As you may recall from my blog of a few weeks ago – My Geiger counter doesn’t count (sob sob) – I purchased a Geiger counter kit and constructed it. Brimming with excitement I powered it up and… nothing happened.
In the comments to that article some folks said that they had the same kit and it worked; others said that they had the same kit and it didn’t work (and they weren’t very happy about it). A lot of folks offered suggestions, but by that time I had shipped my kit off to my friend – electronics expert David Ashton – in Australia.
David approached the problem with gusto and abandon, and he just reported that he now has my counter counting furiously. The little scamp (the counter, not David) is now winging its way back to me as I pen these words.
As an added bonus, David has kindly documented everything that he did – including a video – in the hopes that it will help others with the same kit (see How to make a Geiger counter count).
As I say, my Geiger counter is now wending its weary way back to me as we speak. Quite apart from anything else, I can’t wait to test the little rascal out with my two radioactive marbles (see also my blog I have radioactive balls).
Now, before you bounce over to read David’s Article, I can’t help myself from showing you a short video he took. David had the same problem I did (before I received my radioactive marbles), which was that he didn’t have a radioactive source. So he took my modified Geiger counter over to a Nuclear Medicine practice in a neighboring town (they do radiotherapy and various diagnostic tests using radioactive substances) and they very kindly let David have access to a radioactive source.
Finally, as one last interesting aside, one commenter to my original blog mentioned that the “No-salt Salt” that you can buy (which replaces a lot of the Sodium Chloride with Potassium Chloride) is mildly radioactive. David tried this with my now-working Geiger counter as shown below…
And the result was… well, you can read all about this in David’s Article (grin)
Right...so you're a bit disDACted right now. No worries, I am sure you're going to be doing lots of stuff with it when you're back!
PS if you can teach yourself something new while you are there you can call yourself an autodiDACt.....
Hi David -- I just arrived in San Diego for DAC 2011 -- I'm here all week starting now (Sun 5 June) -- I'll have to answer this when I get back to my office so I can read the package to see what it emits -- Max
One query Max...re your 5 uSv source. As Sieverts are a measure of how radiation affects the human body (ie received dose) do you know how this relates to the Bequerels that the source I got access to was quoted in (8 MegaBequerels)? Be interesting to see how they compare. Also mine was mostly Gamma, they said, do you knwo what yours emits?
HURRAY!!! My (now-working) Geiger counter has just arrived back from David.
It’s on my desk clicking away randomly – my (mildly) uranium-enriched glass marbles do seem to increase the count a bit – but I need to time things like David did to get a good feel for it.
I did just borrow a 5 uSv radioactive sample from the folks in the next bay and the little scamp started clicking and flashing furiously.
I also want to try it with that "No-Salt Salt" David used.
I’m heading out to DAC this weekend – so I’ll take the video and write the follow-up blog when I get back.
THANK YOU DAVID!!!
I was a bit worried after getting so close to that gamma ray source in the movie...but the techie said not to worry with such a short exposure. Hope he is right. I'm not glowing in the dark yet, anwyay.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.