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Geiger Counter Uses Cockroft-Walton Multiplier(BT149)

2017-08-07 03:35  
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This article describes the Geiger Counter Uses Cockroft-Walton Multiplier (BT149). The principle is very simple, very practical. The circuit components can help you understand better grasp this principle. For example, in this circuit, you can go to find and buy these components: BT149.

The recent tsunami in Japan and the on-going calamity with the Fukushima nuclear power plant has apparently greatly increased sales of radiation meters, not only in Japan but elsewhere around the world. This device will allow an estimation of the level of radioactivity, being sensitive enough for background radiation monitoring or to provide an estimation of the level of radioactivity from sample objects such as Thorium gas mantles inLPGlamps. The circuit is compatible with several Geiger Muller tubes and three types of indication are provided: the good old-fashioned audible click with each discharge, a flashingLEDor an analog meter providing a rough average of radiation levels.

Figure:1 Circuit diagram

Figure 1 Circuit diagram

A normal background count in New Zealand with the smaller GM LND712 tube is around 30 counts per minute, while the larger and more-sensitive LND7312 pancake tube will count about four times this figure. Both GM tubes will detect alpha, beta and gamma radiation. Unless the tube is “filtered”, there is no way of knowing just what type of radiation is being detected, although a rough guess can be made. Alpha particles will be stopped by placing a sheet of paper between the tube and the source, Beta particles (electrons) will be stopped with a few layers of aluminium foil and the more lively Gamma rays will need a layer of lead.

The circuit provides a regulated 500V supply for the Geiger Muller tube. This voltage places the tube into its linear operating mode so that a discharge inside the tube will occur when a particle enters through the mica window of the tube and causes the gas to ionise. The very short pulse produced is stretched and used to signal that a discharge has occurred. The power supply consists of an oscillator and small transistor driving the 6V secondary of a 240VAC mains transformer. The stepped up output of the transformer is fed to a Cockroft-Walton voltage multiplier consisting of diodes D3-D7 and the associated 47nF 630V metallised polyester capacitors.

IC1 is a 40106 Schmitt trigger inverter and IC1a is connected as an oscillator running at several hundred hertz. This is buffered by IC1b and fed to the base ofNPNtransistor Q1 which then drives the abovementioned transformer. IC1c acts as an error amplifier to regulate the high voltage fed to the GM tube. A portion of the DC voltage produced at the junction of diodes D4 & D5 is monitored by a voltage divider consisting of the 4.7MO and 47kO resistors, in combination with trimpot VR1. When the voltage from D5 is below the positive threshold of IC1c, its output will be high and IC1a will be able to oscillate. Hence, the oscillator will pulse on and off, to maintain the 500V set by VR1.

Each time there is a discharge in the GM tube, the resultant current triggers the BT149SCRwhich discharges the associated 100nF capacitor and thereby acts as a pulse stretcher to drive the three remaining inverters in IC1. These in turn drive a high-brightness redLED(LED1), a piezo transducer and an analog metering circuit which is based on an old VU meter movement with a scale graduated in counts/minute. The current drain of the circuit is 10mA and a small 9V battery should run the counter for many hours. Warning: do not touch the window of the GM tube. These are very fragile and made of very thin mica, to allow the low-energy alpha particles to pass through. With theLND712, 200 counts per minute is roughly equivalent to 0.3 micro-seiverts.

 

 


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