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DIY Geiger counter smartphone app helps measure radiation

geiger-counter-app-1.jpgOut of awful events sometimes the better side of human nature emerges… We previously highlighted – see How to build your own Geiger Counter – the work of some engineers at Libelium, a wireless sensor network company, to help the people of Japan, around Fukushima, determine levels of radiation for themselves.

Well, our sister site New Scientist‘s One Per Cent blog has recently reported on a Smartphone-based initiative to help people track the critically important levels of radiation around them.

Kat Austen, CultureLab editor, writes:

In the wake of Japan’s Fukushima disaster, amidst a climate of  general mistrust of government radiation data, a number of crowdsourced initiatives for mapping radiation levels sprang up, such as Japan Geigermap, in which radiation readings from citizens are aggregated and displayed online using a web service called pachube.

But most Geiger counters for personal use cost around $200, prohibiting many from measuring radiation for themselves. That’s where non-profit organisation radiation-watch.org has stepped in.

They have devised a way for people to construct their own smartphone-compatible Geiger counter at home. Pocket Geiger uses 8 photodiodes to detect the radiation, aluminium foil to screen alpha and beta particles, and a plastic “Frisk” sweet box for the housing. The total cost is just $46.

Ishigaki started the project in June last year, and with the help of supporting scientists and a team of hackers he has developed the self-assembly Geiger counter and app to allow anyone to measure radiation levels in their home or neighbourhood and upload them to a central server, where they can be visualised on a map.

The project has now grown to over 10,000 users, but due to privacy issues the maps can only be viewed within the radiation-watch.org community.

Continuing to develop the technology, the team have recently launched the Pokega Type2. The first Geiger counter without an internal battery, the Pokega Type2 uses the same technology as its predecessor, except that it uses the smartphone as a source of power.

Costing just $65, the Pokega Type2 was developed with the help of a variety of external organisations, such as Japan’s High Energy Accelerator Research Organization and the Dutch Metrology Institute.

Read the full blog post >>

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