This is going waaaaay above the HAM band, but the electromagnetic spectrum has lots of interesting areas (for example, my photography hobby sits right in the middle of that spectrum graph). Here we will talk about things in the YottaHz range. (This article was motivated by the front-page of the latest issue of DIYODE magazine which highlights a Geiger Counter build). Also shortly after originally posting this, Hackaday did two articles on the topic as well. This one on dosimetry and this one on a Geiger counter.
For years I've had a little Geiger counter hooked up to an Arduino pumping live data out there about background radiation that it's picking up in the yard. As the name suggests, it uses a Geiger–Müller tube to generate a charge whenever the tube is hit by ionising radiation. You can then count these events and correlate it with a dose.
Another way to accomplish the same thing is via a scintillation detector. This uses a crystal (instead of a tube) that is excited by ionising radiation and is coupled with a photo diode to generate a signal that can be read and analysed.
The benefit of a scintillation detector is that it's faster and also able to measure more aspects (like the energy level) of the particles. These types of detectors have typically been way too expensive for hobbyists to play with but the RadiaCode-101 by Scan Electronics just barely tucks into the price range for a "geek toy".
We recently took a trip through Outback Australia where I brought my HAM gear as well as the RadiaCode, as I suspected there would be some interesting rocks out there.
There are many ways to measure radiation, but I particularly like this Radiation Dose Chart which uses Sieverts. The chart is made by the group behind the nerd-famous XKCD cartoon series.
I made some intresting observations during the trip. Note that the background radiation in Sydney is generally around or below 0.20μSv/h.
What makes the Radiacode more fun to use than a standard Geiger counter is the Bluetooth link with a smartphone and the resulting additional tracking/analysis you can do. Although the manufacturer still hasn't released an iOS verion of their app, Max Nasonov has made one that works quite well. He's in the process of creating a type of geographic social network of radiation detectors where people can share tracks like this. You can join the iOS beta by reaching out to Max directly on Telegram. I have no commercial link with Max or the company that makes Radiacode, I just think it's a neat piece of tech gear that fits nicely in my HAM travel kit.
Posted: 31-Oct-2022, Updated: 10-Nov-2022