Have you ever wondered about the radiation levels around you? Well today you can build your very own detector that measures ionizing radiation and displays data in real-time on an LCD (and also your computer if you want).
The visual design, as seen below, is perhaps a tad short of a Red Dot Award, but it sure works fine. It is a scintillation counter, no less and no more.
In fact, the game was all about doing it with the least amount of effort and nearly no budget, given that we already had a small scintillation crystal (LYSO) and a Silicon photomultiplier (SiPM) at hand. (Those were the only two expensive parts, at roughly $100 each. Sigh... We know...).
Our scintillator was supplied by Andy of http://pjtelect.com/
. The SiPM is a KETEK
one because they have a low breakdown voltage of 25V which makes it really cheap to bias them at around 30V....
What you will need:
- a scintillator crystal (we used a 1cmx1cmx2cm LYSO (Lu2Si2O7:Ce3+) but most any scintillation material should do)
- a Silicon photomultiplier (we prefer that over a PMT because HV biasing is easier and they are also harder to destroy)
- resistors, capacitors
- two fast rail2rail op-amps
- a simple DC-DC step-up converter off eBay
- a piezo buzzer for added dramatic effect
- Arduino Uno board
- LCD Keypad Shield (or another LCD, with minor adjustments to the Arduino sketch)
- soldering iron and tin (we use, lovingly, the old school non-ROHS stuff that will kill you etc etc yada yada)
- cardboard (for the motherboard), nylon ties
- a bunch of wires
- something to hold your SiPM tight against your crystal (we drilled holes into a scrap piece of thick plastic)
Now let's get started!