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Advanced Open Source Gamma and X-Ray radiation detector with a digital display and SD card data-logging
Advanced Open Source Gamma and X-Ray radiation detector with a digital display and SD card data-logging
339 backers pledged $30,839 to help bring this project to life.

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APOC PRO - Radiation Detector

$30,839

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The APOC Pro is an advanced open source Gamma particle and X-ray radiation detector that will help you learn about radiation and find out how much radiation you are exposed to.

We've made some improvements to the sensor circuit which vastly improves the Gamma radiation sensitivity—by about 400%. This improvement will make it to the final product no matter what.

But if we reach $40,000, we will be able to make the sensor capable of detecting Beta radiation! The extra money will help pay for more the exotic materials and manufacturing processes that we will need to use and implement, such as:

  • A thin mylar window (which allows more radiation through to the photodiodes)
  • A conformal nickel coating to act as a Faraday cage or RF blocker
  • Various circuit improvements (which we can already implement regardless of our funding)

All these improvements will apply to both the APOC sensor and the APOC Pro. 

Why a Gamma and X-ray Detector?

Radiation is all around us. It's in Bananas (as potassium-40), concrete (as trace amounts of Uranium and Thorium), it's in our bodies (as Carbon-14 and Potassium-40), it gives us life (the sun), it even saves lives (medical radiation therapy). 

It also has a dark side, from its use in weapons, to nuclear disasters such as in Fukushima Daiichi and Chernobyl. Too much radiation of any kind is a bad thing. So that's why we made the APOC Pro.

We focused on detecting Gamma and X-ray radiation since they are the penetrating kinds, meaning that they can travel great distances and even through things before being stopped or fully absorbed.

The APOC is not a Geiger counter, meaning that it has no Geiger-Muller tube. We don't use a Geiger-Muller tube since we could not use high voltages on our balloons. High voltage can cause arcing and damage to other systems. Instead, the APOC Pro uses a photo diode based system, which is extremely sensitive to Gamma radiation and is low voltage.

Open Source Hardware and Software!

The primary goal of the APOC Pro is to inspire more people to be excited about hardware and radiation. The APOC Pro uses an Atmega 328 (Arduino) and is fairly easy to program. Those people with Arduino experience can reprogram the APOC Pro to add the features that they want and learn in the process.

The Rewards

The APOC Pro ($120)

APOC Pro
APOC Pro

The APOC Pro will come fully assembled, calibrated and ready to go! It runs on a standard 9V battery.

Compact, portable design.

The APOC is designed so that you can take it with you.

Data logging

The APOC Pro can log data onto a micro SD card in a human readable format, which can later be analyzed by a web app that we wrote. With your permission the web app can can display your data in your location (in modern browsers) to users around the world!

It has a screen that displays counts per minute and μSv/hr (radiation absorbed dose). You can change settings such as:

  • Backlight brightness
  • Screen contrast
  • Audio indicator (clicking) on/off
  • LED indicator (flashing) on/off
  • SD card data saving options (what time and day the readings start)
  • Battery life indicator
  • Measurement time interval
  • and more as we add features

Specifications

  • Comes with a USB Programmer (FTDI to USB mini B). If you wish to reprogram your APOC Pro you will need a USB A to USB mini B cable (common for digital cameras)
  • Requires a 9V battery. A micro SD card is optional if you plan to log and analyze the data later (use a dosimeter)
  • Currently Battery life is 50 hours on a 9V alkaline battery and 100 hours from a 9V lithium. You can use an 8.4V-9V rechargeable battery  but we do not recommended using the 7.2V kind. Currently draws 12mA @ 9V.
  • Energy detecting range: 50 keV – 2000 keV
  • Max Count rate: 5,000 counts per second
  • Detector efficiency: 5% with Cs-137 (660 keV), 15% with Co-60 (1.1-1.2 MeV), 0.05% for Cd-109 (88 keV)

The APOC Sensor only ($50) 

APOC Sensor
APOC Sensor

This is exactly the same sensor as in the APOC Pro, but without a microcontroller, screen, speaker, buttons or case. This is perfect for radiation data collection with a microcontroller like the Arduino. Perfect as a sensor for robots, UAVs, rockets or near space balloons. We will release source code and demos for the Arduino Uno, Parallax Propeller, and Raspberry Pi, and it will be easy to connect to others. It produces a positive going pulse on the signal wire when a Gamma or X-ray event is observed (perfect for the interrupt pins of the Arduino).

  • Comes assembled and calibrated (has no case) Has an LED indicator which flashes when it detects a Gamma particle (helpful for debugging) which can be disconnected to save power
  • Requires 9-12V to run (ideally 9 volts)
  • Currently draws 2.4 mA @ 9V
  • Some soldering is required depending on desired wiring
  • Comes with pin headers (unsoldered), PWM connector wires
  • It is the same sensor as is used in the APOC Pro.

The APOC Basic to Pro conversion kit ($50)

APOC Basic to APOC Pro Upgrade kit
APOC Basic to APOC Pro Upgrade kit

There are currently around 1,000 APOC Basic units in the world, whether as kits or as units assembled by us. They have been sold since the last Kickstarter. We have not been able to make a smartphone app that can display the data, whether through Bluetooth or through an audio cable. Why should you be stuck with a device that is obsolete? Well, now you can upgrade your detector to display information and log data. The converted units will be slightly larger than the assembled APOC Pros, will not have the auto calibration feature (if we get it working), and might not be quite as sensitive; currently they use the same sensor, but the APOC Pro likely will improve. Otherwise, they will be the same great detector!

  • Comes as a partially assembled unit with the screen, microcontroller, button interface, speaker, LED and a larger case.
  • Requires some basic tools like wire cutters and a small Philips head screw driver.
  • Since many of the APOC Basics were built by customers as kits, we can't guarantee that the conversions will work, due to variability in construction, but we will work with you to make it work.
  • We will avoid having these conversion kits require soldering
  • Runs on a standard 9V battery just like the APOC Basic

The displayed units are all prototypes. 

The designs will change and improve; they will be smaller, lighter, and more polished. For example, the micro SD card won't stick the side of the unit.

Natural Uranium Detector Check Source ($10) 

Natural Uranium Check Source Disk
Natural Uranium Check Source Disk

Now is your chance to own a piece of Earth history and a good way to test if your APOC or other radiation detector is working. It contains 0.1 grams of Natural Uranium Dioxide, natural uranium ratio (U235 0.7%, U238 99.3%,Trace of U234). This is the same type of unenriched uranium that is burned in heavy water nuclear reactors!

  • Approximately 70nCi radiation (2590 Becquerels or 2590 decays per second) Releases Alpha, Beta, and Gamma Particles
  • Disk Measures 1 inch in diameter and 1/8 inch thick
  • Uranium is sealed in Epoxy for safety
  •  Radiation is Dangerous, so please be careful when using, handling, and transporting this disk. Keep it out of the reach of children, as it is also a choking hazard! AVAILABLE TO US BACKERS ONLY!

We will teach a 3 hour class on electronics ($50)

If you live in the Seattle area, then you can come learn about electronics from us. We will provide all the materials needed for the class and you may keep what ever you make! This is a great opportunity to pick up your rewards and play with some of our radioactive sources. We will divide the classes into beginner, intermediate, and advanced.

  • Topics will include microcontroller programming and use (you can keep the Arduinos, breadboards and parts!), driving stepper motors and motion control for CNC robots, circuit board production, and many more.
  • Suitable for ages 14 (with a liability waiver signed by a parent or guardian) to infinity.
  • Food will be provided
  • During class we will run our machines that make liquid nitrogen from air and after class we can play with it!
  • Topics will be voted on through a web survey system, and students can suggest topics that they want to learn about.

Our Story

Marshall Meng and Matt Chapman
Marshall Meng and Matt Chapman

Matt Chapman: AeroSplice Founder, Product Designer, Inventor, Electrical, Mechanical, Software and Aerospace Engineer. A space travel junkie and a house cat trainer.

Marshall Meng: Designer, Electrical and Software Engineer. Full stack web developer.

We are a non-traditional team with a shared interest in inventing unusual things with an emphasis on robotics and space flight.

Production Plan

We have a five phase plan for delivery of rewards.

Phase One (Now – End of Kickstarter)

We currently have a working prototype of the APOC Pro and the APOC Sensor. We will be using the duration of the Kickstarter campaign to add more features, improve sensitivity, improve battery life, and finalize the prototype. Meanwhile, we will be updating our Kickstarter backers with our progress.

Phase Two (Mid-October – December)

Finalize the production unit designs (the final products). At the same time we intend to make sure that our products can be assembled primarily by the robots that we have designed and built, and, in the process, refine the robots to deliver the highest quality end product that we can. We will also use this time to finish sourcing and ordering the parts that we cannot make in-house.

Phase Three (December February)

After we receive the parts, we will begin to assemble everyone's rewards.

Phase Four (late February early March)

Begin delivering the rewards. We will start with the Early Bird rewards since those backers have jumped on the opportunity to support us. We will then start planning the classes which will be held in late March or early April.

Phase Five (March End of Time)

We'll be sticking around and checking our inbox to hear about the cool things you're doing with the APOC detectors! We will also be available to answer any questions that you may have for us.

Risks and challenges

We have working detector prototypes but we still want to cut the physical the size of the units in half and further increase the detector efficiency and battery life.

We want to further improve RF shielding to reduce false readings from powerful nearby wireless signals.

We want to add auto-calibration for the APOC Pro.

We would like to add graphing functions to the APOC Pro (on the handheld unit itself) in addition to the web app.

There are some features that we may not get around to, such as detecting the energy of each particle (photon) and making the detector capable of detecting Alpha and Beta particles.

The robot works, but is still at a very early stage. We still have a lot of work left to scale the robot up for production use and make it more rugged, reliable, and versatile.

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    Uranium Check Source Disk: A great way to test your APOC detector!

    FOR US BACKERS ONLY!

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    EARLY BIRD - APOC Sensor: Great for a robot project, UAV, or near space balloon.

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    3 Hour Electronics Class: transportation is provided by the student.

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    APOC Basic to APOC pro conversion kit:

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    EARLY BIRD - APOC PRO: A fun and powerful detector for radiation monitoring and dosimetery.

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Funding period

- (30 days)