Radiation Detector Report

Since Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant has been hit by the massive tsunami, we as one of contributors in open hardware community were thinking what we can do to somehow help the situation. After discussions, we soon come up with an idea that why don’t we source and provide a radiation module for the open source community? Built in a module with simple pulse output, people could deploy the detector for their needs: portable, wired/wireless, waterproof, countable, and able to connect with pachube and twitter. Helpful, isn’t it?

At first, we posted a need-help blog to crowd sourcing the ideas because we have had lack of experience on building such a device. The responses were very inspiring. Many comments were made and many thoughts were shared through that blog post. Thank you so much, your supports are amazing!

As the member of open source community, we think our biggest advantage is that we can reach the intelligence of the whole community and take it as our support and backup force. Communicating directly with our members is always cheerful and we hope more people wherever they come from will involve in this business and contribute their talents. Also, our R&D team has sufficient experience and necessary equipment to conduct the basic circuit test. And obviously, we are close to the supplier either in geographic or cooperative points of view so that we got plenty of essential material to develop a new device. With the help of community, we finally worked out a proposal that how to build our own radiation detector.

The next step was choosing a proper GM tube between J306β and J408γ as you can see the discussion in another post. These two candidates are sort of reachable units for us in this moment and they both got their pros and cons. However, sourcing is always a main obstacle to mass production, especially to procure specific components like GM tube. Thankfully, we finally found a local supplier that can provide the tubes in a relatively stable manner. So, which tube will be the Mr. Right?

Basically, it’s not a difficult circuit, and we have already built a working prototype that able to detect the background radiation. As we know, J408γ was applied in our prototype already so that it can also likely appear in the finished products. This choice was made by fully considering the supply, capability and performance of those two GM tubes. Actually, J408γ works very well so far. In this case, you may want to ask what the characteristics of our radiation counter can be expected among those existing analogues.

Well, as always our product will be open-sourced and hackable with flexible working conditions and at a comparatively lower price. Importantly, they will be plenty of stock. And we are also thinking a distribution pattern calls “sell one, donate one”. Briefly, customers buy a Geiger counter from us, and we consequently donate one to Hackerspace or other communities in Japan.

Ideally, this will happen in the following weeks. We are going to send some samples to the Japan for further testing, and then the first 100 pieces may be available at the end of April. Thanks again for the support!

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April 2011