We wanted to do something special for the Kickstarter community, who helped us get Safecast moving in the first place, and thought that a limited edition version of the geiger counter we designed, at a discounted price, would be a cool way to do that.
So here you go: a Kickstarter exclusive Safecast geiger counter. Limited clear plastic casing (like these pics), numbered edition of however many people pre-order them here. The only way ever to get this clear version is from this Kickstarter campaign. Obviously, this edition is a real working geiger counter, 100% functionally identical to the forthcoming retail release version.
Around this time last year we created Safecast, an organization with the goal of collecting and distributing accurate and detailed radiation contamination information to people in Japan whose lives had been impacted by the events at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant. A successfully funded Kickstarter campaign helped us pay for a number of devices that we were able to get into the hands of volunteers to help collect that data. Data which didn't exist prior to these efforts.
A year later we've collected 3 Million data points - more than any other organization, and published them all completely freely and openly so anyone can use them without worrying about licenses of any kind. We've expanded outside of Japan and are trying to get a baseline for the planet so next time something happens we have useful information to cross reference. It's been an eventful year for sure.
During this time we've had a chance to use just about every geiger counter currently in production, and many that have long been out of production. The thing is, radiation monitors aren't things that get a lot of development attention when there isn't a crisis happening, so even the very best models available now were designed 20+ years ago. We felt it was time for an update, and now was the time to do it.
The final design features include:
- LND7317 pancake tube (aka the industry standars 2" pancake sensor which measures Alpha, Beta and Gamma radiation) + iRover HV board
- STM32-based microcontroller; sufficient CPU power to digitally sign logs with a unique private key as a non-repudiation/anti-tamper measure
- 450 mAh Li-poly battery
- 3-axis accelerometer so sensor orientation can be recorded
- 128×128 color OLED display
- 6-button captouch array
- “hold” button on the back to lock the captouch array and prevent false triggering of the power-hungry UI elements
- lanyard attachment (important for the Japanese market)
- microUSB port for charging and data upload interface, featuring an FTDI-based serial chipset capable of loading firmware into the microcontroller
- 3.5mm jack capable of bidirectional audio
- embedded hall-effect sensor (to detect attachments, e.g. for occluding alpha or beta radiation)
- audible event notification via piezo buzzer
- low-power visual event notification via conventional LED
Why alpha, beta and gamma matter? Well, most geiger counters on the market are made to measure gamma dose rates. There's nothing wrong with that, but without measuring the beta and alpha particles the use of a geiger counter is very limited. For example, if you want to find out how much a surface is contaminated, sensitivity to alpha/beta particles will help you locate the 'dirty' spot easily, while gamma only measurement makes this difficult as gamma rays can travel long distances and make it hard to figure out where they originated from. So for decontamination in a polluted area having directionality and pin point capability make the huge difference. Not to mention nuclides that are pure alpha or beta emitters and will be 'invisible' to gamma only devices. All in all, this Safecast designed geiger counter will be the swiss army knife of geiger counters.
The design is completely open source (you can download the source files here), so that everyone can benefit from these updates. International Medcom, who has helped us out with hardware at every single step of this, agreed to immediately start producing our design. Without them, this would just be an idea so they deserve a lot of credit for pushing it into reality.
Right now the top of the line device that Medcom makes, the Inspector Alert, retails for about $700. If you've been paying attention to geiger counter prices you know there are cheaper devices out there, but they are also less sensitive to some kinds of radiation. We feel that this is important and why we've standardized our measurements and devices around the 2" pancake sensor so that we can detect Alpha, Beta, and Gamma radiation. Medcom's Inspector uses this sensor, and we designed our new device around it as well. As this device is to some extent an update to the Inspector, it will have a higher retail price tag, probably closer to $800 when Medcom releases it.
Funds from this kickstarter campaign will go towards the production of the limited version of this geiger counter -which will basically be parts since a full production run is already in the works. Additional fund will be used towards continuing safecast efforts and data collection.
Yes, this will be identical function wise to the commercial version that Medcom produces and they will calibrate everything before it ships.
No, measuring food is very complicated and difficult and while we've been looking into new solutions there isn't really an easy way to do this that we know of right now. Certainly there's no handheld device you can use to test food before you eat it.
All Software and Firmware is still being written so I can't answer specific questions about this yet, but we designed this to be an update to currently available devices so assuming it does what a current device does is a safe bet. As we get further along with the development on this I'll post a specific update on that.
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