HOME  |  NEWS  |  BLOGS  |  MESSAGES  |  FEATURES  |  VIDEOS  |  WEBINARS  |  INDUSTRIES  |  FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS
  |  REGISTER  |  LOGIN  |  HELP
Blogs
Gadget Freak
Gadget Freak Case #219: Watching the Alpha Sparks Fly
7/6/2012

Image 1 of 2      Next >

John Iovine's homemade alpha particle spark detector uses a thin tungsten ground wire and a plate charged to about 8,000 volts.
John Iovine's homemade alpha particle spark detector uses a thin tungsten ground wire and a plate charged to about 8,000 volts.

Image 1 of 2      Next >

Return to Article

View Comments: Newest First|Oldest First|Threaded View
<<  <  Page 2/2
bdcst
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Sparks or sparklers?
bdcst   7/9/2012 9:52:19 AM
NO RATINGS
Ouch Sparky!  Well if you must have a visual show I suggest abandoning the dangerous HV and going for a Cloud Chamber.  They are easy to build and the thickness of the vapor trail makes it easy to distinguish between alpha, beta or gamma (cosmic) radiation.  As a child I saw my first cloud chamber at a Russian technology exhibit at the New York Coliseum back in the late 1950's.  Both the Soviet Union and that NY exhibition hall are long gone.

shjacks45
User Rank
Bronze
Re: Sparks or sparklers?
shjacks45   7/9/2012 3:48:10 AM
Why publish something so useless? Your alpha source would need to be actually sitting on the metal plate to show activity. Alpha particles, even high energy particles, are stopped by our surface layer of dead skin. If you've ever used a cloud chamber you would know that alpha particles are stopped by a few inches (the size of the project) of air.

j.iovine
User Rank
Iron
Re: Sparks or sparklers?
j.iovine   7/7/2012 12:18:08 PM
NO RATINGS
I feel it has great educational potential. It allows one to visually see the detection of alpha particles. 

While this device will only detect alpha particles, spark chambers are used to see the passage of cosmic rays.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpW08xV3RI8

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spark_chamber

 

 

armorris
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Sparks or sparklers?
armorris   7/7/2012 11:35:53 AM
NO RATINGS
 

A counter circuit would be very easy to implement. A Geiger counter works in an identical way, except that there is some gas inside a Geiger tube. There is both analog and digital means to do the job. Of course, without a known standard, you couldn't calibrate it. Although this is a cool gadget to play around with and for educational purposes, does it have any practical use? I understand that skin, and even paper stops alpha particles. That's why an alpha source (Americium, I think) is used in smoke detectors.

j.iovine
User Rank
Iron
Re: Sparks or sparklers?
j.iovine   7/6/2012 10:09:46 PM
NO RATINGS
I'm sure a counter could be implemented into the design. Do you think it would have value?

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Sparks or sparklers?
Rob Spiegel   7/6/2012 12:46:46 PM
NO RATINGS
Good suggestion on a gadget, Naperlou. Anybody up for it?

naperlou
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Sparks or sparklers?
naperlou   7/6/2012 10:47:48 AM
Just right, Beth.  Build a big enough one and you wouldn't need fireworks.  I am not sure that would be safer, though.

Long ago I worked on spark and wire chambers.  I even helped with a needle chamber.  In those cases we wanted to see the track of any charged particle, so we had a chamber of a noble gas.  This ionized and the spark followed the ionized trail.  This simple detector is a great little project.  Now all we need is a cirsuit to count the particles.  Next project?

Beth Stackpole
User Rank
Blogger
Sparks or sparklers?
Beth Stackpole   7/6/2012 7:51:55 AM
Looks like a fun project and perfect timing for the Fourth of July!

<<  <  Page 2/2
Partner Zone
More Blogs from Gadget Freak
The Window Watcher stops the burglar before he does damage or enters the house. House alarm service companies set off alarms and call the service only after the burglar has damaged and entered the house.
The DDV-IP is a two-wheeled self-balancing robot that can deliver cold beverages to thirsty folks on hot summer days. A wireless RF remote enables manual control of the device beyond the act of self-balancing. All of the features of the DDV-IP result in an effective delivery vehicle while providing entertainment to the user.
Design News and Allied Electronics have raised the stakes for our second-annual Gadget Freak of the Year contest. The top three gadgeteers will be awarded a total of $10,000. Don't delay, enter today!
Adam Berger hacked a computer keyboard into a mini key-tar to play with his band.
Dick Bipes couldn't find a boat lift remote with the specs he wanted, so he created his own for automatic operation.
Design News Webinar Series
10/7/2014 8:00 a.m. California / 11:00 a.m. New York
9/25/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
9/10/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
7/23/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
Quick Poll
The Continuing Education Center offers engineers an entirely new way to get the education they need to formulate next-generation solutions.
Nov 3 - 7, Engineering Principles behind Advanced User Interface Technologies
SEMESTERS: 1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6


Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.
Last Archived Class
Sponsored by Littelfuse
Learn More   |   Login   |   Archived Classes
Twitter Feed
Design News Twitter Feed
Like Us on Facebook

Sponsored Content

Technology Marketplace

Copyright © 2014 UBM Canon, A UBM company, All rights reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service