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Cheap Radiation Detectors

There are methods by which you can detect radiation that are inexpensive and relatively effective.  Here are a few that actually work.

1. 10 cent "Geiger Counter" - Inflate a rubber balloon and rub the inflated balloon on your head, hold next to a wall and let it stick. When the balloon drops off the wall, head for the hills!  This works since the static electricity which causes it to attract to the wall dissipates due to ionizing radiation.  If you live in a high humidity are this may not be an option, however on a dry winter day it can be very effective.

2. Kearny Fallout Meter or building your own electroscope - Cresson Kearny who worked at Oak Ridge Atomic Laboratory came up with the plans in a book he published.  It is based on the early electroscope radiation detectors used in the early days of the sturdy of radiation.  Very easy to build, relatively accurate as well, however it is more suited for detecting radiation in the 1/10 of a Roentgen per hour range.  It can be built with common household items.  More sensitive electroscopes may be made with thinner foil.  It works on the same principle as the 10 cent geiger counter.  The static charge dissipates because of the charged particle nature of radiation,  the leaves once charged will fly apart, then come closer together as the charge dissipates.  What is nice about the Kearny fallout meter is it is relatively "calibrated".  Here is a link to the plans: http://www.cddc.vt.edu/host/atomic/pdf/kfm_inst.pdf

3. Memory Errors - Ionizing radiation can cause memory errors on a computer or memory device like a digital camera.  It may not be the best "detector," however a computer or cell phone, or other memory device can have trouble operating in a high radiation environment.

4. Build your Own Radiation detector - Here are a couple of links to ion chambers and geiger counters you can build.  An ion chamber may be cheaper to build and the parts are commonly available at a "radio shack" store.  As for geiger counters the heart of a geiger counter is a geiger tube, and they are a bit more difficult to make. A knowledge of electronics is definitely a must:

    Ion Chamber Plans: http://www.techlib.com/science/ion.html

    Geiger Counter Plans: http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2010/03/diy-geiger-counter.html    

5. Kits - It is debateable whether or not to buy a kit geiger counter.  If you are looking for cheap you may be able to have found on ebay for less or  build one from scratch cheaper, however, all the parts and plans are there all in one place:

    http://www.goldmine-elec-products.com/prodinfo.asp?number=C6979

6. Got Android?  There are two programs in the Android Market that can literrally turn your Android Phone into a radiation detector, I have downloaded ClausBuszello's Original Geiger Cam.  Cover up your Camera Lens as directed and open the App. Only $1.55!

https://market.android.com/details?id=com.buszello.GeigerCam2 

If you buy a used geiger counter, or have interest in repairing an old geiger counter, check out the CDV 700 Group on yahoo groups or Geiger Counter Enthusiasts            <script type="text/javascript">

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