Picture of How to X-Ray
So you wanna learn how to x-ray? Well then do I have some information for you! 


Why did I write this instructable? Well, to have a shot at winning that objet 3D printer!

And why would I want that? 

To set up a hackerspace of course! There aren't any within 50 miles of my town, and that leaves those who wish to build things; people like my friends and I, sh*t out of luck. This is especially a pain when I'm trying to design a better, manufacturable, portable x-ray machine and have no access to a 3D printer!

I've spent the better part of two months writing this guide, just for the chance to give some geeks (me included) the tools they deserve. If you could vote for my instructable, that'd be just awesome :-)


X-rays can kill. At the very least, they can give you cancer, which also kills. If you do not fully understand the dangers of ionizing radiation, and are not competent enough to handle voltages exceeding 50,000eV do not, under any circumstances replicate what I have done here.
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Step 1: Be safe: Radiation Sickness

Picture of Be safe: Radiation Sickness
“Regular radiation” such as microwave, infrared and visible light typically doesn’t have the energy needed to break chemical bonds, so we may sit out in the sun and get bombarded with a thousand watts and feel no ill effects. Once we reach ultraviolet though, this radiation now has enough energy to break those chemical bonds –including the ones in our bodies. This means that high energy radiation such as that emitted from an x-ray tube can damage DNA, and in high enough doses may even cause radiation sickness.

Acute radiation sickness occurs when your body has absorbed a large amount of ionizing radiation, usually on the order of several sieverts. What makes radiation lethal is the effect it has on DNA. When a high energy particle, be it a photon or some other particle collides with DNA it breaks bonds and rearranges the bases. Normally your cells can repair this damage, but if a cell fails at that task it often commits suicide before it divides. For long living cells such as muscle this isn’t too much of a problem, since the other cells have time to replace the dead ones. For short-lived cells though, this apoptosis becomes a major issue as cells are dying too fast to be replaced.

Such short lived cells include the mucus-making cells that line the intestinal wall. When exposed to enough radiation, these mucus cells start to die off en masse, and so are not replaced. No mucus cells means there will be no mucus, and no mucus means there is no protection from stomach acid. The intestine stops absorbing food particles, acid burns the tissue, and eventually you die of sepsis. If somehow you survive this ordeal, you will now need a bone marrow transplant since the short-lived bone marrow cells have died off. Radiation sickness symptoms include nausea, stomach pain and a lack of energy, and a detailed chart of symptoms can be found here.

And that’s why we shield ourselves from ionizing radiation! Keep in mind that it takes a very large amount of radiation to cause radiation sickness, not something a fiestaware plate or even a radium painted clock could ever produce. However, a Coolidge tube is certainly capable of generating very intense radiation!
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swortain4 months ago
vergaraanto5 months ago

I know how to design the Cockcroft–Walton multipler for a Iload continous, but how to design for x-ray? I know for example that in x-ray system is possible to use the following parameter kV=100, mA=300, ms=100... but if I design the multiplier for 300mA I think that is not a good design...

Who can help me for solve this my problem?

Emyame8 months ago
A serious project. Well done!
mrandle8 months ago
There is a third way of reading thats in between film and fpd and it's cr. Cr is basicaly a reuseable film cassette thats read in a cr machine. Still expensive but is being phased out in favor of fpd. A fourth option is to have a fluoroscopy type setup and put a ccd camera with the II screen. Great job I can barely keep the damn things running when they're made professionally.

grenadier, my jaw is dropped down to the floor reading this. This is like the very last episode of the series X-Files, where everything comes together all in one episode. I am in awe (that's a suburb of a town in China). : ) My respect.

samaddon1 year ago
Holy moly good!But very dangerous too!
Dont know if it is too late, but I want one!
Mr. Kennedy would be proud of this instructable! ;)
hello,I want to know how you radiate heat for X-Ray tube, I‘m not very clear for it。 thank you very much。
teknohawk2 years ago
Wow! You really know what your talking about! How smart are you?
grenadier (author)  teknohawk1 year ago
I don't believe it's possible to quantifiably answer a question like this.
Alex S2 years ago
this is what i hate about people who, do such projects, they obviously know what there talking about, but leave out the necessary details for others to follow them..

for example if you wanted to do a proper job of it then the following would be needed:-
1) use a singular international supplier (such as RS components or Farnell) and list the parts required to complete the project.
2) dont guess components, they should be available off the shelf and available to all, not bulbs tubes and valves that you have gathered together for your own use, where did you get them and can more be purchased (from an international supplier).
3) costing,, im not made of money how much does this project cost in total?? $50000 or $50... i want to know in advance rather then start a project and find out i cant get the stuff or its too expensive so i have to abandon it mid way through.
4) last buy by no means least,, a Full circuit diagram.. not sections separated out over many web pages, but one full circuit diagram showing everything!.

if these simple rules are followed i believe many users would vote in greater numbers and the topic/ your work would be greatly upheld, as its simple to follow, simple to order and compile the parts, its easy affordable by those who wish to start the project and its available to all on the web, due to the use of international suppliers.

and now i would like to say that i loved the project, really i do, but i would like to do it myself, but like all consumers of information; i just want everything in front of me before i reach into my pocket and buy the parts. Is that too much to ask?
grenadier (author)  Alex S2 years ago
These people leave out all the details to prevent those who are unwilling to figure them out from completing the projects. Sure, knex guns are one thing, but I wouldn't want every 12 year old kid from here to ɐıןɐɹʇsnɐ shining ionizing photons on their hands...
didibemi2 years ago
Perfect, well explained. I would love to try, but I don't have the right knoledge to do it. Anyway, congrat's dude, that's awesome!!
xenor2 years ago
While I don't think I'll be building this one any time soon, I'd like to say thank you for a most fascinating read. I think I've learnt more reading this instructable than I ever did at school when we were supposedly learning about radiation!

Beautiful images too!
You get my vote.
This is the finest example of how an Instructable should done and presented.
Good luck with the printer.
Machine2 years ago
Very nice! I like your writing style and you've covered everything that could be needed.
imMrDude2 years ago
And they say radical bombardments of radiation will fix your cancer.....

Go figure.

The radiation therapy used to treat cancer is of a much different nature than x-rays. At Fermilab they even use neutron radiation as a therapy. It seems to work pretty well at killing tumors (well pretty well compared to everything else we have), but yeah it is kind of ironic.
rocker94552 years ago
Awesome instructable, you also have my vote, one thing though:
"uranium reactors neutron radiation is not much of a concern, but nonetheless it is best shielded with light materials of all things, materials such as water and aluminum "

I'm under the impression that water is used as a moderator, slowing neutrons down to thermal energies so that they can cause induced fission but not as a shielding material, it doesn't absorb neutrons hence it's use as a moderator. Aluminium is a good shielding material AFAIK.
Okay, so I am about to embark on some "prior career geek-dom."

The primary method (ie cost effective) method on shielding neutrons involves subatomic billiards. Not gonna give ya the full lecture, thats what the google-nets are for, but I will put you on the path.

"Tell no one that I have put you on the path."

Shielding is rated in "tenth thickness." How much of a material is required to "alleviate" the radiation field to one tenth of it's original value. Okay, big word, alleviate. Since Roentgen the 13th has already nicely explained the particulate nature of radiation, I will merely extrapolate.

Neutrons are already everywhere, but they are not dangerous. They have been captured. How were they captured?

Neutron radiation occurs rarely in nature, as a decay path in a couple of minerals. But it always happens in the core of reactors, sorta a requirement. U-23x needs Neuts of specific nrg levels in order to "chain react." An atom has to be hit with a bullet of just the right speed in order to break apart the figgy puddin on the inside. Too fast and it goes right through. Too slow and it gets sucked in or bounces off. There is a name for this nrg level that is "just right." Not to hot, not too cold, but just right Goldylocks. It's called, "thermal nrg."

"But ladies, if ya smack that sukka just right, blam, watermelon pie." -Gallagher.

U-23x splits in twain and statisticaaly usually spits out a Neut at about 2.03 MeV (Mega electron Volts)( Roentgen the 13's lil widget extroidinaire is poking around at nrg levels one hundredth of this. But anyway...) Back to alleviatin those pesky Neuts.

Fission trons, bad. so lets slow em down. Let's moderate, or alleviate 'em. Water. Good ole Dihydrogen Oxide. Billiards again! {Newtownian mechanics ALERT!


Collisions. Inelastic collisions, and elastic collisions. Where objects of roughly the same mass collide, they share nrg rather well. What is the mass of an Hydrogen nucleus? Elementary my dear Watson. About twice that of those pesky Neuts zipping around. It takes, on average, 16 collisions for the thing to slow down to the right nrg level for the next phase.


Thermal neutrons have an nrg around 1eV.

Sulphur, Nickel, Germanium are the ones I remember topping the absorption chart. But hey, these aren't in the reactor. But a lot of water is. And, oh yes, waters Hyrdogen absorps the neutrons too. Not as well. But when you got that much, the job gets done.

A very condensed version of the path can be located at:
grenadier (author)  rocker94552 years ago
Water can be used as a moderator, but enough of it will slow a neutron to a dead stop. Heavy water just does this faster.
IIRC, light water does absorb a bit of radiation, but is quite a good moderator. Heavy water is a poorer moderator (need more of it,) but it absorbs much less radiation. Heavy water can be used with less enriched uranium because it absorbs less radiation.
Graphite is also a very efficient moderator, but it's not an inherently stable moderator, unlike water, and it also has the tendency to crack/catch fire/explode when things go very wrong.
This instructable is well thought out, written, and presented to convey the knowledge you have in this field. Very impressive!

I got several ideas from your ible and am planning another of my own. I do hope you win a prize for this one too.

Great Job!
Wazzupdoc2 years ago
Great Ibble', but too big a bite. Well researched! Chop it up into chapters and it'll be more educational.
jprozas2 years ago
Rontgen descubrió los Rayos X (1895) usando un tubo Crookes, el Coolidge fue inventado en 1913. Es fácil simular un tubo Crookes con un tubo de vacío. Un polo es el catodo y otro es una pelicula de alumnio exterior. No necesita alimentar el filamento de caldeo y la alta tension se dispone entre la placa exterior y el catodo. El tubo Cookes es un tubo de descarga. Todas las medidas de protección son aplicables.
Rontgen discovered the X-Rays (1895) using a Crookes's tube. The Coolidge's was invented in 1913. I think is easy build a Crookes's tube with a power tube. A pole is the catode and other is an aluminium film external the tube. Don't need to heat the tube then d0n't conect the filament. ( easier).

The high voltage direct or alternative, is conected to the catode and the external aluminium film ( external plaque). The Cookes tube is a discharge tube.


Bumba Lodh2 years ago
I need Coolidge tube,how much cost it?
i'm from india
DoctorDv2 years ago
Awesome! I saw you in the popular science magazine!

Cool and dangerous :)

tesla man2 years ago
Very interesting. I would have voted for you if i had know about this before the contest ended. Great instructable though
pyrorower2 years ago
I love how well done this instructable is! I'm especially pleased with how thoroughly you explain the function, dangers, and safety procedures concerning ionizing radiation. Hopefully you get that printer, I think you deserve it!
grenadier (author)  pyrorower2 years ago
BudBump2 years ago
Thanks! I am not interested in building an XRay device, but the voltage multiplier design you present will work to pump my laser array in the best way to polarize the M. Fermions in my inducer grid. The dimers are not stable, but software tailored will seek a corresponding "working triad" of stable dimers will mate well with the laser fire sequence. I can't afford exotic equipment/tools and must jury rig it to create and sustain an electrical current dynamic in the element arrangement. FREE energy isn't a pipe dream... and you, Sir, provided me the simple end of the tool by which I will change the world. The device shape is a torus.
t.rohner2 years ago
Fantastic instructable. You have my vote and 5*.

Very good explanation of the electronic design.

When i was around 11, i met a guy who teached me the basics in electronics.
(That was around the time the internet (not http://www.) was invented.

He had salvaged Roentgen devices, that had been used by shoe dealers to check, if the shoes fit.
I don't exactly know, when they stopped using them. It was before my time... I guess it was in the early sixties.

He also used them for photographs in a big lead-clad wooden box.
Mosfets haven't been en vouge back then.
But he was very fit in all things electron valves. He learned electronics, when the first transitors became available...

One of the best instructables i've seen.
grenadier (author)  t.rohner2 years ago
They stopped using those when shoe sellers started to get foot cancer. Those fluoroscopes usually had no shielding, and would often spew out 2R/min!
Kryptonite2 years ago
What a read! I'm most impressed with the effort that has gone into this, best of luck with the competition!
grenadier (author)  Kryptonite2 years ago
Took a whole two months to write :-)
n-2-stuff2 years ago
Instructable my arse this is a scientific paper. Great job !!! Got my vote.
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