Computers & Mobile Craft & Design
Alex Rider’s Geiger Counter Game Console: contest preview and book giveaway!


On November 17th, we’ll be launching the Alex Rider Dream Gadget Contest, to coincide with the release of the next chapter in Alex’s adventures, Crocodile Tears . The book comes out the same day that MAKE, Volume 20 (the kid-themed issue) hits newsstands! In case you’re unaware, Alex Rider is a young spy whose exploits are chronicled in a popular series of teen spy/adventure books. Alex uses all sorts of crazy high tech contraptions, made from things in his school backpack, to get out of sticky situations.

Attention all adventure-seekers, gadget lovers, and closet inventors. You are invited to join in the fun! If you were Alex Rider, what gadget would you want in the upcoming adventure Crocodile Tears? Design your Alex Rider dream gadget, inspired by an everyday object (i.e. an iPod, a toothpaste tube, a pen). The winning gadget will be built here at MAKE Labs. Send us a schematic, tell us what your gadget is made from, and how it works. Your entry can be a schematic, sketches, and/or an explanation by you. Remember that the winning gadget should be inspired by an everyday object that one could realistically build (as much as we wish we could create a pair of scissors that fly us to the moon)!


Book Giveaway Time!

For the next three weeks, we’ll be offering excerpts from the Alex Rider books, highlighting the fantastic, clever (and entirely fictional) gadgets used by Alex. Up this week is the Geiger Counter Game Console from Skeleton Key. We’re giving away two copies of the book! Just leave a comment in this post and tell us why you or your kid(s) needs one of these books. Please make sure you include your email address in the comment form field (it won’t be published). All eligible comments will be closed by Noon PST on Sunday, November 1st. The winners will be announced next week on the site. Good luck! Congrats to Heather, Jenny, Kelly, and Special Agent Chris for winning last week’s giveaway!

Geiger Counter Games Console [CIA Issue]

The CIA gave Alex a games console when he went to work for them in Cuba – but what they didn’t tell him was that it contained a Geiger counter to help them find a nuclear bomb. Alex discovered its secret function when it picked up the radiation produced by the luminous face on his hotel alarm clock.

Inside this handheld games console is a Geiger-Müller tube, which detects and measures levels of radioactivity. The tube contains a mixture of two gases – neon with a very small amount of halogen – which does not conduct electricity unless it is ionized by a radioactive particle passing through it. When this happens, a current passes between two electrodes inside the tube, and the device turns this into sound. The more radiation that is picked up, the louder and more high-pitched the noise. The screens display the amount of radioactivity detected as green or white flashes.

If the sound produced becomes a constant, high-pitched buzzing, and the screen is entirely white, the user is advised to leave the area immediately, as levels are dangerously high.

You can download the high-res schematic for the console, and download a sample chapter from Skeleton Key to see how Alex uses it to get out of trouble.

Disclaimer: Excerpts from Alex Rider: The Gadgets by Anthony Horowitz are fictional and for inspiration only. Readers should not attempt to recreate these gadgets.


Alex Rider’s High Tensile Yo-Yo

6 thoughts on “Alex Rider’s Geiger Counter Game Console: contest preview and book giveaway!

  1. Alex Rider book giveaway!
    My kids need this book because they are spyrific!!
    We love to build project together and some of their favorite books are sneaky uses for everyday things and howtoons.

    we can never have enough excuses to build crazy spy contraptions!

  2. My daughters would love this book. They love serial books with lots of action. Plus they have seen me lately playing with my Arduino, so this might get them interested in electronics.

  3. My son is such a picky reader — but this actually sounds like a story that would interest him.


  4. These books sound great! I’ll keep an eye out for them, my kids are avid readers and love to tinker as much as possible. We love Make magazine and love to hack all of our old “broken” apliances and gadgets.

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Becky Stern is a Content Creator at Autodesk/Instructables, and part time faculty at New York’s School of Visual Arts Products of Design grad program. Making and sharing are her two biggest passions, and she's created hundreds of free online DIY tutorials and videos, mostly about technology and its intersection with crafts. Find her @bekathwia on YouTube/Twitter/Instagram.

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