Step 4: Obtaining a Radioactive Source

There are many easily obtained inexpensive (and legal) radioactive sources available online.

See video samples / discuss radioactive sources at http://forum.nothinglabs.com

Certain years of Fiestaware dishes featured a "radioactive red" color that actually contained uranium!

A small chip can make an excellent cheap cloud chamber source - try searching ebay for "fiestaware sample"

Small Autunite samples commonly sell for about $20 on ebay (contains uranium).

Search ebay descriptions for "geiger" and "cpm" to see other possibilities.

Alternately - the cloud chamber can be used without a radiation source to view cosmic rays.  They typically appear once every 1-2 minutes.

Take precautions appropriate for your sample!  The provider of your specimen may be able to provide further information on its safety.

To be extra safe - use gloves when handling.  Wash your hands after if you should touch it.

<p>Why two separate power supply for peltier and fan while both can run in 12 V ??</p>
<p>Hello</p><p>I've read the various comments - the solutions are simple</p><p>Develop a kit - under 200.00 - add some free tech assistance - I'll buy two</p><p>One for home - one for office - makes a great conversational piece.</p><p>Have a good presentation - easy to assembly kit - go to work </p><p>I'm waiting to buy one now - </p>
<p>Hi Rich,</p><p>I finished building mine and I get a good supersaturated layer over a 5x5&quot; black anodized aluminium plate. I suspect the chamber is working well since I get really good &quot;fake trails&quot; whenever I place/remove/recharge my static source (balloon). however, I don't seem to get trails coming from cosmic rays. Is there a trick with the static source regarding cosmic rays?</p>
Hi Thomas -<br><br>It's most likely you aren't actually getting cold enough to see traces.<br><br>From my experience - the kind of &quot;ghost trails&quot; that occur when moving the static source around can occur at higher temperatures than needed to see traces from particles. <br><br>The peltier setup for this project has fairly modest cooling power - and can really only cool a small area down to the -15f or so needed to see traces. <br><br>Using thin plastic for a surface causes a small area to be cooled directly above the peltier (due to low thermal conductivity). Using aluminum will attempt to cool a larger area - and will counter-inuitively produce less cooling.<br><br>I had some luck extending the saturation area with an aluminum base-plate - but only using much larger peltiers - and insulating the bottom of the plate.<br><br>My general advice to anyone trying this project is to start with a thin plastic base-plate - get that working - and then experiment from there.<br><br>Good luck!<br><br>-Rich
<p>Rich, you were absolutely right !</p><p>I removed the aluminium plate and used a thin transparent plastic sheet blackened from under with a sharpie. After a few minutes of cooling, I reached between -45F to -50F (compared to -10F previously). I can now see about 5 to 10 trails per seconds above the peltier area.</p><p>Thanks for the advice !</p><p>Thomas</p>
<p>glad it's working for you. now for some real fun - go get some uranium ore on ebay!</p><p>-Rich</p>
<p>Wow! I love your detailed instructions! I also like how you used easy-to-find Peltier coolers instead of difficult-to-acquire dry ice. Hopefully I can try this out soon!</p>
<p>mine gets cold on the upper side, but how can i know that the connection to heatsink is ok? i used kinda less grease ! im worreid that overtime it will get hot ! or my thermal connection is not good :|</p>
If things work (ie - you can see traces) then you're getting good contact.<br><br>Other way to test is to use an infrared or contact thermometer that can go down to -20f or colder. <br><br>In general - less grease is better assuming you get full coverage.<br><br>Good luck!<br><br>-Rich
<p>I have a dumb question about powering the CPU fan. I bought the Cooler Master Hyper 212 for my chamber, which has a 4pin output. I tried looking up which pins to connect to my 12V 8A power supply, but I can't seem to get a straight answer online. Did anyone else use this fan that can help me out?</p>
<p>It's been a while - but I believe this is correct:</p><p><a href="http://www.pavouk.org/hw/fan/en_fan4wire.html" rel="nofollow">http://www.pavouk.org/hw/fan/en_fan4wire.html</a></p><p>short answer - black = gnd, yellow = 12v</p>
So I've constructed a cloud chamber using this article and have run into a slight problem. Everything works but I don't think the chamber is getting cold enough. I haven't had a chance to buy a thermometer yet but I'm fairly certain it will only confirm what I think I know. The alcohol is condensing on top of the cooler forming a thin square layer to form on the base, but no mist at all. The voltages are 12 for the bottom and 5.6 for the top cooler, so are there any other things I might need to adjust? I have already removed and reapplied some arctic silver but no dice. There is a good amount of frost buildup underneath the container by the coolers so maybe the container is too thick? I bought one similar to the one used here however. Any troubleshooting advice would be greatly appreciated!
Sorry for taking so long to reply. <br> <br>What kind of light are you using? (LED light is pretty much mandatory to see the traces) <br> <br>Also - have you painted / used a magic marker to make the surface black? That's also critical to see anything. <br> <br>The exact container I used seemed almost custom-made for cloud chamber user with it's thin bottom. It's definitely possible the one your trying is too thick at the base. <br> <br>One option is to use some thin black plastic (1/16th&quot; or so is best) for the chamber base - and then use a water glass for the chamber itself (don't worry too much if the seal isn't totally perfect). This is the approach I usually use on chambers now. <br> <br>A local plastics retailer might have something that would work. Can also try something like a plastic picnic plate. Either way - paint or magic-marker it black. <br> <br>The alcohol pool itself will inhibit traces - so if it forms - wipe it off with a paper towel. <br> <br>Hope this helps! <br> <br>-Rich
I am going the route using the single dual stage peltier cooler you listed. I bought a 12V 6A 72W power supply for it. Just a stan dard AC DC transformer. I am worried about the Power rating on it. Should it be enough for the peltier. It will be used to power the TEC only. I am experienced with electronics but I have not worked with TECs much at all.Thanks for the help in advance!
what kind of plastic do you use on your commercial chamber? id like to know the thickness too. the plastics i have used are about an 1/8th of an inch thick but i think it has insulating properties. if you don't mind me asking,i know your trying to sell them.
i don't really keep a lot of secrets any more - happy to share. <br><br>I use 1/16&quot; delrin plastic (check mcmaster.com) in the commercial cloud chamber. delrin is a bit flexy though - so I support it with some thicker plastic around the edge. <br><br>my suggestion for others would be to use 1/16th&quot; garolite. mcmaster.com had this in nice 6&quot;x6&quot; pieces in black last i checked. <br><br>I like garolite because it's stiffer than most plastic. iif the material is too flexible - the temperature differential will cause major flex that can be a problem. <br><br>for any kind of plastic I recommend getting black if possible to avoid having to paint it. <br><br>I wouldnt worry too much about how insulating the plastic is.
i have a problem. im not getting a fine mist but the alcohol is pooling over the peltier. i have abandoned my aluminum plate for now and am using a Tupperware container <br>
do you have a temperature reading?<br><br>Is the surface black? It's pretty much impossible to see the traces / mist against a light background.<br><br>What kind of light are you using? If you are using something other than an LED - probably won't work.<br><br>Good luck,<br><br>-Rich
what about something like this... The peltier would fit in the square hole. then the aluminum plate would mount to the cpu cooler. insulation would fit between the peltier and the plate. a square plate would fit over the pelteir to protect it from the alchohol
Maybe? Couldn 't really say for sure.<br><br>My suspicion is that you'd only get super-saturation (trace visibility) over the actual peltier.<br><br>Might want to try getting everything working with a plastic sheet first - then experiment - but good luck with whatever path you try!<br><br>-Rich
how do you feel about metal base plates for the chamber instead of plastic?
Certainly can be done - but don't recommend it.<br><br>I get about an email a month from people trying to use metal - and not having it work.<br><br>Metal tends to conduct heat -too well- - so you end up with a larger cooled area - but doesn't end up being as cold.<br><br>IE - 8 sq inches at 0f (no worky) as opposed to 3 sq inches at -30f.<br><br>-Rich
OK. Sorry to bother again. I have an ATX power supply rated at 650 watts, a cooler master V8, one 12709, one 12710 and its all hooked up. I get a reading around -7 through -10 degrees Fahrenheit on the bare top peltier. I did not use arctic silver, I used the thermal paste that came with the cooler master. Do you think i would get much better results with arctic silver? I am also using a laser thermometer same as yours. I have read the trouble shooting section but i feel that I need your opinion...
suspect the included thermal grease is fine. Generally the stuff included with coolers is reasonable quality. <br> <br>are you powering the 12709 (top) at 5v and the 12710 (bottom) at 12v? <br> <br>sometimes the IR thermometers can be a bit flaky (try holding it closer to the surface to see if that gets you a colder reading). <br> <br>If you think everything else is right - might be worth just trying it out. <br> <br>-Rich
thank you. i tried it again this morning and it got to around -20. maybe, like you said, the paste might have to set in.
never mind. i just found a brand new cooler master v8 on eBay for $20.
What is the reason the second peltier cooler is at 5V not 12V?
see end of step 18
I bought this from ebay, do you think it will work? http://www.ebay.com/itm/190712915267?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&amp;_trksid=p3984.m1497.l2649
Can't say for sure if that'll work - but it seems reasonable. <br> <br>Good luck with your fully-automated build! I toyed with that idea - but never got around to it. Seems very do-able though. <br> <br>-Rich
I plan on building one of these to be fully automatic. meaning of course that a pump will supply the alcohol to the felt and a hv source to clear out static. i want to just leave it on my desk at work an watch the look on peoples faces as they walk by.
What is a 12v 8 amp power supply? I googled it and it came up with a &quot; Ac &quot; or &quot;Dc adapter&quot; <br>Is that the right thing. <br>
It means a power supply that can produce 12 volts (DC) at 8 amps of current. (from AC wall power).<br><br>8 amps is a minimum - more is fine.<br><br>This would be an example:<br><br>http://www.amazon.com/Power-Adapter-Prong-Output-3224-12V/dp/B0057KIHAI
I'm 14years old student in Korea and Im working on building a peltier cloud chamber. Our science teacher asked me to build one for a competition. I ordered tec 12012 and 12010 since 12009 is not available in our country. I also ordered an atx psu. Can I ask what voltage I should put on each module? <br>Also I was wondering if the heatsink in the link below and 120mm fan can withstand heat. Otherwise I have to buy a cpu cooler. <br>www.79ne.co.kr/goods/view.php?seq=628 <br>Thanks for help.^^
I suspect the 12012 and 12010 will work for you. I would run them at 12v for the bottom (12012) - and around 5v for the top (12010).<br><br>Since the 12012 is higher rated than the 12010 typically used for the bottom - you might try a little lower votlage - maybe 10v.<br><br>I can't say for sure if that heatsink will work or not. I typically have had best luck higher performance heatsinks including &quot;heatpipes&quot;<br><br>If you already have the heatsink - there shouldn't be any harm in trying though. <br><br>Good luck!<br><br>-Rich
i have an excess of 300 v flash charging circuits.(they actually gave them to me for about a month. then the larger stores refused to give me any.) will these be a suitable substitute for the static?
I don't think the static is a more-is-better type thing. I've found too much static can disturb the supersaturation layer - and prevent tracing from showing up. <br /> <br />A constant low-level source of static like a balloon has worked really well for me (using a maybe 1.5k-3k DC source is another option).
i would just use a balloon, but i am building one as part of my applied science class, so i aim to reduce as many variables as possible. can you recommend anywhere that would sell a dc source like that?
I've used an AC power supply like this one:<br /><br />http://www.ebay.com/itm/DELUXE-12VDC-INPUT-2KV-AC-OUTPUT-GAS-TUBE-POWER-SUPPLY-w-3-way-switch-clips-/380404425635?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&amp;hash=item5891dee3a3<br /><br />But you of course need to rectify it (you can do this using a single diode)<br /><br />Please be careful with high voltage!<br /><br />Even though I have the HV supply - I still generally use the balloon as it seems to give a bit better results (sure there are variables I haven't pinned down).<br />
OK, thanks. just one more thing: how long would a design similar to the one here take to build?
i'd figure on a half-day to day to build the chamber.
Why do you need the static electricity? I have never understood these things. <br> <br>thanks
The static clears out ions and dust - which would provide other nucleation points besides the ionized trails left by the particles (preventing you from seeing the traces).<br /><br />It may also help &quot;push down&quot; the ionized trails into the super-saturated area - so that more are visible.<br />
Ahh, you might consider an ion fountain destatic tool made from a piezo electrostatic discharger. Back when vinyl records were still king and cd's were just emerging. I had a gizmo that had a piezo xtal and a squeezer that caused th eXtal to discharge through a pin in the front of the barrel. You held it over the cleaned record and pulled the trigger. It let out a plume of ions that counter acted any on the record. Hence less or no static pops or hiss.I used to use mione to give myself electropunture shots , before it was accepted, (electrical accupuncture). If I can find the name or the unit and pictures I will bring it back herre if you think it might be useful
it was called Zero Stat and was red, now they're blue <br /> <br />http://www.tweakshop.com/Zerostat.html
I apoligize for the continued questions, I have not recieved my parts yet so it may be easier to understand when I get them. Does the cord, the one similar to a computer cord, all you need? How does this power both units with only one output. Im assuming the peltier and the coolermaster hook together and the cord plugs into the coolermaster. I also see a box in the regulare instructable(the picture between the cord and the peltier) Is this part eliminated due to the single stage peltier. I am sure I could figure all this out when I receive the parts, but I need to make sure I have all the parts ordered. Thanks again
you should be able to power both the fan and peltier cooler off the single 12v / 6amp power supply (the one that looks like it's for a laptop).<br><br>you will need to cut the end of the cable off the power supply's cable / solder it up to both the fan's power inputs and the peltier's. both the heatsink's fan and the peltier take 12v.<br><br>I can't tell you off the top of my head if the wires on the power supply are color-coded for polarity. You might want to use a multimeter to verify which is positive and which is negative.<br><br>I think the &quot;box&quot; your talking about is a big 12v power supply (the &quot;cord&quot; pictured is a 5v power supply). With the setup you'll be using - you'll just need the smaller 12v power supply I mentioned in the prior post.<br><br>hope this helps!<br><br>-Rich
I ordered the single stage peltier and was wondering what type of power supply you used, one that powers both the fan and the single cooler and also looks clean. Where can I get one? Thanks again for your help
I use one of these (there are similar models that work as well):<br><br>http://www.amazon.com/Kinamax-AD-LCD12-Monitors-Adapter-Supply/dp/B000VE7GQQ/<br><br>just look for anything 12v / 6amp.<br><br>If you want to add a power switch - one of these will plug right into the power supply:<br><br>http://www.amazon.com/Power-Switch-Slim-Easy-Your/dp/B0053EONOM/<br><br>(you can find these cheaper on ebay - but they ship from china / take a long time to show up - also be aware there's s similar / but different power switch - avoid it - as it's junky)<br>
Hi, I am a current student pursuing a degree in radiation protection. I have been very facinated with the cloud chamber and have decided to build one for my project at school. I love the one that you have for sale but cannot afford it at the current time. The project that I am building it for is actually for my autocad class, not my radiation protection class. Today I went to speak with one of my potential employers, as they were showing me around the lab I ask them if they had ever seen a cloud chamber. I was stunned that they had not heard of one(being that they study and test sources for a liveing) and they asked if I would bring it down to display when I get done. I was wondering if I could get your advice and maybe a materials for constructing one like the one for sale since I will be displaying it in a proffesional setting. If you would be so kind to help me out with this, and as a thank you I could send you a file of a complete blueprint of the construction and assembly to include with your instruction manuel, and display nothing labs-with your name or names of the people who developed this design when I display the chamber. Thank you so much for your time, and I understand and will hold no hard feelings if you feel uncomfortable sharing your design. I will in no way attemp to sell this or any thing similar. My email is Jessm_6709@hotmail.com. Thanks again, and thanks to all who have sharred their time and information on this site.

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Bio: Hi, I'm Rich Olson (nothinglabs.com). I sell cloud chambers for viewing radiation, make robots and dev software. If you need something prototyped - I ... More »
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