Coming on the heels of the year anniversary of the Japanese Tohoku-Oki earthquake, Bunnie Huang, a member of the MAKE Tech Advisory Board, tasked himself with designing a civilian-friendly Geiger counter. He was inspired by the efforts of Safecast, an organization whose goal is to build an open sensor network that aggregates trustable, source-neutral radiation monitoring data.
The problem with the current crop of radiation monitors is that they are basically laboratory instruments: accurate & reliable, but bulky, expensive, and difficult to use, requiring a degree in nuclear physics to understand exactly what the readings meant. Another problem with crises like these is that while radiation monitoring is important, it’s something that is typically neglected by the civilian population until it is too late.
Therefore, the challenge set out before me was to design a new Geiger counter that was not only more intuitive and easier to use than the current crop, but was also sufficiently stylish so that civilians would feel natural carrying it around on a daily basis.
He shares the story of designing and building the prototype on his site, including his initial design sketches. He was able to build two full prototypes, including PCB fab, assembly, and CNC milling, for under $3,000.