This is an Instructable covering the first part of a project I have wanted to do for some time now. After watching various videos and studying up on how x-rays were produced and interacted with their environment, I decided I would very much like to experiment with them, as I have a well vested interest in high energy physics and electronics. I did not wish to spend many hundreds of dollars or possibly thousands on a real x-ray setup, as I wanted to experiment now and wished to see if I could produce them cheaply, reliably, and repeatably with parts I already had or could very easily acquire.
As for background, X-rays are very high energy photons produced when an accelerated electron strikes something and returns to its ground state. So to produce them, you must accelerate electrons to an appropriate energy to release an x-ray. This energy is measured in electron volts, or eV. there are also two types of x-rays that we will associate with; Soft x-rays, and hard x-rays. "Soft" or "Low energy" x-rays are produced at around 800 eV to 5 KeV, while "Hard" or "high energy" x-rays are produced at energies greater that 5 KeV, upwards to 100 KeV. Soft x-rays are the ones this project is producing, and are unable to penetrate objects as well as hard x-rays, and are often absorbed in air or your object of study. Therefore they not typically used for imaging, due to scattering and absorption. Hard x-rays get absorbed or pass through different materials, and their different rates of absorption can show images when projected at a screen sensitive to x-rays. Essentially like shining a light on something and creating a shadow, materials that attenuate hard x-rays more readily will show up white, as x-rays have not penetrated through that material and made it to your imager, Whilst when hard x-rays do penetrate through, they hit your imager and leave no shadow. Our x-rays will typically be absorbed in air or water due to their relatively low energy, and are not useful for imaging, however you can still use the x-rays, and I will speak more of this in the other part of this project, the detector.
*soft x-rays can be considered much more dangerous, so care must be taken.*
So came the first component; the tube. I am an avid collector of different valves and intersting vacuum or gas filled electron tubes. It so happened that i had a High voltage beam triode, which when operated in a cold cathode configuration, meaning the cathode was not boiling off electrons due to thermionic emission, I could accelerate electrons to an appropriate High energy for x-ray production.