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Use the camera in your Android smartphone to detect radiation with the Radioactivity Counter app from Rolf-Dieter Klein. Just place a small piece of black tape over the camera lens, calibrate for ambient noise, and you’ll be ready to take readings in no time. The app uses the device’s built-in CMOS sensor to detect primary gamma radiation and some higher beta radiation. It’s not as sensitive as an actual Geiger counter, but it does read some common radioactive sources like airport X-Ray machines and certain mushrooms. The app itself was developed in response to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. [via Hackaday]

Adam Flaherty

I make cool stuff and write about other people making cool stuff on makezine.com. If you have something you think I should see, send me a tip.


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  1. mathcampbell says:

    Hmm, this is an interesting use of existing tech. Whilst it’ll never ever rival proper hardware, this sort of thing can be very enabling, as if you’ve got the phone (as many have), you can do the work. Much like those medical devices that are coming out that will work with iPhones etc. – makes the cost of getting a blood test or a cell count done a lot less, and a lot easier in rural areas, and the developing world…

    Hope an iPhone version of the app is forthcoming!

  2. Could this damage the camera or phone in any way?

    1. Onco_Bob says:

      Yip, it will eventually cause dead pixels. For example in radiotherapy treatment rooms the room cameras need replaced every few years due to the damage from secondary scattered radiation. However at these low doses accepting the odd dead pixel should get you might some lifetime.

    2. DFPercush says:

      The app itself won’t cause any damage I’m sure, but if you out actively seeking radioactive sources, both you and the camera will have an elevated risk. I think it’s meant for you to just check the places you normally go for radiation, not to actually track down radiation.

  3. daneo says:

    I doubt it could be damaged. Our electronics are constantly bombarded from cosmic rays all day. Occasionally, a bit will get flipped in RAM from cosmic rays. But, as long as you keep the electronics away from really powerful sources… like the LHC… you should be fine. Only the software is being modded, so it’s no more breakable than before.

    Coincidentally, the LHC also uses a CMOS sensor at its inner layer (well, CMS at the LCH at least) to detect charged particles. The electronics will have to be replaced every few years due to the radioactivity, but this shouldn’t be a problem for most people.

  4. agraneroAirton Granero says:

    People, lets get real. There is no way to separate thermal noise and shot noise from radiation generated noise, although you can get a baseline of thermal and shot noise, they will depend on temperature and supply voltage and will be FAR stronger than radiation generated noise, except for higher radiation levels. The image of the video was generated at 10 Sieverts per hour which is a and fatal dose after one hour.

  5. Jesse says:

    You forgot to mention that the app costs $5 and, as far as I can tell, is not open source.

    1. Adam Flaherty says:

      I didn’t forget. It was left as an exercise for the reader, but thanks for mentioning it.

  6. Vazili says:

    Measuring radiation with the camera of your smartphone sounds like a mild joke, asking $5 for it is hilarious though.

  7. Niks says:

    This is real? Has anyone tried it?

  8. Peter says:

    I have several CCD cameras at high radiation areas at Cornell’s CHESS facility. I do see pixel turning on/off randomly (called zinger)” as a result of x-ray and gamma radiation.
    It takes a while to make a pixel completely dead and even longer to kill the camera.
    With proper cross calibration it could be an OK radiation counter.
    As far as cell phone usage: you do not want to see those zingers on your screen though ….
    Peter

  9. [...] MAKE | Android Geiger Counter Be the first to like this post. Like this: Use the camera in your Android smartphone to detect radiation with the Radioactivity Counter app from Rolf-Dieter Klein . Just place a small piece of black tape over the camera lens, calibrate for ambient noise, and you’ll be ready to take readings in no time. The app uses the device’s built-in CMOS sensor to detect primary gamma radiation and some higher beta radiation. [...]

  10. [...] Android Geiger Counter Share this: Pin ItLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. [...]

  11. Recently I buy this app on google play, then I executed some test to compare the results of measures between our Guardian Ray Geiger counter (by Italian production), and the level of the radioactivity detected by Radioactivity Counter App,installed on Android Samsung S2. Unfortunately, the test results have been disappointing. Our geiger counter in proximity to the face of an old clock painted with radium isotope indicated a level of radioactivity upper than 14 microsieverts. Instead the our smartphone with running Radioactivity counter app, and in same test condition, indicated a very low value, about to zero. We repeated the test several times trying to change the program settings, but the results have always been negative. At this point we do not know why our smartphone with Radioactivity Counter for Android, not able to detect also important values ​​of radioactivity

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