"New-Clear" Nuclear Radiation Detecting Surfboard

Introduction: "New-Clear" Nuclear Radiation Detecting Surfboard

Welcome to my surf Geiger counter and light up display page!

Image 1 from : http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-10-02/fukushim...

As a design student at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, I have designed an Radiation Detecting Surfboard, which warns when there is radiation present in the ocean. This project is meant to assist surfers, so that they may know if the water they are exposing themselves to has any presence of radiation. The Newclear measures radiation and transmits the results as an amber light. This bargraph is completely waterproof, and built into a surfboard.

Before I get started, I would like thank my teacher Garnet Hertz, studio technician Bobbi Kozinuk and my fellow design students at Emily Carr University for giving me this opportunity and a supportive environment to learn.

Thank you all for visiting this site,

Jamie Bale


February 14th 2017

Step 1: Intro

Image 2 from: https://latuffcartoons.wordpress.com/tag/radiatio...

This project is designed to promotes the need for worldwide ocean quality tests. As a result the nuclear disaster from the earthquake in Fukushima, Japan in 2011, radioactive materials continue to leach into the Pacific Ocean. There are far reaching effects from this nuclear disaster, as marine life from as far as the United States and Canada have now had nuclear radiation detected in them. There is a large need to study the far reaching effects of this radiation, a monitoring system for all those experiencing and enjoying our oceans.

I built a light display, which based on radiation levels in the water, that can be easily seen while surfing. I have posted the details of the assembly to Instructables for anyone interested in or expanding on this project. Please feel free to make modifications as you please! I am also very open to suggestions on how to improve the design.

Finally, I would like to stress the need for monitoring our oceans and protecting them for future generations, as the ocean provides so much for so many.

Step 2: Parts, Materials and Tools

Image 3 from: https://www.instructables.com/id/Arduino-Bargraph-...

Image 4 from: http://mightyohm.com/blog/products/geiger-counter/

Image 5 from: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Ziploc-60-Qt-Large-Dee...

Image 6 from: http://www.adverts.ie/surfing/surfboard-jc-surfte...

List of materials to complete the Radiation Detecting Surfboard:

1 Arduino Uno

1 wave shield

10 x 320 ohm resistors

1 1K ohm resistor

1 320 ohm resistor

1 potentiometer

1 Amber 10 LED Bargraph

1 waterproof plastic bargraph cover

1 Mighty Ohm Geigher counter https://www.adafruit.com/product/483



Flux (can be very helpful for those not experienced with soldering)


circuit board

Various sized Standoffs (to secure and space Geiger counter from circuit board)

power switch

2 10uF ceramic capacitors

LiPo battery: http://leeselectronic.com/en/product/8835.html?se...

LiPo microcontroller: http://leeselectronic.com/en/product/15042.html?s...

1 16MHz crystal: https://www.sparkfun.com/products/536

1 Arduino ATMega328: http://leeselectronic.com/en/product/71903.html?s...


Gasket (from a waterproof ziplock container)

Various hand tools (chisels, screwdriver, sandpaper, etc...)


Step 3: Wiring

Image 7: Using the Fritzing program, here is a diagram for the circuit diagram of wiring the bargraph

Image 8: Image of Arduino connected to a breadboard

Image 9: Images of Arduino Circuit wiring, using a wave shield

Connect the wires, LED bargraph, potentiometer, and resistors to the breadboard and the Arduino.

The bar graph with a potentiometer allows for testing to make sure the bar graph is functioning properly.

Step 4: Arduino Code

Image 10: Arduino connected to USB Port

Image 11: Bargraph with serial monitor code

Connect the Arduino to the USB port on your computer.

Burn the arduino code with a serial monitor to the see digital values of the potentiometer, by clicking image 11 to download barGraphwithserialmonitor. (Using the serial monitor can be very useful in troubleshooting)

This code is only to makes only the bar graph and Arduino function properly, the code will need to be modified to accommadate the Geiger counter (see Step 11).

Step 5: Clean Up Wiring

Image 12: Cleaning up the wiring (note not all lights on the LED were functioning see troubleshooting)

This image contains a cleaned up version of the wiring. The Arduino is now connected in series, the resistors have been shortened and there is an addition of black jumping wires

Step 6: Troubleshooting the Bargraph

Image 13: Image of functioning bar graph with potentiometer

Image 14: Images of the completed the bar graph with potentiometer on the wave shield

At this stage, if only 6 of the 10 bars light up. There is no need to worry!

Using the serial monitor on Arduino.cc, you can move the potentiometer, either direction, to test the power getting to the bargraph display. At full power, the arduino may read 879 not the full amount of 1023. Check all the connections on the breadboard (resistors, jumping wires, etc...). If there is no changes to readout on the serial monitor it may mean that the usb imput is simply not providing enough power. Attach the power cord from the arduino to a wall socket or use a 9v battery. This should allow for full power to be achieved achieved and the full bargraph should light up.

Step 7: Assemble the Geiger Counter

Image 15 and 16: Placing the resistors and parts on the Geiger Counter circuit Board

Image 17: Finished soldering of all parts on the Geiger counter

This was my first time soldering a board and with the assembly instructions it was attainable for someone with limited soldering experience.

Follow the link below to get assembly instructions:

These are a great set of instructions that lays out every step and make sure you don't overlook any detail, some parts are polarity sensitive, fragile and all parts have specific places.

Here is a link to check the correct resistor values, to make sure each resistor goes in the right place:


Make sure you solder each part properly, fully and in the correct orientation.

Step 8: Testing the Geiger Counter

Image 18: Testing the Geiger counter

When the Geiger counter is switched on, do not touch the back of the board , or you will get a shock!

To test the Geiger Counter, simply turn on, then create a short by touching either end of the Geiger Tube. The led will light up and there will be a clicking sound.

Step 9: Connecting the Geiger Counter to the Arduino

Image 19: Making connections without wave shield or bargraph.

Image 20: Showing the connections from the geiger counter to the Arduino wave shield

Using the 3 pronged pulse output on the geiger counter. Connect the positive (red wire, marked on the Geiger counter with a triangle) to the 5V on the Arduino wave shield. Connect the ground (brown wire to ground on Arduino). And Pulse pin (yellow wire, to d12 on the Arduino). (see Image 18)

Step 10: Eliminating the Need for AA Batteries

Image 21: Showing the Geiger Counter without AA batteries, only powered through usb.

Remove the need for the AA batteries. On the Geiger Counter, change the resistor labelled R6 to a 1K ohm, and the resistor labeled r11 to 330 ohms.

Step 11: Coding the Arduino to the Values of the Geiger Counter

Image 22: Final code for Radiation Detecting bar graph

After you make the resistor changes above the next step is to code the Arduino to both the LCD and the geiger board.

Upload the code to the Arduino to create a functioning Geiger counter attached to the Arduino Uno with readings that are a mapped output as a bar graph with only a 5 volt power supply needed. (see Step 15). The values are based on a standard reading of 10 beats per minute.

Step 12: Arduino to Custom Circuit Board

Image 23: The circuit on the wave shield beside the circuitboard

Image 24: The completed circuit on the breadboard

Moving away from the thick 2 layered arduino and bar graph to a flatter custom circuit board. There is a need to have connections and a circuit board will fit directly on of the geiger counter without the full Arduino Uno.

It may look a little confusing, but is simply keeping the same circuit from the wave shield and transferring it the circuit board. Use the liquid crystal, ceramic resistors and the ATMega328p to the circuit on the breadboard (see Image 24). Before you detach the ATMega328p, you will need to remove ATMega328p from the Arduino Uno, then transfer ATMega328p to the circuit board. Be careful to not bend any pins when removing the ATMega from its housing.

Step 13: Completion of Circuit Board

Image 25: Cut piece of circuit board, on top of geiger counter with pulse connections.

Image 26: Close up of standoffs (spacers)

Image 27: Completed circuit board mounted, soldered and connected to Geiger counter

Cut a piece of circuit board to the exact size of the geiger counter, so that it can be placed directly on top of the geiger counter (see Image 25).

Drill screw holes in circuit board to allow for standoffs to line up perfectly and use standoffs for spacing. (see Image 26). There needs to be a small space so the fragile Geiger tube does not get destroyed.

Complete wiring and soldering with all required electrical components (see Image 27). You now have the dimensions needed to create a waterproof enclosure, remember you will need space for a switch and battery.

Step 14: 3d Print Version 2

Image 28: The Top of the enclosure with display, .stl file

Image 29: The bottom of the enclosure .stl file

Image 30: The 3D printer in process

Image 31: The Completed 3D printed parts

Using fusion 360 or any 3d modelling software, create a screw together waterproof container. There is 1mm additional tolerance added to allow for the slight defects created in the 3d printing process. The base has built in standoffs to allow a secure connection for the electronics to the base plate.

Step 15: Completed Enclosure

Image 32: Geiger counter placed in bottom portion of enclosure

Image 33: Circuit board attached to Geiger Counter with standoffs and screws

Image 34: Functioning Geiger Counter, with switch and micro controller

The enclosure is now complete. There is groove near the exterior of base to allow for the addition of a gasket to seal the joint between top and bottom, (retrofitted from a "Ziplock" waterproof container).

Place the LiPo battery on the bottom of the enclosure, secure in place. Add Geiger counter to the enclosure. Attach Circuit board above Geiger counter. Attach a switch and micro controller, connect the LiPo battery to micro controller. This allows for the electronics to be turned on and off, without it the power would continually be on and not be controlled and constantly drained.

Finally, you cab through screw the 6 places on the outside of the base connecting to the top to create a seal.

Step 16: Stencil for Vinyl Sticker (optional)

Image 35: .pdf file used to create radiation sticker

Image 36: First attempt at cutting sticker

Image 37: 2nd attempt at sticker with adhesive grid paper attached

Using a Silouetter paper cutter, create a vinyl sticker to adhere to the top of the surfboard. This is strictly an aesthetic portion of the project, but felt it helps to show what the bar graph lights up. Using the grid pattern adhesive paper, will help to centre the sticker and keep pieces perfectly in place.

Step 17: Routing Out the Surfboard

Image 38: Placing the router gig

Image 39: Surfboard before routing

Image 40: Surfboard after routing

I built a custom template to be able to guide a handheld router to cut into the base of the surfboard to allow for placement of the enclosure within the board. Using the centre line of the surfboard, centre the cutout to the board, though do not cut all the way through the board. A chisel was needed for final cleanup of glue and foam. Then place the top of the enclosure in the board and mark out the area where the bar graph will be situated on the top. Cut out the bar graph location (this is the only marks cut in the top side of the surfboard). Glue in the top portion of the enclosure and should line up perfectly with the rectangular cutout in the top.

Step 18: Add Sticker and Spray (optional)

Image 41: Application of sticker after yellow circle has been sprayed

Image 42: Top black base coat

Image 43: Bottom black base coat

Using the rectangular bargraph cutout, centre the sticker to the cutout. Do not stick the sticker just yet, simply mark out where the yellow spray would go. Spray the yellow circle of the logo, and let dry. Then apply the sticker, and spray top and bottom black. Remove the top of the sticker. Seal the board using a matte or gloss finish clear spraypaint. Using a blade, carefully cutout the display location from the sticker, be sure to not cut into the plastic cover to the barograph and therefore destroying the weatherproofing.

Step 19: Completed Radiation Detecting Surfboard

Image 44: Photo of me, during my class presentation, image by Garnet Hertz

Image 45: Video of Radiation Detecting Surfboard at the beach on a very flat surf day

Screw in the base enclosure and you are now done and have a waterproof Radiation Detecting Surfboard.

Be the First to Share


    • Exercise Speed Challenge

      Exercise Speed Challenge
    • Pocket-Sized Speed Challenge

      Pocket-Sized Speed Challenge
    • Super-Size Speed Challenge

      Super-Size Speed Challenge



    3 years ago

    Good luck on your project!