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DIY Geiger counter guide

DIY Geiger counter guide.

Want to buy a Geiger counter kit from RH Electronics, but don’t know what to choose? This short article should help you to select the kit model from our stock. It also has several general answers for the questions people usually asking before they buying a Geiger counter.

Q. Can I buy Geiger tube with the kit?

A. We have SBM-20 and STS-5 tubes in stock. If you need this tube, add it to your shopping cart together with a Geiger kit.

 

Q. What type of nuclear radiation can I detect or measure with your kits?

A. Depend on Geiger tube you connect to the kit. If we talk about SBM-20 then it detects gamma rays and hard beta. Some Geiger tubes models has mica window for detecting alpha radiation, for example LND-712 or SBT-11A. Refer tube datasheet to check full specifications for it.

 

Q. Do I really need a tube that detects all types (alpha/beta/gamma)?

A. Beta and alpha radiation are dangerous if its source has direct contact with human body, especially with mucous membranes. Outside your body beta can be filtered with a simple metal shield, and alpha can be stopped with a piece of paper. A distance between your body and beta/alpha source usually can eliminate all negative effects. Otherwise, gamma radiation rays are more powerful and penetrating human body even through thin metal shield. That’s why many Geiger tubes intended to detect gamma radiation, as the mostly dangerous source. Many of radioactive isotopes are not pure alpha emitters, so almost any beta or gamma tube is enough for detecting.  

 

Q. Can I check food contamination with a Geiger counter?

A. No. Even if you have alpha-tube the answer is still no. Full food examination for radionuclide traces can be performed only with laboratory spectrometry test. Small (but still dangerous) traces of nuclear contaminations in food cannot be detected with any type of Geiger tube.

 

Q. Is it possible to calibrate your kit?

A. Yes it possible to make gamma calibration, but it requires laboratory grade radiation source and special filters. Since RH Electronics sells DIY Geiger kits for hobby, education or enthusiasts, we are not providing calibration service. Usually for hobby or for home usage the default software settings are applicable.

 

Q. What is safe and what is dangerous radiation level?

A. Danger is a complex of nuclear energy and time. If we talk about Sievert units for gamma, then usually: normal background level is 0.05uSv/h – 0.30uSv/h; heightened level is up to 1.00uSv/h; all over this value can became really harmful especially when time of exposure is increased. 10uSv/h or 100uSv/h (0.1mSv/h) or 1mSv/h(1000uSv/h) can be called dangerous levels, depend on period your body is meet with these levels.   

 

Q. I need fully assembled kit with tube, battery and enclosure. Do you sell ready to go counters?

A. Currently you can order soldered kits with or without tube. Firstly our kits are for DIY (Do It Yourself). If you need “out of the box” product then look forward to buy a Geiger counter from a factory, such as Terra-P, Radex or Gamma-Scout.

 

Q. Does all your kits compatible with all types of Geiger tubes from the market?

A. Not all kits support all tubes models, for more details please refer each kit manual separately.

 

Q. Can I get design files or source code or electrical circuit of your kits?

A. What you see is available for download on description product page, or which links are promised to be sent after purchase, is what you get. If a particular project is not open source then we do not share any additional files except you can download directly or receive by mail.  

Some kits are open source, but others are not. See details below.


So let’s see what are pros and cons of every kit model we have. If particular kit is not described in this article it mean that this product already retired and not back in stock. Usually this type of kits you can buy with lower prices, or it already sold out. Below described only current products:

 

Geiger Counter Radiation Detector DIY Kit Arduino Compatible ver. 3.00

SKU: RH-K-GK-2 ; UPC Number: 634654895721

Arduino Compatible Geiger Kit 3-rd edition

This is simple radiation detector board with extremely low power consumption on background radiation: 0.03mA - 0.06mA. Support many 400V and 500V GM tubes. Intended for battery powered pocket detectors. Due to wide compatibility with different microcontrollers it can be used by software developers for standalone monitoring stations or for different MCU projects, such as Arduino, PIC, Atmel, MSP430 and more.  Include open source software examples for Arduino, Raspberry pi and MSP430. Support iPad Geiger Bot and Android direct connection by audio cable. High reliability and HV stability for radiation levels up to 1mSv/h (1000uSv/h). Sold for cheap price and includes only quality components.

All hardware design sources files are closed, electrical circuit is not shared. Do not have a display.

 

Arduino IDE Geiger Counter DIY Kit with LCD; EEPROM Logger

SKU: RH-K-GK-1-A ; UPC Number: 634654895707

Arduino IDE Geiger Counter

Open source simple Arduino IDE based Geiger counter. Can log data to UART every 10 second and save absorbed dose to EEPROM once per hour. Educational project, easy to configure and expand if you know how to use the Arduino. Easy to solder due to small quantity of components. Works in silent mode, but support buzzer connection with wires. Mostly intended for computer radiation monitoring via USB-TTL UART dongle. If you want a minimal Geiger kit with display for hobby then it’s the kit you should look for.

The kit has high power consumption that’s why it less recommended for portable counter build. Can be used for radiation levels up to 0.1mSv/h (100uSv/h). Not applicable for levels over 0.3mSv/h (300uSv/h) due to it's simplificated construction. Compatible with 400V range tubes only.


Arduino IDE Geiger Counter DIY Kit with LCD Radiation Logger with SD Shield

SKU: RH-K-GK-1-L ; UPC Number: 634654895714

Arduino IDE Geiger Counter with SD Shield

Open source and similar to RH-K-GK-1-A, but comes with additional board of micro SD Logger Shield and pre-installed buzzer. This model has RTC (real time counter) chip that keep date and time for logging. This model support Adafruit GPS module connection if you want to log your geo position along with radiation data.

Because SD Shield has several SMD parts, this kit require better soldering skills for assembling. You have to know how to upload Arduino sketches to set your date and time! The kit has high power consumption, so you’ll need good batteries for portable SD logging. The kit can be used for radiation levels up to 0.1mSv/h (100uSv/h). Not applicable for high levels over 0.3mSv/h (300uSv/h). Compatible with 400V range tubes only.

 

MyGeiger ver.3 PRO DIY Radiometer Gamma Ratemeter with LCD and USB logging

SKU: RH-K-GK-PRO ; UPC Number: 634154871188

MyGeiger ver.3 PRO DIY Gamma Radiometer

Third and newest edition of MyGeiger DIY kit. The PRO version is high quality designed device that intended for stable operation in stress high radition field up to 1500uSv/h with SBM-20. The device is sold fully soldered and assembled. The kit has re-designed efficient high voltage with enlarged output power, faster microprocessor with updated and enhanced software, USB CPM / CPS logging, faster lithium charger, reduced power consumption and comfortable controls.

MyGeiger ver.3.00 PRO is intended for measuring gamma radiation dose rate and for precision average CPS counting. The device was build for enthusiasts, a physics students, teachers and researchers engages in radiation study.

The project circuit and source files are not open source. 


Obsolete MyGeiger ver.2.00 DIY Geiger Counter Kit with LCD Shield, USB data logging and SD Logger Add-On.

SKU: RH-K-GK-5 ; UPC Number: 634654240781

MyGeiger DIY Geiger Counter Kit

Second edition of MyGeiger is the professional device that still includes all advantages of simple DIY soldering project in parallel with enhanced functions such as built-in USB logging, built-in battery charger, a “classic” Geiger counter sound, graphic LCD and SD Logger add-on option.This kit is recommended if you want quality Geiger counter kit with good functionality and high reliability.

The kit has low power consumption that allows running the device on one lithium battery during two weeks or even more. The kit intended for portable operation as good as for computer logging function. It can log CPM (count per minute) or Bq/cm2 data. With SBM-20 or LND-712 tubes MyGeiger can be used in high radiation zones up to 1mSv/h (1000uSv/h). Has alert settings and simple calibration menu to meet different GM tubes specifications. The kit support many 400V and 500V GM tubes. SD Logger+ shield with individual microprocessor has open source code to allow you changing SD log files structure and it's names through Arduino IDE. MyGeiger kit manufactured with only original and high quality electronic components.

The price of the kit is higher than other kits, especially if you buy it with SD Logger+ add-on. Main PIC18F2550 microcontroller firmware and SMD part of the project circuit are not open source.     


High Voltage Geiger Probe Driver Power Supply Module 380V-550V with TTL Output.

SKU: RH-K-GK-HV ; UPC Number: 635292807381

HV Module for Geiger Tube

This is miniature board for building professional grade external Geiger probe for DIY Geiger Kit. The module has independent high voltage converter and line driver IC to allow connecting long cable to the output. This technique allow to prevent signal attenuation in cable and guarantee perfect counting stability for external probes. Tube signals output is rectangular shape TTL level pulses that compatible with a microcontroller input. Originally the module was designed as an addon board for MyGeiger kit to drive external Geiger probes with long cables, but the module is compatible with other kits and also can be used as independed HV power supply for a tube, or as simplificated radiation detector.


This is not a kit for DIY soldering, electrical circuit is not shared. The module comes assembled and covered with HV varnish. You can easily adjust HV output with the potentiometer and check the voltage output with any 10M multimeter.