into a “Geiger counter” for WiFi. Rather than detecting radiation, the gadget picks up on the strongest nearby WiFi signal and will start clicking in response to signal strength. As the signal gets stronger, so does the clicking. While primarily a novelty, it’s an interesting idea that could potentially be useful for things like fox hunting.

The hardware is really about as simple as it gets, just a basic buzzer attached to one of the digital pins on a NodeMCU development board. This project is more of a proof of concept, but if it were to be developed further it would be interesting to see the electronics placed into a 3D printed replica of one of the old Civil Defense Geiger counters. Perhaps even integrating an analog gauge that can bounce around in response to signal strength.

Software-wise there is the option of locking onto one single network SSID or allowing the device to find the strongest network in the area. Even if you’re not in the market for a chirping WiFi detector, the code is a good example of how you can detect signal RSSI and act on it accordingly; a neat trick which might come in handy in a future project.

If you’re more interested in the real thing, we’ve got plenty of DIY Geiger counters in the archive for you to check out. From diminutive builds that can be mounted to the top of a 9V battery to high-tech solid state versions with touch screen interfaces, you should have plenty of inspiration if you’re looking to kit yourself out before your next drive through the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

9 thoughts on “Duck And Cover With This WiFi “Geiger Counter”

  1. I bid and almost bought a vintage Geiger counter at an online auction recently.. For no good reason; purely movie-driven nostalgia. Quick searches turned up some howto’s on restoration – it can take some effort, well beyond batteries. I decided I didn’t need a project, for now. What good is it really, without a radioactive monster?
    I could do the motion tracker from Alien, but that crosses a line and is too scary.

    1. I have a couple network enabled geiger counters. They detected a huge spike from a solar flare one time. That’s really about the only eventful thing that has ever happened throughout their 5-ish years in operation. 99.999% of the time they just tell me that the background is around 0.13 uSv/hr. Peace of mind, I guess?

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